House of Representatives
29 May 1902

1st Parliament · 1st Session



Mr.Speakertook the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 13050

QUESTION

DIFFERENTIAL RAILWAY RATES

Mr GLYNN:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– Yesterday the Minister for Home Affairs mentioned that he expected to-day to receive communications from the States in reference to the question of differential railway rates. Is he able to make a statement upon the subject now?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Minister for Home Affairs · HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– The honorable and learned gentleman misunderstood my remarks. What I said was that I had received communications from the Ministers for Works in the various States in reference tothe subject, and thatI could let the honorable and learned member see them, but that I was about to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister to communicate with the Premiers of the States to see if anything could be done in the way of altering or ameliorating these rates.

page 13050

ELECTION PETITION

Whitelaw v. Hartnoll.

Report of Committee of Elections and

Qualifications presented by Sir Edward Braddon, and read by the Clerk as follows : -

The Committee of Elections and Qualifications have the honour to report as follows on the Petition of James Crooke Whitelaw against the return of William Hartnoll as a Member for the State of Tasmania : -

Your committee find that there has been an in formality in the nomination of Mr. Hartnoll, inasmuch as his consent to the nomination was given by telegram instead of being written at the foot of his nomination paper as required by Section 89 of the Electoral Act, 1806, of Tasmania, the written consent by letter not reaching the Returning Officer until the day after the nomination.

Your committee, however, do not consider the informality a sufficient reason for disturbing the election.

page 13050

PAPERS

Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table

Copy of correspondence with the State Pre miers with regard to the resolution of both Housesof Parliament on the subject of making factory legislation a matter of federal action.

Supplementary return to an order dated 28th May, 1902, showing the. number of Commonwealth officers not transferred from the State services.

page 13050

QUESTION

PRINCE OF WALES’ BIRTHDAY

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Will the fact that next Tuesday is Prince of Wales’ birthday make any change in the arrangements for the meeting of this House ?

Mr DEAKIN:
Attorney-General · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– I will make inquiry into the observance of that holiday, and let the honorable member know.

page 13050

QUESTION

FEDERAL PRINTING

Sir JOHN QUICK:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

-When will the Treasurer be in a position to present to the House the return ordered some weeks ago, showing the cost of printing in the various federal departments? The Printing Committee are anxious to see that return, and I therefore ask the right honorable gentleman to stir up the departments a little, if that be necessary.

Sir GEORGE TURNER:
Treasurer · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– I have been stirring them up upon my own account ; but, not having succeeded in getting the information, I have asked the Minister who represents the Prime Minister to try to obtain it.

page 13050

QUESTION

FRAUDULENT INVOICES

Sir JOHN QUICK:

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

What action he proposes to take to protect the federal revenue against false and fraudulent invoices, in view of the decision of Mr. Justice Hodges in the case of Stephens v. Abrahams.

Mr KINGSTON:
Minister for Trade and Customs · SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · Protectionist

– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -

The matter is under the consideration of counsel, and the Government hope to be able to advise the House next week.

I may add that I do not think there is any cause for uneasiness, though the question is on important one.

page 13050

QUESTION

LORD HOWE ISLAND

Mr FULLER:
ILLAWARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Is he aware that the department of Customs has compelled consignees to pass entries at Sydney for produce coming from Lord Howe Island, within the Commonwealth ?
  2. If so, will he take steps to have this practice discon tinued ?
Mr KINGSTON:
Protectionist

– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s questions is as follows : -

An inquiry as to the Customs’ practice in relation to Lord Howe Island was received from the State collector last Tuesday night, and a reply has been wired that as Lord Howe Island is part of New South Wales, no duties can be claimed in respect to her produce.

page 13051

QUESTION

SUPPLY

Suspension of Grain and Podder Duties

Consideration resumed from 2Sth May (vide page 12994).

Question - That Mr. Speaker do leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.

Mr FULLER:
Illawarra

– I wish to bring under the notice of the Government the desirability of suspending the duties upon grain and fodder in order to enable the pastoralists and settlers of the Commonwealth, and particularly those residing in New South Wales and Queensland, to obtain food for their starving stock at reasonable prices. The drought now existing throughout Australia is unparalleled in the history of this country. It is not of a local character, though it is being felt most severely in Queensland and in New South Wales. Honorable gentlemen who recently paid a visit to the various federal capital sites in New South Wales had an opportunity of seeing some parts of that State which are in a distressful condition because of the want of rain, but there are immense areas in the western and central divisions, far removed from the coast, which they did not see, and which are in a still more deplorable condition. In years gone by the people of New South Wales have been able in times like this to import produce from New Zealand and the other States ; but the duties which have been imposed upon hay, chaff, and other fodder by the Commonwealth now prevent the use of New Zealand produce, unless people are prepared to pay very high prices for.it, and the supplies available in -the other States are practically exhausted. As has been pointed out upon numberless occasions, the duties to which I refer cannot operate except in times of national disaster and calamity. In ordinary seasons sufficient grass can be easily obtained for our cattle and sheep, and it is possible to provide any quantity of hay and chaff for winter feeding. Now, however, there is scarcely any feed left for the stock, and, even if rain comes, the grass cannot be expected to grow, because of the near approach of winter. I have been informed by a well-known commission agent in Sydney that at the present time New South Wales is over 200,000 tons short in her supply of fodder, while Victoria has been exporting so largely - having sent £427,000 worth to South Africa- that her supplies are fast running out. Last week a meeting of the various dairy and butter factory managers of Victoria was held in Melbourne, and it was pointed out by them that in many of the Victorian dairying districts dairy cattle are now being dried off because there is not sufficient feed available to keep them in milk. The honorable member for New England told me last week that he believes there is not a month’s supply of fodder in the State of New South Wales. His district, which is largely a farming one, has been searched from end to end for feed for starving stock, and even worse conditions exist in the central and western, and in other parts of die coastal division, of New South Wales, and over a great part of the State of Queensland. It has been suggested that there is a supply of fodder within the Commonwealth which could be made available for starving stock, but I have ascertained from the Brisbane Courier that last week people were carting fodder to keep their stock alive even in some parts of the favoured Darling Downs district. Under these circumstances it is the duty of the Government to come to the rescue of our pastoralists, dairymen, and others, who are among the chief wealth-producers in the Commonwealth. The movement for the suspension of the duties upon grain and fodder originated at Camden,.in the Illawarra electorate, a public meeting being held there, with the mayor in the chair, to petition the Federal Government upon the subject. At Condobolin, a very large centre in the district represented by the honorable member for Canobolas, it was decided at a public meeting - .

That the Federal G overnment be asked to remit duties on fodder from Kew Zealand for starving’ stock.

Another resolution was passed urging the Railways Commissioners to give conveyance of fodder for starving stock preference over the carriage of general merchandise. The Railways Commissioners have already done a great deal in the interests of the settlers, and they are now to be -asked to make further concessions.

Sir William Lyne:

– Does the honorable and learned member know what stocks of fodder are available in New Zealand 1

Mr FULLER:

– That matter is referred to in a letter which I shall read presently. Meetings similar to those held at Condobolin have also taken place in other parts of New South Wales. The following letter from the secretary of the Narrabri Pastures and Stock Protection Board has been received by Mr. A. E. Collins, the representative of that important district in the New South Wales Parliament -

Narrabri, 19th May, 1902

Sir, - At the meeting of this board, held on the 15th inst., the following resolution was unanimously earned : -

That, in view of the universal drought, its unparalleled severity,and the threatened extinction of all sheep as well as large stock (or a great portion of them) in the States- of New South Wales and Queensland, this board strongly urges the State Parliament to recommend the temporary suspension of duties on grain and other fodder from outside the Commonwealth, with the object oE endeavouring to save the lives of the remnants of the stock still surviving in the States named.

I was instructed to ask you to arrange ‘a deputation of interested Members of Parliament to the Premier, so that he could request the Federal Parliament to again consider the matter, it being the opinion of pastoralists generally that when the subject was discussed by federal members recently they were then not seized with the gravity of the pastoral outlook in New South Wales and Queeusland. As you are aware, many are hand-feeding their stock at enormous cost, but in many cases the high prices ruling for fodder must prevent a continuance unless the Federal Government come to the rescue, and assist in reducing the terrible expense by suspending the duties.

I understand that New Zealand has a larger amount of produce on hand at the present moment than for many years, and with the duty of £1 per ton taken off pastoralists would, no doubt, purchase largely, and probably save the Commonwealth an enormous sum of money by saving the lives of a large portion of its live stock. - Yours truly,

  1. Morath, Secretary.

A large meeting was held at the Hotel Australia in Sydney yesterday, and amongst those who attended were Mr. Crick, the Minister for Lands in New South Wales, who was in sympathy with the movement, and other well-known Members of Parliament, including Mr. J. H. Carruthers, and Mr. J. Ashton, who directed attention to the terrible state of the country owing to the drought. The following resolution was carried : -

That this meeting, in view of the unparalleled severity of the drought throughout the eastern States,” and to prevent the complete annihilation of the pastoral industry, pray the Federal Minister of Customs to suspend the duties on fodder and grain used for feeding stock ; and that this meeting appoint a committee to wait immediately on the Federal Minister of Customs, and lay the resolution before him.

A further resolution was carried appointing a deputation to wait upon the Railways Commissioners, and ask them to still further reduce the rates for the carriage of grain for the hand-feeding of starving stock. Mr. Crick stated that he was thoroughly in accord with the resolutions ; but that it was a question -whether the Minister of Customs could exercise the necessary power. Of course, I know that there is a technical difficulty to which I shall presently refer. As the outcome of the meeting a number of gentlemen were appointed to wait upon the Minister for Customs, and convey the resolutions to him, and it was decided to ask Senator O’Connor, .the Vice-President of the Executive Council, to arrange for the deputation to meet the Minister. I do not wish to labour this question, because, although on the former occasion the Government did not thoroughly realize the unparalleled condition of affairs in South Wales and Queensland, I feel sure that they must now recognise the extraordinary position in which we are placed, and that they will, with that sympathy which they have for all citizens of the Commonwealth, endeavour to do what they can to assist our settlers. It may be argued that the Government have no power to remit duties, but I contend that as the duties were only imposed by Executive act, they have not the force of law, and will not have such force until the Customs Bill is passed by both Houses of Parliament. As these duties were passed by Executive act, they can be remitted by the same authority. Even if they could not, I hold that in the face of a great national calamity such as Australia now has to face, the Government ought to strain a point to save our flocks and herds, and the country generally from a great national disaster.

Mr FULLER:

– In some places fodder is at famine prices ; but the rates vary very much according to the distance it has to be carried.

Mr Kingston:

– The remission of the duties could only affect the prices of. fodder at the ports.

Mr FULLER:

– It is really only in connexion with New Zealand fodder that the remission of the doty is asked for, because that colony is practically the only place from which we could secure hay and chaff. At the same time the duty should be remitted, so that our people should have an opportunity of obtaining fodder, including grain, from any part of the world, if necessary. It is not necessary for me to labour this question any further. Our flocks and herds are dying by hundreds and thousands every week, and in this way we are losing a great portion of the wealth of Australia. In order to save the remnants of our stock, the Ministry, even if they do not think they have a technical right to act, should take the necessary steps to afford relief, with the full assurance that their action will receive indorsement from every- citizen in Australia.

Mr DEAKIN:
AttorneyGeneral · Ballarat · Protectionist

– I may say at once that the Government recognise the gravity of the present situation, perhaps unprecedented in the history of Australia, and no mere technical difficulties, such as that referred to by the honorable and learned member who previously brought this subject under the notice of the House, ought to be permitted to stand in the way. The Government will be prepared, on finding that certain action is proper and necessary, to ask the House to take even unusual steps in order to enable them to discharge their duty. The difficulties with which we are confronted are of a more serious kind altogether. They arise from our Constitution. No one disputes - no one is able to dispute - the statements which have been made by the honorable and learned member with regard to the condition of a large portion of this continent, and the fatal consequences to the great pastoral industry, in a large measure, to the agricultural industry and to all interests dependent upon them, which have followed from this most calamitous drought. The honorable and learned member has used strong language, but I am afraid that he has riot exaggerated the condition of affairs. Under such circumstances appeals are natural and proper to any authority which can extend relief. The first constitutional difficulty which faces us arises out of the fact that the Federation is a union of States whose circumstances are not all similar. Tasmania and “Western Australia, I understand, have not suffered from want of rain for a lengthened period. 37 n

Mr V L SOLOMON:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · FT

– Western Australia is suffering.

Mr Fowler:

– Very slightly.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The present conditions in Western Australia are not considered to constitute a drought, and in many portions of that State there has been plenty of rain. Any action the Federal Government could take must be all-comprehensive, and could not exclude any State of Australia. If we remit the duties at all, it must be in all the States, and the period of remission must apply all round’. This would be a very serious step to take against the wishes of a portion of the Commonwealth, if means can be devised to give relief where it is needed without inflicting injury elsewhere. Our federal area of authority is strictly defined. This morning I placed myself in communication with my honorable colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs, who has endeavoured to obtain information from his various officers in time for the meeting of the House to-day, but, unfortunately, not in time with regard to the importations of fodder into the States of the Commonwealth, in order that we may judge of the relative intensity of the conditions in each. The fullest information will be obtained as soon as possible. In addition to that, I think the Government will be fully justified in placing themselves in direct communication with each of the State Governments with a view to ascertaining what action, if any, they propose to take.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Does the AttorneyGeneral consider it necessary to inquire into the intensity of the conditions at present existing ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Not in New South Wales and Queensland only - chiefly with regard to other States. This is primarily a matter for the States. The local Parliaments are entitled to speak in these matters which come under their direct control, in connexion with the administration of their land laws and the management of their railways. We shall be acting with courtesy in inviting an expression of opinion from them. I do not mean to delay the matter until the Parliaments of the various States have had an opportunity of considering it, because the Executives would be fully justified in speaking in such a case.

Mr Thomson:

– Have any steps been taken to ascertain the extent of the stocks of fodder in hand ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– That will form a part of the information which the Government will seek to obtain. We shall endeavour to ascertain the quantity of fodder, or grain available for fodder, in each State, and the prices ruling in the different parts of those States. We shall, also ascertain what stocks of fodder are available in places like Tasmania, which fortunately has not felt this drought, for exportation to the States which most require supplies. It is also desirable to know if we could learn from trustworthy authority the extent of . the supplies available in New Zealand. It is important first of all to ascertain what the Governments of the States most affected propose to do, because, whilst it is not for us to fail to take any action which may be necessary and within our powers, we have to realize that this is a responsibility which we share in common with, but after, the Parliaments of the States affected. It is at present within the scope of their authority, if they so choose, to accomplish the end the honorable and learned member desires, that is, the practical suspension of the fodder duties. During the present period Commonwealth officers receive the duties simply as trustees of the States, to whom they are eventually handed over. There is no obstacle in the way of a State making a simple book entry in regard to duties paid upon importations of fodder, afterwards voting them back on their Estimates to those who paid t hem and thus in effect remitting them.

Mr Thomson:

– That raises another and a very awkward constitutional question.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes, not one only, but several ; but this is an unprecedented occasion, upon which we must be prepared to look unfamiliar and even dangerous remedies in the face, if it should be necessary to employ them. If the honorable member reflects he must see that this opportunity obtains only during what is sometimes termed the bookkeeping period. During that period the duties collected by the Federal Government are up to three-fourths the absolute property of the States, and, under our present scale of expenditure, an even larger proportion. AVe are merely trustees who receive the duties from the persons who have to pay them, in order that we may hand the proceeds over to the local Treasurers. During this particular period a mode of action is possible on the part of the States which will become impossible with its termination and that action may be regarded now without the apprehensionthat would be created if it were followed subsequently.

Mr Thomson:

– Does the AttorneyGeneral not notice that if the right to remit is admitted, the equality of trade may be affected ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– That is so; but even that is subject to the consideration that in the legal sense of the term there has not yet been an imposition of uniform duties of Customs. Until that date is fixed by law, the principle to which the honorable member properly refers does not call for that unqualified adhesion which it will afterwards demand.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Is the AttorneyGeneral not assuming that the States have acquired a legal right to these duties 1 The States have only obtained a right to them by the proclamation of the Government.

Mr DEAKIN:

– There again is what will be a technical,, and might be made a real difficulty. But if we can meet the situation by overcoming technical difficulties

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– By getting somebody else to meet them ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– No j by not, in order to to give help in some States, remitting duties which other States earnestly desire to retain. No one will advocate that we should comply with the wishes of certain States of the union to the detriment of other States, if it be possible to devise a course which will allow of the relief required being given without injury to any other members of the union.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Why not remit the duties at once in the distressed States’!

Mr DEAKIN:

– We have no power to grant remission to some States without extending it to all. The honorable member for Macquarie, as he usually does, has grasped the practical difficulty, in the absence of which the Government would be prepared to make an immediate statement as to the course “they intended to adopt.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– But the Government did not consult the individual States as to whether the duties should be imposed 1

Mr DEAKIN:

– We took the verdict of the people whose representatives were returned from every State, and every State, of course, had its voice in the decision. It may become necessary to face the difficulty suggested by the honorable member for

Macquarie, and if we arrive at the stage at which it appears that nothing else can be done, it will be for this House to gravely consider whether it will not face all the very serious departures involved in that action.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– In the meantime the trouble continues.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I am perfectly well aware Of that fact. I am speaking of what is intended to be a matter of days, andI take it that by this time next week–

Mr Henry Willis:

– That is too long.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I hope it may be earlier; but we are now speaking of others, and of the time they may take. Making all necessary allowances, we ought by this time next week to be in possession of an expression of opinion from each State of the union.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– How can six States be consulted by next week?

Mr DEAKIN:

– We shall consult them by telegraph. To-morrow morning each State will be in possession of the questions which we desire to put ; and I hope that early next week we shall have their answers. As I have said, in two or three of the States there can be but little hesitation as to the reply. I am not in a position to say what we may expect from South Australia or from Victoria, but feel assured as to the answers from Queensland and New South Wales. Before this House takes action, it is but reasonable to give an opportunity to the other four States of being briefly heard ; and then the Government will be able to come to the House with all the inf ormation necessary on which to arrive at a final decision.

Mr V L SOLOMON:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · FT

– If one State objected, could the Government under the present condition of absolute free-trade, grant a remission of duties to the other States?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not wish to give an opinion that will limit the power of this House. Parliament, having the power to impose duties, necessarily has the power to remit them, and can exercise that power according to its own judgment.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Has the AttorneyGeneral considered the effect which such action might have on private property by lowering the value of accumulations held by merchants and others.

Mr DEAKIN:

– That is one of the points on which we seek information. It is possible that some States hold large accumulations, and may regard such action as interfering with their opportunity of disposing of them.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– But if we see ruin staring our citizens in the face, shall we not relieve them in spite of any such objection?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Any one of those arguments may have some weight ; but no argument or arguments that I have heard will have as much weight with Parliament as the absolutely terrible condition of affairs throughout Australia. I rose at once, because I thought honorable members were entitled to the frankest statement of opinion from the Government at the earliest possible moment. I do not put forward my suggestions as final, or even mature, nor as a device for postponing decision for a few days. The Government, together with the people of the whole of the country have, from hour to hour and from day today, hoped that the long-expected change was about to come which might relieve us from the necessity of facing this particular issue. It appears, however, that the matter cannot longer be postponed.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– If rain does come now, it will not afford much relief.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Whatever views may be held on these points, if. the course which I suggest is approved by honorable members, as I think it ought to be, we shall be enabled to deal with the question definitely, and take the opinion of the House probably next week. I see no reason why we should not have the answers in the earlier part of the week ; and as soon as they have been received and considered the Government will be prepared to submit proposals or explain the reason of their inability. The actions of this Parliament are all-embracing, and no part of Australia can be excluded from the effect of our decision. We are bound to consider the circumstances of every State before arriving at the grave and serious determination to take any further action than that already adopted in connexion with the Tariff proposals now under consideration in another place. The very fact that the duties proposed to be remitted are now being considered elsewhere raises constitutional difficulties that must at once suggest themselves to honorable members; but we are confronted by so grave a position in regard to a large part of Australia, that with all its difficulties and complexities we must be prepared to face the situation at as early a date as possible.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
Wentworth

– I thank the Attorney-General for the sympathetic reply which he has given to the remarks of the honorable member who opened this debate. But I think there are two weaknesses in the Minister’s statement. In the first place, during the last two months it has been apparent to every practical man who understands the condition of Australia, that even if rain does come it will be too late to relieve the situation. Week by week, and month by month, the price of food-stuffs and fodder has risen to a height which is almost unprecedented in our history.

Mr MAUGER:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA · PROT

– Is that not largely due to the South African demands 1

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– Not at

All. While thanking the Attorney-General for the sympathetic remarks he has made, and the hope he has given us of a favorable reply on the part of the Government, I think that Ministers of the Crown, identified as they are with the material interests -of Australia, ought to have had a little more prevision than to be compelled to seek for certain facts when a discussion like this is taking place. If there had been a thorough Commonwealth spirit, and a large view of the necessities of this unprecedented position, Ministers, or one Minister specially set aside for the duty, should have been covering the ground of inquiry for the last three or four weeks. But there is no necessity for inquiry. The facts are so palpable and heartbreaking .in at least’ two of the great States of the Commonwealth, which aggregate about half the population, that investigation is almost superfluous. The price of fodder and foodstuffs at the present time is a clear commercial indication of the state of affairs.

Sir William Lyne:

– Does the honorable member know what the price in New Zealand is ?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– I believe it is high also in New Zealand.

Sir William Lyne:

– The price there is about the same as in Australia.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– That is because New Zealand is naturally watching her opportunity j but that fact does not affect the position. The question is whether, in the face of the fact that the farmers, for whose benefit these duties were imposed, are now pleading for their remission, so that they ‘ may obtain seed and keep their stock alive, we ought not to take some step in the direction which has been suggested to the Government. If the question as between the States and the Commonwealth is dealt with at all, it should be in a broad spirit. It is not as if the present position were not likely to occur again, seeing that it is a contingency we may have to face at ^certain periods. Providence has granted the opportunity for relief from a community which is not alien, but a community of our fellow countrymen, 1,200 miles away.

Mr Watson:

– There is no hay in New Zealand.

Sir william Mcmillan:

– At present, in Australia, every possible kind of food is being utilized in order to keep stock alive.

Mr Watson:

– The price of hay was £i 10s. last week in New Zealand.

Sir william Mcmillan:

– The farmers of Australia are utilizing every class of grain and food-stuff, including molasses and oilcake, in order to keep the stock alive throughout New South Wales and Queensland. Even if the remission of the duties would not give anything like the relief that we contend it would, is it not. barbarous at the present time to artificially keep up the price of food ? The very existence of this duty, which is to a large extent prohibitive, keeps up prices in Australia, i

Sir William Lyne:

– Why ?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– Does the honorable gentleman not see that at the present time, if the duty were remitted, a large amount of grain-stuffs would be brought into Australia?

Mr Crouch:

– From where?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– From beyond the seas ; and the very danger of the importation of this stuff would reduce the local price. I have goner very carefully into this matter. I shall suffer individually if these duties are taken off, but I care not for my own interests in a matter of this kind, nor do I care for the interests of those who have accumulated fodder throughout Australia. That is a matter which we ought not to consider for one moment, in view of the deplorable circumstances which we have to meet. I have made a calculation -with regard to the duty on grain, and I find that it has been so carefully adjusted that it absolutely marks the point of prohibition. If we add the freight and duty to the price of grain in countries beyond the sea we shall find that importations are absolutely prohibited. There may be a few speculative imports-

Mr Kingston:

– What is the price of chaff in Sydney to-day ?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– I cannot say at present. Even if we were all protectionists, would we go so far as to say that under no possible circumstances of drought and disaster should the duty on food-stuffs be remitted in order to give some kind of relief to the people and the stock of the country ? Will any honorable member say, no matter how extreme he may be in his views as a protectionist, that under no possible circumstances should the duty be remitted? It is palpable that an absolutely unprecedented set of circumstances have arisen during the last twelve months ; that, at all events, so far as two of the ‘States are concerned, the drought and disaster now existing are absolutely unprecedented since 1840. Apart from humanitarian principles, can any one look with complacency upon the dying of hundreds of thousands of dumb animals in this country, and the disastrous results upon the finances of our fellow-citizens, and say that we should retain these trumpery duties on fodder so urgently required ? Such a thing is beyond all imagination in any decent and practical community. If the duties are ever to be remitted they should be remitted now. If action is not taken now the principle will be laid down that under no set of conditions shall those who hold this fiscal belief–

The SPEAKER:

– I will ask the honorable and learned member not to allude to the fiscal issue.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– I am not emphasizing it. I am placing myself in the position of a protectionist for a moment by way of illustration. I can quite understand honorable members whose fiscal views are the opposite of my own saying that we have not yet reached a period when such a principle should be applied, but my point is that if we are ever to go back upon our action in regard to Customs duties as applied to food stuffs and fodder, the circumstances now prevailing make it imperative that we should do so at once. I desire to know whether, in view of the fact that we have got beyond the period when rain can do any good to the high tablelands and other parts of the country, and that in the opinion of meteorologists we shall probably not have any rains of a beneficial character until August, it can be said that the duties should not be remitted at once. According to meteorologists, we have to pass through June, July, and August with all these unfortunate circumstances attending us, and are we going to take action at once, or procrastinate until it will be too late ? If the duties are to be’ removed, they must be removed now. The only way in which we can make the people realize the patriotism of their representatives - the patriotism of their Government - is to refrain from cavilling over the mode in which this relief is to be given, and for the Government to go at once to both Houses of Parliament, and say that it must be given. I do not like the idea of negotiating with the States in relation to matters affecting our own sovereign rights - rights relating to the Customs of the country. We have a right to take the matter in hand. When we consider that technically we are collecting these duties illegally at the present moment, when we consider that the whole matter is in abeyance, and that these duties have not yet become law–

Mr SPEAKER:

– I would ask the honorable member not to go into that question.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, to which I am not allowed to refer, I am perfectly certain that the feeling of the country at large will be that prompt action should be taken. I know too much about my fellow citizens in those States, who, fortunately, are not in the position occupied by New South Wales and Queensland, to imagine that they would cavil at the remission of these duties. The position of New South Wales and Queensland to-day may be theirs in time to come. Speaking; with some knowledge of the question, and backed up as I am by the price of fodder and breadstuff’s throughout Australia, I assert that it is clear that we have been gradually exhausting our supplies of fodder, and that there is no great supply in Australia to meet future contingencies. What is the use of talking of local supplies when we know the enormous loss which has occurred? I would remind honorable members that about ten or twelve years ago

New South Wales had 60,000,000 sheep. During one tremendous drought that number was reduced to about 30,000,000; in the next few years it increased to 40,000,000, but now it has dwindled down to 33,000,000, and some believe that that is an exaggerated computation. I am reliably informed that as the result of this disastrous drought the .loss of sheep in New South Wales will be equal to 10,000,000. That is an awful thing to contemplate. A gentleman, who is well qualified to give an opinion, informed me yesterday that the present drought, which has really extended over a period of seven years, has cost Australia £130,000,000. In view pf all these facts, in view of the suffering of stock throughout the country, in view of the depletion of a material source of our wealth, why should it be necessary to make the inquiries proposed by the Government 1 The only way in which the Government can rise to the situation is to grasp the facts clearly, and to give relief freely and liberally within the shortest time.

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– I am very pleased to note the difference in the tone in which this proposal has been met by the Government as compared with that with which it was received when discussed about a month ago. On that occasion, the Minister for Trade and Customs told us that there were far larger considerations than that of mere sympathy .to be considered in connexion with this matter. The tone of his remarks led honorable members to believe that he considered there was then sufficient fodder within’ the Commonwealth to meet all requirements, and that it was only a question of diverting the surplus from outlets of export to those districts which were particularly in need of it. In view of those circumstances, he said there was no need to consider the question of remitting the duties, or to take any special action. Since then the intensity of the situation has increased. The cry from owners of starving stock has been supplemented by the cry of consumers in the thickly settled districts who are now feeling the effects of the present unparallelled position. I am greatly relieved to find that the Government now recognise the seriousness of the situation. I re-echo the expression of opinion by the acting leader of the Opposition that the position is so serious that the Government will be well advised if they lose no time in taking action. I admit that it is desirable that the Government should consult with the Premiers of the other States ; but that consultation should have taken place some time ago, and the Government should have been in a position to act at once. In view of the sympathetic reply which we have received from the Attorney-General, as compared with that made by the Minister for Trade and Customs about a month ago, I do not propose to enter into a consideration of the details to the extent that I should otherwise have done. I should like to emphasize what has been said by the honorable member for Illawarra. Whilst it is true that the drought has been seriously felt in a large portion of his electorate, the experiences of that coastal district bear no comparison with those of the western district, which I and other honorable members represent. The coastal districts of New South Wales are suffering severely from the drought, but that experience has probably been compressed within a period of twelve months. The stock-owners in the west have suffered practically seven years of drought, the position becoming more serious each succeeding year. In the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday last, I find a telegram from Collarendabri, a centre in the Gwydir electorate of New South Wales, far removed ‘from railway communication. It says thatthestock-owners there, who for the past seven years have had to carry their stock over dry periods by cutting down scrub for them to eat, are now paying £6 per 1,000 sheep per month, where their own scrub is exhausted, for the privilege of cutting down edible scrub on other holdings. As honorable members who visited Orange recently are aware, it is an exceptionally favoured district. Its average rainfall is about 40 inches per annum, as compared with a fall of something like 15 -to 20 inches further west, and as a rule its farmers benefit by the prevalence of dry conditions in the west, because they are thereby afforded a market for their produce. Honorable members saw there, however, evidences of the prevalence of a great drought. The farmers and graziers of the district have suffered more recently than they have ever suffered before during the last 40 years, and in the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday last it is reported that -

Very little locally-grown fodder now remains in the growers’ hands, though considerable quantities are held by the produce merchants.

Large supplies of Victorian and Tasmanian produce continue to pass through Orange to the western stations.

About the time when this matter was broached here last month, the stock-owners in the Condoublin district held a meeting, and determined upon concerted action to support the suggestion that the Government should remit the import duties upon fodder. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Monday last, there appears the following telegram from Condoublin : - lt is reported from out back that large areas of pine scrub, currawong, and box saplings are being killed right out by the prevailing drought, especially on high hinds, and in some cases currajong is even succumbing. The same thing was noted in isolated cases in the drought of 1881. Four special fodder trains are now arriving here three times a week.

In an issue of the Lac/dander, a newspaper published in the district, of the 23rd inst., the following paragraph occurs : -

It is not generally known that a special fodder train runs daily to and from Condoublin. The train arrives on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 2.20 p.m., and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10.50 p.m. lt returns about half-an-hour later.

The Nyngan Observer of the 24th Ma)’, speaking of the conditions prevailing in the same district, says -

Advices from Bogan Gate tell us that the drought continues there with exceptional severity. All stock worth feeding are being hand-fed, while the rest have to take their chance. At Burrawong Station it is costing £2,000 per week for fodder, most of which is being brought from the Goulburn Valley, Victoria. . . . Only .170 points of rain have fallen during the past seven months.

That is a fair illustration of what is obtaining in the western district of New South Wales, and as the season, is so far advanced, stock-owners have little to hope from a fall of rain, even if it comes in the near future. They will, therefore, be compelled to provide fodder for their stock until at least the end of August, and the drain upon the resources of the Commonwealth has been so large that the possibility of keeping a reasonable supply for that period is very remote. I should like to direct the attention of the Government to a letter which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, of Monday last, and which was written by Mr. M!yles McRae, who was at one time a member of the State Parliament, and is largely interested in these matters. He speaks, not from the fiscal stand-point, but in the general interests of the community, and states that it is a matter of vital importance that the duties on all kinds of produce, especially fodder and grain, should be immediately suspended for at least seven months until the coming crops of South Australia and Victoria are fit for market. He continues -

If the drought here and in Queensland lasts another month or two there would be no ensuing crops in either State. Grass is out of the question, and the decimation of tens of millions of flocks and herds will be terrible to contemplate. In order to avert that calamity our gates should be thrown wide open. The great point I want to drive home is the fact that supplies will eke out in a few months. Chaff advanced 15s. per ton in Melbourne, and speculators there have bought to such an extent in .Adelaide that the latter will not execute orders for Sydney. For months, thousands of tons of imported fodder, as well as half the daily arrivals at Redfern, have gone inland for the purposes of feeding starving stock, and nearly all the fodder in New South Wales is consumed, notwithstanding the big crop we had. The situation should be grappled with instantly. I reckon there is a shortage of at least 200,000 tons of fodder in New South Wales, and unless importations arrive, prices will be beyond the reach of the bulk of stock-owners as well as city consumers.

The following price lists, which have been supplied to me by a firm in Sydney, show how the wholesale prices of commodities have increased, as compared with the prices obtaining about this time last year : -

Mr Kingston:

– Are those prices for delivery in Sydney?

Mr BROWN:

– Tes. A similar state of things exists in Victoria, as the Minister will find if he reads an article in this morning’s Age, headed “ The price of foodScarcity and dearness. A gloomy outlook.” The writer says : -

The average householder, to whom the amount of the butcher’s, the baker’s and the grocer’s weekly bill is a matter of considerable pecuniary interest, has been made unpleasantly aware of the fact during the past month or two that the price of provisions generally has risen very much, and in some cases has reached rates which are almost prohibitive for the great body of consumers. It is somewhat astonishing to find that in a country which” is famed for its pastoral and dairy products, rump steak is lOd. per lb., eggs 2s. per dozen, and butter ls. 8d. per lb.

A glance at the quotations of the Melbourne live stock market affords a graphic idea of the high prices at present ruling. At last week’s sales, extra prime heavy bullocks ranged from £17 5s. to £18. Prime crossbred wethers sold as high as 21s. One firm sold 3,000 in the previous week at £1 per head, and a similar number lust week at the same price. A new feature of last week’s cattle market was the appearance of Adelaide buyers, who purchased for South Australian consumption, and who gave the highest prices for the stock they bought. The present retail prices for beef and mutton are a striking contrast to the rates which ruled a few years ago, when in the suburban butchers’ shops, where low cuts were made, might be seen the legend - “51b. of chops, steak or sausages for ls.” The present high rates are due to several causes, some of which go far back. One of the original causes was the tick pest in Queensland, which prevented stock being sent to Victoria when there was a sufficient supply in the northern State. The more proximate cause, however, is the drought, which for several years has devastated the pastoral areas of Queensland and New South Wales, and which has been creeping down to Victoria. Seventy-five per cent, of the flocks of Queensland and a vast proportion of those of New South Wales have perished from the drought.

A leading authority on the meat market says he would not be surprised if prime bullocks realised £25 per head before tlie winter is over.

If the enormous advance in price were confined to meat the position of the consumer would not be so bad - the curtailment of the meat supply might be repaired by the greater use of other provisions. But there has been a sympathetic increase in almost all kinds of ordinary foods. Flour, which twelve months ago was £5 17s. (id. to £Ci 2s. Od. per ton, is now £9 10s. to £.10 pelton, and the 4-lb. loaf has risen from 4id. to fid. In May last wheat was 2s. 8Ad. to 2s. 9d. It is now 4s. 3d. to 4s. 4d. Potatoes are also almost at famine rates. In the wholesale market last year at this time they commanded from 45s. to 75s. per ton. To-day prime samples are worth £5 per ton, and the retail purchaser has to pay at the rate of £7 or more per ton. Victorian butter is sold in the London market at about ls. per lb. The Victorian consumer is now paying ls. Od. and ls. 8d. per lb. for it. Cheese has also advanced, and eggs, at 2d. a piece, must be regarded as a luxury.

That article shows the widespread influence of the prevailing drought. A month ago it was considered that only the producers of the interior were affected, and the urgency of the position was not recognised. The position of affairs in the outlying districts is beginning to make itself felt in the more populous centres, and the whole community is being seriously affected by the unfavorable climatic conditions which have prevailed for such a long time past. A firm in Sydney who do a very large business in produce, inform me that they have made inquiries as to outside sources of supply. They find that in New Zealand the .stocks of fodder, although large, will not be sufficient to meet all the needs of the Commonwealth, because there has been a very considerable demand on New Zealand supplies for shipment to South Africa. It will be necessary to go further abroad, and the firm T refer to are now about to place an order for 2,500 tons of fodder in South America. It is to these sources that we must look very largely for supplies to meet our requirements in the immediate future. I would very strongly urge the Government to remit the duties, so that the fodder required may be placed in the hands of those who need it at the lowest possible rates. The honorable .and learned member for Illawarra has already directed attention to a meeting of stock-owners and others who are vitally interested, which was held recently in Sydney. The meeting was addressed by Mr. Carruthers, an ex-Minister of the Crown, and Mr. Ashton, another member of the New South Wales Legislature, as well as by Mr. Crick, the Minister for Lands in that State. A resolution was carried to the effect that the Federal Government should be urged to remit the duties on fodder.

Mr Deakin:

– The Minister for Lands thought it was a State matter

Mr BROWN:

Mr. Crick is one of the very strongest protectionists in New South Wales, and yet he is in favour of a remission of the duties. He supported the suggestions that were made at the meeting, and he stated that if the Federal Government had so tied its hands by laws which could not be altered that it could not grant the concession desired, the State should refund the duties collected. Yesterday, I brought under the notice of the Attorney-General the decision of the Victorian Supreme Court in the Customs prosecution appeal case. From this decision it would appear that, so far as New South Wales is concerned, fodder might be introduced there free of duty, for tlie reason that no duty was levied prior to the introduction of the present Tariff. I do not wish, however, to obtain for New South Wales any concession that is not generally made, because I recognise that the conditions which have prevailed for the last six or seven years in New South Wales and Queensland have now become general throughout the Commonwealth. If there are any districts in any of the States which are not suffering from drought, they must be affected indirectly by the increased prices of produce. I trust that the Government will treat this matter as one of the gravest importance, and that, as the result of their communications with the States Governments, and of the action that may be agreed upon by the States or Federal Governments, some relief will be given to those who are now so greatly in need of it. The New South Wales Government have endeavoured to relieve the pressure upon farmers and pastoralists as far as possible by reducing the charges for the conveyance of fodder on the railways to such a point that they no longer pay for the cost of transit. They have also placed the railways at the disposal of stock-owners and others for the purpose of providing water in localities where local supplies have been entirely exhausted. I feel sure that the Government recognise now what they did not realize, some months ago - that the position is a very, grave one - and I trust that they will spare no effort to alleviate the distress which now exists, and which must continue for some months to come.

Mr EWING:
Richmond

– I am sure that every honorable member is in sympathy with the opinions which have been expressed, principally by speakers on the opposition side of the Chamber, as to the gravity of the present position of affairs. This is an occasion on which we should rise far above all questions of fiscalism. Although I am a protectionist, it is not a difficult matter for me to forego any proclivities I have in the face of a national disaster of this kind. It is not necessary, after the speeches which have been made, to particularize the horrors of the protracted drought from which nearly the whole of Australia is suffering. Honorable members must realize that present conditions are altogether unprecedented in the history of the occupation of this continent by white men. I rose to point out one or two simple facts. One is, how little the Government can do. Honorable members must concede that if the Government does everything in its power, it will have done practically nothing. The hand of fate is on Australia for the present winter.

Mr Kennedy:

– The hand of carelessness is on New South Wales.

Mr Brown:

– The stock-owners of New South Wales think the Government can do something.

Mr EWING:

– No doubt our settlers might have accomplished something more than they have done in some cases, but I am tired of all the talk which we have heard about the neglect of our pastoralists and agriculturists. So far as my experience enables me to form an opinion, the. history of the occupation of this continent by white men has been a glorious epoch in the annals of civilization. No man can go from end to end of Australia, and see the development of our resources and the results of the white man’s labour, without feeling proud to belong to the race which has brought about such vastly improved conditions. We might have done more, perhaps, but we have done a great deal towards the development of our territory, and those who are familiar with the conditions of life in the far western districts of New South Wales must pay a high tribute to the valour of the men who have faced them, and who have courageously endured all sorts of hardships in order to wring wealth from the wilderness. The Government cannot do very much. I would ask the honorable and learned member for Illawarra what the remission of the dutv on fodder would amount »» to. When such a stage is reached that the squatter has to hand-feed his stock, he is pretty well in extremis, unless nature comes to his aid.

Mr Page:

– The squatters in Queensland have been feeding their stock for the last three years.

Mr EWING:

– The ordinary way of dealing with stock in times of drought is first of all to remove them to a more favorable locality ; bub that resource has long been exhausted. The next expedient is to cut scrub, and thus provide them with food which is in some measure a substitute for that to which they have been accustomed. That stage has also been passed in the majority of cases. Now we have reached the third stage, of buying produce from New Zealand or elsewhere and bringing it over to Australia, and then conveying it by rail and teams to the various localities in which the stock are to be fed, and under such circumstances the position is almost hopeless. I know what the hand-feeding of stock amounts to, and although I grant that the remission of the duty ma,y be of some assistance, it will prove of very little help.

Mr Fuller:

– We should afford the stock-owners a chance to get their fodder as cheaply as possible.

Mr EWING:

– A fiscal policy is not arranged to suit the conditions which prevail during spasmodic intervals of drought, or during such a deadly drought as that through which we are now passing, and the Government ought to be very careful about interfering with a policy that is intended to apply to an ordinary state of affairs. Rather than interfere with tlie policy of the country

I should prefer to still collect the duties and afterwards refund them. The Federal Parliament might make a grant to the States equal to the amount of duties collected, and allow them to distribute the money in the interests of the people who are suffering.

Mr Thomson:

– The States already have 75 per cent, of the duties returned.to them.

Mr Deakin:

– They are entitled to 75 per cent., but they get more.

Mr EWING:

– Although we are prepared to do all we can for those who own starving stock, I do not know that there is any special reason why those who keep carriage horses should have any special concession made to them. I think the action I have suggested would be supported by this House. It is impossible for the Federal Government to administer this relief in detail; that ought to be left to the State Minister for Agriculture or virtually to the Government in each State. As the honorable member for Macquarie knows, it is no unusual thing for the New South Wales Government, in times of drought, to furnish seed to the farmers of that State.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– That has been done over and over again.

Mr EWING:

– It would be much better to allow the States Governments to undertake the duty of seeing that the suffering people are afforded the relief which is so necessary, the Federal Parliament granting the amount it is entitled to retain under the Constitution. I would rather see some such scheme as I have indicated, a little cumbersome though it may be, than see sweeping changes made in our fiscal policy to meet abnormal conditions.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I quite agree that this is a question which should be considered entirely apart from party or fiscal issues. To show that this is the view which is taken in Australia, it may not be out of place to quote from a speech delivered by the Minister for Lands of New

South Wales, Mr. Crick, who is a leading protectionist, and has during the last few months visited various parts of the State in connexion with the administration of the Land Act. Speaking at a meeting yesterday, presided over by the Mayor of Sydney : -

The Minister of Lands said he had been looking round the country a good deal lately, and since 1840 the country hud’ never seen anything like what it was going through now. He had seen the worst part of the country down the ‘.Darling, having come across that way from Broken Hill, and yesterday had returned from Inverell. On the ridges young gum trees were dying from absolute want of water. He had seen miles upon miles of this state of things. This was the answer to those who were giving him pin pricks for not throwing the land open to speculators. (Hear, hear.) He was thoroughly in accord with the resolutions, but it was a question whether the Minister of Customs could exercise the power. He thought himself it was a matter for the States. It was a universal drought throughout Australia, and in Queensland they were worse off than New South Wales. South Australia was just as bad. He did not want to be an alarmist, but the loss of stock would be amazing indeed when the returns came to be made up. Millions of sheep had been lost in the Western district. Sheep were being fed with fodder, and already the supply had almost been exhausted.

The Minister for Lands in New South Wales, after making inquiries, states that the supply of fodder is practically exhausted. We have the winter before us, with very little likelihood of rain, and even if rain does come there is very little prospect of food, seeing that frost may follow with prejudicial results. Mi1. Crick proceeded -

The States Governments should take the matter in hand and pay the duties, if the Federal Government would not suspend them.

In any case, Mr. Crick declares that something should be done by either the Federal Government or the States Governments. Matters are so serious in New South Wales and Queensland, and also, I believe, in South Australia, that it behoves us to put all party politics aside, and consider the position as it affects the whole people of Australia. I believe that a deputation has been arranged, representative of the settlers of New South Wales, to wait on the Federal Government, with a view to urge that steps should be taken to relieve the distress as quickly as possible. The following extract from the Melbourne Age is further proof that this question is being considered in no party spirit : -

Tlie condition of the country in the Balranald district is one of drought, dust, and desolation. The drought, which has lasted for the past seven : years, and still continues, has brought the pastoralists and the selectors face to face with the worst season ever experienced in the Western Riverina.

I make this quotation in order to show that what applies to the Riverina district applies generally throughout New South Wales. I speak from personal experience as well as from reliable information, and in support of 1113’ statements I may read a further extract from the Age in order to show the condition of that State -

It has the advantage of having two rivers, the Edwards and the Wakool, within its boundaries, and being moderately stocked and kept clear of rabbits, some feed is visible still, and the condition of the sheep is remarkably good in comparison with other (locks in the district. Nearly (iO waggons, drawn by horses or bullocks, are engaged in carrying feed from Swan Hill to stations in the Balranald district. From the beginning of the present month to date, 23rd inst., 050 tons of hay and chaff, 93,000 bushels of oats, 25,088 bushels maize, 11,280 bushels wheat, and 16,3li0 bushels bran have been carried at an aver- age cost of £3 per ton for road carriage, which, added to the high price ruling for those kinds of fodder, makes the expense of feeding starving stock very great.

Mr Brown:

– Fodder has to be brought also from the other colonies.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– That is so in some cases.

Mr Page:

– A shipload was sent away from Warrnambool this week.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– That is so ; but I am now speaking of a State of which I have practical knowledge. Honorable members, during the recent visit of inspection to the capital sites, had an opportunity of seeing the fringe of the droughtstricken country ; and it will be realized that even if rain does come it will be impossible for the settlers and others interested to continue operations. For the first time in many years, I find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Richmond, who admits that some relief should be afforded, though he doubts whether any steps we may take will be of very great advantage. As to the latter opinion, I join issue with him ; but whether he be right or not, the Government ought to take some action. If the duties be suspended the Government will show, at all events, that they have done what they could to prevent the raising of prices by artificial means ; and that is all we ask in fairness to the great bulk of the people of Australia. Honorable members, I feel quite sure, are alive to the importance of the position, and, with the Attorney-General, see the necessity for prompt steps. The honorable members for Illawarra and Canobolas have mentioned several cases of disaster, and I could refer to many others, in which stock have been handfed for months in the hope that relief would come. In many instances, notwithstanding the expense incurred, 60 or 70 per cent, of the stock have been lost, while in other cases all have died. During the last few weeks the price of fodder has risen very high.

Mr Kingston:

– What is the price of hay in Sydney 1

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Last week I paid £7 10s. per ton for lucerne hay. for my own use. Green hay can be bought at a cheaper rate ; but the use of that leads to loss of weight in the stock. As showing how the drought affects dairy farmers, I may tell honorable members that a neighbour of mine, who farms 300 acres and has some 60 head of dairy cattle with young stock, told me the other day that in a paddock where previously he got 1,000 bushels of grain, this year he has only got two bushels. The same dairy farmer is now, for the first time in seven years, called upon to hand feed his stock, and this is costing him 26s. per day. I am pleased to hear the sympathetic reply of the Attorney-General, who seems to take a very fair view of the case. We have been given a promise that the matter will be considered by the Cabinet, and I entertain the hope that during the coming week the Government and this House may be able to afford some relief. I trust that there will be no delay, so that the Government may have the approval of the House in the steps it may take. I know that one or two of the States may take exception to the course proposed, though I hope that will not be the ca.se Even if one or two States did not agree with the recommendation] submitted to them, I feel sure that the Government would not allow the people of the other States to suffer by reason of that narrow-mindedness. I hope that they will attend to the matter at once, and strive from every point of view to offer relief as early as possible.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

-! wi wish I could take the same hopeful view of what will eventuate from the so-called promise made by the Attorney-General as do other honorable members on this side of the House. I listened carefully to the honorable and learned gentleman’s speech, but heard him make no promise. He made a speech which was full of “ ifs “ and “ buts,” and said that under certain circumstances certain action would be taken. But there were as many loop-holes in the honorable and learned gentleman’s speech as there are in the usual Ministerial promises ; therefore, I am not hopeful that any drastic steps will be taken to afford sufficient relief.

Mr Deakin:

– Blessed is he who expecteth nothing.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I shall be delighted if I am surprised on this occasion. Taking the statements of Ministers generally. I cannot see any hope in them. They say, for example, that amongst other things they are going to inquire into the price of fodder, and yet, as soon as an honorable member quotes a price a Minister replies - “You have been had,” indicating that the Government, and particularly the Minister for Trade and Customs, know all about the matter. The Minister for Trade and Customs must be seized of all the circumstances as to the price of fodder and its availability : if he is not so informed he has made but poor use of his opportunities. At all events he cannot have taken much interest in this question since its discussion a month ago on a motion for adjournment. On that occasion we had some sympathetic statements from the Government. The Minister for Trade and Customs was almost as sympathetic then as was the Attorney-General to-day. He said that he would do anything that could possibly help the owners of starving stock. The Attorney-General said the same thing to-day. But immediately after that beautiful expression of sympathy which fell from his lips - and no one knows better than he does how to give expression to such utterances - the Attorney-General went on to indicate the course which the Government propose to follow. Here is what they are going to do in the course of a few days : They are going to wire to all the State Governments of Australia ; they intend to make inquiries as to the prices and supplies of fodder, and into the local bearing of the question, in order to see if any tremendous consequences will arise from action on their part. In addition to all that, the Government propose to ask the States Governments if they themselves cannot meet the situation instead of the Federal Government being called upon to do anything. That is precisely what I object to. The Government have no right to consult State Governments concerning their own powers in relation to the remission of these duties. None of the State Governments will object, except, perhaps, those of Tasmania and Western Australia. We are told that they may object ; that a fair season has been enjoyed in those States, and that presumably fodder is available there. Assuming that there is an abundance of fodder iu Western Australia, what comfort does it give us? We are told that it costs £3 per ton for the carriage of the fodder alone, and what comfort is there in the knowledge that there is fodder in certain States which is not available to people possessing starving stock in other parts ? We have had the same statement before. We were told by an honorable member representing one of the Queensland electorates that there was plenty of fodder in Northern Queensland selling at 25s. per ton. The answer to that statement is that £7 10s., £8, and up to £9 per ton is being paid for fodder in New South Wales at the present time. ‘

Mr Kingston:

– How much for wheaten hay?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– How much for chaff? I suspect from the readiness with which the right honorable gentleman interjects that he has a knowledge of the prices and present stocks. If he does not know anything about them he has only to read the Age. It is a strange thing that, immediately after the Attorney-General has s 1id that the Government are going to make close inquiries into the prices and stocks of fodder in the Commonwealth, some Ministers begin to interject and take exception to statements made as to the ruling prices. Whatever the prices may be, it is absolutely certain that in this time of great scarcity they are higher than they would be if the duties were not imposed. That is why we ask for the suspension of the duties until a time of greater plenitude comes round. That is our position to-day, and the price of fodder is immaterial to our contention. The material point is that the prices are increased by the duties. We are asking, in the interests of owners of starving stock, who are suffering so severely, that these duties may be remitted until better times appear. In my judgment, a grave departure will be made from sound constitutional practice if the Federal Government inquire from the Governments of the

States whether these duties ought to be remitted, or whether the States Governments themselves can meet the difficulty. Do not the Government realize that if they have a right to consult the people of the States as to the remission of duties they have an equal tight to consult them in regard to their imposition ? If they consult the States Governments, an awkward precedent will be created. They should not approach the States Governments with regard to these duties, and they certainly ought not to suggest to them that they can. remit and refund duties which have already been collected. The Minister f,or Trade and Customs is never tired of telling us that the Federal Government cannot make refunds. If the Government which introduced these duties are unable to make any refunds, is it likely that a State Government, with less machinery at their disposal for investigation, will, be able to do so? Yet that is the proposal made to-day by the Attorney-General. The. Government actually propose to ask the States Governments to refund these duties to those who have paid them.

Sir William McMillan:

– That would be an infringement of the equality of trade.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Of course, but I am dealing with the policy which the Federal Government ought to adopt with regard to the States. If they make any suggestion such as has been indicated, it will alford the clearest possible proof that the Commonwealth can refund duties. Apart altogether from the fiscal question, it is an astounding proposition to put before the House that the Federal Government should suggest to any State Government that, because the Commonwealth is unable to - refund the duties which have been already collected, the States should do so. It is a monstrously unequal proposition to make. The Federal Government have no more right to remit duties partially than they have to collect them partially. What they themselves would nob do, they have no right to suggest should be done by the States Governments. Why is this proposal made? Merely because two small States, with only a modicum of the population of Australia, have enjoyed a good season, and ‘ have a little fodder of which to dispose. Did the Government consult any of the individual States when the fodder duties were imposed ? If they did not, why should the)7 consult a minority of the people in any proposal affecting the people as a whole ? The condition of affairs in Tasmania has no right to weigh in the scale against the rights of Australia, and particularly at a time of great national emergency. Therefore I hope that the Government will not resort to the indirect investigation which they are proposing. They have all the means at their disposal to make themselves thoroughly acquainted with what is necessary. They have all the opportunities and powers to give the relief now asked. The urgency of the case requires .that, instead of making propositions for delay, they should take prompt action, bold action - action which they know well will be supported enthusiastically throughout the greater portion of Australia - in the direction of giving relief, so that the people may not be burdened with these duties during a time of unparalleled drought. It is apparent to those who read the newspapers that we are passing through a time the like of which has never been known in Australia. In addition to what has been said about starving stock, I should like to say a word or two in reference .to starving farmers who have no stock, and whose ground will not produce anything. In the district which I represent there are hundreds of farmers in that position. The ground is absolutely baked, and the crops which they have put in have not appeared above the surface. These men, who are all penalized by this visitation of Providence, require consideration. Therefore, it is more than a question of the mere starving of stock, although that in itself should excite our keenest sympathy, and is sufficient justification for the extraordinary proceeding which we ask the Government to take. In the interests of these people, the duties on grain and fodder, and everything surrounding the farmer, should be removed by the Federal Government. If that wholesale remission of duties may not take place, we should at least make an attempt bo keep our starving stock alive. If action be not taken speedily there will be no stock to feed. In New South Wales sheep are dying at the rate of thousands a day.

Mr Salmon:

– Where does the fodder come from ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is beside the question. The theory that has been upheld by honorable members on this side all through the Tariff debate is that if supplies from other countries are shut out prices in the Commonwealth must go up. Will the honorable member deny that Australiangrown fodder is now at famine prices?

Mr Salmon:

– Yes.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Does the honorable member know that in some places they are paying £9 and £10 a ton for hay?

Mr Kennedy:

– Those high prices are due to the cost of carriage. If fodder could be obtained for nothing in Melbourne, it would cost almost as much as that to deliver it in some parts of New South Wales.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– If the honorable member were a New South Wales stockowner, being a practical hard-headed man, he would try to obtain fodder from whereever he could get it cheapest, whether that place happened to be the Argentine, Queensland, New Zealand, or Tasmania. By excluding supplies from other countries, and preventing competition, we keepup prices within the Commonwealth in a time of scarcity.

Mr Salmon:

– But the price of hay is the same in New Zealand as in Victoria.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Whatever the price in New Zealand may be the Sydney price is increased by reason of the import duties. Is it fair to quote Victoria in this connexion ? The honorable member knows well that some parts of Riverina have experienced a fairly good season, and that in some parts of Victoria there has been an excellent season. What is of importance in this consideration is the prices ruling in Sydney, and in the inland centres of New South Wales, where people have to go to buy food for their stock. It is of no use to quote Victorian prices. The unparalleled drought which now exists will mean the utter paralysis of the pastoral industry in Queensland and New South Wales, unless steps are taken to make produce cheaper. The Government have power to act immediately, without entering upon the fishing inquiry which the AttorneyGeneral suggests; but if this inquiry has to be undertaken, I hope that it will be carried through as speedily as possible, certainly not later than next week. If the decision of the Government be to afford the relief for which we ask, the country will be grateful for the concession.

Mr CHANTER:
Riverina

– I should like to say a few words upon this question, as I represent the constituency which, I think, hassuffered moref rom the droughtthan any other part of Australia. The honorable member for Parramatta stated that in one part of Riverina there had been a good season, but I should like to know what part he referred to. In Riverina they have suffered not merely from one dry season, but from seven, and they are now entering upon their eighth. I think there is not an honorable member, no matter what his fiscal views, who does not deeply deplore the terrible loss and suffering winch the drought has caused, and who would not be willing to do all that is possible to relieve those who are suffering. The Government are asked to suspend the duties upon fodder in order to enable pastoralists and others who have to feed starving stock to purchase hay and other feed at lower prices ; but does any one believe that if the price of fodder were reduced by £1 per ton, that would appreciably relieve the distress that now exists ?

Sir William McMillan:

– It would remove our responsibility in the matter.

Mr CHANTER:

– The remarks of the New South Wales Minister of Lands have been quoted by several honorable members this afternoon ; but it must be recollected that he is a lawyer, and therefore he sees the constitutional difficulty which prevents the Government from dealing with this question as rapidly as some honorable members think possible. We have to consider, in regard to this matter, other States besides New South Wales and Queensland, and while I feel sure that the Commonwealth Government will do all that it can to assist the people, the real aid must come from the States Governments. They have been receiving revenue from the occupiers of the lands of the country, and the greater part of the money collected through the Customs is returned to them. New South Wales has received more in this way than any other State, and has indeed complained, about the amount which she has been receiving. But, inasmuch as she has been able to obtain such a large return, the Government of that State might do something to relieve the sufferers. I think, too, that the. Queensland Government might do something, though that State is not in so strong a financial position as the State of New South Wales. The honorable member for Canobolas represents a district which has suffered very severely from drought, but the

Condobolin district has not suffered anything’ like so severely as the western district of New South Wales and south-western Riverina. While I am at one with honorable gentlemen in their desire to afford relief, I unhesitatingly say that there are thousands of unfortunate settlers who would not be in a position to - buy fodder, even if the duties upon agricultural produce were remitted to-morrow. If the State is not in a position to come to their rescue by providing fodder for them, and assisting them in saving their stock, the loss will ultimately be felt by .the whole people. The full extent of the loss now going on will only be known later ; I am afraid to say what I know is happening day by day.

Sir William McMillan:

– Should we not remove duties which artificially increase the price of fodder1?

Mr CHANTER:

– Does the honorable member, as a sound business man, believe that the remission of the duties upon agricultural produce will materially assist the pastoralists in saving their stock 1

Sir William McMillan:

– I think that it would affect prices.

Mr CHANTER:

– We have been told to-day that there are sufficient supplies within the Commonwealth to provide for the wants of those who require agricultural produce, and if that is so, the duties are not affecting prices at all.

Sir William McMillan:

– If the duties were remitted, there would be importation and competition, and that would reduce prices.

Mr CHANTER:

– We have been told that the only place outside Australia within a reasonable distance to which we could send for supplies is New Zealand, and prices in New Zealand are practically the same as prices in Victoria.

Mr Brown:

– They are sending orders for fodder from Sydney to the Argentine.

Mr CHANTER:

– Australia, instead of retaining her fodder- supplies for her own use, took advantage of a demand elsewhere to export hundreds of thousands of tons which it would have been better for her to keep. In my opinion, very little relief can be given by the Federal Government. I think that relief oan be given only in the way which I have indicated, and I believe that the outcome of the deputation which is to wait upon the Government to morrow will be that arrangements will be made with the States Governments to do something.

No doubt the Federal Government will give the most favorable consideration to all suggestions for affording assistance, and I hope that whatever can be done will be done as quickly as possible.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I do not understand how honorable members can argue that it -is not within the power of the Government to remit the duties upon fodder. The power of the Government to. deal with Customs duties is derived from that section of the Constitution Act which declares that upon the establishment of tha Commonwealth the control of the* customs and excise shall be vested in the Executive Government. The present duties were imposed by executive act, and it rests with the Ministry to remit them in exactly the same way as they imposed them. These duties will not become law until they have been assented to by both Houses of Parliament.

Sir John Quick:

– But there are State laws to be considered.

Mr CONROY:

– In New South Wales no duties were levied upon fodder prior to the introduction of the Tariff. The Government have it within their power to do away with the whole of the duties at once. When one realizes the extent to which the country is suffering from the effects of drought, one can only think that some mania possesses the Cabinet which prevents them from taking the immediate action that common humanity demands. One Minister, in another place, reminded those honorable senators who advocated a remission of the fodder duties that the people in Tasmania were making a good thing out of the scarcity in the other States. We cannot expect much sympathy from Ministers who express themselves in that way. They are as bad as the undertaker’s boy who, when he heard of his mother’s, death, said that it was a good thing, because it would provide more work for his father. One wonders whether there is any human sympathy in the hearts of Ministers. They seem to be so thoroughly possessed with the’ idea of giving employment that I should not be at all surprised to hear that the Minister for Trade and Customs considers the drought a good thing, because it affords employment to the large number of men who are engaged in skinning dead sheep and cattle. One has to go back to the time prior to the abolition of the. corn laws to find any parallel for the present. case, in which public men are rejoicing over tlie misfortunes of the people. I trust that whatever Ministers may do, their supporters will be possessed of infinitely more mercy, and that they will recollect that it is only by the suspension of the fodder duties that means can be afforded for keeping hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle alive.

Mr KENNEDY:
Moira

-! have not heard any expressions such as those just now referred to by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, but on the other hand I think that the sympathy expressed for those who hold stock has been general. There is, however, an honest difference of opinion, even amongst stockowners, as to the possibility of keeping stock alive by artificial feeding. I speak with some experience, and I venture to say that duties or no duties, with artificial feeding or otherwise, we shall lose stock unless by the grace of Providence rain falls very soon.

Mr Brown:

– We shall lose a lot more if we do nothing.

Mr KENNEDY:

– It is a singular fact that although no duties were imposed upon fodder in New South Wales, the squatters in that State have lost 25,000,000 sheep in the last five years. We cannot make a success of our pastoral industry by feeding our sheep on imported fodder. No doubt great credit is due to those who have developed the pastoral industries of Australia, but unfortunately pastoralists generally - and I do not attempt to exempt myself from culpability - have been to a very large extent possessed with the thought that all that it was necessary for them to do was to get on a horse and ride round their paddocks and round up sovereigns. If they found they could not do so they forthwith applied to the Government for assistance. The conditions under which the pastoral industry is carried on in Australia are more favorable than are those which obtain in almost any other country, but pastoralists have been too dependent upon the Government. After allowing their properties to be eaten out by overstocking, and by allowing the rabbits to overrun them, they squeal because the Government will not remit customs duties which are practically a mere fly on the wheel. Half-a-pound of wheat per day will keep a sheep alive, and in fair condition, provided the animal has easy access to water. In some of the districts which are now most impoverished ‘ and in which stock owners are suffering most severely, the farmers sold their last season’s wheat at 2s. per bushel, and the pastoralists allowed the grain to go out of the district without any thought for the future, although they had passed through one of the worst of springs and winters experienced for many years. Now they are buying back the same class of wheat at a cost of about is. per bushel, and have the cheek to come to the Federal Government and ask for concessions. Improvidence is the chief bane of the agriculturists and pastoralists of Australia. What does the duty on fodder amount to 1 The principal part of the cost of fodder is represented by freight, and the remission of the duty will represent a comparatively small percentage of the total outlay involved. One bushel of wheat will keep a sheep alive for four months, and wheat could have been obtained in some of the districts that are now suffering most for 2s. a bushel a few months ago. The squatter, however, would not buy it then. Some of the farmers in my own district actually sold their hay crops for £1 per ton on the ground, or for 30s. per ton put into the stack, and are now buying hay which costs them £5 per ton at the railway station. Still they come to the Government and ask them to remit the duty amounting to £1 per ton. They have been throwing away sovereigns broadcast, and afterwards going down on their knees to scrape up pennies. I fully sympathize with those who find themselves in dire straits owing to the prolonged drought. I am suffering myself, because I have to buy feed for stock upon which I depend for my living, but there is no use in dealing with this subject on a false basis.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Does the honorable member think that it is a good thing that the duties have increased the cost of fodder ?

Mr KENNEDY:

– They have not increased the cost. Last week we sent from Melbourne to South Africa 8,1.00 bales of hay. The reason this fodder was not sent to the other States, or to the droughtstricken districts of Victoria, was because the prices given by those who were buying for South Africa were quite as good as those offered by stock-owners within the Commonwealth. The prices in New Zealand to-day are on a parity with those ruling in Melbourne, and they are in each case regulated by the export value of the article.

Those who speak about the advantage that we are to obtain from the remission of the duties do not know what they are talking about. Do honorable members realize how long it would take to cable to the Pacific coast and obtain supplies of fodder from there ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Does the honorable member say that nothing can be done 1

Mr KENNEDY:

– I do not say that ; but I say that more can be done by prevention than by any haphazard cure at the present time.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is cold comfort.

Mr KENNEDY:

– Yes: and I am amongst those who have to take it. Those who say that the present distress is unparalleled must have very short memories. Only five years ago the conditions generally were much worse than they are to-day. More stock was being lost at this time of the year in 1S97 than is the case today ; and going back to still earlier periods, I remember that 25 years ago in the district in which I live wild horses, and even kangaroos, could be caught by men on foot, simply because they were too poor to move out of the road. It is not so to-day. On one station in that locality they lost the equivalent of 20,000 sheep, whilst to-day, upon the same station, there are stock, the equivalent of 100,000 sheep, and they have not lost a hoof up to the present time. In the mid eighties they had in some districts in New South Wales to combat just as bad conditions as those which prevail to-day. I am not amongst those who say it is not possible to do something, but I contend that there is not a great deal to be achieved by the remission of the duties. Better results will follow from taking heed of the object lessons now presented to us. The honorable member would lead us to believe that beef is at famine prices. The fact is, however, that the best beef can be purchased in the Metropolitan Meat Market of Melbourne, at 3-d. per lb. by the carcass.

M r. Brown. - The Age does not say so.

Mr KENNEDY:

– The Age does, and is confirmed by the Argus. On the 20th inst., at the Metropolitan Meat Market, prime bullocks were 29s. to 30s. per 100 lbs., and prime wethers 2f d. per lb. That means that the best fat mutton on the market could be bought for less than 3d. per lb. ; and there is nothing special in that circumstance. 37 f

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Then we are all prosperous ?

Mr KENNEDY:

– Not necessarily so; but what about the outcry of those who were raising stock when they could not get Id. per lb. for beef and’ mutton, and wheat was selling at ls. 6d. per bushel ? The law of averages will work out, and different sections of the community must meet from time to time with conditions adverse to their peculiar situation in life. That is no reason, of course, wiry ohe class should not assist the other ; and it is certainly hard on the industrial community when food products reach famine prices. Those who contend that the Customs duties are going to ruin all the pastoralists of New South Wales, carefully obscure the fact that when there were no Customs duties in that State the loss of sheep was 5,000,000 per year for five consecutive years.

Sir William McMillan:

– That is noargument.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I am not saying that . it is an argument ; but it was made to appear that the duties were the be-all and end-all of the pastoralists’ existence. The values of produce are not altogether governed by the demand occasioned by starving stock, as is shown by the fact that . last week 8,100 bales of hay were shipped from Melbourne to South Africa, and that hay, presumably, had been sold at the samerate as was hay for other purposes.

Sir William McMillan:

– There are often forward orders which have to be fulfilled.

Mr KENNEDY:

– That is correct, and the same condition applies to oats. On theother hand, however, we have practically the same prices prevailing in New Zealand as in Victoria. The great difficult)’ which confronts those who have to feed stock, especially in the interior, lies in the charges for the cost of carriage. Some years ago I had an interest in a property in the Lachlan country, and it cost £15 per ton for the carriage of the fodder which I could buy at £5 per ton. It was the cost of carriage which rendered the price prohibitive for stock-keeping purposes, the stock being too poor to get within reasonable distance of a railway line.

Sir William McMillan:

– That would occur under any circumstances.

Mr KENNEDY:

– That may be; but it is one of the great difficulties at the present time. Although I am a farmer and grazier myself, I unhesitatingly say that the chief cause of our present trouble is improvidence and want of forethought on the part of those similarly engaged. At any price they will dispose of fodder, which it would pay them well to conserve, so as to insure themselves against the serious loss to which they are subject under the peculiar climatic conditions throughout Australia. Great stress was laid upon the matter of rebates, and when the question was discussed I was amongst those who said that, even if the stuff were carried for nothing, it would not’ make any serious difference. From Melbourne to the border where I live, hay and chaff can be carried for about11s. per ton over a distance of 100 to 150 miles. A rebate of one-third, or 33 per cent., may be regarded as considerable, but it means only 4s. or 5s. a ton ; and what man who has starving stock would allow that sum, or even £1 per ton, to influence him when on the otherhand he had to consider 1,000 or 2,000 sheep, or 100 head of cattle?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Then why are farmers asking for the remission of the duty?

Mr KENNEDY:

– Although for the last month I have been in close touch with the farmers and graziers in the district which I represent, and also in New South Wales, I have not heard a single request for a remission of the duty.

Mr Brown:

– There will be a deputation from the graziers of New South Wales to the Government to-morrow.

Mr KENNEDY:

– The conditions may be different in New South Wales. I am speaking of the district I represent, and adjacent country, of which I have intimate knowledge ; and I say that it is by taking heed of the present, and giving thought to the future, that the pastoralists and agriculturists will be able to do most for themselves, and make most effective assurance against loss. It is a reflection upon our intelligence and enterprise that we cannot grow sufficient fodder for our own requirements. We are given to boasting of the immense possibilities of Australia, and yet, because of a three months’ or six months’ drought, we have to import fodder to keep our sheep and cattle alive.

Mr Poynton:

– If the honorable member said a drought of as many years he would be more correct.

Mr KENNEDY:

– There has been a limited rainfall. We had a bad winter and spring and could not grow any herbage worth speaking of.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– There has been a steady diminution in the number of sheep in New South Wales for the last six years.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I might tell the honorable member that a good seasonable rainfall in March, 1900, brought more trouble to the graziers of the Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan than any thing which has occurred before or since. At the time I mention, there was a rainfall of 4 or 5 inches, and the graziers bought sheep at any price, the result being ruin to themselves.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Then rain is a calamity, and drought is a calamity?

Mr KENNEDY:

– Rain was a calamity in the instance I have given, and while our nature continues as at present, and the gambling spirit is not eliminated, we are all apt to take a certain amount of risk, the results of which very often afford cause for grave reflection. In this matter, forethought will do more than will any sudden remission of the duty.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:
Robertson

– The honorable member for Moira has delivered a most remarkable speech. As a farmer and grazier, he has made statements which I think he would not have made had he given fuller consideration to the matter. The honorable member commenced by saying that pastoralists are improvident, and that they neglected to buy wheat when it was selling at 2s. a bushel. But it is no part of the business of a pastoralist to buy or to grow wheat ; his business is to grow wool, and do what he can in the way of conserving water for his sheep. No one supposed that this drought would continue for such a length of time, or otherwise pastoralists might have bought wheat for 2s. a bushel.

Mr Kennedy:

– What I said was that after the worst winter and spring the pastoralists allowed wheat to go out of their districts at 2s. a bushel.

Mr Kingston:

– Does the honorable member for Robertson think that 2s. a bushel for wheat pays?

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– TheMinisterfor Trade and Customs should be a good authority on the point, seeing he comes from the farinaceous village. That, however, is not the question we are discussing at the present time. The honorable member for Kennedy further said that the pastoralists sold hay at £2 per ton, and were now buying it in at a much higher rate.

Mr Kennedy:

– I said that was done by farmers in my own district.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– The pastoralists do not grow wheat or hay, and consequentlycannot have acted in the way described. It is the man with the small holding as well as the pastoralist who is suffering from the drought to-day, and it was he who sold wheat at 2s. a bushel, and now reaps no benefit from the increase in price. All the advantage of the increase in price of wheat and hay goes to the middleman, who bought in large quantities in order to supply demands from other parts of the Commonwealth. I have been through a district where the people are suffering extensively from the drought, and I found that at Wellington station there were stored £3,000 worth of wheat, which had been bought at 2s. 6d. per bushel from small farmers, and which today is saleable at 4s. 6d. Those who parted with wheat at 2s. 6d., have to content themselves with seeing the prices rise without reaping any benefit, and they have now to pay an extra £1 per ton for the fodder imported. The honorable gentleman asked why hay, which went from Australia to South Africa, was not sent to the States where it was said to be required ? Does he mean to suggest that hay is not required in the Stateswhere the drought exists? Does he ignore the fact that orders for the supply of fodder in South Africa are of long standing, and that they have been placed chiefly in Victoria, where a good season has been experienced ? The honorable member for Moira said that mutton was selling in Melbourne at 2½d. per lb.

Mr Kennedy:

– No ; thehonorable member has misquoted me in three instances.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– If the honorable member had only given some consideration to the matter, I am sure that he would not have made the statements which he did. A fewdays ago, while I was visiting Albury, a gentleman pointed out to me a district on the Victorian side of the border where, it is said, the people are not sorry that the drought prevails inother parts of Australia. There they are able to grow fat cattle, and to sell at toprates. Cattle from that district are sent across the border, far into New South Wales, where fabulous prices are being paid for beef. I thought that I should point out why many farmers in Victoria do not desire that the duties on fodder should be removed. Owing to the existence of these duties they are able to obtain for their produce in New South Wales £1 per ton more than would otherwise be paid. If, as said by the AttorneyGeneral, the States should make a refund to those who have paid the duties-

Mr Deakin:

– I said that they might do so.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– The honorable and learned gentleman said that if refunds were made by the States Governments, sufficient relief would be afforded. But unless it were made known atonce that such a refund would be granted, the result to the purchaser of fodder would not be that which the Attorney-General anticipates. The increased price paid for fodder going into New South Wales from the other States is due to the fact that duty to the extent of £1 per ton has to be paid on fodder imported from the Argentine Republic, Chili, and other places beyond the Commonwealth. No refunds can be made to those who have paid the increased price for fodder produced within the States. The difference represented by the duty has gone into the pockets of the suppliers in Victoria andcertain otherStates, although refunds might be made inrespect of importations from abroad. In the course of his speech, the Attorney-General expressed sympathy with the suffering farmers and stock-owners throughout Australia, but he is not prepared to offer them any relief. He says that the Government will communicate with the various State Governments, and ascertain whether they are willing that the duties should be removed. I contend that it is the duty of theGovernment to administer all the services taken over by the Commonwealth in the way in which they think proper, and that these duties should be remitted by the Government, instead of the States being requested to make refunds.

Mr Deakin:

– The honorable member is confusing two pants of my speech.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– The AttorneyGeneral said that there was no technical difficulty in the way of the remission of the duties, but that there were constitutional difficulties. Then he said that the Government would communicate with the States Governments, and ascertain whether there was any objection on their part to that which he admitted presented no technical difficulties.

Mr Deakin:

– The honorable member is misconstruing what I said.

__ {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- It looks as if the Government had been moved in this matter by the report of a meeting which was' held in Sydney to arrange for a deputation to wait on the Commonwealth Government. The most prominent speaker at that meeting is a member of the State. Ministry. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr Brown: -- The Government promised to consider this matter last night, before the report referred to had been published. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Hear, hear. We sent this morning for the information to which the honorable member refers. {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- The resolution passed at the meeting may have come to the knowledge of the Government last night. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- It did not. {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- Then the Government will have the benefit of the doubt. It is singular that they propose now to take the course indicated by **Mr. Crick,** Minister of Lands in the New South Wales Government. The States Governments wish to administer the affairs of the Commonwealth as long as this. Government will allow them to do so. If the States can legally refund the amount of duties collected on fodder, is it not legal for the Commonwealth to remit the duties ? The Attorney-General says that I have misconstrued his remarks, but he admits that there is no technical difficulty in the way of a remission of the duty on fodder. If that is so, I believe it is the wish of the House that the duty should be remitted. It requires no words of mine to emphasize the suffering that prevails in New South Wales owing to the drought. If these duties are removed at once, the result will be to keep alive from 20 to 25 per cent, of stock which is now being fed. I think I can safely say that nearly all the small farmers and graziers of New South Wales have exhausted their reserve supplies of fodder. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- Does the honorable member say that the remission of the duties will cause prices to be reduced by 25 per cent1! {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- It will make a _ difference of 25 per cent, on the price of imported fodder. That is, if we have regard also to the cost of railway carriage. {: .speaker-KEW} ##### Mr Kingston: -- Whether the farmers import their fodder or not, the cost of carriage must be the same. {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- Undoubtedly that is so, but the remission of the duties will, ' nevertheless, make a difference pf 25 per cent. Rain has fallen in certain parts of New South Wales. I have been informed that on two. occasions there has been a downfall in the Bathurst district, and wherever that has taken place the farmers have been able not only to grow feed but to fatten sheep, and sell them at something like £2 per head. The fodder grown there is sold at the increased price ruling for imported hay as the result of the duty. At Wellington, in my own electorate, I heard of some farmers who had carefully preserved their supply of hay, and who were now obtaining for it a price equal to that of the imported article, with the freight and duty added. That goes to show that the consumer always pays the duty. I trust that the Government will make a remission of the duties at once, so that some relief may be given to farmers and settlers throughout those districts where drought prevails and so much suffering exists. {: .speaker-KED} ##### Mr Kennedy: -- I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Robertson has- attributed to me a statement that pastoralists sold hay at £2 pelton, and bought it back for £5 per ton. What I said was that in many districts farmers had sold last .season's hay as it stood in "the paddocks for £2 per ton, and that they were now compelled to repurchase it for £5 per ton. The honorable member also attributed to me a statement that the price of prime mutton in the metropolitan market was *2* per lb. As a matter of fact, I read from this morning's paper the prices ruling at the Metropolitan Meat- Market, Melbourne, and I said distinctly that the price of prime wethers, was 2d. per lb. The honorable gentleman also misquoted my speech when he asserted that I had declared that pastoralists had allowed wheat to go out of their districts at 2s. per bushel, and that they were now buying it back . at 4s. per bushel. What I did say was that, after passing through one of the worst winters and springs that pastoralists had ever experienced, and being without herbage or other food for their stock, they had nevertheless allowed wheat to go out of their district at 2s. per bushel, and that they were now buying it back at the ruling market rates. {: #subdebate-7-0-s15 .speaker-KUF} ##### Mr SPENCE:
Darling -- Some years ago a famine took place in India. Prior to its visitation, the Board of Revenue at Calcutta were repeatedly asked to make some preparation for what was inevitable, but their reply was that it was not their business to do so, and that they could not interfere with the law of supply and demand. I hope, that honorable members are not going to allow their fiscal fads to prevent them from urging the Government to do all they can to avert the threatened famine here. During the last five years 30,000,000 sheep, not to speak of cattle and horses,, have been lost in New South Wales. Victorians do not know what it is to suffer from the effects of the drought, and it is ridiculous for the honorable member for Moira to talk of the pastoralists growing fodder and- storing it. Throughout the western pastoral division of New South Wales, which is represented in this House by the honorable member for Riverina, the honorable member for Barrier, and myself, the people cannot grow supplies of fodder, though they have tried to do so year after year, and it would be well if the honorable member for Moira, before speaking upon the subject, had read the evidence taken by the Western Lands Commission, which travelled all through the country, and called before it witnesses from all parts. Almost the whole of that country is in a practically chronic condition of drought, and the people there cannot, provide themselves with adequate stores of hay for the supply of their stock', either by mowing down the native grasses, which grow so abundantly in good seasons, or by growing lucerne and oats by means of irrigation near the rivers, and on land which can be watered from artesian bores. It is not correct to say that this drought is not the most severe which has been known. The drought to which the honorable member referred, which caused such a large destruction of sheep, followed some particularly good seasons, and therefore came when the country was heavily over-stocked, so that the losses were abnormally great. The Australian pastoralists are men who know their business. They have brought the breeding of sheep to perfection, so that their wool is unsurpassed in the world, and they have been unable to avert this calamity. In the district which I represent almost all the stock have died, or, where runs- have been near a railway line, have been removed to other districts. But the seriousness of the position is now becoming accentuated, because the sheep, which were sent away into mountain districts such as the Monaro district, have to be. removed upon the approach of cold weather, and, unless the pastoralists can obtain produce upon which to feed them, they will lose the remnant which they have so carefully preserved. If they were not the most hopeful and sanguine of people, they would not have held out so long, and they would <not be making the desperate efforts they are now making to keep what sheep they have alive, but for the fact that if those sheep die there will be none with which to stock up again when the rain does come. Honorable members who recently visited various parts of New South Wales may think that they have seen the effects of a drought, but, although the districts through which they passed are suffering severely, they bear no comparison whatever with the droughtstricken areas of the west and of Queensland. One can travel hundreds of miles through the district which I represent, and on into Queensland, without seeing a vestige of grass. Nothing but dust meets the eye everywhere. I was a member of the Royal commission to which I have referred, and travelled all through these districts, so that I know the actual state of affairs. In some places even the eucalyptus is dying, because the sub-soil has become thoroughly drained of moisture, and all kinds of edible scrubs are dying, too. . I want to emphasize my statement that the present position amounts to famine. Honorable members forget that the prices of produce which have been quoted this afternoon are for fodder of a very inferior quality, and they may not be aware that when sheep are poor it is impossible to keep them alive upon either dry hay or chaff done. Hitherto the pastoralists have been using molasses to soften the chaff, but now in New South Wales the supply of molasses has run out, and they are feeding the stock upon chaff mixed with grain. Hay is not used because the sheep, in feeding, tread upon it and waste it. The grain supply of the world, however, is known to be a limited quantity, and the grain supply of Australia is certainly not now sufficient for the demands which will be made upon it. That being the case the Government must recognise that they cannot afford to refuse to interfere with the laws of supply and demand. The Government of India only found that out after a famine, in which millions of people died. In five years we have lost 30,000,000 sheep, which, according to *Coghlan,* were worth £15,000,000, which is about the total amount of the capital originally invested in the whole of the banks of Australia. Not only have we lost the sheep themselves, but we have also lost the progeny which was to be expected from them. Australia cannot stand these losses. I am surprised that honorable members in the face of this grave calamity are ready to discuss small details, such as the profits which this person and that person may be making. I do not know that the only thing which is to be done is to suspend the duties upon agricultural produce. I think the Government should co-operate with the States Governments in any action that will help to relieve the distress. If they intend to do nothing, they should say so, so that the stock-owners may know, and not go on spending borrowed money upon probably fruitless efforts. The New South Wales Government has already done a great -deal to assist its people. For several years past the New South Wales Railway Commissioners have been giving specially low rates for the carriage of fodder, and they are doing a great deal too in the way of supplying water. The people of Cobar depend entirely for their water upon the supplies brought by train, a distance of 120 miles, and the State Government are paying for that. The honorable member for Moira pointed out that the Victorian pastoralists have no drought to fear, but Victoria is a very small producer of wool in comparison with New South Wales and Queensland. I consider the honorable member's remarks as nothing less than an attempt to belittle a disaster whose results cannot be exaggerated. It has been said that people who sold their wheat are buying it back again, and I know of' a case in which people who sold for 2s. and 2s. 2d. a bushel are now buying back at 4s. and 4s. 6d. a bushel. It is not the growers who are getting the advantage of these high prices. It is the middleman, whose mission in life it is to make profit out of transactions such as these. But such matters are only petty details. What is necessary is that something should be done to help those who are suffering. Although sheep are very hardy animals, now that they are in a weak state the deprivation of food for a day or two will kill them, and they will be worth then only the little which their wool will fetch. I am glad that the Minister who represents the Prime Minister has given a sympathetic answer to our request, and I hope that prompt steps will be taken to do all that can be done to minimise this great evil. {: #subdebate-7-0-s16 .speaker-KYR} ##### Mr KIRWAN:
Kalgoorlie -- I should not have risen to speak but for the fact that the debate which has- taken place has been conducted almost wholly by representatives of New South Wales. Practically the only exception, the honorable member for Moira, who represents a Victorian constituency, did not speak in a very sympathetic strain, and lest- it should appear that honorable members generally are lacking in sympathy towards New South Wales and Queensland in this calamity, I have risen to make a few remarks. Fortunately Western Australia is not suffering from drought at present. We always have a drought more or less intense upon the gold-fields, and eight or nine inches of rain during the year we consider almost a deluge. I believe that the whole of the people in those States which are not affected look at this question in a broad and liberal spirit, and that they have much sympathy with the States which are suffering from drought. This is a question of importance to the whole of the Commonwealth, as it must affect our general prosperity. By remitting the duties on fodder, the Federal Government can assist those who are suffering, and I sincerely trust that they will see their way to do it. During the recent tour of the sites proposed for the federal capital, honorable members heard very harrowing tales of the terrible state of affairs which existed in the back-blocks of that State, and whatever can be done should be done to assist those who are in serious trouble. It is stated that the remission of the duties will not do much good, but every one must agree that some help will be afforded, and I hope this assistance will be at once extended. {: #subdebate-7-0-s17 .speaker-KRP} ##### Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- There is one point upon which honorable members who have spoken appear to be practically unanimous, and that is that the droughtstricken conditions in the large eastern States call for some immediate and drastic action on the part of the authorities. The honorable member for Richmond delivered a very sympathetic speech, but concluded his remarks by questioning whether the Government could do very much to relieve our settlers. I admit that it is not possible to do very much, but if anything can be done it is the duty of the Government to mitigate the present suffering as far as possible. The fact that our pastoralists have reached such an extreme condition as has been described by the honorable member for Richmond affords all the more reason why we should do what little we can to assist them. The Attorney-General was extremely sympathetic in his remarks. He did not definitely state what the Government proposed to do, and I do not wish to censure him for that. I admit that the question is one of such gravity, and involves such important constitutional considerations, that reasonable time must be given to the Government to arrive at a decision. The Attorney - General indicated certain methods that might be adopted, and he prominently put forward one, which appears to me to be so highly objectionable that I should like to warn the Government against taking any such step. The people of the Commonwealth look to the Federal Government and Parliament as the taxing authorities. Unfortunately, there was no other scheme of union possible, except one that placed the responsibility of raising money on the shoulders of the Federal Government, and the luxury of spending it in the hands-of the State Governments. That is- an unfortunate position, but we cannot help it. The taxpayer does not stop to think of who spends the money that is raised, but he knows simply the tax-gatherer, and thus the Minister for Trade and Customs must expect to receive whatever abuse may be heaped upon constituted authority when high prices rule for articles upon which duties have to be paid. If these duties are pressing with any severity upon the pastoral community, and are in any degree intensifying the suffering, which it is admitted exists, it is the taxing authorities to whom the people must look for relief. I hope that the Government, when they come to consider this matter, will not attempt in any shape or form to evade the high responsibility that attaches to them. For good or for evil this House, at any rate, has decided that certain duties' shall be collected upon fodder. The Government, however, are not collecting these duties under full legal authority, but by Executive act only. It must be admitted, therefore, that the Government who collect these duties under Executive authority have power to suspend them for a reasonable time to enable the pastoralists of Australia to secure fodder for their starving stock at the lowest possible prices. No argument can be raised against this- course on the ground of fiscal policy. In a time of scarcity or drought, or, I might almost say, in a time of famine - because we are standing on the very verge of a famine when there is not sufficient fodder in the Commonwealth to last for any considerable time - no reasonable argument can be adduced for collecting duties, unless it be argued that we should not disturb in any shape or form the policy that has been sanctioned by one House of Parliament. The Attorney-General put forward the view, which was also taken by **Mr. Crick,** the Minister of Lands in New South Wales, that the States Governments might pay the duty or give it back to the importers from whom it had been collected ; _ but does not the Attorney-General see, as the honorablemember for Wentworth has pointed out, that we should thereby be asking the States Governments to take action which would have the effect of disturbing the equality of trade? If it is possible, on the suggestion of the Federal Government, or without a suggestion from the Federal Government, for the States Governments, to refund duties that have been paid to the federal authorities, that course could be adopted in any number of cases, and the whole policy of the Commonwealth might be disturbed. On the broadest national grounds we ought to oppose any idea of encouraging the States to do anything of the kind. {: .speaker-KEW} ##### Mr Kingston: -: - Action of that sort could not be justified in cases where it would' disturb the equality of trade ; whereas it might be perfectly legitimate for the purpose of relieving distress. {: .speaker-KRP} ##### Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- Any action in the direction of allowing the States to refund to importers duties collected by the Commonwealth would introduce a principle attended by grave danger. {: .speaker-KHC} ##### Mr Higgins: -- Has that been proposed ? {: .speaker-KRP} ##### Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- I understand that the suggestion made by the Minister of Lands in New South Wales was that if the Federal Government could not suspend the duties, the States Governments might pay them back to the importers, and the AttorneyGeneral hinted that the States Governments might be asked to do so. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Not that they might be asked, but that they might do so. {: #subdebate-7-0-s18 .speaker-KRP} ##### Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- - Surely if the duties ha-ve to be remitted the proper constitutional course is to suspend their collection, and not to rely upon the StaLe.j Governments to refund- them after they have been collected by the Commonwealth. I could understand the Government taking up the position that the distress existing in any State is a matter of State concern, and that the State Government must relieve it, just as they provide for their own poor or maintain their own hospitals. But this is not a case of pauperism, because the people are being taxed at the present time on products which are at famine prices, and they are paying duties that are not necessary. The prices of their commodities are increased to the extent of the duties collected by the Federal Government, and there is not a State Government in Australia that would raise a whisper of protest against the suspension of the duties under the conditions now prevailing. I hope that the Government will consider this question upon the broadest grounds, and that they will suspend the duties for the time being. We do not ignore the difficulty that will have to be encountered, but, as the AttorneyGeneral stated, no mere technical consideration ought to stand in the way of granting relief under the exceedingly distressful circumstances. I wish to enter my protest against encouraging the idea that the States Governments are. to pay back the duties that have been collected by the Federal Government, or are to pay the duties for the importers in the way suggested. That would be introducing a principle capable of indefinite expansion. If such a course can be legally taken in this case, it may be taken at some future date in order to disturb the system of taxation adopted by the Commonwealth ; and would be entirely at variance with the principle of equality of trade laid down in the Constitution. 1 gather that there is no difference ofopinion in the House as to the reality of the distress which prevails in New South Wales and Queensland. There can be no argument adduced in favour of collecting the duties at the present time, seeing that they are not wanted for either protective or revenue purposes. I urge the Government to take the point of view put forward by honorable members this afternoon, and suspend the duties while the distress prevails. Question resolved in the affirmative. In Committee of Supply Department of Home Affairs Division 16 *(Electoral Office),* £1505 ; and Division 17 *(Public Service Commissioner),* £1,440, agreed to. Division 18 *(Inter- State Commission),* £1490, negatived. Division 19.- (Public Works), £9,066 {: #subdebate-7-0-s19 .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
Wentworth -- I question whether it is necessary for us to vote all the items before us, when it is absolutely clear that certain officers will not be appointed until after the 30th of June. Is the object of the Government simply to fix the salaries? I notice amongst the items, " InspectorGeneral of Works, at £1,000 from the 1st January, 1902, £500," and I do not see that it is necessary to consider this matter at the present time. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- If we do not deal with that item now, the Government will not be able to make an appointment. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- Does the Treasurer intend to embody in his Appropriation Bill the whole of the items in the Estimates ? {: .speaker-KWT} ##### Sir George Turner: -- Yes; it is the simplest way. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- That may be, but it will have the effect of an enormous writing off. {: .speaker-KWT} ##### Sir George Turner: -- No, not to any great extent. It would be moretrouble to go through the Estimates and alter the items, than to pass the items and not spend the money. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- I suppose the Treasurer has not been able to revise the Estimates as he would like, but it would be better to have no more than is necessary in the Appropriation Bill, or, otherwise, there is an apparently swollen expenditure. So far as I can see, thousands and thousands of pounds will appear in the Appropriation Bill, covering services which cannot came under review until after the 30th June. {: .speaker-KWT} ##### Sir George Turner: -- There cannot be very much under that heading. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- On an important item, such as that to which I have drawn attention, it would be well for the Minister for Home Affairs to give some explanation. I regard this as one of the most important appointments in the hands of the Federal Executive. This officer will be the head of thePublic Works department, and the Commonwealth architect. It will probably be his duty to get plans from all parts of the world for the federal capital, including those for the Parliament House and public buildings. The Inspector-General will have a great deal of patronage in connexion with these works, and he ought to be a man of the very highest attainments. He should also be a man in the prime of life, because, at our present rate of progress, heaven knows when we shall go to the federal capital ; and this officer ought to be reasonably youthful, and indulge the hope that he may accomplish all his work before going to his long account. It will be very difficult to get a thoroughly qualified man for the salary of £1,000 a year, and I hope the Executive will, in this connexion, exercise the greatest possible caution. The salary is far below that of the Judges and other high officials, and yet on this appointment will depend largely the artistic taste which we hope to see displayed in the future federal capital. {: #subdebate-7-0-s20 .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Minister for Home Affairs · Hume · Protectionist -- I am glad the honorable member for Wentworth has directed my attention to this particular office, which, though the salary is not large, should be filled by the best man obtainable. I think that, for the salary named, we shall be more likely to obtain the services of an officer not more than 35 years of age, who, in a few years, will prove much more valuable than a gentleman who, at the date of his appointment, was 50 or 55 years of age. The honorable and learned member for Parkes the other night made a few remarks which would apply in the present instance. When the honorable and learned member, as a Minister in the Government of New South Wales, appointed the present Government architect in that State, his intention was to stop the rapid growth of the department and have plans supplied from skilled members of the profession outside. Under the old plan, with a swollen department, the Government were limited to the services of their immediate employes, and I agree with the honorable and learned member for Parkes that it is far better to invite competitive designs for buildings of importance, though an arrangement might be made by which works below a certain value could be entirely planned in the department. It is proper that the Government should have the advantage of the experience and skill of as largo a number of architects as possible, and in this way the idea of the honorable and learned member was of much service in the neighbouring State. For the Kenmore Asylum, near Goulburn, competitive designs were invited, and the result is probably one of the finest buildings in New South Wales. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir William McMillan: -- That was a special building. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- But several other important buildings have been erected under similar circumstances, with equally good results. The honorable and learned member for Parkes was anxious to stop the growth of an expensive central architect's department; and that is my own object in asking the committee to provide for the appointment of an InspectorGeneral. I should like to give such an officer a better salary, because I want a man who can go to various parts of the Commonwealth, and after consultation with the heads of the States' departments, take the control of all the business connected with inviting competitive designs, and generally see that no more money than is necessary is expended. I can assure the committee that the very greatest care will be exercised in making this appointment. I shall not mention names, but there are three applicants for the position, two of whom are comparatively young, though the third cannot be so described. The Inspector-General of Works will control all the officers in the Commonwealth Public Works department, including superintendents, one of whom will be in each of the larger States. It has been suggested by South Australia and Tasmania, that in each of those States an officer paid jointly by the Commonwealth and the States should be employed, and I propose to adopt that course. The Inspector-General will control their work, and have an intimate knowledge of everything that is going on in connexion with the department. He will also keep himself informed as to the way in which works are being carried out for us by State officers. I do not know whether any reference is going to be made to the erection of the post-office at Newcastle, but I am informed that it is the intention of the honorable and learned member for Parkes to refer to it. I have secured all. the particulars relating to it, and it seems to me that we want just such an officer as we propose to appoint- a man high up in the profession - in order to see that something which has taken place in connexion with that building does not occur again. The original estimate was that the building would be erected for £19,000, but a sum of £33,000 has been, or will have been, expended upon it in a very short time. As a matter of fact the work, when completed, will have cost about £37,000. I only mention the matter incidentally; in order to show the necessity for the appointment of an Inspector-General. If I had had such an officer at my disposal, I should have been able to see that a little more cape was exercised in connexion with the building of the Newcastle post-office. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- Without proper supervision, the Government must lose all round. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- Quite so. At the proper time I shall explain that certain alterations have been made in connexion with the Newcastle post-office, although for what purpose I am unable to say. The alterations will certainly cost a very large amount, and if I had been consulted, I should not have allowed them. It was only when the matter cropped up the other day that I was afforded an opportunity of ascertaining the way in which the additional sum of money, to which I have referred, had been expended on the work. Our desire is to have one chief officer, with others under him, to enable us to control the expenditure on public works of the Commonwealth. The expenditure out of loan moneys and revenue for the year will amount to some £230,000 or £240,000. I think that the proposed works out of revenue alone represent an expenditure of £160,000, and certainly we require some supervision of them. {: #subdebate-7-0-s21 .speaker-JRR} ##### Sir EDWARD BRADDON:
Tasmania -- If Ministers will only satisfy me that no appointment is unnecessarily to be made under this division, and that there will be no expenditure in the way of travelling allowances without due reason, my objection to this item will disappear. I would remind the Minister for Home Affairs that a great portion of the repairs to public buildings owned by the Commonwealth can be carried out more efficiently under the control of the States than under the direct supervision of the Commonwealth department. Provided that there is a general control by the Inspector-General and his staff, which will be useful in the case of larger buildings, I think it might very well be arranged that all the smaller repairs and works of construction should be carried out by the officers of the States. I hope that course will be followed to the fullest extent practicable, having regard to the public interests. I should say that the InspectorGeneral, who will be responsible for the construction of new buildings when the capital is erected, will be very inadequately remunerated by the salary provided in the Estimates. When the federal capital comes to be erected he will have a very important duty to perform, and in my opinion the salary proposed is insufficient, having regard to the importance of the duties of the office. {: #subdebate-7-0-s22 .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK:
Bendigo -- I view this proposed vote with some degree of misgiving, and I am not yet satisfied that the time has arrived when it is necessary or advisable to create a Federal Public Works department of the magnitude indicated. I fear that we are proposing to create a new department of extravagant dimensions, which will certainly tend to add largely to the burdens of the Commonwealth, without any adequate necessity or demand. If such a department is necessary, I contend that it ought to be created by a separate Bill, and that it should not be dealt with by means of Estimates. The functions, powers, and duties which the department will be expected to perform could be defined in a separate measure. I think it is premature to launch a Eederal Works Department of this magnitude at the present stage. It is proposed to create thirteen new billets at an annual expense of over £4,000. Naturally, the Minister feels a certain amount of just pride in the department over which he presides, and also a sense of responsibility. No doubt he is anxious to be surrounded with officers to perform his duties. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- I am not. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- We should consider whether it is necessary that all these offices should be created now. I am certainly of opinion that at the present time most of the work proposed to be carried out by these officers should be performed by officers in the service of the States. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- Surely we should have to pay them? {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- It would not be necessary for them to be employed exclusively in the performance of these duties. Why should we duplicate the large number of inspectors and superintendents and chief draughtsmen of public works ? It may be desirable to have superintending officers to advise the Minister and to communicate with the Public Works departments of the various States, but I see no necessity for four superintendents, a chief draughtsman, a cadet draughtsman, a secretary, chief clerk, messengers, and all the paraphernalia of a huge- department. I am dissatisfied both with the details of tins vote and with the manner in which it is proposed to commit the Federal Government to a Public Works department." If the matter were dealt with in a separate Bill, we should be able to consider the details, and perhaps to lay down certain lines for the guidance of the department; but having regard generally to the conditions, I think that the services of the State officers might be effectively utilized. {: #subdebate-7-0-s23 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa -- I entirely disagree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. We shall have to' pay for these services in any case. If we allow the States to carry out our works we shall have to pay for them without having any say in the matter. Therefore no unnecessary expense is involved in this proposal. As a member of the Federal Parliament I object to the Commonwealth playing second fiddle to the States. The honorable and learned member for Parkes objected the other night to the day labour system, and said that he hoped that the Minister would see that our public works were carried out by contract. I am very pleased to say that in the *Herald* this afternoon a reply is given to the statement made by the honorable and learned member for Parkes in regard to the effects of the day labour system in New South Wales, and that the honorable and learned member comes out of it very badly. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Who makes the reply ? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- The man who was attacked by the honorable and learned member for Parkes - the Minister for Public Works in New South Wales. The honorable and learned member for Parkes told us last night of what he did when for three years he was Secretary for Public Works in New South Wales. I wish to inform the committee, however, that during his term of office the expenditure of that department, which had previously been about £700,000 per annum, increased to over £1,100,000 per annum. Was that wise administration? Yet he complained of the extravagance of the present Minister. He attacked him, too, because he has adopted the day labour system, which, according to the honorable and learned member for Parkes, costs from 50 to 100 per cent, more than the contract system. I propose now to read **Mr. 0?Sullivan's** reply to that criticism. It is contained in the following letter, which is published in to-night's Melbourne *Herald: - ?* In your report of the proceedings of the House of Representatives for Tuesday, 27th May, **Mr. Bruce** Smith is stated to have made certain remarks which reflect upon me.' In reply, permit me to say that all the principal works which I have carried but have been first investigated by the Public Works Committee of this State, and afterwards sanctioned by Parliament. They consist of 14 railways, 23 tramways, 10 telephone tunnels, 95 sewerage works, 185 artesian wells and public watering places, and IS distinct water conservation works. All of these are reproductive, and most of them have returned revenue to the State from the day of completion. Can these be said to be wildly extravagant ? In addition, I have started a great central railway station in Sydney, which has become absolutely necessary to work our railway system. That cannot truly be called extravagance. I have also carried out 185 harbor works, and over 1,500 public buildings have been either repaired or built. They are not directly reproductive, but they are so indirectly. I have also increased the road vote by £250,000 per year. This is an absolutely essential extra expenditure, because my predecessors had starved the road vote for five years, and I have had to do the work -they left undone. It will thus be seen that the charge of wild extravagance falls to the ground, because it has nothing more behind it than the utterance of **Mr. Bruce** Smith and a few other capitalistic representatives. At all events, my expenditure upon public works has not affected the credit of tlie country, because when this Government asked for a three million loan last week we had more than thirty-two million pounds offered to us, and the basis of that loan was public works. As- to **Mr. Bruce** Smith's statement, that day labour works- cost more than three times as much as contract works, it is a fair reflex of the ignorant criticism passed upon the day labour system by those who will not investigate it. As a matter of fact, I have shown in the public press over and over again, that, where the conditions are equal, day labour works ore cheaper and better than the contract system. The other assertion that the Builders' Association has several times challenged me to a comparison is equally untrue. As a matter of fact, when I offered to have a competition with the Builders' Association with regard to the pavilions at Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, the Association backed-out of tlie matter on the flimsiest of pretexts. **Mr. Bruce** Smith's education on these points has been neglected, or else his moral faculties have not yet been fully developed. Now let me come to **Mr. Bruce** Smith himself, and I think I shall be able to show that he is the last man in the world who ought to talk about extravagance. His judgment on railway matters has cost New South Wales dearly. For example, he built the Lismore to Murwillumbah railway upon which there is an annual loss of £29,273 ; Marrickville to Burwood-road, upon which we lose .£7,528 per annum ; Kiama to Nowra, upon which we lose £11,521 per year : Milson:s Point to Hornsby, upon, which we lose £.10,720 per year. These are only a few of the losses to which **Mr. Bruce** Smith committed New South Wales, and worse remain behind in another direction. **Mr. Bruce** Smith was the Minister for Works who bought Darling Island from a syndicate at a cost of £135,000, and for nearly ten years it remained upon our hands without ever being put to a public use. For ten years we had to pay the interest on £135,000, and wo never recovered one penny in the shape of rent to pay the interest on that large amount. At 4 per cent, that transaction has cost the country over £50,000 - so much public money thrown away by **Mr. Bruce** Smith to oblige his friends on the syndicate. From this it will bc seen that the difference between **Mr. Bruce** Smith and myself is this - I have spent money in the public interest, and can show a return for what I have spent so far as the lines have been tested. Upon four of his railways alone, **Mr. Bruce** Smith has inflicted a loss of over £57,000 per year, to say nothing of the £50,000 odd we have lost on the Darling Island transaction, owing to his tender regard for the position of the syndicate referred to. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir William McMillan: -- The reference to a syndicate is a cowardly attack upon the honorable and learned member for Parkes. If any one is to blame in that matter, I am as much to blame as he is, because I was a member of the Government which sanctioned the expenditure. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I said the other night that no vote of mine would ever put the honorable and learned member for Parkes into office, and I am glad that I said it, because the letter which I have just read proves him to be one of the most incompetent members of this House. In view of the statements contained in it, it was a piece of impertinence for him to tell the Minister for Home Affairs what he should do. I am very glad that the Government are going to establish a Public Works department of their own. If they did not, and any jerry-building or improper work was done, we could never sheet home the blame to those responsible for it, because it would always be said that the State authorities were the people we ought to complain about ; but if we have our own architects and inspectors we shall be able to make them responsible. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- In any case, all that would happen would be a lot of talk, and things would go on as before. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- The honorable member is against the establishment of this department because of its expense. They are very economical in South Australia, but there is such a thing as " spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar." Furthermore, if Commonwealth works are carried out by the State authorities they will charge us what they like. At the Premiers' Conference in Sydney the other day they fixed all that up. I am very pleased that the Minister for Home Affairs is determined to be his own boss in this respect. {: #subdebate-7-0-s24 .speaker-KED} ##### Mr KENNEDY:
Moira -- The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has forestalled me in a good deal of what I intended to say. Although £5,000 is a very small amount, I see no justification for creating another Public Works department to spend the £250,000 which the Minister for Home Affairs tells us is to be spent, when the work can be equally well done by the State authorities. The Ministers of the Federal Government have all been Ministerial heads of State departments, and the probabilities are that the permanent officers in this new department will be transferred from the State services. What reason, then, have we to expect better work from a Commonwealth Public Works department than from the Public Works departments of the States ? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- This Parliament has no control over the State officials. {: .speaker-KED} ##### Mr KENNEDY: -- I venture to say that that disadvantage is not to be compared with the probable future cost of 'the proposed department. Directly we create this department it will begin to grow. There will be the Inspector-General, .with his office at the seat of government, but he will require sub-inspectors to look after works which are being conducted in other States, and they will have their staffs. In this way we shall probably he repeating in connexion with the Commonwealth expenditure what takes place in Victoria now in connexion with State expenditure, when, although there are staffs of competent officers scattered here and there throughout the country for the carrying out of shire works, yet whenever the Public Works department have to spend £200 the plans are prepared in Melbourne, a special officer is sent up to supervise the work, and officers travel up to the district occasionally to inpect it. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- Ten years hence this department will cost £50,000 a year. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr Bamford: -- If we employ State officials to do this work we shall have to pay the States for their services. {: .speaker-KED} ##### Mr KENNEDY: -- Yes, but we shall only employ them when we have something for them to do. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- And they will do our work only after they have finished their State work. {: .speaker-KED} ##### Mr KENNEDY: -- They will have plenty of time in which to do our work. There is too great a tendency to try to create friction between the States and the Commonwealth. The people have to bear the expense in any case, and, to my mind, it will cost them less if the Commonwealth public works are carried out by the State officials. Practically the only public works with which the Commonwealth are concerned are the building and maintenance of post-offices and customs-offices. SirWilliam Lyne. - And the construction of defence works, which will be the most costly of all. {: .speaker-KED} ##### Mr KENNEDY: -- Yes, but they will be constructed at places on the coast where their construction can be easily supervised. I feel inclined to vote against the expenditure. **Sir WILLIAM** McMILLAN (Wentworth). - As a business man, and a keen critic of the Government, I am as much inclined to economy as any honorable member, but I think that the honorable member for Moira is unreasonable in this matter. The Commonwealth is taking over from the States, in the various post-offices, customs-offices, defence works, and lighthouses, property worth £10,000,000 or £12,000,000, and surely their maintenance will be sufficient to employ the services of a reasonably large staff. I take it that it is the States which should economize. If the States do their duty the officers who are told off for this particular work will be transferred or retrenched. There is no doubt that we must make arrangements for the supervision of this work, and £5,000 seems a very reasonable sum to provide. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- Does the honorable member think it will stop at that. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- Some honorable members seem to think that the Minister for Home Affairs may desire to magnify his department, and that the staff will be increased year by year, but Parliament can keep a vigilant eye upon the Minister's action. We have clothed the Public Service Commissioner with a large degree of authority, and all appointments will have to pass through the sieve of his criticism. Moreover, we shall have an opportunity of reviewing any appointments when the Estimates are placed before us. I understand it is the intention of the Minister to engage State officers to do the work of the Commonwealth where it is possible to do so ; but, at the same time, we must provide machinery of our own to insure the proper expenditure of our money. I regret very much that the honorable member for Maranoa read a letter from the Minister of Works in New South Wales. Had I known what the purport of the letter was, I should certainly have objected to its being read. **Mr. O'Sullivan's** letter is absolutely misleading and libellous, and if I were the honorable and learned member for Parkes, I would make him answer for his libel in the law courts. He made a statement in that letter which, ifit means anything, conveys that **Mr. Bruce** Smith is a corrupt person, because, for the sake of a syndicate with which he was connected, he advised the Government of which he was a member to resume Darling Island in Sydney Harbor. There is no other inference to be drawn. If **Mr. O'Sullivan** does not mean that, he is a coward, and if he does mean it, his letter is a libel and a lie. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- I do not think the letter conveyed that the honorable and learned member for Parkes was a member of the syndicate. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- He said that the honorable and learned member did certain things to please the syndicate. What right had he to mention the syndicate? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The words were " to oblige his friends on the syndicate." {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- The resumption of Darling Harbor was one of the most far-seeing acts that was ever performed by a Government, and it was not the fault of the honorable and learned member for Parkes that Darling Island was not made use of during his term of office. **Mr. O'Sullivan** left it to be inferred that the honorable and learned member for Parkes allowed the property to remain untouched andunserviceable after having advised the Government to take it over ; but the honorable and learned member for Parkes retired from office within twelve months after the purchase was made, and had nothing whatever to do with the fact that Darling Island was allowed to lie idle. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- I allowed it to lie idle. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- Yes ; but the insinuation in that lying letter is that the honorable and learned member for Parkes was accountable for an unbusinesslike resumption. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- Why dig up these corpses ? {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN: -- I am not digging up any corpses. I am defending one of my colleagues in a State Ministry. If the transaction referred to were corrupt, then I am a corrupt man, but if **Mr. O'sullivan** were to make any such statement regarding me I should soon have it out with him in the courts of justice. I hope the honorable and learned member for Parkes will take that course. The fact that the honorable and learned member for Parkes, as a member of this Chamber, and holding the economic views he does, dissented from the principle of the minimum wage and the construction of public works by day labour, affords no reason for a phillipic which contains a foul libel, foul misrepresentations, and foul innuendoes. **Mr. O'Sullivan's** letter justifies the position taken up by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, that it is not wise to intrust the public works-of the Commonwealth to the hands of the Minister of Works in New South Wales. {: #subdebate-7-0-s25 .speaker-KZV} ##### Mr RONALD:
Southern Melbourne -- I agree with the acting leader of the Opposition that it is our duty to appoint a staff to look after the property which we have taken over. It may not be within the cognizance of honorable members, or of Ministers, that at the present time the Federal Government is charged with expenses incurred to a very large extent on behalf of the States. Where there is an hour's work to do at a post-office in a country town, and two or three days' work to be performed upon a school or prison in the same locality, the Federal Government is charged with the expense of sending inspectors and workmen to the spot, and thereby the expense to the State is reduced to a minimum. {: .speaker-KWT} ##### Sir George Turner: -- Where travelling expenses are incurred, they are divided proportionately between the States and the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KZV} ##### Mr RONALD: -- I am informed by an officer in the Public Works department of Victoria that what I have described is going on. An any rate, if it is not being done, it could be done under present conditions, and it is very necessary that we should have a staff of our own to supervise our own works. {: .speaker-KWT} ##### Sir George Turner: -- The States have to pay the money whether it is charged - to the State Government or the Federal Government. I am afraid somebody must have been "pulling the honorable member's leg." {: .speaker-KZV} ##### Mr RONALD: -- That may or may not be j but it is evident that we require our own inspectors to supervise our works, and to protect us against charges that may not be legitimate. {: #subdebate-7-0-s26 .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr POYNTON:
South Australia -- I intend to oppose this vote, because I cannot see the necessity for it. The statements made by the honorable member for Southern Melbourne imply that the State Governments will rob the Commonwealth if they have a chance, and unless' the honorable member knew of a case in point he ought not to have made any such assertion. I do not think honorable members should make statements here unless they are satisfied as to their truth, and for this reason I regret that the honorable member for Maranoa should have read a letter containing an accusation of dishonesty against an honorable member of this Chamber. There is already friction enough between the States and the Commonwealth, without causing more by making assertions of that kind. The State would gain nothing by any such proceeding as that described by the honorable member. My opposition to the proposed vote arises from the fact that the States Governments will have to bear the expense of the proposed department. One would think that the whole of the Public Works departments in the States had been huge failures. If it were shown that works could be carried out with more expedition under the proposed new arrangement than under the direction of the State officers there might be some reason for the proposal. As a matter of fact, however, the central administration will involve more delay, and there will be more red-tape, and consequently more expense, if every twopennyhalfpenny work is undertaken by the Federal department. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- That is not intended. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr POYNTON: -- It is evidently the Minister's ambition to create a Public Works department in each of the States, because he has no confidence in the State Ministers or their officers. I feel certain, however, that tlie work can be more efficiently carried out by the States officers than by the proposed staff. I am sure that the £5,000 that is now proposed to be voted will, within a few years, be increased to ten times that amount. It has been suggested that it will be the duty of the States to retrench, but this seems to me to be a piece of cool impudence, in view of the fact that we have been duplicating some of the State departments. The Federal Government could take from the States a sufficient ^umber of men to do all the work required by them, and then we should not be duplicating expense. "We shall probably find that a number of outside men will be appointed, and that the general burden upon the taxpayers will be very largely increased. If the Government proposal is adopted we shall have officers of the Federal and State Public "Works departments travelling over practically the same ground to carry out work which could be performed as efficiently by one set of officers at much less expense. "We have officers in the State capable of doing any work that the Commonwealth may require. I shall certainly oppose the vote. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- Th The honorable member who has just spoken seems to imagine that the new department will be made up of officers from outside the existing service. As a matter of fact, however, nearly all, if not all, the officers required will be appointed from the States services. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- "Why cannot the Minister say that all the officers will be selected from the States services *1* {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I think it more than probable that they 'will be, but I do not intend to bind myself absolutely to that. For instance, we shall require to appoint two cadet draughtsmen, at £50 a year, and I cannot bind myself to appoint them from tlie States services. With these exceptions, the whole of the officers will be taken from the States, unless, perhaps, it is found desirable to select the head of the department from outside. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- Is there no man in the States services competent to fill that position ? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- Probably there is ; but it may. be necessary to go outside. That, however, will not be done unless the Public Service Commissioner reports that there is no one in the States services competent to fill the position. I desire only to say that I think the honorable member adopts an extreme view in saying that it is an impudent thing for the Commonwealth to create a Public Works department, and at the same time tell the States that they should retrench. We have taken over £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 worth of property from them, and we shall have an annual expenditure of some £200,000 or £300,000 at the very lowest, apart altogether from works in connexion with light-houses and the building of the federal capital. We may also have to carry out some large defence works, and as we shall take as many men as we can from the Public Works departments of the States we may reasonably expect them to refrain from filling up vacancies so created. If we do that the people will have to pay no more than they are doing now. My object will be as far as possible to obtain the officers from the States services. {: #subdebate-7-0-s27 .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The honorable member for South Australia, **Mr. Poynton,** desires to keep down the expendiof the States. He believes that they will not retrench if -we establish a Public Works department on the scale indicated by the Estimates. If we fill all these offices, similar offices in the States services may be dispensed with. In that case the States will not have to pay more than they are doing under the present system. There is a distinct advantage in having the Public Works service under the control of the Minister for Home Affairs. The Minister is responsible to Parliament for the expenditure of our money on public works, for the works carried out by his officers, and for the administration of his department generally. If an officer belonging to a State service is involved in any matter, however, the Minister may at once say that he is not responsible. A great deal of political capital has been made out of the erection of postal buildings in some of the States. The honorable member for South Australia, **Mr. Poynton,** comes from a State which has worked its postal department more economically than has any one of the others. If works had been carried out as judiciously and as economically in the other States I do not think a great deal would be said in opposition to the erection of our buildings, and the carrying out of necessary repairs, by officers in the employment of the States. But we know that in New South Wales immense towers have been erected over postal buildings and clocks placed in them at enormous expense. {: .speaker-JUU} ##### Mr Clarke: -- Does the honorable member know that the Post-office in New South Wales shows an actual profit ? {: #subdebate-7-0-s28 .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- Only recently. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- For some years it has been working at a profit. {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- When the Estimates were before the Convention, a loss was shown in the New South Wales Postal department. Very creditable public buildings are erected in South Australia, but without any superfluous adornment. It has been said that South Australia will not have to pay for our postoffices, but if the system which the honorable member desires to perpetuate were continued, expensive clock towers would still be erected in connexion with postal buildings all over New South Wales. We have had the statement of the Minister that a post-office is being erected at Newcastle which, although estimated to cost £19,000 will involve a total expenditure of £37,000. I am told by architects in New South Wales that another story has yet to be added to the building. That is a fair example of the way in which money is squandered in New South Wales. I believe that the Minister for Home Affairs will see that the system is not perpetuated. By the establishment of our own Public Works department we shall have full control over all our works, and I think that the result will be satisfactory. {: #subdebate-7-0-s29 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I listened very attentively to the remarks made by the honorable member for South Australia, **Mr. Poynton,** in order to hear his reason for opposing the proposed formation of a Commonwealth Public Works department. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- Does not the honorable member think that the objection to duplication is a good one ? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It would be a solid reason if it were a necessity of the situation. If the States, after handing over the work of large departments to the Federation, continued to employ the same number of officers as before, there would be duplication, but that would be a wanton, reckless extravagance on their part. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- I wish to see these State officers taken over by the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member has had the assurance of the Minister that, as far as possible, he intends to take them over. We all hope that he will do so, and that they will not be turned adrift in the street while he is taking on men from outside. If the Minister followed any policy in opposition to that course I should agree with the honorable member. What I advocate is that we should control our own works, and, whatever may be the case in South Australia, I believe that works can be carried out by our own department quite as cheaply as they are being now carried out in New South Wales. I . have no criticism to offer as to the day-labour system, such as that indulged in by the honorable and learned member for Parkes. On the contrary, I have helped to work the system with some success, and I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am making no attack upon it. But, given day labour in, it will be easy for the Public Works department of the Commonwealth to control its work as effectively and as economically as such work is now being done in any State. I refer particularly to the want of expedition with which our works are being executed. I know of one work, involving an expenditure of £100, which has been referred by the Commonwealth Government to the ' State department of New South Wales. How long it will remain there I do not know. It seems to me that our work is .being put back until that of the State is completed. I distinctly object to such a condition of affairs. Let not the honorable member run awa)' with the idea that the work i& going to be done cheaper by the States. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- I do not think that the Commonwealth department will carry out our works much more economically, judging by what has been done. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- If the House allows works to be carried out extravagantly, we shall have only ourselves to blame. I shall do my best to prevent it. I shall certainly join with the honorable member in trying to keep the Minister to ' his promise that he will endeavour to take over the States' officers. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- What about the head man ? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- As long as there is a competent man in the States services he should be selected. We ought to give the States no excuse to criticise our action in creating a Public Works department. I cannot conceive of the Minister filling the service from outside. If he did, it would be diametrically opposed to his own peace of mind and to the welfare of tlie Commonwealth as a whole. If I thought that we were going merely to duplicate the Public Works officers I should oppose this proposal as strongly as does the honorable member for South Australia. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- That is what I am afraid of. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It will be entirely the fault of the States if officers are retained in their services to do nothing, after we have relieved them of so much work. In view of the fact that we propose next year to construct public works, representing an expenditure of about £250,000, and that there will probably be a steady expansion as the functions of the Commonwealth grow, why should we split up this huge department and hand it over to the tender mercies of the States services ? I do not think that would be a wise or an economical policy. The closer we make our control over our own undertakings the better will it be. I am as anxious as is the honorable member for South Australia, **Mr. Poynton,** that there shall be no undue extravagance in the Commonwealth, and my attitude in this House is evidence of that. But after lift ecn or sixteen months' experience of the present system, I consider that we ought to have directcontrol over the can-ying out of our public works. I desire to *sar* a word or two in regard to the letter written by **Mr. O'sullivan,** Minister for Public Works in New South Wales, which has been quoted by the honorable member for Maranoa. I should not have troubled about it but for the fact that it contained a gibe at our Ministry as well as at the honorable and learned member for Parkes. Every one knows that when **Mr. O'sullivan** takes his pen in his hand he is not responsible for his actions. He hits all round, and although he is always very fond of talking about people who sit behind dirty inkpots in metropolitan newspaper offices, there is no man in New South Wales who slings more dirty ink about than he does. In the letter referred to he went further than he ought to have done in criticising the honorable and learned member for Parkes. I have no sympathy with many of the honorable and learned member's political and social views, and certainly not with 37 a his attitude on the question of day labour; hut I do not .think there is a more honorable, upright, and straightforward man in Australia than he is. I believe that that is the general opinion in the State in which he resides. Therefore **Mr. O'Sullivan** statement that he purchased Darling Island with Government funds for the benefit of his friends is one which should not be' allowed to pass. **Mr. O'sullivan** says further that he had to increase the road vote in New South Wales because his predecessors starved it. I was a member of the Reid Government which was in office prior to **Mr. O'sullivan** coming into power, and the reason why we did not increase our expenditure upon the roads was because New South Wales at the time was passing through a' very trying period, and, like **Sir George** Turner in Victoria, we cut our coat according to our cloth. The best thing the right honorable member for East Sydney ever did for New South Wales was in holding the purse strings tight during that period. As a matter of fact, it was the Minister for Home Affairs who cut down the New South Wales road vote, as I have been able to prove to him by a reference to the Estimates. It stood at the same figure when the Reid Government left office as it did when we took it over from the Government in which the Home Secretary was Minister for Public Works, which we displaced. I am glad that the proposed Commonwealth Public Works department is to be created, but I hope, that it will be administered upon economical lines and that no more officers will be appointed than are absolutely necessary. If we have no more men than are required to do the necessary work, we cannot be accused of extravagance ; that accusation can only be brought against the State authorities which refuse to retrench their expenditure after having been' relieved of many of their liabilities. **Mr. KENNEDY** (Moira).- I feel from the speeches which have been delivered, that I am in a minority, but I intend to stick to my opinion. In reply to what has been said about the delay which has already taken place in the construction of Commonwealth public works by the States officials, I would point out that that delay has taken place, because, pending the passing of the Estimates, they have not been instructed to proceed with these works, and we have had complaints over and over again about money not being forthcoming to pay for the works already completed. I shall vote against the division. {: #subdebate-7-0-s30 .speaker-KRP} ##### Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- I wish to clearly understand what we are committing ourselves to. I gather that the amount of £4,066 put down on the Estimates for salaries and contingencies, is to cover the expenditure of the proposed new department for a period of six months, and that the annual expenditure of the department will be something over £8,000 a year. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- Yes. {: .speaker-KRP} ##### Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- But there is a further amount of £5,000 to recoup the States. Will that vote be of annual recurrence ? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- The £5,000 is put down as an approximation of what we shall have to pay to the States on account of the work undertaken by them during last year. I cannot say exactly what we shall have to pay, because no arrangement has yet been made with the States as to the basis upon which they shall be remunerated. I suggested to one or two of the States' authorities that the Commonwealth should pay a percentage upon the amount expended, but they want to charge for the actual services of the officers employed. I think that the amount which will have to be paid for last year will be less than £5,000, and, of course, the establishment of a Common wealth Works department will materially reduce the expenditure in future years. **Mr. PAGE** (Maranoa). - If a post-office is being built, say at Longreach, in Queensland, and a State officer is despatched from Brisbane to supervise its construction, will the Commonwealth have to pay the whole expense? The journey there and back, aud his stay at Longreach would, probably, occupy eight or ten days. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I feel that I am not in a satisfactory position in regard to a matter such as that. It might happen that a State department would send an officer a long distance simply to inspect one work. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- But it would cost no more to send a State officer than to send a Commonwealth officer. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- In regard to inspections by Commonwealth officers, I should adopt the course which I always followed in New South Wales, and give instructions that a number of works should be inspected in rotation, and a portion of the expense charged to each. At the present time I am entirely in the hands of the State authorities. Of course, I do not think that they would deliberately charge the Commonwealth for expenses which we should not pay ; but I think we could make more satisfactory arrangements than they make for us, and it is necessary for us to know exactly what is taking place. The honorable member for South Australia, **Mr. Poynton,** knows how difficult it has been to ascertain the position in which Commonwealth works in South Australia stand ; but, when this department is created, members who wish to know how works are getting on in any of the States, will only have to apply to the proper officer to get full information. Furthermore, if the States' officials were not doing any work in a manner in which I thought it should be done, I would give instructions to have it carried out by my own officers. **Mr. POYNTON** (South Australia).- If a post-office is being erected at some place a few hundred miles away in the interior, the Commonwealth will have to bear the expense of sending a State officer to inspect it. When this new department is created, we shall probably have to bear the expense of sending a federal officer as well as a State officer. **Mr. JOSEPH** COOK (Parramatta).It seems to me that £1,000 is too large a salary for the Inspector-General of Works to commence with, because, whoever is appointed will naturally expect an increase as the years go by, and I think the Minister could easily obtain from the States services an able and experienced man who would gladly accept a salary of £750 per annum, because that would probably be a great increase upon his present State salary. {: #subdebate-7-0-s31 .speaker-KRO} ##### Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT -- I should have preferred to see the creation of this sub-department postponed until its necessity had been more clearly demonstrated. If it is to be created, however, I hope we shall commence by paying somewhat lower salaries than those now proposed. I am sure we could procure a very good man as Inspector-General for £750 or £800 a year, whilst thoroughly efficient superintendents of works should be obtainable at £500 a year. There is no reason why the creation of this sub-department should not have been held over until the next Estimates were before us. I recognise the force of what has been said by the honorable member for South Australia, **Mr. Poynton,** as to the practical overlapping of duties of the State and Federal inspectors, and I am sure that the duplication of tlie Public Works departments will entail a large additional expense upon the ratepayers. If we have two supervising staffs, the expense entailed will be a great deal more than if we maintained only one. Our first care should be to see that the taxpayers are not called upon to pay anything more than is absolutely necessary. I do not care to take the extreme course of opposing the proposed vote, but I should like the Minister to exercise a little patience, and wait until he has had an opportunity of judging as to the real necessities of the case before he takes any action. We should not tiy to go too fast, but should sanction only such expenditure iis has been clearly demonstrated to be absolutely necessary. If the Minister does not see his way clear to postpone the creation of this department, I hope that the salary of the Inspector-General of Works will be reduced to £800, and that of the superintendents of works to £500. {: #subdebate-7-0-s32 .speaker-KIQ} ##### Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:
Brisbane -- Several honorable members have spoken about the duplication of staffs, but I do not see any reason why anything of tlie kind should occur. The Commonwealth has taken over a number of very important departments, and has relieved the States of all responsibility in connexion with them. It is to be assumed, therefore, that the various States will reduce their staff's accordingly. I know that reductions are already being made in Queensland, and that the pruning knife will shortly be applied in another State. I do not think that we should countenance any association of the Commonwealth Works department with any sections of the States services, because we know very well that State officers are subject to considerable local influences, and, as they cannot serve two masters, State interests may be studied before those of the Federal Government. The States Governments will, no doubt, dispense with all the officers who have hitherto been engaged in connexion with the construction of works in the post and telegraph services, the Customs department, the Defence department, and others which have been taken over by the Commonwealth, and I understand that the Minister for Home Affairs will probably employ as many of these officers as he possibly can. I do not consider that the salary of £1,000 a year proposed to be attached to the position of Inspector-General of Works is too high. Honorable members must recollect that this officer will be away from home for perhaps nine months in the year, and that he will be entitled to some consideration on this account. Moreover, I should not think of offering a man a position such as this at a smaller salary than £1,000 a year. A man holding such a position is exposed to great temptations. I have had considerable experience in the employment of architects, surveyors, and superintendents of works, and I can assure honorable members that we shall be very unwise if we reduce below £1,000 a year the salary attaching to such a high position. I see that it is proposed to appoint a chief draughtsman at £250 a year. That salary I regard as altogether inadequate. Fully ten years' experience must be possessed by any man who is capable of efficiently filling the position of Chief Draughtsman, and, therefore, the salary offered should be not less than £400. {: #subdebate-7-0-s33 .speaker-JR7} ##### Sir LANGDON BONYTHON:
South Australia -- In order to test the feeling of the committee, I move - >That the item, " Inspector-General of Works, at £1,000 from 1st January, 1902, £500," be reduced by £100. My object is to reduce the salary attached to the position to £800 a year. {: #subdebate-7-0-s34 .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH:
Corio -- The only difficulty raised in connexion with this matter is that mentioned by the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for South Australia, **Mr. Poynton.** Both these honorable members have pointed to the possibility of officers in the State and Commonwealth Public Works departments respectively going over practically the same ground at tlie same time. Honorable members must not forget, however, that we are providing here for only eight professional officers who will have to perform the whole of the work of the Commonwealth, and I cannot conceive how it would be possible for these officers to do anything more than supervise the work performed by the State architects, surveyors, and building inspectors, who may be engaged to carry out the work of the Commonwealth. I believe there will be more public works supervised and carried out in connexion with the Commonwealth than by the State Governments. In such a town as Queenscliff, for instance, we find that the only building controlled by the State Government is the public school. On the other hand, the Custom-house, lighthouse, post-office, and the defence establishment are under the control of the Commonwealth. Therefore, it would seem more appropriate that the Commonwealth should employ architects and lend them to the States if necessary, rather than that the Federal Government should borrow architects from the States. I shall support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for South Australia to reduce the vote by £200, as I believe the Commonwealth should set an example to the States of strict economy, and not indulge in extravagant salaries. **Sir WILLIAM** McMILLAN (Wentworth). - We ought to be careful not to limit too much the choice of the Minister so far as the Inspector-General of Works is concerned. I should be much more inclined to reduce the salary of the Superintendents of Works to £500 per annum, than to cut down the salary proposed for the InspectorGeneral of Works. I can conceive d ifficulties in the way of securing the best man for the position for anything less than £1,000 a year. It seems to me that, in view of the magnitude of the responsibility of this office, £1,000 a year is not too much to provide as the salary attaching to it, unless the Minister can secure for a lower salary the services of a man whom he considers efficient for the position. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- We pay the head of the department only £750 per annum. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- There is no comparison between the two officers. The one is a professional man, who will have enormous responsibilities ; the other is purely an administrator. As the honorable and learned member for Brisbane has said, there are temptations in connexion with public offices which have the direction of an enormons expenditure of public money. This officer, who, I trust, will be a man in the prime of life, may be the designer of our future capital and public buildings. I take it that he will be appointed on the recommendation of the Public Service Commissioner, and if the commissioner can find a man who will satisfactorily discharge the duties of the office at a lower salary, it will be all the better. The honorable member for Gippsland has said that whenever a maximum salary is provided on the Estimates for any office proposed to be created, a smaller salary is never paid. {: .speaker-KRO} ##### Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT -- Allowances are also given. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN: -- We are getting into a rarer atmosphere, and I do not think that a difference of £200 a year is much to consider. I have had something to do with the administration of large business matters, and, after all, the man who gives the whole tone to a department is the head of it. The whole check upon its expenditure and everything else depends on the brains and the talents of the one individual. We may save hundreds of thousands of pounds by securing a thoroughly efficient man to fill this office. Upon him may depend the saving of large sums which a fool or a corrupt man might lose for us. This is not a position in regard to which we should pinch and pare. We should give the Government a discretion to pay a salary up to £1,000 a year. I hope that an officer will be obtained from one of the State services, and, although he may be receiving a lower salary, it seems to me that when we put such a man into a positioninvolving increased responsibilities, we ought to pay him according to those increased responsibilities. The Minister knows the anxiety of the committee to keep down expenses, and I think it will be well to allow the vote to go as it stands. Question - That the item "InspectorGeneral of Works, at £1,000 from 1st January, 1902, £500," be reduced by £100 - put. The committee divided. AYES: 10 NOES: 21 Majority ... ... 11 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. **Mr. A.** McLEAN (Gippsland). - I move - That the item, " Superintendents of Works at salaries not exceeding £600, from 1st January, 1902, £1,000," be amended by the omission of "£600," with a view to insert " £500." The Government should agree to that proposal. It will not be to the credit of the Commonwealth, if we set out on extravagant lines. The whole of this department seems to me to savour very much of extravagance, and I venture to say that it will be found before very long that we shall have the same cry for retrenchment as that which is now being raised in relation to the States. I am sorry to say that the Federal Parliament exhibits a grave tendency towards extravagance. As a matter of fact, the proposed vote does not provide a salary of £600 per annum for all the superintendents of works. It averages £500 each. In some cases £600 per annum will be paid, while in others it will be less. I hope to make arrangements forthe superintendents in some of the smaller S tates to be paid jointly by t h e Com mon weal th and State Governments, and in that way to make the amount provided on the Estimates sufficient for the purpose. I desire to secure for the Commonwealth the best public service in Australia. If we wish to make positions in the Commonwealth service the blue ribbon of the civil service in Australia, we must provide reasonable salaries. If the honorable member's proposal were adopted, how would it be possible to obtain from the States services men who are receiving more than £600 a year for discharging less responsible work than that which this position will involve ? We should not give excessive salaries, but at the same time we should not be compelled to go to the second or third grades of the States civil services in order to secure our officers. I ask honorable members to give the Government a discretionary power to pay £600 a year where it is necessary to do so. I am sure that we shall not secure a professional man for less than that to act as superintendent of Works in Queensland, Victoria, orNew South Wales. **Mr. A.** McLEAN (Gippsland).- When I moved the reduction I did not know that any one had been appointed. It is unfortunate that there should be these appointments without Parliamentary authority, but, as I do not wish to reduce the salary that an officer is now receiving, I withdraw my amendment. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Question - That theproposed vote, £9,066, be agreed to - put. The committee divided - Ayes ... ... ... 24 Noes ... ... ... 7 Majority ... ... 17 Question so resolved in the affirmative. Division 20 ( *Works andBuildings),* £106,930. {: #subdebate-7-0-s35 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
Yarra -- I should like an explanation of some of these items. I notice, for instance, that the expenditure upon fittings and furniture in connexion with the departments of External Affairs and Home Affairs have cost £1,526 in New South Wales, and only about £2,150 in Victoria, where the bulk of the work has been carried on, and where there are probably more officers. Then, again, why should the total expenditure in New South Wales be £35,901, and that in Victoria only £24,680, of which more than one-half is to be expended upon defence works ? {: #subdebate-7-0-s36 .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Protectionist -- £850 was expended in New South Wales by the Department for External Affairs upon fittings and furniture for the Government Houses at Sydney and Hillview, and for the departmental offices, and the next item covers the cost of furnishing and providing a lift at "Marli," which has been rented by the Commonwealth. In Victoria £1,390 was expended in connexion with the execution of necessary repairs, and in the supply of furniture and fittings required by the occupation of the State Parliament House by the Federal Parliament, and £1,000 was expended upon fittings and furniture for Government House and the Commonwealth offices. {: .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir William McMillan: -- The difference between the total expenditure in Victoria and New South Wales appears to be accounted for largely by the difference in the expenditure in the Post and Telegraph departments of the two States. {: .speaker-KWT} ##### Sir George Turner: -- Yes. In New South Wales there are more post and telegraph offices than there are inVictoria. We have to pay £10,000 for the rent of post and telegraph offices in New South Wales, and only £2,000 for the rent of such offices in Victoria. {: #subdebate-7-0-s37 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I should like to point out to the honorable member for Yarra that there are 1,000 more permanent officers in the Post and Telegraph department of New South Wales than there are in the same department in Victoria, because, New South Wales being the larger territory, it requires more postoffices to cany on its postal and telegraph services. Our telegraph lines cost us over £1,000,000 to erect, whereas those in Victoria cost only £300,000, not one-third as much. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- How many miles of wire are there in New South Wales? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I should think three times as many as in Victoria. At any rate, the Victorian lines are in every case close to the railways, whereas the New South Wales lines have often to be carried through huge wastes of country far away from the railways, and therefore the cost of construction and maintenance is much heavier. To earn the same amount of money, we have to carry our business over twice the length of line used by Victoria. We have almost twice as many post-offices as there are in Victoria, and therefore have to spend twice as much upon fittings and furniture ; besides, our revenue is one-third more than that of Victoria. But, while we earn more revenue, we earn it under more difficult circumstances, and therefore our expenditure is proportionately higher. Proposed vote agreed to. Division 21 *(Miscellaneous).* - £18,289. {: #subdebate-7-0-s38 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa -- I should like to know what arrangements have been made with reference to the conveyance of Members of Parliament upon the Queensland railways. {: #subdebate-7-0-s39 .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Protectionist -- I may as well explain the arrangements with regard to all the States. The Railway Commissioners had a conference in Sydney, and another in Melbourne, and they- interviewed me afterwards. It was agreed by them that the amount of £6,600 should be divided amongst the States. This money has been paid to the Victorian commissioner, but I understand that the Queensland Government have refused to take their proportion, and that for the present it has been carried to a suspense account, which is under the control of the Victorian commissioner. Communications are now proceeding with a view to arriving at some other arrangement with the Queensland Government. I presume that they will not refuse to carry Members of Parliament upon their railways, but if they decline to take the money which is due to them from the Federal Government, either one of two courses may be adopted. We must either give honorable members who desire to travel upon the Queensland railways the money necessary for their fares, or issue orders which can be used upon the railways, and returned and paid for here. The other States are receiving money for the conveyance of members, and the Government win not accept a grant from the Queensland Government in the shape of free conveyance over their railways of members of the Federal Parliament. The Government desire to pay for all services rendered to the Federal Parliament by the Queensland Railway department, and for that reason any offer of hospitality cannot be accepted. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- In February last the honorable member for Wide Bay produced a circular which had been issued by the Queensland Government, stating that any orders for tickets or passes issued by the Federal Government would not be recognised by the railway authorities in that State. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I have just received a communication that the Queensland Government have withdrawn their objection to recognising our orders, and these are now being issued in all cases where honorable members desire to travel upon the Queensland railways. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Then what is the exact position? Have we to obtain an order from the Minister for Home Affairs, or pay our fare at the border ; or are we still to travel on our passes *1* {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- Orders are being issued now. The Queensland Government will recognise passes if we agree to accept their hospitality. They will not take 'payment for passes, and, therefore, if honorable members are not to be tlie guests of the Queensland Government, orders must be issued. Honorable members can use their passes if they like. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- The fact is that the Queensland Government wish to avoid paying their quota of the expenses of conveying honorable members to and from their homes. Queensland's share would be £900, but the amount clue to tlie Railway department of that State, under the subdivision agreed upon at a conference of railway commissioners, is only £450. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I was told, but not officially, that the Queensland Government object to receive the £400, and at the same time to pa.y their contribution towards the whole cost of conveying honorable members to and from their homes, which would amount to £900. The small proportion falling to Queensland under the subdivision arranged at the railway commissioners' conference is due to the fact that honorable members did not utilize the Queensland lines so much as those in other States. **Mr. PAGE** (Maranoa). - I think I travel upon the Queensland railways as much as any honorable member does, and I do not intend to be dependent upon the courtesy of the Queensland Ministry. The Minister of Railways of that State is one of the most unscrupulous men in Australia, and if. he thought he could take me down he would do so. The objections raised by the Queensland railway authorities have been specially aimed at myself, and if the Minister for Railways thought he could place me in a difficulty, he would cancel my pass very quickly. I shall want the Commonwealth to pay my fare when I am travelling on the Queensland railways. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I think I should explain the item of £10,000 provided in this vote, to pay for the conveyance of honorable members and others to and, from their homes. The arrangement which was entered into, until the whole matter could be discussed by the committee, was to issue orders to honorable members for the conveyance of their wives from their homes to Melbourne and back. These passes permit honorable members' wives to travel upon main trunk lines, but not upon suburban lines. In the case of honorable members travelling to and from Western Australia and Tasmania, their steamer fares have been paid. This is the first time that an opportunity has presented itself for discussing -this matter. I did hope that I should have been able to complete an arrangement with the Railways Commissioners for theacceptance of a total sum for the conveyance of the wives of honorable members, but there was an obstacle in the way. The amount of money required by the commissioners was more than twice as much as the actual expense which has since been incurred in connexion with the issue of tickets. I told the Railways Commissioners that we should issue tickets until we were able to gain some idea of the actual expense incurred. Now we know what the cost is. If the committee object to issuing these passes to honorable members' wives, now is the time for them to take exception to the present system. The Government think that these passes should be issued. I have made this explanation so that it may not be said that anything was provided for in this vote that was not fully disclosed. **Mr. PAGE** (Maranoa). - In connexion with these railway passes, I have been the subject of frequent and violent attacks, to a greater extent than any other honorable member. **Mr John** Leahy, the present Minister of Railways in Queensland, has endeavoured to hold me and my wife up to ridicule. He has stated that I brought my wifedown to Melbourne on two occasions, and that the Queensland Government had not been paid for conveying her. He has further said that I hung round his office on my hands and knees at the time of the federal elections, begging him to grant me a pass. As a matter of fact, I was never in **Mr. Leahy's** office in my life, and I never spoke to him about a pass. **Mr. George** Kerr, the representative of Barcoo in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, **Mr. Matt.** Reid, the representative of Ennogera, and **Mr Dave** Bowman, the member for Warrego, applied for a pass for me, and for other candidates for election to the Federal Parliament, so that we might be placed on an equal footing with members of the Queensland Legislature who were also contesting the elections. **Mr. Leahy** would not grant a pass, and I paid my fare. **Mr. Leahy,** however, said that I was very much put out about it, but that was not true. This is the first opportunity I have had of vindicating myself. When we were travelling to Melbourne to attend the opening of the Federal Parliament, **Mr. Leahy** was a passenger by the same train. When we arrived at Jennings, **Mr. Leahy** appropriated to himself the whole of the sleeping-car which was available for travellers, .other than ladies, on the ground that it was reserved for Ministers, and we were left to do the best we could. I took my portmanteau into the carriage, and being armed with my pass, for which I told **Mr. Leahy** that I did not thank him, I said that I was on the New South Wales line now, and.intended to remain in the compartment. **Mr. Leahy,** in his account of the incident, said that he had turned to me and had told me that if he had not signed the voucher that morning I should not have been able to travel on the pass. I retorted that as I was now on the New South Wales railways I. was entirely independent of him. He told an interviewer that I was thoroughly subdued, and had not another word to say; but I ask any honorable member whether **Mr. Leahy** would be likely to subdue me when I knew that I was on safe ground. I do not care a rap for **Mr. Leahy.** I have told' honorable members the circumstances, in order that they may understand my anxiety to have my fare paid upon the Queensland lines. **Mr. Leahy** went out of his way to make a personal attack upon me, and he tried' to show me up, but my political skin is a very thick one, and the more I am attacked the better I like it. When **Mr. Leahy** squirms, I know that I am hitting him very hard. What does the Minister mean to do with the money that-8 held in suspense by the Victorian Commissioner *1* {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- I shall leave it where it is for the present; but I hope that the Queensland Government will fall in with the arrangement to which all the other States have agreed. **Mr. JOSEPH** COOK (Parramatta).The Minister ought to put a stop to all this trouble at once, because it is becoming a public scandal. We have had frequent references to these railway passes almost since the opening of Parliament, and I think it should be ended within 24 hours. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- How can I stop it ? {: #subdebate-7-0-s40 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The Minister can give honorable members who wish to travel on the Queensland lines the money necessary to pay their own fares, and have done with it. Then they would be absolutely independent. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- Is it not better to arrange for the issue of orders, instead of paying the cash : we have done that. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Then there is to be an end to all this trouble? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- Yes. Amendment (by **Mr. Tudor)** proposed - >That the item "To provide for a memorial to be erected at Corowa,New South Wales, to commemorate the formation of the first Federal League in the Commonwealth, £500," be omitted. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- Iam very sorry that the honorable member has moved this amendment, because the memorial is intended to commemorate an interesting historical event, which took place at Corowa in August, 1893. I believe that the conference was originated and organized by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. It was most successful, and gave life to the important work that had been done in 1891. At the time that it was held, federation was practically dead. Gentlemen from the district interviewed the Prime Minister, and urged that some memorial should be erected. As the result of that interview this amount was placed on the Estimates, and I think that the conference was an historical event which should be marked by the erection of a memorial. Corowa happens to be in my own electorate, and I am naturally anxious that a memorial of some kind should be erected. I believe it is intended that it shall take the shape of a fountain to be erected in the park, and as Corowa is just across the border, I hope that honorable members of Victoria will not oppose the proposal. {: #subdebate-7-0-s41 .speaker-L2G} ##### Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
Wentworth -- As it is evident that the honorable member for Yarra is inclined to think that the monument is to be erected on the wrong side of the river, I would suggest that it should take the form of a wooden Colossus, with one leg planted in Corowa and the other on the other side of the river. That would be a very fair settlement ofthe difficulty, and if the Minister will insert provision to that effect in the Estimates, I shall be prepared to vote for it. {: #subdebate-7-0-s42 .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK:
Bendigo -- I hope that this proposed vote will not be summarily rejected. It is only fitting that the Commonwealth should have some monument to mark the inauguration of its career. It is true that the Commonwealth itself is the greatest monument to the work which was achieved at Corowa, but it is only fitting that future generations should have some enduring visible and concrete record of the work that was done there. I do not say that the conference which assembled at Corowa in 1893 marked the beginning of federation, because the federal movement dates back practically to the beginning of our political institutions. But the previous history of federation culminated in the events which took place at that conference. It formulated a practical scheme for the promotion of the federal campaign which resulted subsequently in the Enabling Bill that was adopted by the conference of Premiers held at Hobart, and that Enabling Bill became the legislative foundation of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- No ; that was done at the Bathurst conference. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- I had the honour of attending the Bathurst conference which confirmed the resolutions carried at Corowa. It merely carried on the practical work of promoting federation, which began at Corowa. The Corowa conference was a representative gathering which voiced the federal sentiment of all Australia, and for the first time formulating the plan of a popular convention to draft a federal constitution. Mr.Reid afterwards took up the resolutions of the Corowa conference, and called a meeting of the Premiers at Hobart in the following year, at which the resolutions were unanimously adopted, and became the foundation of the Commonwealth. Among the nations, it has been the custom hitherto to place on record great events, and I fail to see why the Commonwealth should not have some enduring evidence of what was practically its legislative birth. I have very great pleasure in supporting the proposed vote. I trust that it will not be viewed from any mere parochial point of view, but as a proposal to commemorate one of the greatest events in the history of Australia. {: #subdebate-7-0-s43 .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie -- It is to be hoped that some better arguments will be available in support of the proposed erection of a monument at Corowa than are those which have been adduced by the Minister for Home Affairs and tlie honorable and learned member for Bendigo. The speech made by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo furnishes an excellent reason for striking out this proposed vote. If it is thought that some monument is necessary to commemorate the beginnings of federation, the federal capital should be the place in which to erect it ; but I should think that the federal capital in itself will, be a sufficient monument to commemorate the event. At all events, it will be a sufficiently expensive, one. To ask that we should erect a fountain in a back-blocks township of whose geographical position not 5 per cent, of the people are aware, is to ask' too much. What possible connexion has Corowa with federation ? If the honorable and learned member for Bendigo had a proper conception of the real necessity for commemorating Australian federation, he would support a proposal to erect a monument to the man who breathed vigour and enthusiasm into the movement, the late **Sir Henry** Parkes. He was really the originator of the federal movement. If it had been proposed to erect a monument at Albury, which is on the main line, and where every one could see it, it might be different. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- Does not the honorable member know that it is possible to travel by rail from Melbourne to Sydney *viti* Corowa *1* {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- It is a strange thing that, no one ever thinks of travelling to Sydney by way of Corowa. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- The express does not go that way. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- That really shows that Corowa is not the place at which to erect a monument to commemorate federation. {: #subdebate-7-0-s44 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
Yarra -- One reason why people do not travel to Sydney *viti* Corowa is that there is no railway bridge across the Murray at that place. It has been suggested that I have been led to move that this item be struck out owing to some feeling that it is proposed to erect the monument on the other side of the Murray. But I should be just as ready to move the omission of the proposed item even if it related to the erection of a monument in my own constituency. The Federation itself is the greatest monument to the Commonwealth. I have not moved the amendment in any provincial spirit. I have put it before the committee because I do not think that we should spend money in this way, at the present- time, at all events. We have heard to - day of the dire distress which exists in the Commonwealth, yet we are asked now to throw away £500 in the erection of a monument, which, according to honorable members who profess to have a knowledge of the subject, should be raised in some other part of the Commonwealth. I trust that the proposed vote will be struck out. {: #subdebate-7-0-s45 .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr BROWN:
Canobolas -- I should like to remind honorable members that in this the first session of the first Commonwealth Parliament it is rather early to propose to erect a monument to commemorate the birth of Federation. I am in accord with the suggestion made by the honorable member for Coolgardie that, if a monument is to he erected, it should be raised to the memory at that great Australian politician, the late **Sir Henry** Parkes, who did more than did any other man to establish federation. If we are to go into ancient history we might also consider the claims of another great Australian politician, the late **Dr. Lang,** whose writings prominently brought before the States the idea of federation, and who looked -even further than did those who promoted the establishment of the Commonwealth later on. I desire simply to emphasize the view that we should not unduly tax the people of Australia, and I shall support the striking out of the vote. {: #subdebate-7-0-s46 .speaker-KIQ} ##### Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON:
Brisbane -- I cannot support this proposed vote. It would be against common sense and the circumstances attending the federal movement to erect the monument. I am at a loss to understand why the Government have placed the item on the Estimates, in view of the fact that several members of the Ministry were intimately associated with the federal movement long before the Corowa conference was held. The Minister of Trade and Customs, the Attorney-General, the acting-leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Tasmania, **Sir Philip** Fysh, the right honorable member for Tasmania, **Sir Edward** Braddon, as well as myself, and others, were members of the Convention of 1891. The group of men selected by the respective Parliaments of the States for the great Convention of 1891 created the foundation of our Constitution. The Corowa conference was a sequence of what transpired at that Convention. I have been a student of and a believer in federation ever since I read the writings and. speeches of the late **Dr. Lang,** one of the foremost thinkers of Australia. Indeed, if I had not heard two or three of the lectures delivered in Scotland by that gentleman, I should not have come to this country. He caused more people to come here from Ireland, England, and Scotland than did any other man who visited the old land from Australia. We might just as well erect a monument to **Dr. Lang,** but I think it wouldbe better to let the matter drop. Any one who votes for the erection of this memorial will vote to blot out all that was done towards the commemoration of federation prior to the year 1891. **Sir WILLIAM** McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I hope that the item will be withdrawn. I think that its purpose has been achieved, inasmuch as the fact that the popularmovement towards federation began at Corowa is now immortalized in the pages of *Hansard.* The sense of the committee is certainly against the expenditure, and as a matter of fact no suitable monument could be erected for £500. **Mr. BATCHELOR** (South Australia).I, too, askthe Government to withdraw the item. The meeting at Corowa is of no more historical importance than many other meetings of the kind which led up to the same end. Besides, as has been pointed by other honorable members, it is too early for us to erect memorials. We had much bettor leave it to succeeding ages. I am certain that the people of Australia are opposed to any expenditure of the kind at the present time, and am afraid that in many places any memorial of this sort would be pelted at with rotten eggs. If we erect this memorial, we should also erect a statue to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who moved the first motion. **Mr. JOSEPH** COOK (Parramatta). - I think that I might very well put in a claim for Bathurst. While I do not wish to underrate the importance of the Corowa incident, I think that the Bathurst convention had a much greater effect Besides, Bathurst is a beautiful city, which might very well be chosen, as the site of the federal capital, and therefore any monument that might be erected there would not only serve as an historical memorial, but would beautify the metropolis of the Commonwealth. Amendment agreed to. SirL ANGDONBONYTHON (South Australia). - Why is it necessary to vote £378 to specially guarantee the fidelity of Common wealth officers in the State of Queensland? {: #subdebate-7-0-s47 .speaker-KWT} ##### Sir GEORGE TURNER:
Protectionist -- The item to which the honorable member refers is a mere book-keeping entry. It represents money paid by Queensland which should hare been paid by the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- Why is £500 set down for the publication of a new edition of the *Seven Colonies?* {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- The Government of New South Wales, which in former years has published a statistical comparison of the position of the six States of Australia and of New Zealand, has determined to do so no longer, but the Commonwealth Government intend to take the publication over. {: .speaker-KRP} ##### Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- Has any arrangement been made with **Mr. Coghlan** withregard to the copyright? I think that there was a misunderstanding between him and the New South Wales Government on that subject. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I understand that the copyright was handed back to the New South Wales Government. {: .speaker-KRP} ##### Mr F E McLEAN:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- Will this be a Commonwealth publication? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- Yes, but as it is not considered advisable to establish a Commonwealth statistical department without the consent of Parliament, what we propose to do is to pay the actual expenses incurred, and to let the work be brought out as usual. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The Minister is making an excellent and most economical arrangement. Reduced vote, £17,798, agreed to. Division 146 *(Administrative Staff),* arrears, £394 ; division 147 *(Electoral-office),* arrears, £76 ; division 148 *(Electoral),* arrears, £12,000; and division 149 *(Works and Buildings),* arrears, £14,470, agreed to. Division 150 *(Miscellaneous),* arrears£946. M r. Tudor. - Why is it necessary to pay £150 to **Mr. Critchett** Walker? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: **- Mr. Critchett** Walker was appointed Chief Electoral Officer for the conduct of the federal elections. He is Principal Under-Secretary in the State of New South Wales, and the position entailed upon him a good deal of extra and arduous work. He had to control and deal with the issue of all writs and papers of every kind to all the States. Proposed vote agreed to. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 13096 {:#debate-8} ### LEAVE OF ABSENCE *Resolved* (on motion by **Mr. Deakin)** - >That leave of absence for the remainder of the session, be granted to the Prime Minister, and to the Minister for Defence, upon the ground of urgent public business, and to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and the honorable member for Gwydir, on the ground of urgent private business, and that leave of absence for one month be grunted to the honorable member for Mernda, on tho ground of ill-health. {: .page-start } page 13096 {:#debate-9} ### ADJOURNMENT Suspension of Duties upon Fodder. {: #debate-9-s0 .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN:
AttorneyGeneral · Ballarat · Protectionist -- I move - In accordance with the promise made in an earlier part of the evening, I have despatched the following telegram to the Premiers of the various States : - >Hurts of Australia has probably already engaged the attention of your Government. May I inquire if you propose to take any, and what, further action to mitigate the distress existing ? The interests affected, though primarily and immediately under the jurisdiction of the States, are also appealing to tho Federal Parliament fpr Remedial measures, such as the suspension in nil the States of the duties upon imported grain and fodder. The Commonwealth is anxions to co-operate as far as may be consistently with its constitutional obligations. Question resolved in the affirmative. That the House do now adjourn. The protracted drought House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 May 1902, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020529_reps_1_10/>.