1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the choir at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Royal Assent reported.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the Acting Governor-General, transmitting Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1903, and arrears for the year ended 30th June, 1902, and Estimates of expenditure for additions, new works, and buildings for the year ending 30th June, 1903, and recommending appropriation accordingly.
– Since our last meeting statements have been published as to a proposed increaseof subsidy onthe part of Australia towards the auxiliary naval squadron. I should like to ask the Acting Prime Minister if he is able to communicate anything to the House on the subject.
– Information has been received that a proposal for an increase of the naval subsidy was submitted ‘ to the conference of Prime Ministers and Premiers which recently met in London, but the exact particulars have not yet been communicated to us. The statement which has appeared in our newspapers, to the effect that the proposal is that the present contributions of Australia and New Zealand shall be about doubled, is generally correct. There appears to have been, however, a contingent proposal that either the whole of the increase, or a large part of it, shall not be paid as a direct subsidy, but shall be applied by Australia for the purposes of its own naval defence in connexion with the Imperial navy. At present the details of neither proposal have reached us.
– Is the statement of the agreement which has appeared in the newspapers substantially correct?
– The proposed agreement will have no validity until it is ratified by this Parliament and by the Parliament of New Zealand. Several statements have appeared in the press as to the proceedings of the Imperial conference, some of which were incorrect; but those which have appeared within the last few days are, so far as I have been informed, substantially correct.
– Are the Government wil ling to lay upon the table any reports which they may have in reference to the proceedings of the conference which was recently held in London, and at which the Commonwealth was represented? I understand that a good deal of information on the subject has been conveyed to the press, and I hope that honorable members will be given some authentic knowledge in regard to it as soon as possible.
– The Government are not yet in possession of the report of the proceedings of the conference. Information has been received by Ministers directly from the Prime Minister in regard to the proposals submitted, and suggestions have been exchanged between them and him, but no official report of the proceedings of the conference, other than that which has been communicated to the press by or upon the authority of the Imperial Government, has yet reached us.
– I should like to know whether, if any decision has been arrived at by the Imperial conference affecting the relations of the Commonwealth with the rest of the Empire, the acting Prime Minister will consider the propriety of making a statement some time during the week as to its nature?
– As the right honorable gentleman has requested it, I will again examine the papers we have, to see if a statement of any interest could be made ; but the greater number of the communications between the Prime Minister and the Government relate to proposals which have been either abandoned or modified. The resolutions provisionally approved at the conference have been communicated to the press, and published as cablegrams.
– But they have not been communicated to the House.
– No ; nor has the information been communicated to the press by us. The information which we have in the communications sent to us by the Prime Minister has been since duplicated by that published in the press, forwarded by correspondents in London.
Mr.Reid. - We wish to have the information as members of this House as well as in our capacity as readers of the newspapers.
– Exactly ; but I have not the information from the Secretary of State officially. We have exchanged with the Prime Minister cablegrams of a consultative character, in which proposals are indicated, but no complete official information of the results arrived at has yet reached us, because a sufficient time has not yet elapsed since they were passed.
– Then the Government do not know what has been done?
– I knew before what has afterwards appeared in the press, and perhaps something more in the shape of detail.
– The Premier of Queensland, in an interview published in this morning’s newpapers, is reported to have said that -
The Federal Government proposed to differentiate between the treatment of the pearl shelling industries of Queensland and those of Western Australia.
I wish to know from the Acting Prime Minister if there is any truth in that state ment ?
– No difference has been proposed, or is being made, between the treat ment of the pearl-shelling industry in Torres
Straits, at Port Darwin, and at Broome ; the same policy is being pursued in each place. Misapprehension appears to have arisen from the fact that a deputation which waited upon me in regard to the industry dealt with the effect of the Immigration Restriction Act. In the course of some observations made to them I called attention to the fact that there was a material difference between the administration ofthat Act in respect to Thursday Island - which, although an island, is practically a part of the mainland - and in regard to Broome, which, although on the mainland, is for all practical purposes really an island, as it is completely separated from the white settlements of Western Australia. I then pointed out that the Immigration Restriction Act required to be enforced at Port Darwin and Thursday Island with more stringency than was necessary in the case of Broome, because, whilst successful attempts had been made to evade the Act at the first two places, all efforts of a similar kind at Broome had failed. The other matter referred to was the fact that the owners of the pearl-shelling fleets at Thursday Island had secured a full supply of labour for the present season prior to the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act, whereas those engaged in the pearl-shelling industry at Broome had not been able to do so. Whether this was due to the monsoons or not I do not know, but it was necessary to consider applications from Broome for permission to engage men for the present season to replace those whose terms ofemployment had expired.
– In view of the fact that few honorable members of this House or of the Senate have visited Western Australia, and that many honorable members desire to secure further information regarding the conditions obtaining in that State, I wish to know whether the Minister for Home Affairs will be prepared to grant them free passes by the steamers trading between Adelaide and Fremantle? I may mention that the Premier of Western Australia and other members of the State Ministry are only too anxious to accord the fullest possible facilities to any honorable members who may visit Western Australia, and that a hearty reception will be extended to them.
– At present I am not in a position to make a definite reply. An item is included in the Estimates in connexion with which this question can be discussed. I think that every facility should be offered to honorable members of both Houses, not only to visit Western Australia and other States, but also to take their wives with them, because it would be extremely advantageous for honorable members to obtain the fullest information possibleregarding the conditions of all the States. I intend to make a statement when the proper time arrives, and, if the House is in accord with me, I shall ask my colleagues to approve of my proposals, and give an opportunity to honorable members to see the country for which they have to make laws.
– I desire to ask the Acting Minister for Defence whether he is now in a position to give us particulars as to the manner in which the ten drill instructors recently sent to South Australia will occupy their time?
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- I have not full information on the subject, because I have not yet been furnished withall the particulars for which I asked, in the last minute I wrote to the General Officer Commanding. I understand that it is proposed that one drill instructor shall be stationed at Adelaide to instruct the Mounted Rifles, includingthe members of rifle clubs, and that three instructors shall be employed in drilling the infantry forces and members of rifle clubs in Adelaide. One instructor will be Stationed at Yankalilla to drill the Mounted Rifles, and two at Mount Gambier to drill the Mounted Rifles and infantry, including the members of rifle clubs. At Wallaroo there will be one instructor for the Mounted Rifles, and two for the infantry. At Jamestown one instructor will be provided for the Mounted Rifles, and at Gladstone one for the infantry. In addition to this information, I have been furnished with a report which gives particulars as to the number of places - some thirteen or fourteen in all - in the Adelaide district at which in all 731 men will receive instruction. At Yankalilla and other places in its neighbourhood 209 men will require to be drilled, and at Mount Gambier 286. The Mounted Rifles and infantry in the west central sub-district numbering 266, and in the east central sub-district numbering 794 men, will be drilled by the instructors at Wallaroo. The instructors at Jamestown and Gladstone will drill 346men in the north central sub-district, and 628 in the northern sub-district. I have also a memorandum written by the General Officer Commanding in reference to this question, but I should like the honorable member to read it for himself, because I cannot.
– I should like to know whether the information which the Minister has communicated to us really means that each of these drill instructors will be engaged for only two hours per week ?
SirWILLIAM LYNE. - I have given the honorable member all the information I can. The General Officer Commanding told me that he could not give any further details at present, because arrangements for allotting the hours of duty for the drill instructors have not yet been completed. I know that the officers are endeavouring to obtain full information, and I cannot ask them to do impossibilities. As I am not a military officer, I cannot say whether or not the duties of the drill instructors will occupy them for two hours only per week.
– Did not the Minister ask for that information ?
– Yes; and the General Officer Commanding has given me all the particulars which he is in a position to communicate at the present time. I have already explained the reason why full details cannot be supplied just now.
– The reason why the information has not been supplied is obvious.
– I desire to ask whether the Minister is satisfied with the Military Commandant’s palpable evasion of the questions which have been put to him ?
– I scarcely think that that question is a fair one. I do not believe there has been any palpable evasion on the part of the General Officer Commanding, who has supplied me with all the information that can be obtained at the present time.
– The information sought could be obtained in half-an-hour.
– If the honorable member will look through the papers which I have in my hand, he will ascertain that it is absolutely impossible to . secure further particulars just now.
– We possess the information at the present time.
– Then why does the honorable member ask me for it ?
– Because we wish to obtain it from the Minister.
– Because it is the Minister’s duty to inform the House upon this matter.
– There is one point to which I omitted to reply just now. It has reference to the days upon which the South Australian drill instructors are employed. My information is that at Adelaide they are engaged six days weekly, at Yankalilla six days, at Wallaroo four days, at Jamestown five days, and at Gladstone six days.
– How many drills take place at Gladstone in a week 1
– Honorable members representing South Australia seem to be peculiarly sensitive on this matter. The reports made to me are to the effect that even with the additional drill instructors who have been despatched to South Australia the standard of instruction there is a long way below that in Victoria and New South Wales, according to the population. I wish honorable members to understand that, personally, I have no feeling whatever in this matter, and to impress upon them that the General Officer Commanding has supplied me with all. the information that will be available until a short time hence, when the number of men stationed in the various localities with which the drill instructors have to deal has been more definitely determined.
– Is it true that honorable members on the other side of the House, who especially object to the item of £1,000 being spent in South Australia on the military forces, are the same who voted to increase the customs taxation from £8,000,000 to .£10,000,000 1
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, in view of the decision recently given in New South Wales by Mr. Justice Pring in the case of Tanner v. the Postmaster-General-, it is his intention, pending the establishment of the High Court, to invest the States Supreme
Courts, with jurisdiction in actions brought against the Commonwealth Government 1
– Without accepting that judgment, it has been thought advisable to bring in a temporary measure - in connexion with which a Message has been read to-day - making provision for a limited time in all the States for the trial of actions against the Commonwealth.
– I desire to ask the Acting Minister for Defence whether he can inform the House of the present position of the dispute between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales regarding the possession of Dawes Point 1
– Also the details of the Minister’s surrender to “the battle-axe.”
– I am not aware that any surrender has been made, and I do not think there was any occasion for any pronouncement as to a dispute. The position simply is that Dawes Point is a reserve which, to my knowledge, has been continuously occupied by the military for the past 23 years. Upon it are located a drill-shed and a number of other buildings which are occupied by the military, and there is also a battery. At the present time the buildings are occupied by the Commandant and some of his officers, and are therefore in the hands of the Federal Government. The State Government, however, disputes our claim that Dawes Point was automatically transferred to the Commonwealth under section S5 of the Constitu-c tion Act, in the same way as were other lands and buildings. No flaming declaration of war has been made, either by one side or the other ; certainly there has been no such declaration on our part. Some little time ago the matter was referred to me by the Prime Minister, and thereupon I wrote a minute to the effect that I did not think Dawes Point was a spot which the Federal Government would care to retain, seeing that we should be obliged to pay a high price for it, but that what we really required was a water frontage, and if possible a wharf, so that we could land or discharge stores or troops. If the Government of New South Wales will recommend any site possessing a water frontage which is suitable for that purpose, the Federal Government will be prepared to accept it in lieu of the more expensive site of Dawes Point. That proposal was placed before the Premier of New South Wales, who, however, declined to entertain it, because he holds that the Commonwealth Government have no right whatever to .Dawes Point. That is how the matter stands at the present time. I may further add that he has given the Commonwealth Government two months to vacate it.
– Has the opinion of the Attorney-General been taken upon the subject ?
– No doubt opinions will be submitted. I may also mention, in connexion with the transfer of a reserve, in Hobart, which is one of the choicest spots in that city - I refer to the old barrack square - the Minister for Lands visited Melbourne for the special purpose of interviewing me and, I think, the Acting Prime Minister. He submitted a proposal that the Commonwealth Government should abandon that reserve, as the State authorities desired it for a city park, and accept in lieu thereof a site near the Domain with a water frontage. We agreed to that proposal, and accepted the less valuable site. That is precisely what I suggest should be done in connexion with Dawes Point, which would be an expensive place to purchase. It is a beautiful spot, and, in my opinion, should be added to that portion of Sydney which is now being improved. There need be no trouble whatever if the State Government will only be reasonable, and accept our suggestion in this regard.
– I desire to ask whether the Acting Minister for Defence is determined to avoid the necessity for taking over the enormously expensive city water frontage of Dawes Point, and whether, considering the enormous area of land which is dedicated to military purposes in the neighbourhood of Sydney, it is necessary to obtain any substitute in the way of a city water frontage ?
– I am sure it is not the desire of the Government to take any expensive water frontage - in this case 7 or S acres of what is practically park land - which could be better utilized in beautifying that particular part of Sydney. As to taking the whole of the other lands which have been occupied by the military authorities, it is quite impossible to say at the present time whether they will be all required.- For instance, there are the Victoria .Barracks, and some water frontages, notably from Athol Bay to Middle Head, and in Middle Harbor. I think, however, it is necessary to retain these lands, not because they are required immediately, but because they were reserved many years ago by, I think, Sir James Martin, for defence purposes, in case of an attack by a fleet. At the present time, however, there is no particular spot held by the military authorities close to Sydney, where the Defence department can obtain a deep water frontage or wharfage suitable for embarking or disembarking troops, or for the landing of naval or military stores. Such a frontage is what I desire, and what I have been trying to get from the State ‘ Government, not with the idea that they should give it to the Commonwealth, but that we should be able to buy it for less than we should pay for the Dawes Point land. If there were a spot close by which we could turn to account, we could very easily give up Dawes Point, but there is no such spot either at Circular Quay, Darling Harbor, or Wolloomooloo Bay, at one of which places there ought to be a water frontage, which the Defence department may use as desired. It does not follow that there would be an exclusive right on the part of the Federal Government to the use of this frontage or wharfage; they might lease it to a company, reserving only the power to utilize it at certain times. I have, I think, suggested a practical settlement of the question.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Home Affairs a question in reference to the proposed sites for the federal capital. Two or three weeks ago the honorable gentleman told the House that he would submit the question of the selection of the committee of experts to the next Cabinet meeting. Has he yet done so, and is he in a position to make any communication to the House on the subject ?
– I have in my hand a motion of which I had intended to give notice to-day, though I question very much whether it would be wise to deal with the matter in that way. This motion does not deal with the names of the experts, but with the names of the sites. I did promise that I would submit a motion on the question for discussion by the House, but in conversation with my colleagues to-day, it was pointed out that the matter could be dealt with just as well on the Estimates. I do not object to submit a motion as to .the sites, but I am not in a position yet to give the names of the experts likely to be appointed. The motion to which I have referred reads as follows : -
With a view to obtain necessary information that will enable the Parliament of the Commonwealth to select a site for the seat of Government, it is resolved that a committee of experts be appointed to examine and report upon sites in the following localities : - Albury, Bombala, Lake George, Orange, Tumut, in relation to accessibility, building materials, climate, drainage, physical conditions and soil, water supply, with rainfall, general suitability, and such other salient matters as may be approved by the Hon. the Minister for Home Affairs.
If there is any strong desire in the House to discuss that motion, I am quite prepared to submit it.
– May I ask the Minister whether he intends to submit the names of the experts to the House prior to their appointment ; or, if not, does he intend to acquaint the House, before we separate, with the names of those appointed.
– I think the Government should take the responsibility of making appointments in a matter of this kind. I have not the slightest objection to giving the names to the House, but I regard the appointments as a matter of administration, for which the Government should take the responsibility.
– Some time ago I directed the attention of the Acting Minister for Defence to a new regulation which had been issued in South Australia, and which reduced the pay of certain men in the force. I was then informed by the Minister that no such regulation had been issued, but he promised to obtain a report on the matter. I have since been informed by quite a number of people that such a regulation has been issued, and that it affects to the extent of 15s. or 25s. the present pay of £5. I wish to know whether the Minister has received a report, and if not whether he will obtain one in order to ascertain where lies the truth.
– The honorable member has asked me a question, and my answer, given on the spur of the moment, must be qualified by the consideration that I am speaking from memory. I have not the papers here, but I made inquiries after the honorable member asked me the question on a previous occasion,’and, so far as I can ascertain, no regulation has been issued from the head office in reference to this matter. I did hear that there was some local regulation of which I have not a copy, but I shall, perhaps, know more of the matter to-morrow or the .next day.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers :’ -
Additional Instructions to the GovernorGeneral and Commander-in-Chief
Beer Excise Regulation, dated 11th September, 1902.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Department, permanent officers, return.
Patents and trade murks applied for, return.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– I should like to ask. the Treasurer what is the reason so many men in the Postal department, chiefly line repairers and letter sorters on the railways, did not receive money due to them until the 18th or 20th of this month. If there were such delay will the Treasurer see that it does not occur again ?
– Such payments are made by the department, and I know no reason why they should not all be made on the first day of the month.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Why the men in the construction branch of the Postal service of South Australia have not been paid the wages due over a fortnight ago.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The wages referred to were not due until September5th. The reason of the delay was that construction work is paid for out of loan funds, and there was no money available on the date when the wages were due.
– In asking the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the following questions, upon notice -
I desire to say that, within my own knowledge, residents in the suburbs of Perth have been refused postal facilities in regard to the delivery of letters, on the ground that their residences are more than a mile distant by road from the post-office, although they are well within a mile in a straight line from the office.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether he is now in a position to supply the information as to payments to non-official postmasters and mail receivers asked for by question No. 2 of. 21st August last?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In reference to the Commonwealth Gazette notice of the 5th September, 1902, in which the following appears : -
His Excellency the Acting Governor-General directsitto be notified, for general information, that theRight Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies has intimated that His Majesty will not be advised to exercise his power of disallowance with respect to the following Acts of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Australia, viz. : -
No. 17 of 1901. - Immigration Restriction Bill.
No. 6 of 1902. - Appropriation Bill.
No. 7 of 1902. - Governor-General’s Establishment Bill.
No.8 of1902.- Federal Franchise Bill. ByHis Excellency’s Command,
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s first question is that the advice referred to is the advice of His Majesty’s Ministers in GreatBritain. As to the other questions, I think he can draw his own conclusions. I might remind him in the words of Sir William Vernon Harcourt, that the whole question of the relations of the Imperial authorities to the representative colonies is one of great difficulty and delicacy. It requires consummate prudence and statesmanship to reconcile the metropolitan supremacy with the worthy spirit of colonial independence. As a matter of abstract right, the mother country has never parted with the claim of ultimate, supreme authority for the Imperial legislature. If it did so, it would dissolve the Imperial tie, and convert the colonies into foreign and independent States.
In Committee of Supply :
– Mr. Chairman, - Before asking honorable members to follow me through the figures which I have circulated - and I propose to request them to allow me to explain them as we go along, and not to get ahead of me - I desire to apologise, not alone to the Committee, but to the States Treasurers for the delaywhich has taken place in the presentation of the Federal Budget. There has been great difficulty in obtaining the necessary information from the various States. Those who have occupied the position of Treasurer of a State know that there is considerable difficulty in obtaining the information necessary for a State Budget, although it has to be collected only from within that State; but when one has to depend upon correspondence and telegrams with far-off States for the requisite information, the difficulties are largely increased. In addition to that drawback, under which I have laboured, there has been a desire - and a very proper desire - on the part of the departments to make the Estimates of the various States approach uniformity. In the past the Estimates of the several States have been prepared in totally different forms, but we thought it wise to make an attempt to secure uniformity, although we have not wholly succeeded in carrying out that desire. My honorable colleague, the Acting Minister for Defence, has also been engaged for a considerable time in mastering the details of the defence retrenchment scheme, and that has also occasioned delay. I hope, however, that in future the Federal Treasurer will be in a position to make his financial statement early in the month of August. If that arrangement is carried out it will be fair to the various States Treasurers, who have to depend to a great extent upon information which the Federal Treasurer alone can supply. There is some difficulty in preparing a financial statement for the Commonwealth, for we have to deal not only with federal matters but with questions relating to the States independently. Then, as honorable members know, there are no other Treasurers watching and waiting when a State Minister is making his financial statement, whereas the Federal Minister knows that all the States Treasurers are watching and waiting to scrutinize everything contained in his statement. In the present case they have been anxiously waiting for some time. It is, therefore, necessary for me to give the fullest information in order that the States Treasurers and their officers may have an opportunity of checking my figures and ascertaining whether they are correct or not. I have prepared a mass of information, and although for my own sake I have epitomised the details to a very great extent, my speech would be a very long one, and would become tedious to honorable members if I were to give the Committee all the figures in my possession. Therefore, with the concurrence of honorable members, I propose to give not all the details, but in most cases merely the results. I shall submit the details to Hansard, and as the report will be published to-morrow morning, honorable members who desire to look carefully into the whole question will have the fullest opportunity to do so. By that arrangement honorable members, as well as the States Treasurers, will be able to obtain the fullest information, while I shall avoid the necessity of making my statement unduly long and tedious. I propose to deal as simply as I possibly can with the figures. I do not possess the eloquence of the AttorneyGeneral, nor have I the graceful diction of Sir Philip Fysh, whose budgets are always poetic. I desire simply to state as fully as I can the somewhat difficult and complicated problems connected with federal finance. I desire honorable members in the first instance to consider that though we may appear to be dealing with large figures, we have been used in the past to deal only with State figures. Therefore, when we come to deal with federal figures, though the totals may appeal- to loom very large, when we bear in mind that we are dealing with the figures for six States instead of for one, it will be seen that, comparatively speaking, the figures are not large. There is another point which will be found to be of great importance all through the statement, and that is with regard to certain works and buildings. We last year proposed a certain expenditure amounting to £116,000, and this year we are proposing an expenditure of £180,000 out of revenue. That may appear to be a rather large amount, but as a matter of fact very little of last year’s provision was expended, and we are really now providing for two and a-half years’ requirements - eighteen months that are passed, and the twelve months which we have just entered upon. If honorable members will compare the Estimates with the actual expenditure of last year, they will find that during last year we were able to make very large savings upon our Estimates, and in the Defence department alone to the extent of £100,000. Therefore the amount that will be shown as the difference between the estimated expenditure of this year and the actual expenditure of last year is necessarily much smaller than if we made the comparison between the Estimates of the two years. We also had to provide in 1901-2 for large arrears of the previous year amounting to £315,000. This year we have to provide for arrears to the extent of only £83,000. Honorable members will see that the amount for arrears is therefore very largely reduced, and I hope that in the next financial statement the Treasurer will be able to leave the question of arrears out of consideration altogether, as that will to some extent simplify any statement which he has to make. I have always felt very strongly that it is our duty to make every effort to give back to the States, as far as possible, the amount of money they were collecting from Customs and Excise revenue just before federation, plus the cost of carrying on the new expenditure. But unfortunately we have to provide for very large sums which have been forced upon us by action taken by, the States very shortly prior to federation.
– Principally by Victoria.
– Do not single out one. They have all been sinners in that respect.
– When we are charged with extravagant expenditure, people are apt to forget the significant fact that the States dealt very liberally in many directions just before federation, apparently thinking that the Federal Government would have some fund of its own out of which the expenditure involved could be paid, and forgetting that whatever was paid would subsequently have to be paid back by the individual States. In some instances volunteer corps were turned into partially paid forces. Rifle clubs were established right and left, and that meant enormous expenditure. In the State of Victoria the ammunition reserve was allowed almost to run out altogether. On the 1st May, when we took over the defence forces, there were only 500,000 rounds of ammunition in hand, and the result was that last year I had to put £24,000 on the Estimates to secure a sufficient reserve of ammunition in Victoria. Then during the year troops have come back, and while in the previous year the expense they involved was saved, we have now had to provide for them. New services were started in some of the States involving payments to the railways. Increased postal facilities were afforded, and while in Victoria the penny post was brought into operation, the effect was to hit us both ways, because we lost revenue to the extent of between £40,000 and £50,000, and the expenditure was considerably increased. In New South Wales a new classification scheme in connexionwith the public service involved a large increase of expenditure, and in Victoria we had the recommendations of a reclassification board to carry out, and that meant a very large increase to State servants, especially in the Postal department.
– Was that carried?
– It was dealt with as regards increases to public servants, though in some respects the recommendations of the board were not carried out. Then there is a large amount of expenditure involved in connexion with increments to which public servants are entitled by law, regulation, or custom prevailing in the States for a number of years. That has the effect of adding a very considerable sum every year, and it helps to swell the expenditure. Then in connexion with our Post-office, we must realize that expenditure very naturally in creases every year if we are to give proper facilities and maintain a proper service. Looking through the Estimates carefully, I can assure this House and the people, that there is no extravagance in any of the transferred departments. We have tried our best to cut down the expenditure. Ministers have been careful, heads of departments have watched, and I believe the officers throughout have endeavoured to keep the services going at as small an expense as possible, giving at the same time proper efficiency. With regard to these Estimates I know of no items in connexion with which reductions can be. made to any large extent. I have been through them all very carefully, and I have compared them with the previous expenditure. With regard to Customs, we have to endeavour to estimate what will be the receipts during the current year. In order to do that. I had prepared a return which showed the total amount collected in each State, month by month, on each item. That I propose to submit for the information of honorable members. I submitted it to the various collectors, and received from them estimates of what they considered would be received during the year, taking into consideration the special information they had. Many communications have passed between us, and in some cases I have come to the conclusion that the amounts that will be collected will be larger than the amounts which the collectors themselves have estimated. Acting upon these lines, it will be seen that I cannot be charged with any attempt to cut down the amount that is likely to be derived from Customs. Honorable members will naturally desire - it is their right, and I hope they will do so caref ully - to check the items which will be supplied in regard to the anticipated Customs revenue, in order that we may gain the benefit of the information of those who have local knowledge, and who may be able to give us information which is not within my control. In doing so, I would ask the committee to consider a few points - first, with regard to loading up, which to some extent still continues. On, the other hand, goods are now being more freely imported than some time ago, because they had not been sufficiently provided for up to the end of the financial year. Then, as we went along, we made reductions in rates, and a large number of items were made absolutely free. It will be seen that it would not do to take nine months’ collections and estimate the return for the twelve months from them by adding a certain proportion, because we have changed the duties from time to time, and those changes make a serious difference in the amounts we are likely to collect. On the other hand, by omitting the exemption with regard to State duties, we shall receive a sum of about £245,000 extra.
– Has the right honorable gentleman made any calculation as to the effect upon the revenue of these changes in the Tariff?
– In making my calculations, where no changes have been made, I have worked from the nine months’ receipts, taking into consideration the question of loading up, and, where changes have been made, I have worked on the receipts from the date of the changes. By that means I think I have ascertained fairly the amount likely to be received. Then we must not forget the unfortunate drought which we have had over a great part of our continent, the high prices of the necessaries of life, and the fact that Governments and others are likely to expend less money. Under all these circumstances, it will not do for us to be too optimistic with regard to our estimates. But, at the same time, I quite -admit that we should not cut them down to an unduly low figure. “With regard to the item of sugar, I have estimated that the total consumption will be 170,000 tons. That is a very large amount to estimate. The average will be something between 160,000 and 170,000 tons. I estimate that out of that amount, 75,000 tons will be imported, and will pay duty at £6 per ton ; 40,000 tons will be grown by white labour, and pay at £1 per ton ; and 55,000 tons will be grown by black labour, and pay at £3 per ton. I have estimated the total receipts from that source at £675,500. That is certainly a large amount, and I have some little doubt in my own mind as *to whether that sum will be fully realized. But, on the whole, I think I have made a fair estimate in the amounts I am about to submit to honorable members. I do not desire to go too far, because the States Treasurers, if we give them back less money than we promise them, will naturally blame us. In fact, some of them blame the Federal Government and the Federal Parliament for not having given them back already, not what the Federal Treasurer said he would give back to them, but what the States Treasurers themselves estimated that they would receive. As a matter of fact, however, the Fe’deral Government has in all cases, except in that of Queensland, given back to the States Treasurers more than I estimated when I made my Budget statement on the 8th of October last year, ;so that they had a full opportunity for cutting down the expenditure when they knew that the amount they could expect to >receive was less than their own estimates.
– So that the Federal ^Government is not responsible for the deficits in the States.
– Personally I should be very glad indeed if the Customs and Excise revenue which I expect to receive is exceeded, because if that is so it will give the States’ more money, which in some cases I am well aware they will require.
If honorable members will be good enough to follow me through the papers which I have circulated I will now explain them fully, but as briefly as I possibly can. Sheet No. 1 in these papers gives the monthly details of the revenue received from Customs and Excise during the years 1900- 1 and 1901-2. It shows that in 1901- 2, during which the uniform Tariff was introduced, we derived £8,692,750, as against £8,189,529, which was the amount received in the previous year; or an increase of £503,221. To that we have to add the receipts from the special Western Australian Tariff, which during the nine months brought us in £201,569.
– I thought that the Federal Government -had nothing to do with that.
– But I take into consideration, in dealing with the uniform Tariff, the special Tariff of Western Australia, in order to draw attention to what the amount received, or likely to be received from that source, will be. However, I do not myself place very much reliance on the comparison between these, figures which I have mentioned, because the loading up for the vear 1900-1, made a considerable difference. I simply give the details because they are useful to honorable members in looking at the results, and in considering what has happened since the Federal Tariff was passed. But I prefer myself, as I have always done, to try to make a comparison with the year 1900, particulars as to which honorable members will find on page 2 of the papers which I have circulated. Looking first to New South Wales we find that that in 1900 the total amount received in that State was £1,785,781, and in 1901-2 £2,812,722, or an increase to that State of £1,026,941. I estimate a further increase for 1902-3 to the extent of £337,278, estimating the revenue for New South Wales at the sum of £3,150,000. In the State of Victoria in 1900 we collected £2,342,485 : in 1901-2 we collected £2,376,483- an increase of £33,998. I estimate for this year that there will be a decrease of £76,483 as against last year, and I place the estimate for the State of Victoria at the sum of £2,300,000.
– Would that decrease be on account of the falling off in trade ?
– It will be due to various causes - the abolition of the tea duties, the lowering of customs rates, and so on. In Queensland, as against a revenue in 1900 of £1,561,486, we received last year £1,297,664 - a decrease, unfortunately, in that State of £263,822. I am forced to anticipate a further decrease for 1902-3 of £97,664. The revenue we anticipate to receive from Queensland for the year is £1,200,000. In South Australia, in 1900, we collected £639,004, and in 1901-2 £698,696- an increase of £59,692. I anticipate a decrease to theextent of £18,696, putting down the amount to be collected in 1902-3 at £680,000. In Western Australia, in 1900, the sum of £944,746 was collected, and in the following year, 1901-2, under the uniform Tariff, the amount was £1,134,044.
– Does the right honorable gentleman include the Northern Territory in the South Australian estimate ?
SirG EORGE TURNER.- The Northern Territory is included. In Western Australia the collections show an increase of £189,298, and, adding £201,569 increase on the special Tariff, the total amounts to £390,867 more than in the previous year. We anticipate an increase in 1902-3 to the extent of £25,956 from the uniform Tariff, and £23,431 from the special Tariff - the special Tariff having been in force for only nine months in the previousyear - and that gives a total increase of £49,387. The total uniform Tariff revenue anticipated is £1,160,000, and from the special Tariff £225,000, or a total revenue for that State of £1,385,000 from customs and excise.
– A very heavy revenue.
– Yes, an enormous revenue. I do not know how Western Australia can continue in that course for many years. However, there are the facts, and I believe that the amount I have stated will be received. Of course, in dealing with the finances of Western Australia, we have to take into consideration the fact that in a short time there will under the sliding scale be a reduction of 20 per cent. in the amount of the duties collected from Inter-State goods, and that means that there will be a reduction of importation of over-sea goods in many cases, and consequently a large reduction on the total amount collected.
– Still, however, the Treasurer estimates an increase?
– Yes, with the increased population I think there will be an increased revenue in Western Australia, because we shall have the Tariff in operation for twelve months instead of nine. There is no doubt, however, that we may anticipate an increase in the Inter-State trade, and that to some extent will affect the over-seaimports. In the case of Tasmania, for the year 1900, the collection was £489,151. Unfortunately last year the receipts fell off to £373,141, a loss of £116,010 for that State with its comparatively small revenue. I am forced here again to anticipate a further decrease to theextent of.£33, 141, leaving the revenue anticipated to be received from Tasmania at £340,000. Taking the totals, in 1900 we collected £7,762,653. Last year we collected £8,692,750, an increase of £930,097; and, adding to that the receipts from the special Tariff of Western Australia, a total increase of £1,131,666. Honorable members will see that the increase anticipated to be received under the uniform Tariff for this year is £137,250, and from the special Tariff £23,431, a total of £160,681; so that altogether I anticipate this year to receive £8,830,000 from the uniform Tariff, and from the special Tariff of Western Australia £225,000 - a total customs and excise of £9,055,000. The figures I have just given will be better understood from the following tabulated statement : -
– Does the Treasurer make any allowance for the shortage from spirits ?
– Certainly ; I have taken account of that as part of the revenue. Honorable members will see the details in the papers which I have circulated. I ask honorable members to turn to page 3, where I have given a calculation showing the proportion which the customs and excise revenue in the States bears to the total collections, as follows : -
In New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia last year, there was a considerable increase in the proportion collected from customs and excise. In Western Australia there was a considerable increase, if the revenue from the special Tariff is included ; but if it is omitted, the proportion collected was just about the same. In Queensland and Tasmania we had decreases. The total proportion is, however, practically the same. Of course, honorable members will realize that during this year great changes will take place in connexion with that proportion, because a larger sura, on the whole, will be derived from this source, and a much larger sum in two of the States. If honorable members will now turn back to page 2, they will see thef ollowing statement, showing the amount collected per head in 1 900 and the amount estimated for 1 902-3 ; I am not comparing the figures with those of 1901-2, because I prefer to compare them with those of 1902-3, when we shall have a whole year’s experience of uniform Tariff:-
Honorable members will see that there are considerable variations. The total amount per head collected in 1901 was £2 6s. 5d., against our anticipation of £2 5s. 6d., without taking into consideration the special Tariff. The last statement given on that page shows the proportion of the collections as compared with the population and our anticipations for 1902-3. In New South Wales and Queensland the amount collected will be practically the same as the amount per head in the Commonwealth. In Victoria and South Australia it will be much less. In Tasmania it will be a little less, while in Western Australia, naturally, it will be very much more. The statement is as follows : -
On page 3 I give a comparison showing how much better or worse off the States are now compared with previous years, after deducting the cost of federation. In the first statement I compare 1901-2 with 1900, as follows : -
Comparing the present year with 1900, the figures are as follow : -
Then comparing this year with 1901-2, the figures are as follow : -
That shows how the customs collections, as we now anticipate, will come out as compared with what they were last year, and as compared with what was received by the States in 1900. On page 4 I give some further information - which I do not intend to go into in detail - with regard to the percentage of each State in receipts and expenditure. On page 5 of the papers, under the head of population, I give the figures which we use throughout our calculations, in order that honorable members may be able to check them. If they will turn to the next page they will see an attempt to show under the different divisions of the Tariff the amount that we will anticipate to collect compared with the amount collected in the nine months, the various deductions that have to be made, and the difference between the net revenue estimated for this year and the total net revenue which we collected last year. The estimated revenue from customs and excise duties is as follows : -
– Are the figures in large type estimated 1
– The figures in large type are estimated, and the figures in small tpye are for the nine months, or last year. In the first part of my speech I gave a statement showing how much I anticipate to receive, more or less, in each State. I also propose to circulate a statement I have had prepared, which shows each item of the Tariff, the alterations made in it, and the amount collected each month, including July and August, so that honorable members will have before them the information relating to eleven months of the year, and can check the various calculations that will be distributed. Had I possessed the full information with regard to July and August when I made these calculations, I might have varied some of the details, but I do not think that I should have varied the totals. I believe that the totals will come out as given, taking those months into comparison. I have since discovered that in Queensland a considerable sum - about £37,000 - is lodged on deposit. That amount has not been taken into my calculations. I did not know of its existence, and the Queensland revenue at the end of the year may be increased by something like that sum. Honorable members will see one line headed credits and debits. That refers to duties which are collected under section 93 of the Constitution in one State, and have to be credited to another. It shows to some extent the effect of goods passing from one State to another. It is as follows : -
That shows that a large quantity of goods are imported into New South Wales and Victoria and ultimately find their way into Queensland and Tasmania. On page 9 I give further information with regard to customs and excise receipts for the months of July and August, which I could not include in the large statement. It is as follows : -
Honorable members will find that in J July we collected % £842,063 and in August £819,000. Of course if this rate were to continue, the amount I anticipate would be very largely increased. I have communicated with the collectors of Customs and they are all of opinion that the amounts now being collected are abnormal, and are accounted for by re-stocking and the importation of summer goods, and that that rate cannot be maintained during the year. Therefore it will be very unwise to attempt to ascertain the amounts likely to be collected by multiplying the figures for either of those months by twelve. August shows a falling off as against July, and as far as I have obtained the figures for September, they show a further falling off as against August. In addition to which the rebate on sugar, which will be a considerable amount in the course of a year, has not been deducted from these figures. Honorable members, when dealing with* the figures which I am supplying, must not run away with the idea’ that, because the revenue for any one month is a certain amount, the revenue for the year will be twelve times that amount, though it is a common way of calculating the receipts for the year to multiply the receipts of any one month by twelve. If they look at the tables which I have submitted they will see that the monthly returns vary very greatly. On page 10- of the papers distributed by me they will find a return of the Customs and excise revenue of the various States for the eighteen months from the 1st July, 1899, to the’ 31st December, 1900, compared with the eighteen months from the 1st January, 1901, to 30th June, 1902. I have procured that information, because in some of the States there has been a great cry about the immense loss of revenue which has occurred in consequence of federation. In some quarters federation has been blamed for everything that has gone wrong, and those who have a grievance against it are in the habit of picking out one or two items to substantiate their complaints. But, to make a fair comparison, the total amount of revenue obtained since federation must be compared with the total amount obtained prior to federation, and the following table gives that information in regard to each of the several States : -
– Has the new expenditure been deducted from those amounts?
– No ; those figures express the total amounts collected, and a perusal of them shows that the majority of the States have no cause for complaint on this head. It must not be forgotten, however, that, as we now compel the States Governments to pay duty upon dutiable articles imported by them, the amounts so paid must be deducted from their receipts.
– But most of the money will be returned to them again.
– The following table shows the duty actually paid on State imports from 7th April to 30th June of this year, and during the months of July and August, and our estimate of the payments for the year 1902-3.
Then follows a table giving the estimates of revenue in the department of Defence for the year ending 30th June, 1903, as compared with the revenue for the year ended 30th June, 1902, and from it will be seen that the receipts from the sale of rifles, small-arm ammunition, stores, clothing, fines,, ite, during the year 1901-2 amounted to 9,431, while the estimate of receipts un er those heads for the current year is £9,204. On page 13 there is a table setting forth the receipts and expenditure in the Postmaster-General’s department in each of the States during the year 1901-2, including arrears 1900-1 and “ Other “ expenditure. It is as follows : -
There was therefore a total loss of .£58,575 upon the actual working of the Post-office for that year. I should be glad to submit to the House a balance-sheet showing the operations of the Postmaster-General’s department in the way in which the operations of an ordinary commercial concern would be shown, but when on a former occasion in Victoria I tried to do so, I was supplied with a balance-sheet, which did not meet with my approval, and the officials of the department now tell me that they are not yet in a position to give me the necessary information. They say that they cannot do so until they know the amount of interest which will be fairly chargeable to them for transferred buildings, and have other information of a similar kind. Therefore we shall have to wait until the next Budget speech for that. We anticipate that the operations of the department during the current year will Joe as follows : -
“There will be a total loss of £139,826, at which honorable members may be astonished, but it is to be explained by the statement that we are expending £140, 110 during the year upon works and buildings in connexion with the department, and that sum will be charged as transferred expenditure. At first we were of the opinion that it should be regarded as “other” expenditure, but,” as I shall explain when I come to deal with works and buildings generally, we now consider it fair to regard it as transferred expenditure. . If that amount were left out of consideration, the department would practically pay its way during the current year, supposing our anticipations in regard to revenue and expenditure to be correct.
– Has the right honorable gentleman allowed for increases of salaries in the department?
– The estimate allows for the increases to postal officials. I will presently give full information in regard to increases generally. It is only fair to say that in the year which has just passed the departmental expenditure was largely increased by the amount of arrears from the previous year which had to be paid, and it has been pointed out by some of the postal officials that the year’s expenditure practically included the expenditure for five quarters. This year the arrears are smaller, and therefore a better result ‘will be shown. The statements give the actual receipts and payments during the respective years. My desire is that in every department, wherever possible, every liability shall be paid during the year in which the expenditure was incurred, so that the amount of arrears may be as small as possible. We have not succeeded in keeping down the arrears this year as well as I should have liked, because the departments have not yet got used to the new system; but I hope that next year the arrears will b.e trifling. On page 14 a table appears, showing the estimate of revenue for the year ending 30th June, 1903, compared with the receipts for the year ending 30th June, 1902, from which I have extracted the following totals : -
I am informed that the decrease in South Australia is accounted for by the fact that alterations of terminal and other charges in connexion with the Eastern Extension Cable Company’s business have resulted in a falling-off of the receipts.
– Can the Minister say why such a large falling-off is anticipated in the revenue derived from the carriage of bags and boxes in Victoria 1
– If honorable members compare the items the)’ will find that the amounts will not agree. The figures for 1902-3 are based upon the existing mode of collecting the revenue, whereas the receipts for 1901-2 were arranged according to an entirely different system. Certain items which in 1901-2 were credited to one branch are now credited to another, and that makes an alteration throughout. For this reason no fair comparison of details can be made. I endeavoured to have them placed in the same form in each case, but there was some difficulty in the way, and, therefore, I have not attempted to compare details, but simply show the total for each State.
– I suppose the extraordinary increase in the amount expected to be derived from the sale of stamps is due to the operation of the bookkeeping clauses ?
– Yes. In these increases I have included amounts which were not previously collected in some of the States. In three of the States each department had to pay postage upon the matter sent through the post, whereas in other States this practice was not followed. As it has been determined under the Post and Telegraph Bill that all the States shall pay postage upon their correspondence, and for telegrams, there will be an increase of revenue in Victoria to the extent of £16,500, in Queensland of £12,000, and in Tasmania of £5,000. This new practice will not interfere with the receipts in the other States, where it had previously been the rule for the departments to pay for the services rendered by the post-office. This item must be borne in mind when we are dealing with the amount of the surplus to be returned to each of the States. Three of the States will now have to pay for services which have hitherto . been rendered free of cost. I could not obtain any reliable information regarding the Commonwealth postage, and, as it would not affect the actual results, I have not regarded it as necessary to make provision for it in the Estimates.
– Are the estimated receipts for telephone and telegraph services based upon the rates which were recently approved of by Parliament ?
– No, my honorable friend has anticipated my next observation. The Post and Telegraph Rates Act provided for certain alterations of rates which I believe will result in a reduction of the revenue in most of the States, but upon this point I have not been able to obtain complete information. The loss will not amount to a very large sum altogether, and I hope that, with the increased business which will result when we are restored to prosperity, our Estimates will be approximately realized. I did see some figures relating to this matter, but I do not recollect them at the moment. Although they might in themselves appear large, they do not represent a very large amount compared with the total revenue to be collected in each department. Honorable members will see, therefore, that according to these figures we expect to collect from the Postoffice and Telegraph department £2,444,400. This is an increase upon the revenue received during the previous year of £79,527. At page 15 of the printed papers which are before honorable members, I have summed up the figures in such a way that a glance will show the amount we expect to collect in each State under each head of revenue, and the increase or decrease as compared with the previous year. From the statement I have extracted the following figures : -
The total amount collected from all sources during 1901-2 was £11,087,334, plus £201,569 collected under the special Tariff in Western Australia, making in all £11,288,903. This year we expect to receive £11,510,104, of which £225,000 is expected from the special Tariff in Western Australia, and £11,285,104 from all other sources. We anticipate that there will be an increase in the revenue from all sources of £221,201. That concludes what I desire to say with regard to the revenue, and I shall now direct the attention of honorable members to the proposed expenditure. I shall deal with the various papers presently, but I desire now to give a few general details. The estimated expenditure for the year is £3,924,764. The estimate for the previous year was £4,016,594; so that, comparing estimate with estimate, there is a decrease in the amount now asked for of £91,830. When, however, we compare the Estimates for this year with the actual expenditure of last year, we find that they provide for an increase of £243,080. The transferred expenditure this year is put down at £3,629,291, as compared with £3,422,572 last year,- an increase of 206,719. The other expenditure for the current year is estimated at £295,473, as compared with £259,112 last year, an increase of £36,361, making a total increase over last year of £243,080. The following table shows the various amounts : -
Honorable members will no doubt be startled to find that we are asking for such a large amount in excess of the expenditure last year, but the explanation is a very simple one, and it involves the question of works and buildings. Honorable members know that we provided a very large sum last year for works and buildings, but as the Estimates were passed just at the end of the financial year we spent practically nothing. £11 6,-300 was provided for, but we spent only £5,029. In comparing the proposed expenditure for the present year with that of the past year, we should in fairness take this item into consideration. It will be found that we actually expended in 1901-2, £3,681,684. If we add £111,281 which we should have expended in that year - and which, under ordinary circumstances, would have been spent- we arrive at a total of £3,792,965. Then, again, taking the estimated expenditure for the current year at £3,924,764, and deducting from it £111,281 which should have been expended last year, we have £3,813,483 as the total amount of our proposed expenditure, or an increase upon last year’s figures of only £20,51S. In that connexion, we provide this year for the expenditure of £69,317 for further works and buildings, and there are a number of other items which I shall bring under the notice of honorable members at a later stage. In 1901-2 many items were for part of the yeal- only, and in 1902-3 we provide for the whole of the new works for practically two years. Therefore, if honorable members take all the facts into consideration, they will see that we are not asking for an unreasonable amount of money. If we had passed the Estimates earlier last year, the money voted for works and buildings would have- probably been spent, and the revenue for this year would have been relieved to a degree corresponding with that in which the expenditure of last year was increased. Therefore, there would have been a difference of £222,562 in the expenditure of last year as compared with the present year. The result is the same as that which follows from an honorable member changing sides in a division. His transfer from one side of the House to the other makes a difference of two in the count. The following figures which are given at page 16 show the cost of departments in 1901-2 and the estimated cost for the year 1902-3, and indicate the increases or decreases in each case : -
If honorable members refer to those figures, they will see that in connexion with the Defence departments there is a decrease of £62,743. Against this, however, £25,137 is provided for compensation, and the amount of expenditure for new works and buildings will be increased by £26,651. This reduces the actual decrease of last year’s expenditure to £10,955. In the Post-office department there is an increase of £204,808 ; in the coronation expenses a decrease of £4,118, and in printing-office machinery an increase of £4,329.
– Is there to be another coronation this year ? I notice that a sum of £9,000 is provided in that connexion.
– The honorable and learned member has neglected to look at the other column. In connexion with the coronation celebrations, a total sum of £22,000 was provided. Of that amount, £13,718 was spent last year, and £9,600 is to be spent this year. It will thus be seen that during the current year the expenditure under this heading will be £4,118 less than it was last year. Of course a number of accounts had to be paid in July, August, and September of this year, and not in the previous year.
– That £22,000 is in excess of the sum voted for the purpose by this House.
– No. The honorable member must recollect that the men composing the Commonwealth contingent were detained in London considerably longer than was originally anticipated. Consequently, I expected that a further demand would be made upon me in connexion with this particular item. However, that demand was not forthcoming, and I did not stir it up. The total expenditure, therefore, for 1901-2 was £3,681,684, as compared with £3,924,764, which is the estimate for this year. I should like to give a brief explanation as to how this increase arises. The reduction in the Governor-General’s department is accounted for by the fact that the £10,000 which was voted as an allowance by this House was to apply to one year only. In connexion with the legislature, we anticipate a reduction in the cost of printing, because we are hopeful that next session will not be so prolonged as has been the current one. Of course, honorable members themselves can largely assist us to further reduce that particular expenditure. The vote in connexion with the department for External Affairs, which appears to be a large one, includes £20,000 for the administration of New Guinea, and £2,400 in connexion with the Pacific Islands mail service. In the Department for Home Affairs, the following increases occur : -
Still dealing with the question of increased expenditure, I would point out that in that department the amount provided covers the staff for the full year, thus accounting for a difference of £3,607. The Public; Service Commissioner’s department will cost us £14,994, about £10,000 of which is for the office and the various matters connected therewith, whilst the balance consists of the special appropriation to cover salaries. Apparently, the staff, when in full working order, will consist of about seventeen officers. Honorable members will realize that the department will require a considerable amount to cover the cost of its printing. I would; further remind them that a great deal of travelling will have to be done in carrying out the scheme for the reclassification of the public service. Examinations have also to take place, and, in this connexion, honorable members will understand that we are dealing with the Commonwealth, and not with an individual State. Of course we shall receive a certain amount of revenue from the examinations which will, to some extent, reduce the expenditure of this department. Then we have provided for the public works branch a sum of £5,267. That branch is not yet fully established, but it will be established gradually-. We have also provided £5,000 which we shall pay to the States for services rendered by their officers in supervising Commonwealth public works. While that partakes of the nature of an expenditure, we should remember that that money is returned to the States, so that in reality they suffer no loss. We have also set apart the sum of £35,000 for bringing the Electoral Act into operation. Originally a much larger sum was proposed, but my honorable colleague, the Minister for Home Affairs, has since considerably reduced it. I know that in Victoria the annual vote in connexion with electoral matters is approximately £17,000. Honorable members will therefore realize that in this connexion £35,000 is an expenditure which is necessary and unavoidable. Probably in the first year of the operation of the Act .the expenditure will be heavier than it will be hereafter, because the rolls have to be prepared and printed, and that in itself is a very large undertaking. I think,therefore, that the amount provided for this purpose cannot be said to be an unreasonable one. We have also included certain expenditure in connexion with the federal capital site - expenditure which will inevitably be. incurred by the board appointed to make the necessary inquiries and to value the properties to be resumed. In the Treasury department I have been forced to somewhat increase the staff, and I have also deemed it justifiable to increase the salaries which the officers were receiving. Moreover, last year the Audit Office provided for only six months instead of twelve. I found that in the Treasury the secretary was overworking the clerks. Accordingly I suggested that the office hours should be from 9 a.m. till 9 p.m., and insisted that the Factories Act should be complied with by giving the employes a half holiday on Wednesday, thus allowing them to leave the office at 4.30 p.m. No one, therefore, can complain that in my department the officers are not receiving liberal treatment. Of course, they have recently been working very hard, but the pressure will now be relaxed. In the Customs department the charge for auditing amounts to £3,600. That is one of the charges which has the effect of increasing our expenditure, although the money is repaid. I laid down the rule, which appears to me to be a sound owe, that the States should be paid for whatever services they rendered to the Federation, and that, similarly, the Commonwealth should be recouped for services rendered to the States. The increase for new works now charged against departments represents £4,600, and for pensions £600. There is still . another item in this department which I submit to honorable members with every confidence. We all recollect that an officer of that department, in the person of Mr. Smart, remained in this Chamber and in the Senate, night after night, for many months, supplying members with information regarding the Tariff when that measure was under discussion. In addition to that, for months previously, he had worked night and day assisting in its preparation. The Government, therefore, ask Parliament to grant him a bonus of £250. In the Customs department portion of the increased expenditure is accounted for by the fact that we have to pay an additional £4,500 in connexion with the excise upon sugar. Now I come to the Defence department. In dealing with that department, I propose to confine myself to the figures as they appear upon the Estimates. At a later stage, my colleague, the Acting Minister for Defence, will have an opportunity of giving to the committee full details in connexion with his retrenchment scheme, and to show how the reductions are made up. I have not that information in my possession, and therefore cannot place it before honorable members.
– There does not appear to have been much pruning done in connexion with these Estimates.
– Honorable members should not make up their minds upon the question until they have heard the statement from my honorable colleague. When they have done so I think they will agree that there has been a large amount of pruning.
– Has the reduction of £175,000, which has been spoken of, been made ?
– I intend to deal with that question. In connexion with the head-quarters staff, increases have been made to the extent of £10,000. Then the sum of £25,000 is provided for compensation to officers whose services have been dispensed with, and the increased sum of £26,000 in connexion with the item “ New works “ is now to be charged as “Transferred” and not as “Other” expenditure. The figures dealing with Defence are contained in the following table: -
We find a decrease on the actual expenditure of last year of £10,000 in regard to rifles and Maxim guns; that is, we are spending £15,000 this year as against£25,000 last year. The naval votes on the actual expenditure of last year have been reduced by £20,000, and the military votes by £32,000. Then, of course, there was the Royal reception, which cost £1 0,000 and which is a nonrecurring item. So that leaving out of the question the two points in regard to compensation and new works, there has been a reduction on the actual expenditure of last year of £64,000.
– The net reduction of expenditure is only £11,000, whilst the Royal reception in the previous year came to £9,739.
– If honorable members are going to make up their minds all at once, then of course I am helpless. I can only say that the promise made by the Minister for “Defence has been more than carried out.
– Especially on the Naval Estimates.
– The Estimates, lis will be seen from the tables given above, were £937,212 for 1901-2. I may as well mention here that the amount for the squadron is unaltered, remaining as it does at £106,000. Allowing for that, we have left £831,212, and the Minister for Defence promised that the Estimates of this year would be £131,212 less than the Estimates for last year.
– No; the promise was that the expenditure of this year would be £1 30,000 less than the expenditure of last year.
– The honorable member is wrong. What the Minister for Defence said was that the Esti- mates of this year, as compared with the Estimates of last year, would show a reduction of £131,212, and he told the House that during the currency of the year he hoped to reduce the expenditure, as .compared with the Estimates, by £100,000. He has carried out that promise to the letter.
– That was not what the Minister said.
– The honorable member will find that I am stating what is absolutely correct. We have carried out the promise to reduce the Estimates by £131,212, and we have gone further,, and made an additional saving of nearly £44,000, so that the Estimates of this year show a reduction of £175,198, as compared with the £131,212 promised. Last year the estimated expenditure was £937,212, the actual expenditure £826,012, and the saving £111,200. These savings were made during the year, and it is hardly fair for honorable members to say that because those savings were made last year the Government are doing nothing in the way of saving this year ; the very fact of our having made these savings reduces the expenditure. If we had allowed the expenditure to go on as provided for in the Estimates, everybody would have been perfectly satisfied that we had made a good saving this year : but because we went further, and insisted on making savings last year, we ought not to be blamed. We found that last year we provided for a considerable amount of ammunition, though not so much as is now required. I mentioned the item of rifles, and the amount we have saved on the actual expenditure, and have also drawn attention to the expenditure on works, buildings, and other items. We have reduced the Estimates of the naval expenditure by £26,346, and that of the military expenditure by £125,9S2, and the Estimates in regard to other Defence items by £22,870, which makes up the £175,198 I have mentioned. On the actual naval expenditure of last 3’ear in New South Wales there is a saving to the extent of £4,019; in Victoria of £6,091, in Queensland of £8,026, and in South Australia of £2,756. These figures show a total saving on the actual expenditure of last year of £20,886. In the military expenditure there is the increase I have mentioned in connexion with the headquarters staff- - actually £9,774. In New* South Wales the reduction as compared with the actual military expenditure of last year is £5,938; in Victoria, £18,361 ; in Queensland, £16,952; but in the other three States there ore increases. In Western Australia there is an increase of £1,116 ; in Tasmania, £1,062; and in- South Australia £7,772. The increase in South Australia is, I believe, accounted for by the fact that there is an increased establishment in that State, and probably those drill instructors will crop up in connexion with this particular item. I have mentioned that it has been determined, subject to’ the approval of the House, to give compensation to a large number of officers and men whose services have been dispensed with, in many cases before they might naturally expect to cease duty. That compensation, iis can be seen from the tables above, is distributed amongst the States - New South Wales receiving £13,435 ; Victoria, £6,523 ; Queensland, £3,012 ; South Australia, £854; Western Australia, £115 ; and Tasmania, £1,198. The last department with which I have to deal in this connexion is the Post-office, and here there have been several increases, which the following statement shows in detail : -
One item - that of repairs - shows an increase of £10,000. There was a practice by which money received for certain services was credited not to revenue but -to expenditure, so that Parliament practically had no control. That is one of the items I have insisted on now being brought into our expenditure, which is necessarily increased, but at the same time this also increases the amount on the revenue side. In addition to repairs there is the audit on which we expect to expend £1,500 extra, and other increases under the head of pensions, £5,500 ; supervi-sion of works, £2,100, and the new works I have mentioned, £140,000.
– Are the pensions paid under State Acts 1
– The pensions are paid under various State Acts. Honorable members will see that instead of lumping these items together, I have distributed them over the various departments in order that we may know exactly what each department costs. I have been struggling, as I shall show later on, to find out what the various departments cost in the previous year, but it seems to be an utterly hopeless task to get a fair comparison. What we have to provide for is expenditure in different places, and I have brought together in one Budget statement the expenditure in each department. Carrying out a promise made, I think to the honorable member for Bland, I also show the Estimates and actual expenditure of 1901-2, as compared with the expenditure of 190.2-3, so that honorable members may see at once where there are increases, and where there are decreases. In the various States in the Post-office department there have been increases, and these we cannot help ; in a growing department it is utterly impossible to cut down expenditure. I have reduced expenditure wherever, the opportunity offered, but one item accounts for nearly the whole of the increase in the Post-office. In New Sou tl Wales there is shown an increase of £1.1,313 ; in Victoria, £10,109 ; in Queensland, £6,318 ; in South Australia, £6,364; in Western Australia, £6,430 ; and in Tasmania, £4,907. That is a total of £45,441, but it cannot be considered very large when we are dealing with an expenditure of some £2,500,000. One item in the Postal department, namely, that of increments, conies to no less a sum than £23,000, which has to be paid under law, regulation, or custom prevailing in the various States.
– Does that include the provision necessary to carry out the requirement in the Public Service Act in regard to the payment of the minimum wage 1
– Is provision made for it in these Estimates 1
– I shall deal with that matter presently. We have to provide for increased business, as well as for the heavier charges caused by the drought in connexion with our mail services. We have the telephone and telegraph lines ever extending, and, necessarily, more expenditure is involved in maintenance. In Queensland, we have had to reconstruct two lines which were destroyed, and we have charged that expenditure against revenue. That accounts for £3,700 of the increase in that particular State. Tasmania shows an increase. That increase, however, is accounted for by the fact that Tasmania has now to pay the whole of the subsidy in connexion with the Eastern Extension Company’s cable between Tasmania and the mainland, whereas in former years the payment of the subsidy was distributed among the States. The agreement under which the subsidy was paid by the different States lapsed, and unfortunately the whole expenditure now falls on the island State. I believe that the authorities there endeavoured to make arrangements with the other States in regard to the subsidy, but did not succeed. The total increase on the whole of the Estimates is £243,080. Included in our proposed expenditure are the new works, which represent £180,598. Of that sum £111,281 is practically a revote from the previous year, so that the additional works provided for on this year’s Estimates represent an expenditure of £69,317. I have already stated that we have provided for about £10,000, for which previously no provision was made, the amount being credited merely to expenditure. There is also a sum of £10,000, which we have paid to the States for supervision and for auditing. The disturbing item is that relating to new works and buildings. The amount involved under that heading is large. I returned the Estimate for reconsideration by the responsible Minister, in order to see whether it could not be reduced in view of the difficult position in which some of the States are likely to bo placed. After reinvestigating the whole matter, however, my honorable colleague thought that we were bound to proceed with certain public works, and those which are submitted for construction out of revenue, are not only necessary, but perfectly justifiable. I think this is the only item in which it would be possible to make any reduction if we wished to cut down the expenditure, but it cannot ‘be reduced to any considerable extent.
– Does the amount set apart for new works include provision for undergrounding the telephone wires ?
– No, that is a different matter. I need not trouble honorable members with the details of document No. 18. It has been prepared for the purpose of enabling the committee to see in relation to the Estimates the total expenditure for the two years, and to compare it, if they choose to do so, with the different divisions in the Estimates. It also shows the total expenditure in the various States, as well as the total for the whole Commonwealth: The figures are as follow : -
I shall proceed now to deal with “ Other expenditure “ : -
Includes arrears for 1900-1, £28,541. also L’30,526 out of Treasurer’s advance (lending loan moneys which will be repaid, and £1,971 for works and buildings out of revenue pending passing of Works Estimates Act.;
The following table shows -
We are accused of indulging in enormous and extravagant expenditure in connexion with the transferred departments, and also of squandering money under the heading of “ Other expenditure.” I have set out in the Budget papers the fullest details possible with regard to the expenditure for the year which closed on 30th June last. The total actual amount debited to the States was £313,931, but the expenditure for the year amounted to £259,112. The sum of £313,931, representing the amount actually debited to States in 1901-2 includes £28,541 in the shape of arrears which we have had to pay ; and £36,526 paid out of the Treasurer’s advance account in order to keep loan works going until the House determines out of which fund provision shall be made for them. It also includes another small amount in regard to works and buildings, the total actual expenditure being £259,112 properly chargeable to the year.
– Does that allow for the new expenditure of £20,000 in connexion with New Guinea?
– The amount is much below the Convention estimate.
– Yes ; if honorable members will turn to page 24 of the papers which I have distributed, they will find that there again I have given the fullest possible details in relation to this matter. Perhaps it will be said that I have given them too fully. If I were dealing simply with a State Parliament I. should not give all those details, but we are likely to be criticised by the public as well as by the
Treasurers and the officials of the States, and therefore I feel that, whatever we may do subsequently, I am bound on this occasion to give the fullest possible information relating to our finances, whether it be for or against the position which we take up. It will be seen that for 1902-3 the estimated expenditure under the heading of “ GovernorGeneral,” shows a reduction of £11,207 ; Parliament shows a reduction of £12,223 ; the department of External Affairs an increase of £2,610 ; the Attorney-General’s department an increase of £5 ; the department for Home Affairs an increase of £55,175 ; the Treasury an increase of £3,083 ; the Customs department an increase of £808 ; the Defence department an increase of £7,567 j the Postal department a decrease of £129 ; and Works an increase of £4,529. Last year there was an expenditure of £9,739 in connexion with the Royal reception arrangements. This year there will be none, while in connexion with the Coronation there is a reduction of £4,118 in the amount charged to the present year. For the year 1902-3 we expect to spend £36,361 more than we did during the previous year under the heading of “ Other expenditure,” the total expenditure for this year being estimated at £295,473, as against the total expenditure of £259, 112 properly chargeable against the previous year. Honorable members will see that I have separated from the general expenditure that which I consider to be due to federation. I think that I have every justification for dividing our “ Other expenditure” into two classes - that caused by federation and that which would have taken place-even if the Commonwealth had not been established. The expenditure caused by federation in 1901-2 was £205,655 or equal to ls. Id. per head, not including the exceptional expenditure, while for the year 1902-3 it is estimated that the expenditure resulting from the establishment of the Commonwealth will be £265,873 or equal to ls. 4£d. per head, These figures represent the true cost of federation. Whatever may be said with regard to any other figures, I have no hesitation in assuring honorable members that this statement correctly sets forth the increased expenditure for which federation has been responsible. I do not think that any one who realizes the true significance of the figures will ever grumble at the expenditure.
– Ifc is much less than was anticipated on the hustings.
– It is only right that I should mention that next year we shall have to provide for the general elections, which will probably cost £60,000, and it might be fair to consider whether the sum of £20,000 should not be set apart each year, in order to meet this new expenditure. At the same time we hope to be in a position to considerably reduce the electoral expenditure, so far as that particular item is concerned. Honorable members will recollect that under section 87 of the Constitution certain accounts have tobe kept between the Commonwealth on the one hand and the States on the other. These accounts will be found in the Budget papers, commencing at page 26 -
In this table we deal with the whole Commonwealth and with each individual State, and we show how the various figures are arrived at. I propose simply to show how much more of the States’ money we could have expended than we have. We are 45’ c; accused of having taken the whole onefourth of the revenue to which the Commonwealth is entitled. It is said that we expend the whole of that one-fourth, but that is true only in regard to Queensland. With regard to the other States, we gave back in the case of New South Wales £316,408, to Victoria 188,454, to South Australia £114,682, to Western Australia £244,486, and to Tasmania £41,854. We spent more than the one-fourth in Queensland to the extent of £19,842. That was accounted for by the very heavy expenditure necessary in that State in connexion with the Post-office department, which there, as I have already pointed out, shows a very serious loss. Dealing with this year, we shall give back to all the States, after providing for the works and buildings that I have mentioned, a total of £915,779, which we might have expended. Last year the total amount we gave back was £886,000, which we might have expended.
– And yet the right honorable gentleman proposes to borrow £500, 000 1
– I shall come to that subject presently. In the case df New South Wales we propose this year to give back £358,332, to Victoria £199,355, to Queensland only £6,999, to South Australia £S1,475, to Western Australia £246,685, and to Tasmania £22,933. So far as our expenditure of last year and our proposals for this year as I have outlined them are concerned, I think no one can say that we are taking away from the States anything like the total amount which we should be justified in taking from them if we went the full length which the Constitution allows us to go. An interesting comparison will be found set out in the table giving the receipts and payments, and the surpluses of the States in 1901-2 compared with the Estimates for 1902–3, as follows : -
We show the receipts, and we show how much the receipts of this year are expected to exceed the receipts of last year, and with regard to payments, we show how much they will be in excess or what savings it is expected’ will be made in each particular State. Then we show the amount plus or minus, comparing the two years, which we expect to return to the States. It will be seen that New’ South Wales will get back more than last year to the extent of £276,99S, and Western Australia will get back £35,6S5 in excess. Unfortunately, in the case of the other four States, we shall give back considerably less than they received in the previous year. In the case of Victoria the amount given back will be less to the extent of £42,4:40, Queensland £46,475, South Australia £43,028, Tasmania£47,371. So that honorable members when they come to deal later on with another question, must bear in mind the fact that whilst we are not using anything near the amount we could use from the States, we are still this year, in consequence of the reduced revenue we expect to get in some of the States, giving back to the States considerably less in most instances than we gave them last year. I desire honorable members now to allow me to deal with the tables contained on page 36, and the following pages of the statement submitted to honorable members, as shortly as I can. The first is a summary showing the amount we receive and pay on account of the Commonwealth. Our total receipts, as I have nl read)’ mentioned, are estimated at £1.1,510,104, and our expenditure at £4,007,967, which includes new expenditure we have to pay this year to the extent of £308,956. The new expenditure we pay this year is new expenditure properly chargeable to this year, plus the arrears we have to pay this year that properly belongs to the previous year. So that the States will get back altogether £7,501,787, whilst in 1901-2, we gave back £7,368,418. Consequently, the extra amount which we return this year is £133,369. In these figures the special Western Australian Tariff is included ; though it is only fair to say that these amounts include £33,500 postage, which has to be paid by the States, but was not previously paid, and it also includes £245,500 which the States have to pay on their own State imports. Dealing with New South Wales, the receipts in that State altogether are estimated at £4,040’,640, and the expenditure- including £111,450 “ other “ expenditure - at £1,374,497 ; and taking off a debit we propose to return this year to New South Wales £2,662,903, being an increase, as I have mentioned, of £276,998 on last year. In the case of Victoria, the receipts are estimated at £2,925,495 ; the expenditureincluding £96,723 for “other” expenditure - -is £1 048,389, and, including a credit, we give them back £1,87S,534 - a less return this year to the extent of £42,440. In Queensland the receipts are £1,523,7S0, and the expenditure - including £40,99S “new” expenditure - is £665, 4S7: and, with a credit, we return them £858,300, whilst in 1901-2 the amount returned was £46,475 more. With regard to Victoria, I might mention, in passing, that the Treasurer of that State estimates that he will get back £100,000 more than I expect he will receive. In Queensland the Treasurer estimates to get back £54,000 more than I anticipate. In South Australia the receipts’* are i 949,889, and the expenditure £378,673 - including £29,136 “ new “ expenditure. A credit brings the sum up to £573,120, or £43,028 less than was returned to South Australia in the previous year. In that State the Treasurer expects to receive back £50,000 more than I anticipate.
-. B. Edwards. - They are all more sanguine than the Federal Treasurer is then?
– They are all more sanguine than I am.
– The right honorable gentleman is a pessimist !
– I do not think so ; but I am not going to place the Commonwealth in the position of enabling the States Treasurers to say that they expected to. get back more than- I really anticipate that they will receive. I am not going to give them the opportunity of urging that because they did not get back what they anticipated that they would receive the Federal Budget was the cause of their deficits. If, as a matter of fact, the States get back more than I anticipate all the better for them; but, if not, and if they are forced to make further savings, I do not know that that will be any great hardship. I refer honorable members to the printed, statement for similar details with regard to Western Australia and Tasmania : -
The Treasurer of Tasmania expects to receive £18,000 more, but it must be noted that in the return to Tasmania last year a sum of £10,000 was included, which was merely a refund of Money Order Advances. I hope that the States will get back more than we anticipate returning to them.
– What is the New South Wales estimate of the amount to be received?
– 1 have not heard. Pages 43 and 44 of the papers which I have circulated give a general summary of all the receipts and expenditure; and I have also endeavoured to ascertain for the information of honorable members the financial position of each of the States in 1901-2. That is shown on page 45. I have not the figures for New South Wales, but I have the best information I could obtain - the “ balance at the debit of the consolidated revenue fund on the 13th June, 1902.” That amount was £236,781. I do .not know exactly - I am not sufficiently well up in the finances of New South Wales to knowwhat is meant by “ balance at the debit of consolidated revenue fund ‘‘-whether it means the excess of expenditure over revenue in the year mentioned or not. I have simply put down the statement as I have received it.
– Why does the right honorable gentleman put it down at all 1 What have we got to do with it ?
– We have a great deal to do with it. We have a great deal to do with the finances of the States, for the reasons I have previously mentioned. In Victoria for the year 1901–2 there was a deficit of £437,611 ; in Queensland there was a deficit of £431,939 ; in South Australia there was a deficit of £222,315 ; and in Tasmania there was a deficit, of £44,279. In Western Australia there was a credit balance of £123,185, which would not have been the case there had it not been for the operation of the special Tariff of that State. I have in the next document which I have circulated, No. 46, made what I think should be a very interesting comparison, and what in years to come will be a very necessary one. At the end of the bookkeeping period it will have to be determined whether the surplus to the States shall be returned on the present bookkeeping system or whether it is to be returned on a population basis. I think it is well, therefore, that in the intervening years we should gather information with regard to what would have happened if we had not had the bookkeeping sections in the Constitution - how the surplus revenue would have been returned if it had been returned on a population basis, and what difference it would have made to the individual States. We have often heard it said that New South Wales was going to carry the whole of the burden i of federation, but these figures show rather a different result up to the present. I am reckoning on the supposition that we had not had the bookkeeping sections at all, and estimating how the distribution would have taken place as compared with what has taken place under these particular sections. We find that on the figures as they stand, New South Wales in 1901- 2 would have received upon a population basis £192,634 more than she received by means of the distribution under the bookkeeping section. Victoria would have received £344,360 more; Queensland would have received £42,546 more ; South Australia would have received £67,048 more; Tasmania would have received £11,053 more, whilst Western Australia would have borne the whole burden,’ receiving £658,24.1 less.
– Does not that show how iniquitous that system would have been 1
– I quite agree with my right honorable friend. I have always been strongly opposed to the bookkeeping sections, but still I was forced to admit that if federation was to take place those sections were absolutely necessary. The next- figures show what would happen if the amounts paid to the States in 1902- 3 were distributed on the basis of population. New South Wales would receive back £38,166 less than she would receive under the bookkeeping sections ; Victoria would receive £399,828 more; Queensland, “£107,330 more ; South Australia, £113,080 more; Tasmania, £60,014 more; whilst Western Australia would again bear..,the brunt, and would receive £642,0S6 less. So that honorable members will see, when they come to think over the matter, that everything confirms the view of those who took up the position that during the few years at the commencement of federation we must have some system of meeting the ordinary requirements of the States. Those views were right, so far as experience has shown.
– Some suggestions were made with,. regard.. to a distribution on a basis of male population.
– The suggestion was that the return should be made on a population” basis, and personally I should be very glad to see the whole subject dealt with on a- population basis, because that would make our accounts much more simple.
The following table shows the details of the above statement : -
On the next page, 47, and the following pages, are shown the amounts to be expended in 1 902-3 in each of the States. I have already shown the amounts to be expended, but for the further information of honorable members I show in these documents how each amount is to be expended in each of the States as follows : -
This expenditure is divided into columns; one column dealing with transferred expenditure, and another with “other” expenditure. I need not trouble honorable members with the position of the trust funds. We have £140,318 under that heading, which I am glad to say has not been trenched upon. Now, sir, I want to refer for a few minutes to charges which have been levelled against us on the ground of extravagance, and to the wild statements which have been made, especially in the State of Victoria, that federation has cost £500,000 or £600,000to the State. People reading that statement will read it as meaning that the transfer of certain departments to the Commonwealth has cost that sum. Similar statements have been made in other States, and I have endeavoured for some time past to get reliable figures in order to be enabled to compare our actual expenditure with the expenditure which has taken place in the States for some years prior to federation. I shall be prepared to show from these figures that there has been no extravagant expenditure, as has been sometimes alleged by those who either do not care to ascertain the facts for themselves or who do not know what the facts are. Now, the statement was made by the Treasurer of Victoria, as reported in the press some time ago, that the transferred departments in Victoria, under federation, were costing £100,000 a year more than they did before. That statement is absolutely incorrect. I have, in the papers submitted, taken a good deal of trouble to ascertain and. give the fullest information for the purposes of a comparison, in order that the figures may be challenged. I think that the statement which has been made must have originated in a misapprehension, which has probably arisen from the fact that the comparison was made between ten month’s’ expenditure in one year and fourteen months’ expenditure in another year. Under the Victorian practice, during July and August, payments were allowed to be made on account of the previous financial year, and were charged against that year. Under our Commonwealth system we shut down sharp on the 30th June - the end of the financial year. The consequence of that is that payments on account of the past year have to be made out of and charged against the revenue of the current ‘ year. Thus, in the post-office they have had to pay five quarters’ expenditure in the one year. That is the only means by which I can account for the grave . el’l or which has been made in the statement that federation has cost Victoria in respect of the transferred departments £100,000 extra. Last year, compared with the previous year, during the greater portion of which the departments were under State control, the post-office cost Victoria £11,954’ extra, and of that sum £9,000 extra was caused b)’ action taken by the State just prior to federation in reclassification and the adoption of penny postage, the burden of which action we have had to bear, and which was not due to any action of the Federal Parliament. Then there was a change in the port of call in Western Australia, and that caused a considerable extra expenditure. Honorable members will also realize that, as I have mentioned already, the extension of telephone communication must necessarily involve increased expenditure in all the States. Then in connexion with the Defence department we have expended in Victoria £20,442 more than was spent in the previous year, but that amount is far more than covered by one item, which I have already mentioned. ‘ We had to provide the large sum of £24,000 for supplying a reserve of ammunition. The State had allowed it practically to run out, and, as a matter of fact, the amount so expended should in strictness have been charged to the previous year, and taken off the year for which we are responsible. It would then have been shown that our working of the Defence department was much cheaper than was the case before federation took place. The Customs department was worked, if I recollect aright, at a lower expenditure of £3,489 under federation than previously. The total extra expenditure in Victoria was £28,907 ; and I unhesitatingly state that that was caused not by any action taken by the Federal Parliament or the Federal Government, but by the action which had been taken by the State Parliament previously, and for which we are not in any way responsible. I propose also to endeavour to get the best statement I can with regard to the other States on similar lines to that which I have given in regard to Victoria. I have been able to make the statement I have made with regard to Victoria, because I have some knowledge of the finances of the State, and could readily pick out particulars with regard to the departments. These charges to which I have referred are commonly made in Victoria, and there is no doubt that they have also been made in some of the other States. Unfortunately the public read the charges, but they do not stop to inquire and investigate. They take the statements for granted - as being absolutely true - and consequently come to the conclusion that the Federal Parliament is extravagant, and is wasting the moneys which belong to the States. It is unfortunate that those opinions should be given expression to, because they create in the minds of our people an impression that could not exist if they had the true facts placed before them, and knew exactly what was taking place. The State Treasurer also said that federation has cost Victoria £426,937. Probably that statement is correct. I cannot dispute his figures. I wrote asking him to give the details, but I have not received them, and therefore I cannot tell whether he is right or wrong. I think he must have included the large sum which was spent on the celebrationsprobably £100,000 or £120,000, but it was probably all returned in extra customs duties and railway fares. I do not believe that the celebrations here cost more than £20,000 or £25,000. I do not believe that they cost very much more than that sum in New South Wales. I believe that all the money, expended came back to the various State T.reasurers
– The tea duty would cover the amount.
– I think that the Treasurer takes that into consideration in other items.
– He counts that twice over.
– I am speaking now of the charges that are made with regard to the cost of federation. When it is published broadcast that federation has cost Victoria £426,937, the people naturally think that it is owing to something which we have done. The total amount in eighteen month s charged to Victoria is only £ 1 40, 2 8 3 . Of that sum £91,422 was due to federation, and £30,699 to the celebrations. All that money was spent in Victoria, and contributed principally by people from other States. Victoria got the benefit of that large expenditure, and her people ought not to complain of the amount charged there. The balance of the £140,283 represents the expenditure on New Guinea and the cost of some loan works amounting in all to £18,162. A contribution to the Government of New Guinea was being made by the State, and the amount expended on loan works will be refunded. Looking at the figures which I have been able to ascertain, and which, I believe, are correct and reliable, I declare that all these charges, so far as Victoria is concerned, are absolutely without foundation. I believe that when we can properly investigate the position in other States - even in Queensland, where I notice that allegations are made of the enormous extra expense of federation - it will be found that the Commonwealth has conducted the business just as cheaply as the States would have done, allowing for the extra expenditure which must necessarily be caused by the additional work which has to be done, and the extra amount which is earned by the different departments. With regard to increments I mentioned that we had to provide a certain sum for the Post-office. The increments provided for all the departments come to £25,000, as follows :-
Of the total, £23,060 is in the Post-office. The amount required under sections 21 and 25 of our Public Service Act is stated to be about £48,000.
– Is that owing to the minimum wage ?
– Yes, to bring the salary of an officer, up to £110 after he has attained his 21st year. That amount is only based on the assumption that every person will get the increment. Probably a considerable number of them will not be able to qualify.
– Does it allow for those who would have got an increment under ordinary circumstances ?
– The amount of the ordinary increment is not included. That sum represents the extra amount which this year would be required. If a man were receiving £90, and got an increment of £10, that money is included in the amount of the other increments I have given, and the balance of £10 wouldbe included in this sura. I have not included the full amount in the Estimates for the reason that I was not satisfied that it would be required, and I desired that further information should be obtained regarding that question. Later on it will be necessary, I have no doubt, to ask the House to provide the necessary funds, when we know exactly what is required.
– When are the Government going to give the officers a chance to qualify 1
– If my honorable friend will put a question to the Minister for Home Affairs, he will get the information. Whenever the amount is determined by the public service commissioner, I shall take good care to provide the money, even if Parliament should not be sitting ; because I know that honorable members desire that the men should get the money at the earliest possible moment. I have also furnished the particulars I gave last year with regard to the various allowances. These are much less this year than last year. In the Defence department now there are practically no allowances.
– They are all added to the salaries ?
– That is one way of doing it.
– Yes; and that question will have be discussed when we come to deal with the defence estimates in detail. Except in one or two cases, which my honorable colleague is able to explain more easily than I am, the allowances have been added to the salary, so that honorable members may see exactly how much each officer is receiving.
– Will the right honorable gentleman state the reason for the very large amount which is set down as allowances in connexion with the Post-office in Queensland ? Does it represent travelling allowances ?
– No; personal allowances. As soon as I complete the delivery of my speech I shall circulate a statement giving the details of the allowances to each person, as it is my desire to give every possible information as to the exact position of the finances. I need not trouble honorable members with any comments on the paperwith regard to the number of employés in the different departments. I am sorry that I did not include a statement of the number employed last year. It was overlooked, but honorable members will find in the Budget papers the numbers, and will be able to check them off. It was suggested last year that I should give a balance-sheet with regard to New Guinea ; this is provided, and also certain information with regard to the funded debts of the States. It is too soon, sir, to be able to say anything definite with regard to the effect of federation, but if honorable members will turn to page 60 of the Budget papers, and following pages, they will see that I have endeavoured to obtain for them some information which, I believe, will be interesting and instructive. I have shown the imports into the various States, dividing them where I could into Australian goods and over-sea goods, and distinguishing InterState trade f rom over-sea trade. The figures with regard to over-sea imports are as follow : -
Of course it has always to be borne in mind that the values of goods fluctuate, and the falling off in the returns may be accounted for by the fluctuations in the values. It will be noticed by those who study the figures that there has been a falling off in the importations of New South Wales since the imposition of the uniform Tariff, and that there was not a very large increase in the importations of that State immediately prior to its imposition. We propose to undertake a large expenditure upon public works to be paid for out of revenue. Honorable members will see on page 65 of the papers already distributed a detailed statement showing how the proposed expenditure upon new works and buildings would be debited to the States if charged on a population basis. It was suggested last year that new works should be considered as “other” expenditure, and the cost distributed among the States on a population basis. But, after a reconsideration of the matter, the Attorney-General has come to the opinion that such works are , fairly chargeable as transferred expenditure, and that to treat them in any other way would be inequitable, because New South Wales would contribute £7,493 less than the amount actually expended in that State, South Australia £3,688 less, Western Australia £4,008 less, and Tasmania £3,393 less, while Victoria would contribute £11,230 more, and Queensland £7,352 more. Those amounts may appear to be comparatively small, butIdesire honorable members to bear the fact in mind in connexion with the proposed loan expenditure. If Parliament decides that the expenditure which we propose to charge to loan account shall be paid out of revenue, and charged as “ other “ expenditure, the result will be that Victoria will have to provide £56,873, South Australia £9,873, and Tasmania £15,765 more, while New South Wales will provide £17,434, Queensland £49,984, and Western Australia £15,093 less than will be expended in those States respectively. The. following table shows the details of expenditure : -
Therefore, if honorable members determine that theseworks must be paid for out of revenue, it will mean that money will be taken from Victoria and South Australia to be spent in New South Wales and
Queensland, and that £15,000 will be taken from Tasmania to be spent in Western Australia.
– The Treasurer assumes, then, that loan expenditure must be charged upon a population basis ?
– I assume that loan expenditure for large public works is properly chargeable upon a population basis, but I shall deal with the matter more fully when I come to refer to our loan proposals. I mention these facts now so that honorable members may bear them in mind in dealing with those proposals. We propose to expend £174,098 out of revenue, and £571,295 out of loan funds. If this is charged as transferred expenditure, no doubt, when we come to settle with the States for the buildings handed over by them to the Commonwealth, the whole matter will have to be taken into consideration, and the money will have to be repaid. So far as I and my colleagues are concerned, if we could see any way to avoid loan expenditure we should be only too glad to follow it. I have never approved of borrowing where it could be avoided, and while Treasurer of Victoria Iwas blamed fornot borrowing and expending very large sums. But if I had adopted the policy my critics then advocated, Victoria would to-day be paying in interest £200,000 or £250,000 more than she is now paying.
– And would be bankrupt.
– Neither Victoria nor any of the States will ever be bankrupt, because the Commonwealth will come to the assistance of any State that gets into difficulties. I have referred to the large deficits which have occurred in the finances of the States, and I have pointed out that the States Governments have now to pay duty upon the dutiable articles imported by them, and to pay postage ; and I have referred to their liability in connexion with the provision in our Public Service Act, which compels the payment of £110 a year as a minimum salary for all Commonwealth servants of a certain standing. By way of illustration, I wish to place before honorable members the position of Victoria in regard to the Commonwealth, so far as I can realize it. I anticipate that Victoria will this year receive from the Commonwealth £42,440 less than she received last year, that her share of the liability under the section of the Public
Service Act to which I have just referred will be about £12,500, that she will have to pay about £35,000 on her State imports, and about £16,500 for her postage, while about £75,000 will have to be provided in compliance with the provisions of a State Act passed just before federation was entered into, providing that Victorian public servants transferred to the Commonwealth shall be placed in as good a position as those occupying corresponding positions in other States. That will mean, it is said, an increase of about £40,000 a year in the salaries of Commonwealth officers transferred from the Victorian service, but I have taken the amount at £30,000 a year, and, as we must provide in this year the increase for last year and for six months of the year prior to that, the total amount will be, as I have said, £75,000. Therefore, Victoria, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, will be £182,500 worse off than she was last year, and as her Treasurer has stated that he expected to get £60,000 more than received last year, it will be seen that he will be considerably out in his calculations. I believe that all the States except New South Wales and Western Australia will’ be worse off in regard to the receipts from the Commonwealth this year than they were last year, and that Western Australia will be saved only by her .special Tariff. Honorable members strongly objected last year to the borrowing of £75,000 for the construction of telephone switchboards, and I think that there was a good deal of force in the contention that such expenditure should be provided for from revenue, though I find that in the past it has, in nearly all the States, been provided for out of loan funds. In my opinion it is ‘ legitimately chargeable against revenue, because the provision of improved switchboards enables the branches of the PostmasterGeneral’s department in the various States to increase their revenue and to save expenditure, and I transferred that expenditure to the revenue works, but have provided only a portion this year. I still feel bound, because of the view I take of the States finances, to ask the House to proceed with the Loan Bill. The amount proposed to be expended out of loan moneys is £571,295. This includes £223,500 “in New South Wales, £122,000 in Victoria, £125,795 in Queensland, £44,000 in South Australia, £46,000 in Western Australia, and £10,000 in Tasmania. I quite admit that it- is competent for us, under the Constitution, to take the whole £571,295 out of revenue without breaking the rule that we must not take more than one-fourth of the total customs and excise revenue for our own purposes. At the same time, if we did take the whole of that amount, we should seriously disturb the distribution of the revenue, so far as individual States are concerned. I believe that nearly all of us were under the impression, when the federal union was established, that each State would not be deprived of more than one-fourth of its own contribution towards the Commonwealth revenue. According to the Constitution, it is perfectly clear that we may keep back the whole of the one-fourth of the revenue from the States, but if we take the whole of the money required for new works and buildings out of revenue on a population basis, we shall considerably reduce the amount available for the purposes of the States. We should still give back to some of the States more .than three-quarters of the total customs and excise revenue. New South Wales would receive £152,266 ; Victoria, £20,482 ; South Australia, £27,602 ; and Western Australia, £215,778. But so far as the other States are concerned, we should trench upon the money which they might fairly consider themselves entitled to. Queensland would go short by £68,812, and Tasmania by £2,832. It is here that I find myself in a difficulty. If we defray the cost of these works and buildings out of revenue, the State last named will be left with a large shortage, and it seems to me that we should very seriously disarrange all the States finances. This is a very important subject, to which I have given careful consideration, because I desired if possible to avoid the necessity of asking honorable members to proceed further with the Loan Bills. In view, however, of the heavy deficits which the States Treasurers have to provide for, and the noble efforts which are being made to retrench and impose further taxation, and knowing, as I do, the difficulties which arise when an attempt is made to adopt either of these courses, my sympathies are undoubtedly with the States. Therefore, I am prepared to stretch a point, even against my own feelings, in order to prevent them from falling into further difficulties. If we take a course that will involve the States in further embarrassment, we shall create a stronger and perhaps a more justifiable feeling against federation than that which unfortunately exists at present.
– Does not the Treasurer think we should take over the debts of the States?
– That would not afford any help, because we should still have to charge the States with the interest.
– Would not a tea duty remove the difficulty?
– It would certainly enable us to carry out all the works we require without interfering with the finances of the States, and without rendering their position any worse than it would be if the expenditure were provided for out of loans.
– The Government had better not try to impose a duty on tea.
– It would be better to submit to a tea duty than to borrow.
– This is a very important matter.
– The Treasurer did not tell us how much he intended to ask for under the Loan Bill.
– I said that if we carried out all the works that were proposed £571,295 would be required. I asked for permission to borrow £1 , 000,000, and I explained that I intended to expend during the first year £500,000, and that, in following years, I thought £250,000 would be sufficient. I am quite free to admit that we could do with less loan expenditure, but if we are to follow the practice of applying large sums out of revenue to the construction of works which would, in the ordinary course, be paid for out of loans, we shall force the States into a position which they would never have been called upon to assume if they had retained the expenditure within their own control. In all the States, large works, such as some of those proposed, have been paid for out of loans, and if the departments had remained under their control, the States would have continued that practice. If we distribute the expenditure upon a population basis, we shall undoubtedly take money from some of the States and spend it in others which could better afford to contribute it themselves. If we could charge the whole amount as transferred expenditure it would not be so bad, because we could carry out the works in those States which could afford to expend the money. Still any arrangement of that kind would be rather hard upon such a . State as Queensland, where certain works in connexion with telegraph and telephone services ought to be carried out. We know that the condition of the Queensland finances is such that no money can be fairly and justly taken from the revenue for expenditure upon these new works. If, on the other hand, we laid down the rule that population should be the basis of our expenditure, and Tasmanian requirements were taken as a guide, the total expenditure in all the States would.be only £250,000. We might possibly determine that, during the bookkeeping period, or perhaps until the final settlement is arrived at between the States and the Commonwealth with regard to the mode of charging for these works, the expenditure should be reduced and charged as transferred expenditure. Whilst, however, we consider that the smaller amounts which are to be appropriated for additions to buildings and repairs might very fairly be looked upon as transferred expenditure, we doubt very much whether that would apply to the large works which it is intended to carry out.
– If it were regarded as transferred expenditure, would not the Commonwealth have to pay for it under the valuations of properties taken over with the transferred departments?
– Then it does not very much matter whether it is regarded as transferred expenditure or not.
– So far as the Commonwealth is concerned it does not matter ; but honorable members must not forget that we have to consider the State finances. That is where my trouble begins. If we take from the States yearly the large sums required to carry out these works, I fail to see how they can possibly make up the deficiency. We should not be justified in placing them in any such position. When they handed over to us those sources of revenue which they could increase at their own sweet will and pleasure, they did so on the faith that we would not take any steps which would jeopardize their financial position. If the States had retained the control of Customs and excise they might, without any re-adjustment of the duties, have imposed a primage duty, or some other tax of that kind, which would have tided them over their difficulties. We have, however, taken all such opportunities away r from them, and I feel very strongly that we ought to be very cautious not o adopt any course that would prejudice their finances. I do not say that we should place them in a financial difficulty, because any such statement might be misconstrued. I believe the States .will always meet all the demands made upon them. If any State drifted into a difficulty the Common- wealth would have to come to its assistance, because we could not afford to allow its good name to be tarnished.
– Do not encourage that idea.
– I do not want to do that ; but, on the other hand, I do not wish to use an expression that might be construed by our enemies as meaning that any State might be allowed to fall into financial- difficulties. If the loan proposals contain any sums for maintenance or repairs, they ought to be eliminated. But I do not think that they do. The expenditure provided for in the Loan Bill is absolutely necessary. Take the case of Victoria. There is no doubt that the telephone system of this State is an immense one. One.cannot walk through the streets and contemplate the wires overhead without becoming conscious of the great danger which their presence constitutes. If we are to avert that danger, it i.= absolutely necessary that we should do in Victoria what is being done elsewhere - introduce the metallic circuit and place the wires underground. In New South Wales, too, it is imperative that this work should be proceeded with, on account of the induction caused by the adoption of the electric tram system there. The whole of the expenditure which is here enumerated appears to me to be absolutely requisite. While I am free to admit that we might distribute it over a couple of years, if honorable members deem it desirable to adopt that course, the fact remains that if we are to have proper services these works ought to be undertaken at the earliest possible moment. Already we have charged large amounts against the revenues of the States, and I do not think we are justified in going further in that direction than we have done. We had a very interesting discussion upon the Loan Bill, and when that measure is again under consideration
I trust it will be debated in that good spirit which ought to animate every one of us, and that we shall be able to devise some means by which necessary works can be undertaken without involving the States in any financial trouble. Of course, in the case of New South Wales and Western Australia the difficulty could be easily overcome, because those States have plenty of revenue, and we could charge the outlay as transferred expenditure. The position of the other States, however, is a very different and difficult one, and one which has given me very great concern. This matter must be very speedily settled, because if we are to construct all necessary public works out of revenue, I shall be obliged to submit additional Estimates dealing with that particular phase of the question. I do not wish to detain honorable members at any greater length. In making this ‘financial statement 1 have felt that the Commonwealth Treasurer occupies an altogether different position from that of a State Treasurer. While I may have unduly trespassed upon the patience of honorable members I have endeavoured to omit all the figures which I possibly could, because I have arranged that they shall be circulated in Mansard to-morrow morning, so that honorable members may have an opportunity of seeing how I arrive at the conclusions which I have drawn from them. Of course, the committee could accomplish the same purpose by devoting very close attention to the printed Budget papers which have been circulated, but the task occupied me a considerable time, and in attempting it honorable members might possibly fall into error, and thus arrive at inaccurate conclusions. I therefore thought it wise to arrange that the details upon which I have based my conclusions should be fully set out in Mansard. I do not know that there are any other matters to which ‘ I need refer. I am pleased indeed to have had an opportunity of making a second financial statement, and I .trust that the information which I have supplied to honorable members will be found useful to them. I invite them to fully investigate the figures put before the committee, with a view to determining whether or not they agree with my estimates of revenue and whether they think that any further saving can be effected in my estimates of expenditure. My colleagues and myself will welcome all suggestions which may be offered with that end in view. I thank honorable members for the great patience which they have exhibited in listening to my remarks. At no time is a mass of figures interesting, but I hope that the information supplied this afternoon will be found useful to honorable members, and that in the future, as in the past, our legislation will be upon such lines as will avoid giving to the States any just cause for complaint upon the ground of extravagant expenditure upon our part. From experience I know full well that the States require every shilling that we can return to them. That is the sole reason why I cannot go the length to which some honorable members wish me to go, by advocating the construction of the whole of our public works out of revenue. If we adopt that course I fear that we may injuriously affect the finances of the States, and I ask honorable members to seriously consider that aspect of the question before they determine to reject the Loan Bill. I do not know that there are any matters to which I should have alluded, but to which I have omitted to refer. Should there be any figures which honorable members cannot understand by a perusal of the Rannard report of my - remarks, if they will be good enough to drop me a note, pointing out their difficulty, I shall be only too pleased to supply them with the fullest possible details, because I hold that it is the duty of the Treasurer to place unreservedly before the public all the information at his disposal relating to the financial position either of the States or of the Commonwealth.
– In submitting his financial statement to-day I am convinced that the Treasurer might have been assured in advance that he was addressing a friendly audience, because honorable members on both sides of the House make no secret of the high opinion which they entertain of him as one of the guardians of the finances of the Commonwealth. I have never concealed my admiration of the right honorable gentleman in that respect, and although we sit upon opposite sides of the Chamber, I feel sure that I shall never have any occasion to alter the good opinion which I have formed of him. At the same time it would be unreasonable to expect any one to follow the Treasurer now. It would be impossible, even for a heaven-born financier - and I do not pretend to be one - to at once grasp the mass of tabulated statistics which accompanied his speech. At the same time I thoroughly approve of the way in which he has sought, by means of those statistics, to give honorable members the fullest possible information in regard to the position of the public finances. They will be of great value to us when we have time to examine them. At this late period of the present most trying session, I. do not intend to ask for the usual adjournment of the debate. Under ordinary circumstances it should be adjourned for a week, but in view of the pressure of public business, I shall be perfectly content if the Government will consent to an adjournment until the day after to-morrow. I think that is a reasonable request.
– Hear, hear.
– Even at the present stage, however, I may be permitted to make one or two observations. These will be brief, but, I hope, of importance. In the first place there are two ways in which to look at the enormous amount of customs revenue which the returns of the Treasurer disclose. We must not forget that the £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 do not represent any new gold-mine which has been discovered, and which enriches the country. It represents an enormous amount of money, most of which, I admit, is taken out of the pockets of the people of Australia. Under any financial system ‘some heavy drain is absolutely necessary, and’ it would be very unfair to put the matter in any other light. But from our point of view, the principle on which this mode of collecting public revenue is based, is one which does not lead only to an enormous burden in the shape of direct taxation at the Custom-house. There is also an enormous burden caused by the extent, to which revenue is prevented from flowing through the Custom-house, thus enabling a large army of extortionists to fleece the people behind the shelter of high duties. These are matters which do not provoke us to any strong feeling of congratulation. We on this side of the House wish to give the fullest credit to members who, though they did not belong to the Opposition, had a great deal to do with that to which I am about to refer. Those who joined, in a most praiseworthy way, in preventing the imposition of high taxes on a number of articles in common consumption, such as tea and kerosene, have now an absolute justification in the fact that, in spite of the public having been saved from this taxation, the revenue has been several hundreds of thousands of pounds greater than was expected by the Treasurer. I do not suppose that those who helped the Opposition to relieve the people of some of these heavy burdens could have a more complete justification than the fact that, after having saved the public taxation, estimated at from £750,000 to £1,250.000, the money lodged in the Treasury during the last twelve months has been hundreds of thousands of pounds in excess of the amount anticipated. That in itself is a subject of congratulation, at any rate to members on the Opposition side of the House. I do not want to deal with this matter at any greater length at the present time, but to refer to other subjects which seem to call for immediate notice. Will the Treasurer be good enough to explain a singular omission in the financial statement? We have had our attention drawn to various small items, but what word have we heard of the engagement entered into by the Prime Minister of this Government as to doubling the subsidy in respect of the naval squadron 1
– I said the amount had not been altered in this year’s Estimates.
– Surely, if the Prime Minister, in Imperial Conference, agrees to submit such a proposal to this House, the Government are pledged to place the amount required on the Estimates of public expenditure. If the Government are bound to insert items in connexion with a probable expenditure on a post-office, surely if they have entered on an undertaking to submit to Parliament a proposal in reference to the naval squadron, provision ought to be made for it in the Estimates. The Estimates are not an account of money actually spent; but should be a faithful statement of the money which is to be expended during the next twelve months. The fact that the Government have not put a sum on the Estimates days or weeks after they have committed themselves to the item at the Imperial Conference-
– That has not been done.
– Oh, indeed ! Then it is not the case that the Prime Minister agreed that the Government of the Commonwealth would submit such a proposition to Parliament. It is a most undesirable state of [ affairs that the interests of the Commonwealth should have been dealt with in a conference, and that we in this Chamber should, be absolutely ignorant of what has been done. We must be a singularly tame body of representatives of the people if we do not resent the secrecy which, is observed in reference to these proceedings. Is it not a fact that some decision was arrived at ?
– When the right honorable, member went to England as a Premier we had to wait until he returned for information.
– May I suggest that when in England I took up an attitude which did not compel me to submit such propositions, to the Parliament of New South Wales ? If the Government have committed themselves to an obligation to the Imperial Government, they ought to let this Parliament know what that obligation is - what they have agreed to submit to this Parliament.
– We do not know that anything has been done.
– No doubt obedient supporters of the Government will say that they do not know what has been done, and, if they dared, they would say they do not want to know. That is not the attitude that, fair-minded representatives of the people should take up. What was done at the conference does not affect merely the Prime Minister or the Government. The authority which enabled the Prime Minister to appear there was that given to him as the delegate of this Parliament and the Commonwealth. That was an authority exercised by virtue of his position as head of this House, and on])’ that authority enabled him to negotiate in the name of Australia. I am not now making any unreasonable request. -I asked the Acting Prime Minister this afternoon if he could give us any information as to any decisions arrived at by the Imperial Conference, and he could not ; but he referred me to the newspapers, and said the Government were in possession of some additional details. But are we to receive our information partly from the newspapers and partly from Ministers? Is it not right that we should have a proper statement from the Government as to what are the obligations into which they have entered 1 I. do not want to discuss the merits of any such obligation until the question is properly submitted io us. But if there has been an arrangement entered into on behalf of the Government to submit any item of expenditure to this House, that item ought to be included in the Estimates for the next twelve months. The Estimates are not a statement of our probable obligations, that is, if the Government intend to stand by what has been done by the Prime Minister. Of course, if the Government intend to abandon any promise made, all right ; but we are entitled to be told about the matter. There is another remarkable fact to which 1 desire to refer, and I particularly desire the attention of the Treasurer and the Acting Minister for Defence to it, because an answer to the question I am about to ask may save a great deal of trouble. Do the Treasurer and the Minister for Defence tell us that on these Estimates to-day a reduction of £175,000 has been effected in the military expenditure for the year ?
– Nobody said so.
– I should think not. But what is the meaning of the expression as to the saving of £175,000 1
– I said that the Estimates this year are £175,000 less than the Estimates for last year, and that the promise made by the Minister for Defence was that a reduction of £131,000 would be effected.
– I want to point out how that £175,000 is made up. I could not understand, and neither, I think, could any member of the House understand, the statement made by the Treasurer that there is a reduction of £175,000. I was favoured with an advance copy of the Estimates which were laid on the table this afternoon, and I naturally turned to see how the £175,000 was arrived at. I find at page 132 of the Estimates that the total amount provided for the current year is £762,014. Against that the total estimated expenditure–
– No; the actual expenditure. I compare the Estimates for this year with the actual expenditure for last year.
– I thank my right honorable friend. I find set against that proposed expenditure of £762,014 a statement setting forth that the actual expenditure for the year 1901-2 was £826,012, which shows a reduction of some £64,000.
– My right honorable friend is unconsciously falling into a mistake.
– I do not wish to make any mistake.
– The promise made by the Minister was that he would reduce last year’s estimates - not the amount of last year’s expenditure - by £131,000. We have made a reduction in excess of that amount by £44,000.
– I regret that a man of the worthy reputation of my right honorable friend should make such a statement.
– -It is absolutely correct.
– I have referred to the Treasurer’s own statement, in order to see how this saving of £175,000 is, made up. When listening to the right honorable gentleman’s speech a few minutes ago, honorable members believed that a saving of £175,000 had been effected in the estimated or actual annual expenditure upon the defence forces. Would any one have drawn any other conclusion ? I propose now to turn to the printed statements - and these statements are sometimes inconvenient as well as voluminouswhich my right honorable friend laid upon the table when, he delivered his Budget speech on the 8th October, 1901. Before I quote from those statements,’ I desire to follow up this matter a little further. I have before me the Estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1902, which were laid upon the table in April last. Those Estimates apparently show a total of £937,000, as being the expenditure of the Defence department for the year 1901-2. If -we take the £762,014 set forth in the Estimates laid on the table of the House this afternoon, we see an apparent reduction of £175,000, because if we deduct £175,000. from £937,000, we have a balance of £762,000. I come now to a document which discloses a puzzling state of affairs. If honorable members will turn to page 12 of the smaller series of returns issued by the Government in connexion with the Budget speech delivered on the 8th October, 1901, they will find this heading : -
Statement showing the estimated balance to be returned to each of the States under sections 89 and 93 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.
To get at that statement the total revenue from all the departments is given, and is set down at £10,339,750. The expenditure which had to be defrayed out of this revenue during the twelve months ending 30th June last is also given, and in that statement the expenditure for the Defence department is set down at f 727, 232.
– And all the arrears.
– I hope the honorable and learned member will not interrupt me, for I might seem to be misleading the committee if I were to stop in the middle of a sentence. Above theline “Defence department, £727,232,” we have another item “Auxiliary Squadron, £106,000,” which must fairly be added to that amount, because it is properly included in the Defence Estimates. That makes a total of £833,232, not £937,000. I come now to the root of this remarkable saving of £175,000. In the same statement, but under the heading of “ Arrears for period ending 30th June, 1901 “ - a previous year altogether -a sum of £103,472 is set down for the Defence department. That amount is included in the Estimates for 1901-2 as if it were part of the total for the twelve months, when as a matter of fact it belongs to a previous year. That is a nice kind of financing.
– A sort of confidence trick.
– By the Treasurer’s own statement, the assertion that the expenditure for 1901-2 amounted to £937,000 is absolutely wrong. It was £103,472 less than that amount. One could save millions if he proceeded in this way. I am going by the Treasurer’s own statement, and if it is wrong it is not my fault.
– The Budget showed all the proposedexpenditure for last year, and the promise was to cut down the Estimates by £131,000.
– Surely honorable members did not expect that it would be necessary for them to delve into these figures in order to see that this £103,472 was a myth ? Surely we have a right to expect some better treatment than that? I shall not say anything more about it now. I have all these Estimates. I have followed out all these figures from first to last, and I say that, according to the Treasurer’s own showing, the statement as to a saving of £175,000 in the Defence department - I do not wish to characterize it by any harsh term - has the effect of absolutely misleading any one who does not look up the figures for himself. If the Government bring down Estimates of Expenditure for a year, it is no credit for them to say, after their tail has been twisted in committee - “We can reduce these Estimates by £175,000.” What do the public expect from a Ministry - a competent Ministry ? They are not so well off that they can have expenditure piled up upon them when it is unnecessary - especially in connexion with the Defence department - and it is no credit to the Ministry to solemnly submit Estimates as being the most economical they can frame, and then, when the whip is applied by a majority in committee, to say - “ Oh, yes ; we will take off £131,000,” and next year to practically reduce the expenditure by £175,000.
– Does the right honorable member say that his assertion as to the saving of £175,000 is correct?
– I am quoting the Treasurer’s own statement.
– The right honorable member should look at the Estimates in front of him.
– The right honorable gentleman should look at his own statement as I am doing.
– I do not care what the right honorable member is looking at. I say that he has made a mistake.
– What could I do other than send for these official papers ?
– The right honorable member is on the right track.
– No ; he is all wrong.
– The right honorable member should investigate the facts before calling men liars.
– I do not think my honorable and learned friend should use’ such a word. He should not import such vulgar language into the debate.
– That remonstrance comes well from the right honorable member.
– I have been studiously endeavouring not to use any offensive terms. I suppose the time has not yet gone by when a man may criticise the actions of the Government without incurring censure. I imagine that we are here for that purpose. If the Treasurer can show that I am wrong, he will have to admit that his own statement is inaccurate.
– The right honorable member should look at the Budget papersinfrontofhim.
– According to this statement, which was prepared by the Treasurer
– It was probably prepared for some other purpose.
– Does the right honorable gentleman make different statements for different purposes ?
– I do not.
– Here is the quotation-
Arrears for period ending 30th June, 1901, via., ‘.Department of Home Affairs, £10,146: Trade and Customs, £5,127 : Thursday Island, £5,J00 ; King George’s Sound, £2,334; Defence department, £103,472-
– I shall get the papers presently.
– There is print for it. Does the right honorable gentleman suppose that I got this printed for my own special purpose’! He suspects one of getting in some mysterious way 100 pages of printing done, in order to bring out some mare’s nest.
– The mare’s nest is in the right honorable member’s own imagination.
– I only give the right honorable gentleman what I see’ in his own statement, which I trust implicitly.
– That statement is perfectly correct. The arrears are not included. If the right honorable member will add up the items and add the arrears, he will find that it will come to more than he has mentioned.
– All I can say is that the £103,000 is included in the £937,000,30 far as I. can see.
– I am afraid the right honorable member does not see far enough.
– The right honorable member is quite right in asking the question.
– That is so, but that is a different matter from abuse.
– Upon my word, I think we are becoming a little too mealy-mouthed in this Chamber. What does the honorable member expect ? I have been away for months, and when I think I am entitled to have five minutes here there is as much illfeeling as if I had been goading this unfortunate Government every day of my life. All I can say is that, from the statement which I have in my hand, and which is a public document, it seems to me that the £937,000 includes the arrears of the previous years.
– Will the right honorable member give me the items which he says make up the £937,000. 45 h
– I can give the items from this return. I am putting in all the items I can see. I do not know what the items should be, as I am not in the Treasury. I find an item of £727,000. I see an item for the Auxiliary Squadron, which I believe ought to be included in the total military defence vote. I make the addition; that makes £833,000. Now I see a reference to arrears on the 30th June, 1902, £103,472.
– What about “other expenditure”? There is £49,000 for other expenditure, and there is an amount forThursday Island.
– The amount for Thursday Island is not included in the defence estimates. It is put under a separate heading. I was very careful to look ‘at that.
– The amount forThursday Island is included in the £937,000.
– No, it is a different itemaltogether. In any case, the amount for Thursday Island is only £5,000, and thatcannot affect the matter very much.
– The right honorable member may take my word for it that, he is wrong.
– If my right honorablefriend’s attention has been drawn to this . matter, and he has gone into it, and gives me his personal assurance that I am wrong, even in the face of this document, and in spite of it, I shall accept his assurance, such . is my confidence in him.
– The right honorable member left out “ other expenditure,” ‘ and a number of other items.
– I say that I have such implicit confidence in the Treasurer that I am prepared to take his word against his;, own printed statement. I should take it at any moment against all the printed returns in the world. But I then ask the« right honorable gentleman what is the dilemma in which he places himself so faras the public are concerned ? He is in a worse dilemma than before. We now find) that if this House will squeeze the Govern-, ment enough they can reduce the expenditurein one department by £175,000. Is that, what the Estimates of Expenditure of a Government are intended to be ? Are they to depend entirely upon how we take them? . If we take them as they are, it is all right; but if we do not take them, the Government will set to work and turn everything upside down and save £175,000 on one vote ? As a matter of fact, they appear to have’ liked their whipping so much that they bettered their instructions. They were not asked to save £175,000, but they got so fond of that sort of thing that they grovelled a little more. Honorable members will recollect the indignation of my right honorable friend the Treasurer, and the remark he made at the time, which was heard by more than one, as to what his action would have been if he had been in a more responsible position. He showed what lie thought of the way in which the Government were being treated. The committee insisted upon a reduction to the extent of £130,000, and the Government liked the instruction so rauch that they have gone further by another £40,000. Either that has crippled our military defences-
– It has.
– Or it has been a proper economy. To cripple our military defences, at the dictation of a majority in a committee, is an act that no responsible Government should be guilty of. We have spent too many millions upon these military defences to have them reduced to a state of inefficiency because the Government have been frightened. They should try a turn of frightening the other fellow. When they found they were getting fond of being frightened, they should have tried to frighten their supporters a little, and they would have come round. If I had been in their place I should have given my supporters a little of what they gave Ministers, and they would have come round right enough . From a public point of view, I say that it must lead to a profound want of confidence in the financial strength and discernment of this Government, to find that whereas they put forward defence estimates in which they asked for £937,000, as being necessary in bad times, they now tell us that they have reduced that amount by £175,000. Will they tell us that the military service is in an efficient state, in spite of that reduction ? If they do they condemn themselves as having sought to spend an enormous sum of public money upon military display, and not upon military efficiency.
– The fact remains that efficiency is not maintained.
– If that is so, the position is still worse. As I said in opening my remarks, I have the most absolute confidence in the Treasurer. This is not a mere statement of to-day, because the way in which that right honorable gentleman managed the finances of Victoria during a trying time has always extorted my admiration. I say again that I would take his word against all the documents ever published. All I can say is that this return is very misleading. I do not desire to go into general matters connected with the financial arrangements at this time. But I shall ‘ ask the Acting Prime Minister, in fairness to honorable members, to let us know before we go any further, what obligations the Government have entered into with reference to the naval squadron ?
– None as yet.
– Are we to understand that the’ Government do not intend to enter into any during the next twelve months ? Because if that is so the Estimates are all right.
– Hear, hear.
-Then I am satisfied,, because I do not ask the Government to provide anything in the Estimates for the twelve months if they do not intend to submit any proposition during that twelve months. Though I am perfectly satisfied’ with the assurance of the Acting Prime Minister, I would still ask the honorable gentleman whether, apart from that, there is anything which we are entitled to know ?
– If I have anything else the right honorable gentleman shall have it.
– If the honorable gentleman has “anything else?” But surely he has the means of getting information ? Surely the Acting Prime Minister is not like the man in the street, that he cannot get information about his own Government ?
– The right honorable member asked me a question with reference to information which we had.
– I should like to know what the ‘Prime Minister agreed to at the conference as it affects the Commonwealth of Australia. We know that he has notcommitted us to anything, but I should like to know what he has agreed to as matters to be submitted to us, because the Budget speech affords a legitimate constitutional opportunity for the consideration of such matters. If the Acting Prime Minister can give us that information it will be highly satisfactory to me. I am perfectly well aware that we are not bound in any way by what has been done, but a Government, and I do not care what Government it is, cannot be held too strictly to the duty of informing members of this House of any proposals regarding matters of which we have constitutionally the oversight. I shall defer reference to other points until Thursday.
– I have no intention now of replying to my right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition. I think that upon calmer consideration, and upon looking further into the figures, he will find that he has imagined something that really does not exist. I shall say only one word with regard to the saving in the Defence department. When I brought down the defence estimates originally, I said there was great difficulty in preparing them, but I thought they were far and away too high. I said I had no doubt that they could be considerably reduced. My only difficulty was that I did not desire to begin cutting them down in my own way until the Commandant had arrived. The Minister for Defence did go into the matter thoroughly, and he saw his way to reduce the expenditure, and more credit to him for doing so.
Mr.Reid. - Hear, hear. We do not object to that at all.
– He found that the Estimates provided for expenditure which was not necessary.
– Then what was the right honorable gentleman doing when he submitted them ?
– I take the responsibility of submitting them. I say that, seeing the work we were doing then in the preparation of the Tariff, the great difficulty we had in investigating the Estimates, and the want of knowledge which necessarily prevailed amongst us with regard to a number of the States and their requirements, we had to submit Estimates which, if we had had fuller opportunity of investigation, we should never have submitted. We had to depend a.great deal upon the estimates we obtained from the various States as to their then expenditure. If I had had an opportunity of going thoroughly into them and investigating them, the Estimates, when presented to this House originally, would have been less than they were. At the time, I told honorable members that the expenditure would, in all probability, be reduced. We did reduce it in every way possible.
Sir GEORGE TURNER (Balaclava-
Treasurer). - I move -
That a sum not exceeding £1,365,597 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending30th June, 1903.
Honorable members will recollect that I got two months Supply on the basis of the old Estimates. I am now asking for four months Supply, and that is necessary because the Estimates are now prepared in an entirely different form. The numbers and divisions are altered, and my Supply Bill could not possibly be worked in with the existing Estimates. To carry out this, I am, therefore, in the Bill I propose to submit, repealing the Supply Bill already passed, and I am asking the House to grant four months Supply, covering the two months we have already dealt with, and the two months of September and October.
– I think we ought to object to this motion, because we gave the Treasurer ample notice that if he continued asking for these Supply Bills we should not help him in any way whatever. We must remember that the financial year closed on the 30th June last, and the Estimates are being brought before us nearly three months afterwards. Surely if he had been looking forward, as any prudent man would have been, the Treasurer would have known what the expenditure would be long before the 30th June? He would have done as any other Treasurer ought to have done - although this has not been usual in Australia, I regret to say - and would have put the Estimates of the year’s expenditure on the table of the House before the financial year commenced. That is one of the reforms which I wish to see brought about. Last year we had the spectacle of the Estimates being considered ten months after the financial year had begun, so that when we dealt with the defence estimates we were in the position that the whole of the money had been expended, and that Parliament had entirely lost control. However, as the leader of the Opposition has seen fit to consent to the course proposed by the Government, I shall content myself with recording my protest.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolved (on motion by Sir George Turner) -
That the standing orders be suspended to enable all steps to ‘be taken to obtain Supply, and to pass a Supply Bill through all its stages without delay.
Resolution of Ways and Means, covering resolution of Supply, adopted.
Bill presented, and read a first and second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Issue and application of £1,365,597).
– Perhaps the Treasurer may be able to tell me if the Bill includes an item in connexion with the proposal to appoint experts to report on federal capital sites 1
– Yes ; an item of £1,000 to cover expenses in connexion with choosing the site of the capital of the Commonwealth.
– I wish it to be distinctly understood, that in passing this item, the committee are not to be taken to have approved of the proposal to appoint a committee of experts.
– It should not be included in a Supply Bill ; it ought to be voted on the Estimates.
– We are practically voting the money, and the Government might fairly complain if we should afterwards take exception to the proposal.
– The money is to be used in that way - partially, at any rate. I said te-night that I had intended to bring up this matter on a specific motion, and I chink on further consideration, that though I did not give notice of a motion this evening, it will be better to take that course.
– We could deal with the proposal on this item, but it would not be fair to honorable members.
– I find that there are honorable members who wish to move the addition of one or two. places to the list of sites, and that question cannot be discussed on an item in the Estimates. In order to be fair to those honorable members, I propose to give early notice of the motion which I read to-night, and a discussion can then take place on the question of whether or not experts should be appointed.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). -With that understanding and explanation, I do not I wish to offer any opposition to the item. It is understood that the mere fact that we allow the item to pass is not to be taken as expressing our approval of the appointment of a committee of experts.
– (Bland).- On every other occasion the Treasurer has drawn the attention of the committee to any special items in a Supply Bill. In my opinion it is improper to include any special items in a Supply Bill when -the standing orders have to be suspended to enable the Treasurer to provide for the requirements of the Public Service, pending the passage of the Estimates. I notice in this Supply Bill an item of £500 to cover the cost of compiling and publishing a new edition of the Seven Colonies of Australasia.
– That is a re-vote, and the next item is a re-vote.
– 1 was not aware of that.
– I owe an apology to the committee. My practice is to point out the special items, but my attention was drawn to the form of the resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, and I omitted to refer to four special items in the Department of Home Affairs. We take a vote for the arrears - which, of course, we must pay. I have given an instruction that, except in the case of salaries up to £200, no increments are to be paid, and no increases are to be paid under any circumstances, until they have been finally dealt with on the Estimates. Honorable members will observe an item of £8,000 for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others. In the various States the railway commissioners are anxious to get this money at the beginning of the year. The item of £500 for a new edition of the Seven Colonies qf Australasia, and the item of £100 to defray the Cost of the tabulation of customs statistics are re- votes. The only other special item is that of £1,000 relating to the federal capital site.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The Treasurer ought to tell us whether that item of £1,Q00 has been expended.
– Why should we be asked to vote the money without any knowledge of the policy of the Government regarding this important question % After saying a number of other things indefinitely and vaguely, the Minister for Home Affairs told us to-night that he thinks that he will give notice of a specific motion. He told us three weeks ago that he was going to submit the question definitely to the Cabinet. We understood that he was going to appoint these experts as early - as he conveniently could. He does not say now that he is going to appoint experts, and he does not know yet what is going to be done. He proposes to allow the House to decide for him. This question has been trifled with for the last six months in a way that does not do him any credit. During that period he has told many stories concerning the selection of a site. At every week end, when he goes over to Sydney, he has an interview with the press, and he leads the people of the State to believe that he is engaged in a death struggle with his colleagues over this very important question. But to-night we find that he has put no definite proposition before the Cabinet. He does not know what he is going to do, and he only decides to-day that he thinks he had better to-morrow take some definite steps to bring forward the question, and let the House decide it for the Cabinet. Here is another instance of the way in which responsible government is carried on in the Commonwealth. We hear a great deal about the restoration of responsible government in Victoria. A tonic of that kind would do the federal Ministry no harm, especially in the determination of this federal capital question. I have been referring to the Minister’s last statement on the subject in Hansard. On that occasion he definitely told the House that he was going to consult his colleagues at the next Cabinet meeting, but we find to-day that he has done nothing of the kind. An expenditure of £3,000 was authorized four months ago, and the experts were to be appointed immediately afterwards. After feeling the pulse of the House once more, the honorable gentleman says that he thinks he had better consult the House to-morrow as to what ought to be done. That will come as a bitter disappointment to the people of his State, who have been led by the honorable gentleman to believe that the question has been discussed and re-discussed in Cabinet, and that if he had had his way, it would have been settled long ago. He ought by this time to know what he is going to do. When the visit of inspection was to be made, he told us more definitely than he has done to-day what he was going to do. At that time his policy was a clear one, but ever since it has been growing more and .more nebulous. The newspapers here keep tilting at this question of the federal capital, and asking that the seat of government shall remain in Melbourne, and the Minister seems to be succumbing to their influence. It is time, therefore, that the Minister for Home Affairs made up his mind upon the subject. If he cannot do so, he had better put an end to these weekly interviews in Sydnev.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister for Home Affairs). - I shall not allow the occasion to pass without replying to the vicious and uncalled-for statements of the honorable member for Parramatta - statements and insinuations which were evidently made for the purpose of getting paragraphs inserted in the Sydney press.
– We do not get interviewed every week, as the honorable gentleman does.
– If the honorable member for Parramatta had done onetenth of what I have done to further this cause, he might have been justified in making the speech which we have just heard, and in writing the letters which appear weekly in the Sydney press complaining, amongst other things, that the Ministry have set down the Albury site for consideration. I regret that the Constitution does not require that this matter shall be dealt with as quickly as possible ; but we must conform with its provisions, and I would point out that, even if a body of experts had been appointed, and had investigated the qualifications of the various sites, the question would not have been advanced beyond its present stage, because it must be patent to every one that it could not have been dealt with this session. It will not be ripe for dealing with until a body of experts has inquired into the qualifications of the various proposed sites.
– There is no prospect of the matter being dealt with next session.
– Why do honorable members want to move from Melbourne 1
– lt is the intention of the Government to appoint a body of experts to inquire into and report upon the various proposed sites. The report will be ready when the House meets again, during next autumn, I hope, and armed with it, and with the information gained during the visits of inspection by senators- and by members of this House, we should then be able to deal finally with the matter. It must be understood that I shall not allow experts to decide the question of policy connected with the location of the federal capital. That is a question for the Ministry and for Parliament to deal with. The experts will be asked merely to inquire into the suitability of the various sites, and to report upon them. The honorable member for Parramatta is not one of those who has helped to f further the settlement of this matter, or who has assisted me to bring it to a head more quickly. He has rather caused delay and obstruction in connexion with it. Had he and certain other representatives from New South Wales assisted me heartily, I should have had an opportunity to deal with it more rapidly.
– The honorable member is saying what is not true, and he knows it.
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it, and substitute for it the statement that the Minister ought to know that what he is saying is absolutely incorrect.
– I did not take any notice of the honorable member, because I am quite accustomed to his interjections.
– The Minister made the same untruthful statement to the representatives of the Sydney press the other day.
– I generally laugh at what the honorable member says. When he was attacking me he could not help laughing, and I knew that he was speaking for the purpose of securing a little notice in the Sydney press. The honorable member said that I had not made up my mind, and that I did not know what to do. I think the honorable member is aware that that is not quite correct. He should have known that this matter has been under the consideration of the Cabinet more than once, and that as the outcome of their deliberations it has been decided that a certain number of sites shall be reported upon by experts.
– What sites? The Minister stated that they were all to be reported upon.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. I stated this evening, when a question was put to me, that I intended to give notice, of a motion. It was thought that we could economize time by allowing the discussion upon the’ proposal to appoint experts to report upon the capital sites to take place in connexion with the Estimates. Since then, I have been spoken to by several honorable members who desire to add one or two sites to those which have already been selected for report. In deference to their wishes, and in view of my statement that I would submit a proposal if it were desired, I intend to give notice of the motion which I read to-day, so that the whole question may be fully discussed.
– Will the experts be selected before we go into recess ?
– They may or may not be selected. If the motion is passed in time, they may be appointed before the House goes into recess ; but the matter of selecting suitable experts is one in which the Government must take the full responsibility.
– Do I understand that ib is intended to ask for a vote of £1,000 at this stage 1
– I stated that the £1,000 is required to partly defray the expenses of the inquiry, but that it would not be utilized until the motion I intend to submit had been passed by the House.
– It is evident that we shall be within a week of the end of the session before the necessary money is voted and experts can be selected. The experts will occupy two or three months in making their examinations and inquiries, and another two or three months must elapse before their report can be presented to Parliament. The report cannot be ready before next May or June, when it is expected that both Houses will re-assemble. In view of this and of the fact that the selection of the site has been so long delayed, I shall ask the House to pass a motion in favour of the elimination of those words in the Constitution which restrict us in our selection of a site for the federal capital. If each House of the Parliament, by a majority, expressed itself in favour of the amendment of the Constitution, the whole question could be submitted to the people within six months afterwards, and we could ascertain the public feeling regarding it. This could be done without expense, as the elections for the Senate must take place not later than December. It must be apparent to every one that a mistake was made when the Constitution was so worded as to prevent the selection of a site for a federal capital within 100 miles of Sydney.
– “Would the honorable and learned member be in favour of allowing Parliament an absolutely free choice in the selection of a site ?
– In view of the bargain that was made with New South Wales, I think that the site should be somewhere in that State, but that there should be no restriction as to the distance from Sydney.
– Why not select a site on the Hawkesbury River ?
– Kurringai Chase, on the Hawkesbury, would make an excellent site for the federal capital. If the House expressed itself in favour of the amendment of the Constitution in the way I have suggested, we should be much nearer the selection of the federal site than if we wenton asat present. Supposing that a site were chosen now, where could we obtain the money with which to build the capital ? Sydney and Melbourne are the two great cities of Australia, and Parliament must meet at some place within easy reach of these centres. If the course I suggest were adopted it would result in an immense saving of money and in benefit to the community generally. We can scarcely hope to do anything with regard to the erection of the federal capital before the next general election, because we have no money available for the purpose.
– The Treasurer tells us that we have £1,000,000 surplus this year.
– We shall be going into recess in about three weeks, and we cannot possibly receive the report from the experts before next session. We shall not meet again until May or June next, and it is not likely that any action will be taken with regard to the federal capital until towards the close of next year. Therefore the adoption of my suggestion would involve no loss of time. Personally, I’ have never entertained the opinion that the federal capital ought to be located in the wilds of New South Wales. I trust that when Parliament re-opens next session the- Government will see their way clear to give honorable members a free choice in this matter. If they do so, I feel convinced that a site will be .selected within easy distance of the New South Wales capital.
– I certainly share the view that there has ‘been an unnecessary delay in the selection of the future federal capital site. In support of my contention, I would point out that four or five months have elapsed since the parliamentary inspections of what were regarded as eligible localities. It is perfect nonsense for the Government to tell honorable members that in the interim it has been impossible to obtain experts to report upon the respective claims of the rival sites. There has been ample time, not only for the appointment of a board of experts, but for their report to have been laid upon the table of the House. This is a matter which should have been dealt with at the earliest possible opportunity. The Government should have assumed the responsibility of narrowing down the choice of the sites already inspected to two or three. Certainly we should not be warranted in expending money to obtain expert opinion upon more than four of them. As matters stand, it is probable that the board of experts will not be appointed till a month or two after Parliament has gone into recess. Consequently next session will have opened before we are in possession of their report. As the general elections take place next year, honorable members will naturally be desirous of getting to their constituencies as early as practicable, and, as a result, the consideration of that report will be again neglected. It seems likely, therefore, that the term of the first Commonwealth Parliament will pass without any definite action having been taken in this connexion. The Government appear to bo very reluctant to touch- the question, although it certainly ought to be above all party considerations. I trust that it will be dealt with in that spirit. I protest against the unnecessary delay which has taken place.
– I should not have risen but for the statement of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, who claims that his opinion is shared by a large number of legislators. I hold that he is entirely upon the wrong track. The adoption of the course which he advocates, instead of expediting a settlement of this question, would retard it indefinitely. The only reason for urging its speedy determination is a sense of loyalty to the Constitution. The adoption of the suggestion that a referendum should be taken with the object of amending the Constitution would be quite as disloyal to that instrument of government as would any shelving of the question by indefinitely postponing its settlement. I hold that the Government propose to adopt an eminently proper course. No better method of securing its determination could be devised. But I blame them that the necessary action has not yet been taken. If the Minister for Home Affairs had asked Parliament some months ago to narrow down the eligible sites to about five, with a view to obtaining expert opinion upon them, and that opinion had been received, it would not have been more than a week before the House would have been in a position to come to a decision upon this matter. I do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, nor with certain press organs, that the construction of the federal capital will involve an outlay of untold millions sterling. If I entertained that view I should be in no hurry to see the site selected, but by nursing the territory upon which the capital will be located, as well as the surrounding country, I hold that for a small initial expenditure wo can establish a model city. We should not be deterred from settling this matter by financial reasons. I trust that the Minister for Home’ Affairs will submit a motion in the direction I have indicated at the earliest possible moment. Let us confine our attention to five sites, and secure expert evidence upon their eligibility. Undoubtedly in New South Wales and in the other States the feeling is growing that the Government are shelving this matter, and the only way to remove that impression is by proceeding upon the lines I have suggested. I trust that the cry for an amendment of the Constitution will not be raised before we have given that instrument of government a fair trial. I am satisfied that, with the exception of the financial provisions which will expire in a few years, experience will reveal that it will meet all our requirements. The very highest spirit which we can develop amongst the people of the Commonwealth is that of loyalty, to the Constitution.
– I desire to say only a very few words upon this question, because I recognise that this matter can be dealt with when the motion is submitted. I indorse the statement of other honorable members, that since the inspection of the sites there has been unnecessary delay. I do not think the Minister is to blame for that, but if not he, the Cabinet is to blame. There have been opportunities to appoint a committee, which should now be at its work. But I recognise the danger that a committee, unless limited, might take such a long time over an inquiry as to render its report quite useless to this Parliament ; and that is a result we ought to try to avoid. I understand that the motion which it is intended to submit will deal with the appointment of a committee, as well as with the question of the sites.
– The ‘ motion deals with the principle of appointing the committee, but does not name the experts to be appointed.
– The motion will decide the appointment of a committee to examine certain sites.
– Then I suggest that a time limit ought to be fixed. We should provide for the presentation of the report, say, before the opening of next session.
– I should suggest next April.
– It is highly necessary that a date should be fixed, otherwise the inquiry might be so lengthened as to delay the whole matter till the next Parliament, thus rendering useless all the expenditure incurred in this connexion by the present Parliament.
– In answer to one or two suggestions, I wish to say emphatically that there is absolutely no difference of opinion in the Cabinet on this question. The Minister for Home Affairs will testify that his colleagues have at once approved every suggestion he has made. The object of the Government is to have the question of the federal site finally dealt with bv the present Parliament. But I can assure honorable members that the consideration of various questions, such, for instance, as the choice of experts, is of such moment that to my own knowledge they have occupied the Minister for Home Affairs at such times as he could spare ever since the inspections by honorable members. To my knowledge he has been inundated with applications from all over Australia by persons claiming to be qualified ; and as this is to be an Australian commission, it has been necessary to make exhaustive inquiry with regard to the applicants. I arn also aware that the Minister for Home Affairs has been collecting information of every kind that can be placed in the hands of the experts, with a view to facilitating their task ; that information, so far from representing time and labour thrown, away, will materially accelerate the progress of the inquiries of the expert commission. I cordially concur in the suggestion made by the honorable member for North Sydney, that a period should be placed to the inquiries of the expert committee. It will be necessary to pay its members, and to pay them well. They should give their whole time to the work, and be prepared to submit an exhaustive report by the date suggested. I am as hearty a supporter of the Constitution in this particular as is the member for South Sydney, and agree with that honorable member that the provision made in the Constitution, whether wisely or unwisely, is the one to which Ave should adhere and give effect. J think every one of my colleagues concurs that the earliest possible selection of a site is what we should strive for. We undertake not to throw the slightest obstacle in the way, but, on the contrary, to assist in the selection. In my opinion,, this Commonwealth will not enjoy that entire independence of provincial influences which is to be desired until the Parliament is housed in its own buildings on its own territory. As to the expenditure, my idea is that all. the provision needed for some time will be purely of a temporary character. The conception of a great city built of permanent material and of magnificent architectural design and proportions being constructed before we enter on our work there is to me preposterous. The Commonwealth cannot afford to construct a palatial capital at once. The desire of the people has been for the selection of a site controlled in such a manner that it may, so to speak, pay for itself. There is certainly no need for us to delay our transfer until the magnificent and luxurious accommodation has been provided for us that some people have been pleased to picture. I hope that in the course of generations the Australian people, like the American, will be able to possess a capital city which will win the admiration of the civilized world. But even the Americans, with their immense population and vast resources, have taken more than 100 years to partly accomplish their task. We may safely leave it to future generations to provide a federal capital worthy of, and characteristic of, this great Commonwealth. Our concern now is to acquire at the earliest reasonable time, after we have satisfied ourselves that we have made the best selection in empower, a site on which temporary buildings may be erected in economical fashion to provide for what I trust will be the short sessions of the future. We shall then, I hope, devote the session uninterruptedly to legislation, and having accomplished the business set before us, those who then represent the people may be able for the rest of the year to keep in touch with the parts of this great continent by which they have been returned. To many present members that has been rendered impossible by our prolonged sittings. They have, aftei’ eighteen months’ absence from their homes, ceased in a sense to be representatives, having lost that intimate association with their districts which is so desirable for both representatives and constituents. For every reason, therefore, it appears to be desirable that we -should hasten, as far as we reasonably can, the selection of a site where the Commonwealth Parliament entering its own home, may be master in its own House,, prepared to accommodate itself in buildings, no matter how plain and inexpensive, so long as they fulfil the purposes for which thev are intended.
– I presume that we shall have another opportunity to discuss this matter more in detail when the motion, which has been referred to, is submitted. I must say, however, that I think the Acting Prime .Minister was well advised in making the remarks to which we have just listened, and in placing the position of the question fully before the electors, not only of New South Wales, but of the Commonwealth generally. There has been a considerable amount of delay, and some suspicion has been created ; but I think the declaration of the Acting Prime Minister will do much to remove any feelings of the kind, and bring about that proper understanding which is so desirable on an important question like this. I am glad to know from the Acting Prime Minister’s utterances that the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa - that there should be another referendum, with a view to altering the Constitution - does not- meet with any sympathy from the Government. I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that it is our duty to interpret the Constitution as it is sent to us, and not to devise means to alter it. Any alteration which may be found necessary should come from the electors, and certainly the people of New South Wales, who are so vitally affected, should have a say on this question. The Constitution has been accepted by a majority of the electors in that State, and, so far .as I am aware, there has been no movement in favour of any such alteration as that indicated by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. Personally, I think it would be very illadvised, on the part of this House, to try and force on the electors anything in the nature of the suggested alteration. I am very pleased to hear the declaration of the Acting Prime Minister that it is the intention of the Government to have this matter settled as speedily as possible. I agree that a good deal of useful and valuable information for the assistance of this Parliament can be obtained by means of the committee proposed.
– Some information has been already gathered.
– That is so. I further agree that it is not desirable to remit to the committee the whole of the sites which have been under discussion. Only those sites which have some special claims for final consideration by this House should be investigated by the experts, and every effort should be made to have the inquiry completed in time for the question to be settled next session. In my opinion, the matter should be taken into consideration early next session, so that the House may have a reasonable opportunity of considering it in its different phases and arriving at a proper conclusion. This House has already given some attention to the matter, and considerable expenditure has been incurred in connexion with our inquiries. If the question is delayed until after next session, the probabilities are that it will not be dealt with by this House, but will be remitted to a new Parliament, and we shall not be able to bring to bear that personal knowledge which the House as at present constituted should possess as the result of its investigations. [ understand that the Minister for Home Affairs proposes to deal with the question by way of motion, but I think it would be advisable for the Government to submit it in such a way that the merits of the different sites may be reviewed by us. I also think it would be advisable for the Government to appoint the committee, or to inform the House of its proposed personnel by the end of the session. Authority should not be given to the Government to appoint the board after the session closes, so that Parliament will be debarred from criticising the appointment. I am pleased to learn from the declaration of the Government that it is not intended to enter into what some people describe as the expenditure of millions of money in connexion with the establishment of the capital. I think that the lines foreshadowed by the Acting Prime Minister are the best, safest, and the most acceptable upon which to work. Some of the suggested sites already possess the nucleus of settlement and railway conveniences which would form a suitable beginning. If one of those sites were selected, the city might be gradually built up on the lines suggested by ,the honorable member for South Sydney, and the territory used as a means to raise funds towards the construction of the capital. What is. desirable is that at the outset the city should be properly laid out so that it may be built to design. I trust that the board of experts will be appointed before the session closes, and that it will have definite instructions to report to this House at the beginning of the next session, so that we may then be in a reasonable position to deal with the question.
– If there is one quality more than another which’ I admire in a politician, it is that of consistency. My honorable colleague, the honorable member for Kennedy was complaining just prior to the recent adjournment of the House, of the amount of expense which an election would occasion to the ‘Commonwealth. Now, he turns round coolly, and wants to put the State from which he comes to an expenditure of millions of money. It is idle for any honorable member to say that we should choose a site and build a federal city merely for the sake of 1,000 or 2,000 people. I have been over twenty years in the bush, and I am satisfied with Melbourne. Melbourne will remain the place of meeting of the Federal Parliament as long as my vote can assist to that end. The honorable member for Canobolas cares nothing about the expenditure of millions when such an expenditure is likely to benefit his own electorate, but when the motion by the honorable member for South Australia (Mr. Poynton) was before the House, he joined with the honorable member for Kennedy in pointing to the waste of money which would be involved in holding the elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives on different dates. Where is his consistency? I, for one, cannot see it. If . the question were of such importance as honorable members from New South Wales would lead us to believe, one might reasonably expect that they would be here in full force when it was being debated. How many honorable members from New South Wales are present tonight? Not half-a-dozen. Yet this is a question of great moment to New South Wales, involving the expenditure of millions. Honorable members from that State are quite satisfied as long as they can get their speeches into Hansard and make the people of New South Wales believe that they are kicking up a fuss about the federal capital.
– They -are in a majority in the House at the present time.
– That is all very well. I am viewing this matter in the same way as the honorable member for Canobolas and the honorable member for Kennedy regarded the question of the .cost of the federal elections. Each State will have to bear its proportion of the cost of building the federal capital.
– The honorable member said Queensland would have to pay millions.
– I do not think so. At all events, before the question is settled, it may cost Queensland millions. I am not going to see the State which I represent robbed for the advantage of another. I am quite happy and contented here. We could not be better off than we are now, even if we were meeting in a federal city. We have everything that one could desire. Of course the Melbourne climate does not suit me, but if the Federal Parliament meet only in the summer months, I shall be very well satisfied to remain here. I do not imagine that we shall be here for another session of the length of the present one. I hope such a long session will never again be experienced. Of course Mr. Philp is going to jerk all the Queensland members out, so that the question does not affect us very much ; but, so far as I am concerned, the seat of government is all right where it is. When we have plenty of money - when all the States are on the upgrade, and have a few millions to spare, it will be time enough for us to begin operations. We are very good lodgers, and the people know when they have good lodgers. The only reason why I say we should remain where we are is that the forming of a new capital may involve an expenditure of millions. Everyone knows the position of Queensland. . It is suffering from over-legislation, from drought, and from too much “ tick “ : in fact it is chronically insolvent at the present time.
– The Courier says that it was never in a sounder financial position than it is to-day.
– I am sorry to say that during my travels in Queensland a month ago I saw some stations, as well as many selections, which had been abandoned. If that indicates solvency I am sorry for it.
– That condition of affairs applies only to a portion of Queensland.
– The whole of Queensland is suffering from a drought the like of which it has never experienced before, and which I hope she will never see again. Ninetenths of the pastoralists in the western parts, or practically half of Queensland, cannot pay 203. in the £1.
An Honorable Member. - But Queensland can pay 20s. in the £1.
– Queensland will pay 20s. in £1 as soon as she gets a foot or two of rain.
– She is the richest State in the group.
– That is all right, as long as the Government have the money. But they expect a deficit of something like £500,000 this year, and they have been suffering deficits for some years past.
– But Queensland has been increasing her expenditure.
– That does not alter the position. Whatever it may be attributed to, the drought is really the sole cause of the trouble in Queensland. There are thousands of tons of fodder being sent in train loads to the western portions of that State every month. The stock are being depleted, and in a few months there will be no stock left in western Queensland. In the face of this, honorable members ask me to vote for the removal of the federal capital, and to take more money out of the pockets of people who are already overtaxed and overburdened.
– We” do not ask that they should be taxed another penny.
– The honorable member does ask that, because to shift the federal capital from Melbourne to any place in New South Wales at the present time means the expenditure of money, and that money must come out of the pockets of the .taxpayers. If New South Wales will shoulder the whole of the burden, I shall give my vote to shift next week.
– Will the honorable member vote to allow the people of New South Wales to shoulder the burden 1
– No ; I shall not. I do not desire to shirk any responsibility for my State, but I am prepared to vote against putting any fresh burdens upon the people of that State at the present time.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I should like to say to the honorable member that nobody wants Queensland to pay a penny in connexion with this matter, and if the establishment of the federal capital is gone about in a business-like way, there need never be a penny taken out of the pockets of- the taxpayers in connexion with it, except for most temporary purposes. The honorable member knows very well that we do not propose to part with the lands of the federal capital to begin with. If he knows anything about the growth of a big city, he ought to’ know that the increase of land values alone will speedily overtake the entire expense of establishing the capital, wherever it may be. I regret to hear that, according .to the honorable member, Queensland is in such a terrible condition. He told us something very different about that State a month or two ago. He said he could assure this Parliament that Queensland did not want its sympathy, because she was in an admirable position. Now, he tells us that Queensland is bordering upon bankruptcy, and he does not know what will happen if the seasons do not quickly change. I sympathize with the honorable member and the State he represents to the fullest, extent, but I have been rather surprised to hear him talking .in the way he has done to-night. If there has been in this Chamber an enthusiastic advocate for the removal of the federal capital to New South Wales, it has been the honorable member for Maranoa. I am not sure that he has not been the most enthusiastic member in the House upon this -question. Time and again we have heard him declare that he would be glad to get out of Melbourne, and get into New South Wales. All at once we find the honorable member contented to settle down in Melbourne. This is evidently one of his moods and tenses. I do not know exactly how the moon is just now, but I do know that the honorable member is assuming some very strange attitudes upon this particular question. I tell him again that the removal of the capital to New South Wales, and the establishment of a modern, up-to-date federal capital need not, under proper business management, 30St the State of Queensland, or any other State of the group, a single penny of additional expenditure. Now, with regard to the Government, the Acting Prime Minister has made one of his soporific speeches, in which he has completely satisfied honorable members on my own side, and there is therefore not much use in my saying more. That speech has apparently done a lot of good. Every one on this side has said that he has been pleased to hear it. But I again say, as I said before, regarding the honorable gentleman’s speeches, that I regret that honorable members on my side should be so easily pleased with them. I almost feel myself guilty while I hear him speak. The honorable gentleman has the faculty of making this world appear the very best of all possible worlds to live in, this Parliament the very best of all possible Parliaments to be in, and of suggesting altogether that our surroundings and environments leave, nothing to be desired. In fact we are in a perfect elysium, according to the honorable gentleman, under the regime of the present Government.
– The honorable member spoke of my speeches, but I have only answered questions. I find, on reference to. Hansard, that I have never spoken upon the question of the federal capital site. I have merely answered questions.
– Many of the answers to the questions have been made at great length, and they are speeches in themselves. The same may be said of the Minister for Home Affairs, who was answering a question to-night foi* a solid three-quarters of an hour. If the reading of voluminous papers is merely answering questions, I shall be glad to withdraw my former expression, and substitute for it the statement that the honorable gentlemen has often previously answered questions upon the federal capital site, and has more than once unmistakably stated his opinion on the subject.
– The honorable member cannot find it in Hansard.
– The honorable gentleman has made statements which have lulled honorable members on this side into a condition of satisfied contentment. The moment they are made, just as has happened to-night, honorable members all say that they are pleased with this and the other statement.
– Does the honorable member desire a speech to the opposite effect ?
– I do not desire a speech to the opposite effect, but I want what we have not had yet, and that is a straight out declaration of what the Government are going to do.
– Surely the honorable member has had that times without number?
– I really did not know of it. I should be delighted to hear one straight-out utterance on this question from Ministers. The Minister for Home Affairs to-night told us that he had come to the conclusion to submit this motion to the House, but he did not know at the beginning of the sitting that he ought to do it.
– I brought it here with the intention of doing it.
– The honorable gentleman took courage as the evening wore on, and he now states that he will submit the motion to the House to-morrow, but only on the question as to the sites. He is not going to tell us who the experts are to be. He is going first to get into recess when there can be no criticism upon their appointment.
– Is not that a question of administration ?
– I say that it is no more a question of administration than the proposal the honorable gentleman is going to submit to the House to-morrow.
– The honorable member should talk sense.
– The honorable gentleman has a monopoly of that I presume. One would judge so from the number of interviews he gives to the Sydney newspapers on this question.
– The honorable member should not write so many letters.
– The honorable gentleman should not set me such a terrible example. I tell him one thing that I do not do in the letters which I write. I do not reflect upon my own colleagues, ashe is constantly doing in his interviews.
– The honorable member is not right in saying that.
– Nearly every week he goes over, the honorable member leads the people of New South Wales to believe that he has got a death struggle on with his colleagues in connexion with this matter.
– I wonder how the moon is now?
– The honorable gentleman does not like what I am saying, but I promise him that I shall prick his little humbug in the future a little mere than I have done. He shall not go over to humbug the people of New South Wales, and make them believe that he is doing what he is not doing. The Acting Prime Minister has told us nothing that gets us any “forrarder.” If I could believe that this question is going to be dealt with in this Parliament, I should not be so strenuous as I am in this matter. But I see the time drifting by. Two out of the three years have nearly gone, and I ask honorable members what is there to indicate that this question is going to be finally settled during the next session of this Parliament ?
– There have been two trips to the sites already.
– And what is the result? We get the announcement that five sites have been selected. The moment the honorable gentleman made his statement in the House, the honorable member for Perth asked, “Is Dal getty inincluded in Bombala?” “Yes,” said the Acting Prime Minister, “ and I should say all the sites in that district.” That is the way the Government select five sites. Then the Minister for Home Affairs goes over to Sydney and says that I conveniently forget that Orange includes Bathurst and Lyndhurst, and that Lake George includes Queanbeyan and Yass.
– In the honorable member’s imagination. The moon is getting into the full now !
– This makes nine sites which the Government include in their selection.
– Which district will the experts come from ?
– I do not know. The Minister seems desperately anxious to get into recess before appointing the experts. In addition to the nine sites, the Acting Prime Minister says we are to have all the sites in the Bombala district.
– I said nothing of the sort. When the honorable member asked whether Dalgetty was included I said I did not know, but that there are certain sites in certain districts which would be included.
– The honorable and learned gentleman said that all the sites in the Bombala district would be included.
– How far are they apart? Tor all I know, they may be only half-a-mile apart. I have not been there.
– If the honorable and learned gentleman is going to include all the Bombala sites in his selection and the Minister for Home Affairs is going to include all the southern and western sites, I do not know what suggested sites are going to be left out. What humbug it is to say to the people of Australia, “ We have -selected five sites,” when the Government immediately proceed to enumerate ten or a dozen ! Let them tell us what they mean, and stick to it. The Minister for Home Affairs shifts his ground nearly every week. If he had adopted a line of policy and adhered to it, I should not have said a word in criticism.
– The honorable member would not be able to keep quiet.
– I have kept quiet hitherto, but I am not going to keep quiet in the future regarding the honorable gentleman’s attitude- on this question. I promise him a little more criticism than he has had from me hitherto in regard to the selection -of capital sites.
– That will not hurt me.
– I know that the honorable gentleman is a very superior individual. He cares for nothing and nobody, but that will not deter me from doing my duty, whether he likes it or not. He has a very fine way of indicating when he does not like criticism.
– I like it very much.
– Let the honorable gentleman take the House into his confidence, and let us have the experts appointed before Parliament goes into recess. Let us have a say, not only as to the sites that are to be enumerated for the report of the experts, but also as to the people who are to report upon them, and as to the information that will be required.
– Would the honorable member like a ballot with regard to all the applications’? I can’ give him the names of 2,000.
– That is news. We have not heard that before. The information keeps filtering out. By-and-by we shall know exactly what the state of the case is. All we know at present is that nothing has been done, and that is the gravamen of the remarks that I am now making. Honorable members have a right to complain of the tardiness of the Government over the selection of the sites, and the statements of Ministers on the subject are entirely inconsistent with the very slow progress made. 1 do not intend to say any more. Even honorable members on my own side say that they are pleased with what has been done. I am as ready to be pleased us most people, but I do not see anything to be pleased about in the nice speeches of the Acting Prime Minister, which are full of honeyed, words intended to lead people from the point of view which they otherwise would take.
– The honorable member is always displeased.
– I am always pleased when the honorable and learned gentleman is speaking. Whenever I hear him reply to me, it makes me wish that I had never said a word, because he immediately proceeds to show that there is absolutely nothing in the complaint made, and one feels like apologizing for what one has said. That is manifestly the case now. An honorable member on my own side has said to-night of the Acting Prime Minister’s speech - “ That speech will do a lot of good.” This matter is, however, one that seriously concerns the people of New South Wales. There is no question upon which they feel more sensitive and more distrustful and doubtful.
SirWilliam Lyne. - And what the honorable member is doing, tends to emphasize that feeling.
– Itis shocking for the Minister to assert that the Government have done all that is possible, when, as a matter of fact, they have done nothing. He tells the people of Sydney that he has been trying to fight this question in the House, and that we have been trying to block it. I hope that the honorable gentleman will stop his bluff. He is a very slim gentleman, but it is about time he stopped bluffing the people of New South Wales, and set to work in downright earnest to settle the question of the capital site.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2, 3, 4, and schedule agreed to. Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
May I ask honorable members to be good enough to make their private arrangements, in order to enable us to devote the greatest possible amount of time continuously to the remainder of the business. I hope that they will not only consent to sit for the full time which we have been accustomed to work, but that they will, if possible, remain until the Saturday afternoon trains go, or arrange to meet on Monday. If the majority are willing to do it, the Government will put everything aside, and meet the House on both occasions. I hope that honorable members will give the matter their attention so that when the request is made they will not be taken by surprise, but will be prepared to concede the utmost time they can with the view of enabling themselves to return to their constituencies as early as possible.
– Of course I do not take exception to the anxiety of the Acting Prime Minister to bring the session to an end, but it ill becomes the Government to display this new-born zeal to get the work done, when we find that, at this hour of the night, there is no work to go on with.
– Because we could not get theElectoral Bill from the Senate.
– Some of ushave travelled500 miles to attend to-day, when we might as well hare stayed at home. We have only given an audience to the Treasurer, and, of course, we have obtained some information from his statement. I protest against this way of conducting the business. We ought not to have been called upon to travel all that distance.
– It was because the Senate didnot send down the Electoral Bill that we have to adjourn. I had hoped that it would have been returned.
– We ought not to have been called upon to travel such a long distance, and then be asked to adjourn shortly after the dinner hour. This is not the first time that it has occurred. On several occasions we have travelled long distances, only to find that there was no work to be done.
– It is nearly nine o’clock, and surely the honorable member does not wish to sit very much longer.
– On other occasions we have sat until eleven o’clock, and we could have sat until that hour to-night if there had been work to be done. Are we expected to sit on Saturday and on Monday?
– I hope so.
– Does not the honorable and learned gentleman think it would have been a fair thing to have mode this arrangement before? When honorable members come here to transact the business they leave their homes in the. belief that they will return by train leaving on Friday night or Saturday morning. It is unfair to spring this arrangement upon us in this way. I trust that if we are going to sit on Saturday and Monday there will be no humbug on the part of the Government. It is no joke for honorable members to have to travel long distances. It suits those honorable members who live here, but it docs not suit those who have to travel a distance of 1,000 or 1,200 miles a week to find that there is no work to go on with.
– I desire to enter my protest against this early adjournment. I came here from Queensland a fortnight ago to go on with the public business, and we have sat only once in that period. I have been away from myhome ever since May, 1901.I have not been four weeks at home since January, 1901. It is very nearly time that wewere studied a little. At this sitting we have heard only the financial statement, and the question of the federal capital site has been introduced at the last moment. If the Minister for Home ‘Affairs will ask leave to. proceed with the motion of which he has just given notice it can be dealt with to-night. If the Acting Prime Minister is so zealous to got on with the business, then in order to deal with the Electoral Bill straight away to-morrow, let us settle the question of the federal capital site to-night. This zeal on the part of the Government is displayed at a late period of the session. If it hod been manifested eight or ten months ago no doubt we should have been in recess now. It is no ‘ amusement to me to be here. I would much sooner be amongst my constituents. No honorable members are more anxious to bring the session to an end than are those who come from the distant States. I am only too anxious to assist the Acting Prime Minister to get on with the business.
– I quite agree with the proposal of the Acting Prime Minister. I hope that we shall sit not only on Fridays,’ bat even on Saturday morning if necessary, and on Monday. It will take three weeks at the outside to dispose of the business. Honorable ‘members ought to be willing to make a little sacrifice. I daresay that the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, will be able to make the necessary arrangements to stay, which he was unable to make because he was not aware that it was intended to sit later this week. I hope that the suggestions of the Acting Prime Minister will be carried out. I believe that if the House would make up ite mind to deal with the business it could be ‘disposed of within three weeks. I would ask honorable .members to consider the position of those who come from the north and the north-west of Queensland, because after next month it will be almost impossible, if we are going to have a wet season, to get anywhere near our constituents until next March.
Question resolved in the affirmative. -
House adjourned at 8.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 September 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020923_reps_1_12/>.