1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if his attention has been drawn to the following paragraph, which appears in to-day’s Argus -
Mr. Harvey Patterson, chairman of the Mungana (Chillagoe) Mining Company, North Queensland, echoed the general feeling when he stated at the meeting of shareholders to-day that little progress had been made in developing the different lodes on the property. But Mr. Patterson’s hearers were not prepared to find him casting the blame for this on the workers on the field, or to bring up the white labour question. However, this is what he did in the following words: - “I do not say there are not good workers on the field, but, at the same time, there is a large percentage of bad ; and until these are superseded no alteration ofexisting circumstances can accrue. There is no doubt the climate is against the white worker - who is simply a piece of languid animation under tropical sun andheat - and probably be cannot be blamed for being unable to bear the intense heat also in the underground workings, owing to the decomposition of the sulphide matter in the lodes. This portion of Australia could never have been intended for the European, else the climate would have been more suitable and moderate, and while the nonsensical idea of keeping the whole continent of Australia for the white man alone is maintained, this portion, which contains vast wealth in mineral and agricultural lands, will continue to a great extent to waste ‘ its sweetness on the desert air.’ Had we the same conditions as apply to mining in South Africa with regard to labour, I venture to say a great success would soon be made of our undertaking.”
Mr. Patterson says that the opinions which he has expressed represent the “ general feeling of the community.” Do they represent the feeling of the Minister %
– I do not know that I ought to be asked about my feelings, but the opinions expressed by the gentleman who made that speech do not represent my opinions.
Sir JOHN FORREST laid upon the table the following papers : -
Military Forces : Regulations dated 5th September, 1903.
Public Service Act -. New regulations dated 9th September, 1903.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs a question, without notice, in reference to the charges which have been made against Mr. McDowall, the Queensland Electoral Commissioner. To make my meaning clear, I desire to read the following letter : - i have the honour to contradict some very grossly incorrect statements that are reported to h ave been made in the Parliamentary debates of the Commonwealth of Australia. On page 3851 , Mr. Bamford is reported thus - “ I wish to tell theHouse what I have heard upon very good authority, although my authority is not a Minister. Fortunately, there are other avenues of information open to honorable members, otherwise we might sometimes be kept completely in the dark upon most important matters.
I have boon informed upon good authority that on the morning after the original map was published the Premier of Queensland and the Minister for Railways visited Mr. McDowell’s office and actually bounced him into withdrawing it and substituting for it the electoral boundaries which he now proposes.”
I wish now most solemnly to assure you that there is not the slightest foundation for this statement by Mr. Bamford. If he did receive any such information, it is absolutely false.
I think, sir, as I cannot do so myself, that you, as ray Ministerial head, will only be doing me justice . by contradicting this statement in the House of Representatives, so that the contradiction will also appear in Howard
If you are not prepared to contradict this wicked statement, at least I hope you will institute an inquiry before a Judge of Supreme or District Court,’to sift matters thoroughly.
Evidently some person entirely bereft of veracity has been promulgating these gross falsehoods, for I .am sorry to notice on page 3849 you, sir, are reported to have said -
– I do not think that the honorable member will be iri order in reading a lengthier extract than that which he has already read. ‘If he desires to bring the matter more fully before the House, it will, at a later stage, bo open to him to move the adjournment.
– Then I will content myself with what I have already read, and will ask the Minister if he is prepared to refute the charges which have been made against Mr. McDowall in connexion with the distribution of the State into divisions 1 If not, will he grant an inquiry into them ?
– It has been already decided that an inquiry shall be held. I stated so either last week or the week before, but a little delay has occurred in proceeding with the matter. I do not promise that the inquiry will be exactly as Mr. McDowall wishes. I dp not know the Judges or anything about them, but there will be an inquiry, and before some one to whom I think no one will take the slightest exception.
– An inquiry into the charges ?
– Tes. I have been accused of making similar charges regarding Mr. Philp and Mr. Leahy and one or two others who have been named j but I did not mention the names of any one of them. The only name I mentioned was that of a Mr. Barton, who is, I believe, the editor of the Brisbane Courier, but his name was given to me. I was specially careful not to refer to any gentleman unless I had absolute knowledge) and authority to use his name. I have all along thought that it is only fair to Mr. McDowall that an inquiry should be instituted, and the whole matter made public. When the inquiry takes place, I intend to lay all the papers, including a. letter similar to that which bas been read by the honorable member, upon the table of the House.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow :- -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The answers to the right honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Yes, in a Navigation Bill of general application, but a letter dated 1st September, was on the 8th instant received by me from the Premier of Western Australia, bringing prominently forward the isolation of that State, and urging that, until inter-State railway communication is established, passenger traffic by mail steamers should not be interfered with. The Government propose to take this request into consideration.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the following facte : - (a) The new South Australian telegraph line (Adelaide to Eucla) is reported to be working good quadruplex daily ; (6) The Eucla-Coolgardie line works good quadruplex daily; (c) There is a wire from Perth to Coolgardie which is used to connect with the Coolgardie-Eucla quadruplex, and is worked to advantage daily as a direct Perth to Eucla circuit ; (d) In a recent issue of the Telegraph Age, a piper printed for and circulating almost exclusively amongst American telegraph operators, the following appears : - “ New York to San Francisco is 3,400 miles. Some dozens of direct circuits are worked quadruplex between the two places. On some new specially prepared wires (.thick copper) there are four sets of automatic repeaters. On wires of the ordinary sort there are six sets of these repeaters, and it is no uncommon thing for a New York merchant to receive a reply to a telegram to San Francisco within fourteen minutes” -
. What is the hindrance to direct working between Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie or Perth and Adelaide, or even Melbourne, with automatic repeating stations between Adelaide and Perth at Yardea, Eucla, Balladonia, and Kalgoorlie or Coolgardie, the same number as between New York and San Francisco (four stations) ?
Whether Australian instruments are not exactly the same as those used in America?
Whether direct working would not be productive of accuracy and a great saving in the time of transit of telegraphic messages between Western Australia and the eastern States of the Commonwealth, and also a considerable reduction of the present expenditure?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Postmaster-General is not prepared to give a categorical reply to this question. It is entirely a matter for experts, and it. is proposed to refer it and all kindred questions relating to better methods of working lines, including that referred to, to a departmental board which is shortly to meet in Melbourne for the purpose of considering and reporting upon electrical subjects affecting the Postmaster-General’s Department.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
Have regulations yet been gazetted under the Commonwealth Electoral Act to provide that electors, while away from their registered polling places, may vote for senatorial candidates at other polling places.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as. follows : -
Regulations under the Commonwealth Electoral Act are now under consideration, and will be laid; upon the table of the House shortly.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– The Budget discussion has so far proceeded upon the motion that the vote for the Senate- division 1, £6,782 - be agreed to ; but as I understand that honorable members desire to amend some of the items in the division, I shall, , to conclude the general debate, put the first item- “The President, £1,100.”
Item agreed to.
In Committee :
Division 1 (Senate), £5,682
– I desire to ask ask the Treasurer why increases of salary are proposed for several officers of the Senate ? Are the increases simply mechanix cai ? I see that the Clerk of Papers, Shorthandwriter and Typist, the Housekeeper, and Doorkeeper, and the President’s Messenger are to have increases, and, as they have occupied their present positions only foi” a year .or two, I do not see any reason, on the face of it, why their salaries should be increased.
– If honorable members will look at the salaries set down for officers performing, similar duties on this side, they will find that the object of the increases now proposed is to give to the officers of the Senate the same salaries as are provided for officers performing corresponding duties in connexion with this Chamber.
– There cannot be as much work to do with thirty-six members of the Senate as with seventy-five members of the House of Representatives.
– Some of the officers of the Senate received increases previously in order to bring their salaries nearer to those paid to the officers of this Chamber. It was felt by the President and by a large number of the members of the Senate that it wa3 hardly fair that their officers should be paid at a lower rate than ours. I do not know that that is a very strong reason for these increases ; but in order to avoid friction I waived my objections. Although some of the messengers of the Senate have not been in the service so long as have some of our messengers, it has been thought wise to put them on a similar footing. These were the reasons which induced me, after conferring with the Prime Minister, to provide for the increases. I hope that no objection will be raised, because the amounts are not large, and if the increases are not granted some friction may arise.
– I do not think that is quite fair that officers who have been in, the service only two or three years should be placed on the same footing as those who have long service to their credit. If the position of a senior messenger became vacant it would scarcely be desirable or fair to appoint a junior to his position, and give him the maximum salary at the outset. Whilst I do not object to the increases as such, I think that seme better reason than that mentioned by the Treasurer should be given.
– I object to the proposed increases for very much the same reasons as those mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra. The President’s messenger had increases on two prior occasions, and his salary now stands at £188. It is now proposed to increase it to £204. My idea is that a messenger should be paid to some extent in accordance with his length of service. I understand that the President’s messenger has been in the service for only three years. He was formerly a temporary messenger in South Australia. I take the same view as the honorable member for Yarra with regard to the salaries to be paid to junior messengers who fill vacancies caused by the retirement of senior messengers.
– In such a case the messenger would be appointed as a junior, and would not necessarily receive the maximum salary at once. ,
– The messenger to whom it is proposed to give this higher salary is a junior messenger.
– That is the President’s messenger.
– But he is not the senior messenger.
– Of course my honorable friend will recollect that, under the Public Service Act, Mr. President has the appointment of his own officers in the same way that Mr. Speaker has the appointment of his.
– I understand that perfectly. Regarding the wisdom, or otherwise, of increasing the emoluments of officers of Parliament, I would point out that in Queensland during the past two or three years, the whole of the civil servants have not only been denied increments, but have actually suffered a reduction of salary I do not think it would be fair to the public servants of that State that we should increase the salaries of any Commonwealth officers during this year. I do not care who this particular officer may be - I have nothing to say against him - but I am opposed to any increases of salary being granted during the current year. I think that the payment of increments might very well be allowed to stand over until times improve.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I move-
That the item, “ Clerk of the Papers and Accountant, £420,” be reduced by £40.
It seems to me that the idea that officers of the two Houses of the Legislature should necessarily be placed upon the same footing has very little to recommend it. In the Senate the work can scarcely be as heavy as it is in this Chamber. The other branch of the legislature does not sit the same number of hours that this House does, and for reasons which we can quite understand. The fact that it contains fewer members necessarily means that there is not the same volume of work to be performed that there is in this House, even if the hours which the two Chambers sat were similar. Most of the salaries paid are upon a fairly reasonable scale, considering that when Parliament is in recess - as we hope it will be more regularly in the future - the officers in question can be granted extended holidays by permission of Mr. President and Mr. Speaker. I certainly object to any increments being granted at the present time. In these Estimates I find that the salaries of messengers, typists, &c. are being increased, whilst others who perform more responsible duties and who occasionally are compelled to work overtime, are given no encouragement whatever in that direction. If we cannot find funds to mete out fairer treatment to those who are charged with responsibility, we should not fritter away money in attempting to bring about a parity between the salaries of officers in the other Chamber and those in this.
– I think there is a very great deal to be said in opposition to the increase from £380 to £420, which is proposed in this instance. Certainly, the Committee ought to be given more information in respect of the length of service of the officer who performs the duties of Clerk of the Papers and Accountant. In the absence, of any better reason than that which has been advanced by the Treasurer, I am of opinion that the increase should not be granted.
Question - that the items “ Clerk of the Papers and Accountant, £420,” be reduced by £40 - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I move-
That the item “ Shorthand writer and Typist, £200,” be reduced by £12.
I think that, in view of the decision of the Committee, the Treasurer might reasonably consent to place all these officers upon the same basis as regards the proposed increases.
– I presumethat this is a new appointment which was rendered necessary by Federation. I do not know whether the Treasurer is ignoring that fact. The Clerk of the Papers and Accountant is a transferred officer who probably came here under a promise that his salary would be increased ; but the shorthand writer and typewriter, who has. been recently appointed, comes within an altogether different category.
– I have no information upon that point.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to-
That the item “ Housekeeper and Doorkeeper, £235,” be reduced by £30.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the item “President’s Messenger, £204,” be reduced by £16.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I think the Minister should give us some explanation in regard to this matter. We are now consenting to all round reductions.
– I have already given the explanation. ‘
– There must surely . be some difference between these officers. Some of them are old States officials who came over to the Commonwealth under a reasonable expectation, if not a promise, that certain increases would be granted to them.
– These increases were provided for because of the reasons which I have already given. The officers for whom increases have been proposed must all stand or fall together.
– If that be so, I have nothing more to say.
Amendment agreed to.
Reduced vote £6,684, agreed to.
Division 2 (House of Representatives) - £8,267
– I desire to ask the Treasurer the reason for the inclusion of the last item in subdivision No. 1, “ To provide for increments and adjustment of salaries, £60.”
– I should like to ask the Treasurer the reason for the proposal to increase the housekeeper’s salary from £225 to £235.
– We cannot avoid granting this increase. The housekeeper was appointed on the1st January, 1902, at a salary of £225 per annum, “ with yearly increments of £10,” to be proposed to Parliament, up to £250, with quarters, fuel, light, and water. His predecessor’s salary amounted to £275 per annum, with anallowanceof £25 per annum with quarters, fuel, light and water. This increase was one of the conditions of the housekeeper’s appointment. As to the point mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra, it will be found that throughout the Estimates I have allowed for increments in the lowest classes, which will practically be given as a matter of course. Increments to officers in other classes in the service must be dealt with by the Commissioner. That officer has to inquire whether any of them should receive increments, and under the Public Service Act they become entitled to them upon receipt of his certificate. I have, therefore, provided throughout the Estimates sums estimated to be sufficient to cover such increments as the Public Service Commissioner may think fit to grant. Under the Public Service Act, an officer in the higher classes does not become entitled to an increment until he obtains the certificate of the Commissioner, and no increase can be granted without that certificate.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- The Public Service Commissioner has power to grant increments to any of the officers mentioned in this Estimate. Are not all these officers under the Commissioner 1 I notice, for example, that provision is made for an increase of £10 per annum in the salary of a junior clerk. As far as I am aware the whole of the other salaries are fixed, and I can therefore see no necessity for this item. I do not think it will be spent while the present Treasurer remains in office.
– The salaries of other officers may be increased under the classification of the Commissioner, and this item is to meet such a contingency.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- Following the rule laid down by the Committee in dealing with officers of the Senate, it seems to me that no increase should be granted in this division to other than junior officers. I notice that provision is made for increasing the salary of a junior clerk from £70 to £80. That is a very proper proposal ; but all the other officers are receiving fair salaries, and I do not think there is any necessity to provide for this item of £60.
– Under the Public Service Act, the officers have to be classified by the Commissioner. That rule applies throughout the service. If officers in the higher classes are dealt with in that way by the Public Service Commissioner, they will become entitled to increments.
– We have still to vote the money. It seems to me that we need not pass this item until we see whether there is any necessity for it. I could well understand a proposal to increase the salaries of clerks after they had been five or six years in the service of the Commonwealth, and had done good work ; but I fail to see any necessity for automatic increases after two or three years’ service.
Mr.MAHON (Coolgardie). - As we are nowscraping a few pounds off the salaries of poorly-paid officers, I should like to draw the attention of the Treasurer to the enormous sum which he is still paying by way of banking exchange. I have roughly gone through the Estimates, and I ‘ find that provision is made for an expenditure of no Jess than £3700 in this direction.
– That is a big reduction on last year’s Estimates.
– I have not carefully examined the Estimates of every .Department, but I find that these payments in -Western Australia amount to about £1200, in Tasmania to £300, Queensland £250, Victoria £950 and New South Wales £1,000. There may be other items, for I have not yet perused the Treasury and Defence Estimates.
– This expenditure is chiefly incurred in the. Postal Department.
– I have directed attention to this matter on two or three occasions, and if my memory serves me rightly, the Treasurer promised on each of those occasions that he would look into the question, with a view to effect a saving on this very heavy charge.
– On the last occasion the honorable member showed that this item amounted to some £7,000.
– I believe that is so, but it does not redound to the credit of the Government that they should pay £7,000 per annum for a service which is practically tj.il. Does the Treasurer pretend that the various banks which receive these payments transmit the coin from one State to the other] They merely write a letter, for example, from the Perth branch to the head-office in Melbourne, directing that the Government be debited or credited with such and such a sum. It is purely a bookkeeping process, and the Treasurer must know that no real service is rendered for this outlay. I read a statement in the press a few days ago that the Treasurer had made arrangements to save this enormous sum ; but, according to the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs, we cannot now rely on the truth of semi-official statements appearing in the Melbourne press.
– Or anything which appears in a good many other newspapers.
– How is it that with branch offices throughout the States the Government find it necessary to incur this heavy expenditure in banking exchange? There is no necessity whatever for sending the money to and fro. I am aware that the Treasurer desires to effect savings wherever possible, and whilst we are practising economy in relation to the salaries of poorly paid officers, we should take care that these large sums, extending into thousands of pounds, are rigidly scrutinised.
– The question of banking exchange is one that has not escaped my attention. I have been making reductions in this direction ever since the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and the item has been very largely reduced. The honorable member last year directed attention to the fact that the proposed expenditure, by way of banking exchange, amounted to over £7,000. That outlay has been materially cut down. The Treasury does everything in its power, in dealing with Inter-State adjustments, to prevent any unnecessary transfer of moneys from one part of the Commonwealth to another. We debit and credit States, and in that way make considerable savings. We are also using the money order account as far as possible to prevent either the sending of money or of instructions for the payment of money from one part of a State to another, or from one State to another. It must ‘ not be forgotten that our banking transactions are very great.
– How much money passes from one State to another 1
– I believe that we have reduced the total to £200,000 or £300,000 per annum. If we did as we thought of doing at the outset - and as the banks believed we should do - and called in all moneys to the central Treasury and redistributed them again, the exchange would represent an enormous sum. But we do not follow that practice, and we have kept this amount as low as possible. Negotiations are pending between myself and the Banks, but a definite arrangement has not yet been arrived at. We must not overlook the fact that we receive a sum of about £12,000,000 per annum and pay it away again, and that we have large departmental accounts.
– This amount also includes remittances to England.
– No. We have a separate system in relation to any remittances to London. If the individual’ States have money in London, and I have to make a payment there, I arrange as far as I can for a payment to be made to them here, and for the States to make our payments from their accounts in England. By this means we’ save the exchange. Every effort is made to save this exchange, and I hope that the result of negotiations which are proceeding between myself and the banks will be that when the next year’s Estimates are brought forward the amount will be very largely reduced. In fact, I hope that during this year, if I can make the arrangements I contemplate, we shall not have to expend anything like the amount” named. We do not pay the banks the half-yearly charge which they make for keeping accounts. If the banks were to charge us 10s. a year on all our accounts throughout the Commonwealth, the sum we should have to pay would be a very large one indeed. Of course *he banks have to incur expenditure in keeping our accounts, and it costs them a considerable sum. But I hope not to have to spend the sum set down, or even a large portion of it, during the year ; and next year if this vote appears on the Estimates at all, I trust that it will be a very small sunn. More than that I do not think I am at liberty to state at the present time.
– What about interest on current accounts 1
– With regard to interest on current accounts, I may say that, as a rule, we have practically nothing with the banks, because we pay over the money due to the States every week. We collect the money, and nearly every week we pay the States the amount that is due to them, and they place it to their own accounts in the banks. They have their own arrangements with the banks, by which they receive a small amount of interest. The banks did desire to make an arrangement with us that they should pay us interest on the minimum monthly balances, but on the first of the month we have practically nothing in the banks, because, as I have said, we pay to- the States every shilling that is due to them in the course of the preceding month.
– On looking at the votes for such requisites as postage and telegrams, writing paper, envelopes, record and other books, and so on, I find that the allowance made to the Senate is nearly identical with that made to the House of Representatives. I am at a loss to understand this. We have in the House of Representatives double the number of members that there are in the Senate, and we do much more work, sitting many more days during the session I think there ought to be some relation to these facts in the sums allotted. I have observed that the note- . paper used in the Senate is very much superior to that used in the House of Representatives, which- is of a very rubbishy quality. It is very hard to pick up a sheetof note-paper which has not some blemishupon it.
– I would remind thehonorable member that we have passed that item.
– I am merely makinga comparison between the House of Representatives and the Senate in this respect.. If £25 is allowed to the Senate for postagearid telegrams, and £125 for writing paper and envelopes, there ought to be a considerable increase of those sums for the House of Representatives ; or else the Senate is spending more money in proportion.
– This does not apply to the postage and telegrams for members ; it is the mere departmental expenditure. The postage for members is provided for later on.
– Is not this vote for thepaper used 1
– For paper, but not for the postage.
– There should .be somedifferentiation .
– Thereis a foot-note on page S referring to Mr. Speaker. Honorable members will noticethat there is an asterisk opposite the line - “The Speaker,” and then at the foot of the page the note reads -
If returned again to Parliament salary to continue notwithstanding the dissolution, until the meeting of the new Parliament.
I hold that that is unconstitutional. If it is to be’ done it should be done by Act of “ Parliament. Even then I doubt whether an Act can override the Constitution. Under section 35 of the Constitution provision is made for the House of Representatives to elect a Speaker j and in the second paragraph it is stated that the Speaker shall cease to hold office if he ceases to be a member. Yet here is a provision that if the same member who happens to be Speaker is again returned to Parliament after a dissolution the salary will be payable to him during the whole time when there was no House of Representatives in existence. I hold that that is unconstitutional,, whatevermay be the policy of it. I am not going to- discuss the expediency of paying the money, but honorable members will notice that there is no such provision in the case of the President.
– The President does not necessarily cease to be a senator at the time of a dissolution ; his term runs to the 31st December.
– I think the right honorable gentleman is alluding to the Standing Orders of the Senate.
– The Constitution provides for that.
– Of course the right honorable gentleman is quite right. I was thinking of the new standing order of the Senate, under which, I think, the President’s tenure of office has been fixed for a term. The real reason, as the . Treasurer says, is that there is no break ; but it seems to me that the Constitution does not allow us to pay a salary to Mr. Speaker for the period when he does not hold his office.
– I think the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has raised a very important point, which ought to elicit some information from the Government. Apparently the object of the footnote referred to is to place Mr. Speaker on an equal footing with the President of the Senate. The footnote says - “If returned again to Parliament salary to continue.” Why should Mr. Speaker be placed in a different position from any other member of the House of Representatives 1 It simply means that, if a dissolution takes place, during the period occupied by the general election, Mr. Speaker will continue to draw his salary. There is no other member of the House who will be placed in that position. Other members will draw their salaries from the time when they are elected. That should be sufficient for Mr. Speaker. I cannot see why he should be in a different position from the Chairman of Committees. We - might as well place an asterisk alongside the line which contains the salary of the Chairman of Committees, and say that he shall draw his salary during the period occupied by a general election. It does not follow that because a certain gentleman may hold the office of Speaker in one Parliament, he will be re-elected after the general election. We may sometimes have a Speaker who will not be re-elected ; though I hope that our present Speaker will be.
– I suppose the meaning of it is that we must have some -officer at the head of the Department?
– It has not been the custom, I think, in the States, to pay the Speaker during the interregnum caused by a general election.
– Yes, in the State from which the honorable member comes.
– I never knew that. In New South Wales the Speaker’s salary was, I believe, £1,100 per annum, but I understood it was drawn only while Parliament was in existence.
– In regard to the item mentioned by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, I would point out that there is nothing in the Constitution which prohibits the payment of his salary to Mr. Speaker during a general election. It is quite competent for Parliament to vote thi”? amount if it thinks that it is a fair, reason- . able, and proper thing to do. I have been actuated in placing the item upon the Estimates by the fact that the difference in the case of the President and Mr. Speaker would otherwise be very marked. The President would be entitled to receive his salary for the full period, while Mr. Speaker would not. It is said that honorable members lose their salaries during a general election. So does Mr. Speaker. He loses his ordinary salary as a member, but we propose that he shall not also lose his salary as Speaker.
– As Speaker he does not receive his ordinary member’s salary.
– Yes ; he receives £400 a year as a member and £1,100 a year as Speaker. It was first proposed that the Speaker’s salary should be £1,500 a year in addition to the £400 received by him as a member, but ultimately it was decided to pay £1,500 altogether - that is, £1,100 for the Speakership and £400 for membership. Of course the salaries of Ministers are paid after a dissolution of Parliament until the meeting of the new Parliament, because they must continue to carry on their administrative work- In the same way it will be necessary for the Speaker, during the interval between the dissolution of one Parliament and the meeting of the next, to attend to his share of the business connected with the Departments of Parliament.
– Is the suggestion to drop the salary of £1,100, or that of £400 1
– The proposal is to drop only the salary at the rate of £400, which the Speaker receives as a member of the House of Representatives.
– -The proposal is a peculiar one, when we are cutting down the salaries of messengers by £16 a year.
– That action has been taken for a particular reason. Honorable members have considered that the reasons given for the increases proposed have not been sufficiently strong. In this case we are dealing with an entirely different matter. W e are here proposing to establish a precedent, and it is on that account that I have had a footnote introduced to direct the special attention of honorable members to the fact. What the practice in other States has been I do not know, but I am informed that it has been usual to allow the salary to continue if the Speaker is re-elected. I recollect that that was done in my time in Victoria on one occasion when the Speaker was returned and re-elected to his office. He was allowed salary for the period during which the House was not in session.
– Why not pay him for the work done during the interval between the dissolution and the election of the new Parliament, whether he is re-elected as Speaker or not?
– I also think that course should be adopted.
– That is open for consideration. We think it is not desirable that invidious distinctions should be drawn between the presiding officers of the two Chambers. As Ministers continue to draw their salaries it seems only fair that the Speaker should be entitled to draw his salary during a dissolution when he has to do the work of his office. The additional point taken that whether he is re-elected or not he ought to be paid if he does the work is a good one, and is deserving of consideration. I ma)’ say that I hope that aspect of the case will not come before us.
– I agree with the Treasurer that we are here establishing a precedent, and we are free to deal with the matter without being bound b)r any previous custom, as are the States Parliaments. They have established precedents in the past, but we are quite free to deal with this matter without any previous custom binding us to adopt a certain course. Whether the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is or is not right as to the constitutional aspect of the question, it would be an undesirable precedent to set up that we should make a continuance of the salary of the Speaker dependent upon his re-election to Parliament and to the office of Speaker.
– We could hardly pay the salary to a man who was not a Member of Parliament.
– His position as Speaker depends on his being a Member of Parliament, and it is here proposed to pay him a salary when he is actually not a Member of Parliament at all. That is something to which, I think, we should take objection. It is not a personal matter with any of us. We have no objection to the Speaker receiving the salary stated ; but it is a question whether he should receive it when he ceases to be a Member of Parliament. I do not think we have been furnished with any good reason why he should. As regards the comparison between the Senate and the House of Representatives it might as well be said that as honorable senators will be receiving salary although the Senate will not be sitting, whilst members of the House of Representatives, when standing for reelection, will not receive salary-
– They will be sacrificing, in this instance, four or five months’ salary, to which they are entitled under the Constitution.
– The members of this House ought to be- placed upon the same footing as members of the Senate. I think it is undesirable in this case that the continuance of the salary should depend upon whether a member of the House is reelected to the House or to the Speakership ; and it is also undesirable that the Speaker, who cannot be Speaker unless he is a Member of Parliament, should .be recognised as, entitled to receive salary during the period when he is not a Member of Parliament. With every good wish for the present Speaker, I oppose the provision now sought to be made. I think we should establish another, and a much better precedent, than we shall have established if we adopt the terms of the footnote to this vote.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the footnote to the item, “ Mr. Speaker, £1,100.” “If returned again to Parliament salary to continue, notwithstanding the dissolution, until the meeting of the new Parliament” be. omitted.
– I am quite a novice at this game, and I should like to hear what the Treasurer has to say upon the motion.
– I have already fully explained the position.
– I am very sorry I was not present when the right honorable gentleman spoke. My vote depends upon his explanation, and not having heard the explanation I must vote against the proposal in the footnote.
– I quite agree with the remarks made by the honorable member for North Sydney. I remind honorable members that we may also in this case be creating a precedent so far as the position of the President of the Senate is concerned. It might happen that he will be up for re-election during the period between the dissolution of one Parliament and the meeting of the next.
An Honorable Member. - His successor has to be elected before he leaves office.
– It may happen that Parliament will not be in session at the time, and in such a case I should be against the provision under this footnote.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- Am I to understand from the Treasurer that he accepts the decision upon the amendment as deciding the question?
– Of course if the amendment is carried I shall accept that as a direction.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra). - I do not know whether I am in order in reverting to the travelling expenses in connexion with the Senate, but I should like the Treasurer to explain what these travelling expenses consist of. Are they the travelling expenses of officers or of members?
– These are the travelling expenses of officers. A small sum is placed on the Estimates in case any expenses of the kind have to be met.
– I see that the expenditure under this head for the House of Representatives, amounted last year to £24, and for the Senate, to £216.
– So far as I recollect at the moment, those travelling expenses included the accounts of Senate officers who did not move their homes to Victoria during the first year of the Commonwealth Parliament, but only did so last year. All the officers in connexion with the House of Representatives made their homes in Victoria during the first year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 3 (Parliamentary Reporting Staff)- £7,044.
– Why should it be necessary to vote £1,100 for sessional typists this year when only £617 was necessary last year ?
– There was only a short session last year, whereas this year there may be two sessions.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 4 (Library) - £2,988, agreed to.
Division 5 (Refreshment Rooms) - £570.
– Itis peculiar that a senior messenger should receive £188 per annum while the steward, who has the handling of and responsibility for a large sum of money during the session, should receive a salary of only £182. The salary for the senior messenger is; in my opinion, fair, and it must be admitted that both officers work long hours ; but it would be only reasonable if the steward were paid a salary a little higher than that of the messenger.
– The amount set down for the steward is that asked for by the House Committee as being reasonable. Honorable members surely do not expect me to increase the amounts which I am asked to pay. I am sure, however, that those responsible for recommending these salaries will bear in mind the remarks of the honorable member, and will probably reconsider the matter.
– I beg to indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Bland. This is a matter which should be taken into consideration, not by the House Committee, but by this Committee. The steward, in addition to handling large sums of money, has charge of the stock ; and no one can dispute that his work is done most efficiently. The steward ought certainly to rank higher than a messenger.
– I can see that eventually this item will be a large one, as it has proved in the States in the past. At one time, in some of the States this vote reached £2,000 or £3,000, and the matter became a perfect scandal.
– We are a long way from that.
– I see that for last year the expenditure was £1,189.
– That included, I believe, a special item of £600, to enable the committee to purchase reserve stock more cheaply.
– A better brand of whisky, I suppose. This vote ought to be reduced, and, personally, I am inclined to move that the vote be omitted, so far as it relates to the sale of grog.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 6 ( Water Power for Parliament House) - £300, agreed to.
Division 7 (Electric Lighting, Etc.) - £1,512.
– There seems to be a large difference between the amount voted last year, and that proposed this year.
– The present vote is to provide for a full session. We sat only a short time last year.
– I should like an explanation of the item of £400 under the head of “Maintenance, repairs, painting, furniture, and sanitary services.”
– The extra amount is to provide for the purchase of new carpets.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 8 (Queen’s Hall) - £604 ; division 9 (Parliament Gardens) - £532, agreed to.
Division 10 (Miscellaneous) - £1,706.
– I notice that the salary of the lift attendant is £65 per annum. The young fellow in charge of the lift is approaching manhood, and I hardly think his remuneration is sufficient. He is kept here until late hours when Parliament is sitting, and has also to be in attendance at other times. A little while ago this attendant in going home one night, after a late sitting, met with an accident, and had his arm broken. That has nothing specially to do with his position ; but still we keep him late here every night, and I think that some little addition might be made to his salary.
– The salary of the lift attendant was originally £52, but, at the suggestion of the Committee, it was increased last year to £65. I have no objection to bringing the matter before the officers who control the expenditure, with a recommendation that there be a small increase.
– I think the salary ought to be 30s. per week.
– I think the increase suggested is a fair one, and if the necessary recommendations are made I will arrange to pay the money.
– I should like to hear from the Prime Minister some explanation of the item of £200 for the purchase of a bust of the first Governor-General. If I do not receive a satisfactory explanation I shall move that the item be struck out.
– The proposed purchase of this bust - because it is subject to Parliamentary approval - of the first Governor-General arose in this way : Before Lord Hopetoun left Australia he gave sittings to Mr. IUingworth, whom, I dare say, honorable members who are residents of Sydney know very well by repute as a sculptor of great talent. After Lord Hopetoun had gone away, I was asked, when I returned to Australia, to inspect this bust in plaster. I saw the bust and some photographs of it which had been prepared, and I thought that the work would be excellent when executed in marble. . The artist fixed the price at £200 ; and I suggested that some of the photographs should be sent to Lord Hopetoun, under whose eye the work had, to a certain extent, progressed. This was done, and Lord Hopetoun replied to the effect that the artist had succeeded beyond expectations. That was a private letter, but it was shown to me. Under the circumstances, I came to the conclusion that there ought to be some permanent record of every Governor-General of the Commonwealth, either in sculpture or in painting - that there ought to be placed on record the lineaments of those who have held the position. The present proposal ought not to be complicated by the question as to whether there ought to be records of future GovernorsGeneral. A record of our first GovernorGeneral ought, at any rate, to be provided. I think that a good bust of Lord Hopetoun, made before he left England, and before he suffered in health as he did afterwards, would be a more faithful record than a painting done in England after his return. Therefore, as the work seemed to me to be a good one, I, having inquired its price, told the artist that I would ask Parliament to buy it. I informed him that that promise did not amount to a contract with him by which the Government was bound ; but that if Parliament would vote the money the purchase of the bust would be completed by the Government.
– It is an Australian production.
– It rests entirely with honorable members as to whether the transaction will be completed. I have not tied their hands in any way. I would suggest, however, that we ought to make a record of this kind in the case of every Governor-General, and that we should not miss the present opportunity to obtain a presentation of Lord Hopetoun’s lineaments which, so far as my judgment goes, is a faithful and true one, for which the price asked is not extraordinary.
– I shall not oppose the item. I rise to point out that we are labouring under a mistake when we describe Lord Hopetoun as the first Governor-General. In this connexion I would draw the attention of the Committee to the following extract from a book compiled for presentation to the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, entitled Twentieth Century Impressions of Western Australia : -
When the Australian Government Act was passed by the Imperial Parliament in 1850, the idea of an ultimate Federation was even then engaging the attention of British statesmen, and particularly those responsible for the control of the Queensland Colonial Office. At that time, of course, we had no separate political existence, and the detachment of Victoria from New South Wales was not completed till the following year, although South Australia had, under charter, attained the dignity of a separate province some fifteen years previously. Western Australia was, geographically, too remote to be specially included in the Imperial plans, but provision was nevertheless made by the Australian Government Act for the establishment of that colony on the same footing as her sisters, whenever the proper time should arrive for the carrying out of that project. In furtherance of the Imperial idea of Federation, Sir Charles A. Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales, received a commission as GovernorGeneral of Australia, the Governors of the other colonies all holding the official rank of LieutenantGovernor. Any Lieutenant-Governor was to be superseded in his office during the temporary residence in his colony of the Governor-General. It was, however, objected by the residents of Melbourne and Adelaide that their distance from the Federal capital (Sydney) was too great to make the Imperial proposals acceptable. The matter was, therefore, not pressed ; and, on the retirement of Sir Charles A. Fitzroy in 1855, the title of Governor was bestowed upon Her Majesty’s representative in each of the other colonies. And though the distinction of Governor-General was retained by the Governor of New South Wales until 1861 the title carried no real power. So complete indeed has been the effacement of this incident from recollection that to-day Lord Hopetoun is generally described as the first GovernorGeneral of Australia ; whereas, in fact, two of his predecessors held that title in succession over forty years ago.
– No doubt Sir William Denison held the title of GovernorGeneral, but Lord Hopetoun was the first Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. If honorable members wish it, I will move the insertion of those words in the item.
– Whatever inscription is placed upon the bust, it should be a correct one.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- I move-
That the item “For the purchase of a bust of the first Governor-General, £200,” be omitted.
– Is not Lord Hopetoun’s reputation enough to make his memory live?
– If the reputation he has left behind is not sufficient to keep his memory green, I do not think that a bust will do so.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I hope that the Committee will strike out the item. Thef actthatsome artist asked Lord Hopetoun to sit for him while he fashioned a model of his bust, and that Lord Hopetoun said that the bust when made was a faithful one, is, to my mind, no reason why we should buy it, although the artist who executed the work deserves every credit for the talent which he has displayed.
– The facts which the honorable member has mentioned do not in themselves constitute a sufficient reason why Parliament should buy the bust. My main argument was that we should have some record of each Governor-General.
– I think that we have a very good record of Lord Hopetoun, because he cost the Commonwealth £40,000 during the eighteen months he was here. If that is not an impression which will live long in the memory of the people, I do not know what more lasting one they want. If the bust is such a faithful representation of Lord Hopetoun, I think he might do us the honour to present it to us, in which case we might use it to adorn Parliament House in the Federal Capital. ‘ If, on the other hand, the people of Australia are anxious to have a memorial of Lord Hopetoun, why should there not be a national testimonial, and a full-sized statue subscribed for? It seems a paltry thing to vote ±’200 for a bust to perpetuate the memory of a man in connexion with whom the Commonwealth has already spent £40,000 upon a “bust” of a different char- acter
– I think it is very much to be regretted that the propriety of voting this money is being disputed, but, as it is being disputed, it would be better for the Government to withdraw the item. I am sure that Lord Hopetoun, than whom no higher minded gentleman ever came to Australia - a gentleman as high minded, if not higher minded, than any member of the party which is now criticising this proposal-
-. - What right has the honorable member to make reflections upon any member of the party which criticises this expenditure ? I object to such reflections.
– If the honorable member thinks I made any reflection upon him, I withdraw what I said.
– To compare us to our disadvantage with Lord Hopetoun is a reflection.
– I said that his ideas were as high minded, if not higher minded, than those of any member of the Labour Party. I see nothing in that remark to withdraw. I am satisfied, however, that he will deeply regret any division in regard to a proposal of this kind.
– The item has been placed on the Estimates, not out of compliment to Lord Hopetoun, but in pursuance of the design that the Commonwealth shall have a record of each successive GovernorGeneral.
– I think that the bust should be secured as an historical record of the first Governor-General of Australia, but, inasmuch as objection is taken to the proposal because some honorable members think that there is no need for such a record, the item should be withdrawn.
– If the item were of » personal character, I would willingly accept the honorable member’s advice in regard to it, rather than have any dispute about it. But there is something approaching a principle involved in it, and that is that as a people we should be mindful that we are makers of history. The early days of the Commonwealth will be the subject of historical examination and research, and records should be kept of the main events of our history, and the actors connected with them. That being so, it is for honorable members to consider whether we should, on the very threshold of that history, deny that there is any advantage to be gained in keeping, either upon canvas or in marble, a record of each of the distinguished men who come here.
– Let the grateful people subscribe.
– I could understand that we should not make a record of distinguished men if we had come to the conclusion that we ought not to have them, but as we have not come to that conclusion, and as the Constitution provides for successive representatives of the King, it seems to me that, while we should do no harm or spite to any Governor-General by refusing this memorial, we should do ourselves despite if we refused to obtain a record which it is of advantage to the Commonwealth to have.
– The Prime Minister has tried to raise an ideal in regard to this matter, but while I think that the Commonwealth at times needs ideals, I do not think that his proposal is a good one. If we are to have an historical record of our Governors-General which will be something like Madam Tussaud’s exhibition, it may happen that interim Governor-Generals or -their friends will want to have their features preserved there ; but the right honorable gentleman has made mention of no such proposal. It seems to me that if records such as he speaks of are to be kept, names like those of Sir Henry Parkes and the late Honorable James Service, which stand out pre-eminently in connexion with the historical side of Federation, should be commemorated in marble or on canvas. But, so far, no such proposal has been made. Although I appreciate high ideals, and love the artistic side of life, I think that the Australian public are too utilitarian to spend money in the manner proposed. If it is intended to preserve the bust of every Governor-General, the proposal now before us is no great compliment to Lord Hopetoun. To use the vernacular, in our expenditure upon his account we have already had a sufficient bust. I shall oppose the item.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).It is my intention to vote for the item. We have to consider, as the Prime Minister has said, the advisability of preserving historical records of the Federation. Parliament very properly votes a large sum annually to preserve for the information of future ages a record of what is said and done here and in the Senate.
– It is rather for the information of the present age, so that the people may know what we are doing.
– Hansard is intended for something more than a record for the information of the present generation. We have taken very great care that everything done by Parliament shall be faithfully and honestly placed on record, and I am in sympathy with any movement having that object. I think we should also have some portraiture of the first GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth as an historical record. This Parliament has functions to perform beyond those relating to purely utilitarian matters. Surely, at the outset of our career as a nation we should take some interest in science, literature and art, and show that, as a people, we have some appreciation of all that is noblest and best in life.
– That is not the idea behind the proposed purchase.
– The Prime Minister describes the bust as a work of art, and as a correct delineation of the features of the late Governor-General ; and I think that he has enunciated a sound principle in connexion with this matter. When we establish the Federal capital we shall have to do something to beautify it. Do honorable members propose that we, as a Parliament, should confine our attention to purely utilitarian matters ? A bust of the GovernorGeneral should be included amongst the works of art used, not only to beautify the Federal capital, but to remind the people of the makers of the Commonwealth, and of those associated with them.
– Why not collect a shilling subscription for the purpose 1
– A sufficient sum for the purpose might be raised by public subscription ; but, apart from that, surely we have our duty as ,a Parliament to discharge.
– I think we paid the late Governor-General very well for what he did.
– Honorable members participated in the benefits arising from the expenditure incurred by the late GovernorGeneral in celebrations worthy of the occasion, and we know that not one penny of the money voted by this Parliament went into Lord Hopetoun’s pocket. However, that is quite apart from the question now before us. The Prime Minister very properly urges that we should preserve as a matter of historical record a representation of our first Governor-General, and in this regard we cannot escape our responsibility to those who may come after us. The people of other nations would have been glad if their predecessors had taken care to preserve the records of their time by means of statues and other representations of the great characters who have taken a leading part in making history. If that had been done, a benefit would have been conferred, not only upon the nation itself, but upon the whole civilized world. History ought to be our guide, and the Prime Minister was perfectly right when he emphasised the need which we as the first Australian Parliament should supply. I have great pleasure in supporting the proposal.
– I think that the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs was somewhat mixed, because he confused the subject of the encouragement of art with the present proposal. I should be quite prepared to vote more than £200 for the encouragement of art, and I hope very liberal provision will be made in that direction when we have our own art gallery. At the same time, I fail to see why we should spend £200 upon a bust of the late Governor-General, and I admire the courage of the Government in making the proposal in the face of the Kyabram cry for economy. Our system of government does not afford any opportunity for the exercise of special capabilities by the gentleman who may hold the position of- Governor-General. If we arranged to have busts of all our GovernorsGeneral, some phrenologist of the future might, on examining the outlines of their heads, say, “ There is the head of a wonderfully brainy man. He ought to have figured prominently in the history of the Commonwealth.” The phrenologist, however, on searching the records, would find that that brainy man had done nothing, for the simple reason _ that he had had no opportunity. We do not want our GovernorGeneral to do anything beyond making himself genial and presiding over society functions. There is no room for a strong man in that position, because we look after the government of the Commonwealth for ourselves. The actions of men count most in history, and we do not need a bust of the late -Governor-General unless it be intended to make a “ joss “ of it. I believe in having complete historical records, but I fail to see that the value of such records would be added to if they included representations of the heads and shoulders of our GovernorsGeneral. They would afford no indication -of the work performed by the men whom they represented. We are endeavouring to save all the money we can, and I think we may defer the purchase of works of art until we have an art gallery in which we can place them. If we decided to have a bust . «f the first Governor-General we should arrange for busts of all his successors. In such a case trouble might arise in the future -as to where we should put them, and they might eventually be stored in a lumber _100rn
– The honorable member for Wannon need not vent his indignation upon honorable members who venture to criticise the late Governorgeneral. Some objectors were taken to task for criticisms passed on Lord Hopetoun in connexion with the special vote of £10,Q00 which was given to him : but in spite of all the hard things which were said of him, that distinguished gentleman did not hesitate to take the money.
– But consider the enormous expense to which he was put.
– I quite recognise that. When the honorable member is installed as the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth in London he will have to incur much greater expense than will be covered by the salary he receives. I should very much like to see the honorable member appointed, because no one could more fitly occupy the position. Honorable members must be held perfectly free to criticise the Estimates as they think fit, even though references to the late Governor-General may be involved. Honorable members may not know of the fate which has overtaken some of the monuments erected in London. I can remember, as a boy, seeing the Queen Anne monument, at the top of Ludgate Hill, in St. Paul’s Church-yard. The weather and time played havoc with that monument, and the last time I saw it, her late Majesty was lacking a nose. Later on, when I saw «, leper at Friday Island, I was irresistibly reminded of the Queen Anne monument, which has since been removed and broken up for road metal. A similar fate might await a statue of our first Governor-General. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs thought it was necessary that we should adopt this proposal in order that the people who come after us may know who we were and what we were; but my experience is that the only history which will live is that which is to be found in books. The amount of £200 is of no importance, but if the present proposal were agreed to, it would establish an objectionable precedent. A bust of the Prime Minister finds a place in the Sydney Art Gallery, and it looks very well. I have admired it very much, because it is a good representation of the right honorable gentleman. I never beard, however, that the public were asked to contribute towards the cost of that bust. The memory of the light honorable gentleman and also that of Lord Hopetoun will live for ever, and they need no busts to remind the people of their connexion with the early days of the Commonwealth. I hope that the Government will withdraw the item,’ because I should be very sorry to see them defeated. I should like to know whether the fate of the Government will depend upon the vote. If the carrying of this vote will involve their fate I shall support them, but if not I shall vote against them.
– I shall oppose the item. If honorable members are anxious to have a bust of the Governor-General they should initiate a public subscription with that end in view. A number of citizens of Melbourne desired to have a portrait of the Governor-General, and we subscribed for a painting which is now hung in the Melbourne Town Hall. The present discussion has emphasized the fact that the people of the Commonwealth have nothing to do with the appointment of the GovernorGeneral. If we wished to encourage art by purchasing a bust, it would be infinitely better for us to purchase the bust of the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
– Let us have a hundred and eleven busts.
-At any rate, the Prime Minister has been elected and sustained in his office by the people. On the other hand, the Governer-General is appointed, not to represent the people, but to represent something which is a check and constant drag and veto upon the wishes of the people, namely, the Colonial Office. I fear that by agreeing to this item we shall he establishing a very bad precedent, under which it will be necessary to purchase a bust of each succeeding Governor-General. One does not care about saying anything derogator’y to the first Governor-General, because he was a very popular, worthy, and able man indeed. At the same time, I believe that the best method to adopt in regard to this item is to apply the system which is followed in connexion with the canonization of saints by the Roman Church. I understand that under that system no person can be suggested as a saint until he has been dead about a hundred years. I think it would be wise to eliminate this item, and to see if the reputation of ‘our first Governor-General wears for’ a hundred years. Otherwise I hold that we should be wasting the people’s money in perpetuating the memory of a distinguished official who did not represent the people.
Question - That the item, “ For the purchase of a bust of the first GovernorGeneral, £200,” stand- put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Might I suggest to the Prime Minister the propriety of arranging for the purchase of the busts of the 111 members of this Parliament? I understand that a very artistic bust of the leader of the Opposition is being placed upon the market. These can be bought for1s. 3d. each. Seeing that the Prime Ministeris possessed of artistic instincts, I think itwould be a very good thing if we could arrange to perpetuate the memory of members of this Parliament in the manner suggested.
– If my honorable friend’s artistic instincts can be satisfied with a bust of the value of Is. 3d., T will present him with one of a certain distinguished individual.
– I think it ought to be understood that the question of perpetuating the memory of all future Governors-General in bust was not implied by the vote which has just been agreed to. But for the bad precedent which it established, some honorable members, including myself, might have felt disposed to support the item. It was on that account that I voted against it.
– Not a penny can. be spent without the approval of Parliament.
– Though some honorable members might have supported the proposal had it been confined to the first Governor - General, they were almost compelled to voteagainst it owing to the way in which it was put from the* Chair. Had a proposition been submitted to perpetuate the memory of a man like Chief Justice Marshall, of the United States, there would have been merit in the distinction. But to select an individual simply because he has occupied a particular office, without regard to merit, is ridiculous.
– As thehonorable and learned member for South Australia has made a suggestion in references to the late Chief Justice Marshall, I heartily support it.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- In this matter I think that the Government have committed a very grave error. In my judgment there is another gentleman who was connected with the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and who is more entitled to a bust than is anyone else.
– The late Sir Henry Parkes.
– -No, I do not refer to the late Sir Henry Parkes, although I freely acknowledge his great services to the- cause of Federation. I desire to know why the first Clerk of this House has been ignored? I refer to Mr. George Jenkins
– He had a bust.
– Seeing that he was the first Clerk of this House, I think that the Government should have proposed to immortalize him in bust. Let honorable members reflect what he did for us in connexion with the opening of this Parliament. Let them remember the great entertainments which he arranged for us in the early history of the Commonwealth. Yet the Government have entirely ignored his claims merely for the sake of purchasing a bust of Lord Hopetoun.
– We have had that bust.
– Yes, and I under, stand that it cost us £1 1,000.
Mr. SPENCE (Darling). - I think that the Government, ought to definitely state whether they intend to retain the services of a sculptor to undertake this work in the future, and whether they contemplate that it shall be done by contract or day labour 1
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 11 (Administrative) - £8,820. Sir EDMUND BARTON (Hunter -
Minister for External Affairs*). - I desire to make a short explanation in reference to this division. Upon looking at the Estimates honorable members will see that the salary of the Chief Clerk in this Department has been saved. Reference to the item relating to the clerks, however, will show that the first clerk, Mr. Lewis, who was at Government House under the previous official Secretary, and who received a salary of £325, isnow to receive £350. Seeing that he has been removed to a position of very much greater responsibility, and will be called upon to do increased work, the addition to his salary of £25 per annum is a small one. On the other hand,” whereas Mr. Lewis formerly received £325 as clerk to the official Secretary at Government House, we have now appointed in his place a clerk at £120 per annum, thus effecting a saving of £205. The salary of the Secretary to the Federal Executive Council remains the same, namely, £600 ; but the duties of Secretary to the Federal Executive Council and official Secretary to the Governor-General are now beingdischarged under the one heading and title. Therefore the saving, which has been effected in that respect - if I may refer to division 1 2 - is £205 as against an increase of £25 in Mr. Lewis’ salary upon his transfer.
– At the bottom of that list honorable members will find that provision is made for one clerk at £100 per annum, and another at £40. These amounts, which will now be paid out of the salary vote, were previously paid out of the vote for. temporary assistance. If honorable members will refer to item 11, “contingencies,” they will see that whereas the amount thus spent last year was £240, it has been reduced this year to £100. The increases relating to the remaining salaries between the first and the two last mentioned in this item are the ordinary annual increments granted under the Public Service Act. But for any item which I may have overlooked, I have explained the whole of these alterations. At a later stage I shall move to reduce the item, “ Ti-avelling expenses, £400,” by £120, as I find that the amount may be reduced to that extent.
– To what does the item “ Grant to Jenner Institute, £335,” relate?
– That amount was paid last year.
– It was paid, but it was not voted last year.
– The item, I believe, relates to some anti-plague serum, which the individual States would otherwise have had to purchase. It has been more advantageously obtained by the Commonwealth for distribution among them.
– I desire to call the attention of the Minister to an advertisement which appeared in the Age a few days ago in the following terms : -
Southafricanailways. - Good positions secured for railway employes. Kemunerative appointments, with splendid future prospects, now available for limited number of traffic branch clerks under thirty years of age. For personal interview, write - “Capetown,” care of Gordon and Gotch, Melbourne.
Two or three men - most of them members of the railway service - have interviewed me in reference to this matter. It appears that the advertiser is seeking to engage some 200 or 300 men for employment in South Africa. He demands from every man who agrees to go there in accordance with the terms of the advertisement, a deposit of £4, and an undertaking to pay him a further sum of £4 upon arrival in South Africa.
– Will they pay it 1
– Some are doing so.
– Then, they deserve to lose their money.
– I have-no desire to do an injustice to any one, but from what I can learn the advertiser appears to be acting under some authority, or, at all events, is sufficiently plausible to make some men believe that he is. The possibility of 200 or 300 reputable men being, first of all, deprived of a certain sum of money, and then stranded in a distant country is so serious that the Prime Minister should cause inquiry to be made into the matter.
– The honorable member mentionedthis matter to me this afternoon, and I have given instructions for a cable to be sent to the Governor of Cape Colony, with a view to ascertain whether the advertiser is authorized to engage these men. I think that the matter is deserving of inquiry, and I shall take care to publish the reply to my message.
– I informed the Prime Minister early this afternoon that I intended to bring this question forward, and I was going to suggest that he should do what he has done. X trust that he will publish the reply to his message as soon as it is received.
– One would at first believe from the remarks of the Prime Minister that he had displayed admirable qualities in the administration of his Department and effected considerable economies. At the first blush it would appear that he had got rid of a clerk who was in receipt of a salary of £600 per annum, but it appears that the amount has been saved in one item and applied to others.
– I did not say that there had been an absolute saving of £600. I said that portion of thatamount had been distributed in other ways.
– We find that the £600 has practically been distributed by way of increase to various clerks, for whom a sum of £1,790 is now provided, as against £1,210 voted last year.
– But the other clerks were employed during only a portion of last year.
– In view of the spirit of economy that is abroad, I think we should have some explanation in regard to this matter. It appears that there has been no rash economy practised in the Department.
– It will be remembered that when the Attorney-General was dealing with last year’s Estimates relating to the Executive Council he emphatically told the Committee that there would be only one clerk employed, and that he would receive £120 per annum.
– That is so.
– But I find that there is provision for another clerk at £140 per annum.
– That item relates to the salary of a typewriter and messenger. If the honorable member looks at the items under the heading-of “ Federal Executive Council “ he will find that last year a sum of £120 was voted for temporary assistance. That amount, plus a sum of £20, which the officer seems to have well earned, is now applied to the salary of a clerk in the Public Service, acting as type writer and messenger.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister a question relating to the Philippines, which is already beginning to affect Australian trade. The right honorable gentleman is perhaps unaware of the fact that Australian manufacturers of reaper and binder twine, and various other classes of cordage, find it absolutely necessary to import a certain class of Manilla twine. As the result of the establishment of this industry in Australia the price of reaper and binder twine has been materially reduced ; but, owing to certain action taken by the United States authorities, the manufacturers are now placed at a serious disadvantage. When the Philippines were taken over by the United States of America, a promise was made that in accordance with an arrangement which the Spanish Government had previously carried out, the best favoured nation treatment should be extended to the British Government. But the United States of America authorities at the Philippines now impose an export duty of £1 10s. per ton on Manilla twine exported to countries other than the United States.
Thus, Messrs.Dinghy and Co., ofGeelong, Miller’s Twine Factory, Melbourne, and other manufactories in the Commonwealth, of which I have no personal knowledge, have to pay for this material £1 10s. per ton in excess of the price at which the United States manufacturers are able to obtain it. ‘ I think that the Minister should endeavour to see that the treaty entered into by the Unites States Government is carried out.
– Am I to understand that there are treaty obligations?
– An arrangement was made that the Spanish Tariff should not be raised against other nations prior to the assumption of sovereignty by the United States of America, but that arrangement is now being evaded by the imposition of the export duty’ which I have named. There is another matter which I desire to bring under the attention of the Minister. It seems to me that we should help the Australians in South Africa to fight againstthe employment of Hindoo and Chinese coolie labour there. Unfortunately many Australians are still going to South Africa.
– There is beginning to be a set back.
– We expended our money and the life’s blood of many of our citizens in helping the British Government to conquer the Transvaal and Orange Free State ; but with a desire to increase their dividends the mine-owners there are carrying on an agitation which is steadily growing - and which will be successful unless we as a Parliament make some protest against it - for the introduction of some’ 380,000 Hindoo and Chinese labourers. Under the new administration, natives in British South Africa, as well as in Portuguese territory who are able to live without working for white men, are being compelled to pay a hut tax of £1 or £2 per head, that impost being levied in order to force them to work in the mines.
– What has that matter to do with us?
– It has much to do with us. We owe a responsibility to the many Australians who have gone to South Africa in search of work, and many’ of whom are now stranded, because of the fact that a great deal of work is carried on by inferior races. When I brought forward this question last year, the answer made by the Acting Prime Minister was that it was a matter which did not affect Australia. Bub we are responsible for our own acts of war and aggression. If this is a question which does not affect us, how is it that when the Prime Minister was attending the recent Imperial Conference, he did not hesitate to ask that legal practitioners in Australia should have a right to practice in the newly conquered British territory in South Africa ?
– The request applied not solely to legal practitioners, but generally to skilled and learned professions.
– If we are able to interfere in these matters in one direction we should be able to do so in another. I should like the Prime Minister to take steps to support the rights of Australians, and of’ white men generally, in South Africa. We should use what influence we have as a. Parliament in this direction. We should not allow our desires in this respect to beset aside too easily by the suggestion thatwe have no right to interfere with the other parts of the Empire. We have interfered and are responsible for the result of such intervention. If we had taken up that attitude in the past it might have been better for us. It seems to me that we ought to do what we can to support the cause of the white races in British South Africa.
– I move-
That the item “ Travelling expenses, £400,”be reduced by £120.
– Because on inquiry as to the way in which our business is being carried on I am led to the conclusion that we can make this reduction.
– A very satisfactory explanation.
Amendment agreed to.
Reduced vote, £8,700, agreed to.
Division 12 (Federal Executive Council) - £2,635, agreed to.
Division 13 (AdministrationofNew Guinea)- £20,000.
– Perhaps this is the best time to refer to the action of the Government concerning the Papua. (British New Guinea) Bill. So far as we know at present, the Bill is to be abandoned because of certain amendments that were carried in it in Committee. In one of those amendments I was particularly interested. It had reference to the alienation of land in British New Guinea. An amendment to prevent the further alienation of land was carried by a very substantial majority.
There were thirty-three votes in favour of that amendment and only nineteen against it. Six other votes were accounted for by pairs, three on each side, making fiftyeight votes out of a total house of seventyfive. Allowing for Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees, neither of whom voted, there were only fifteen votes unaccounted for. I have spoken to several of those honorable members who did not vote, and know that some of them were in favour of the amendment for the nonalienation of land in New Guinea. That shows that there is a clear majority of the seventy-five members of the House who are in favour of the land of New Guinea being retained by the Crown. Under those circumstances I wish to ask the Prime Minister what the intentions of the Government may be concerning the hand of New Guinea pending the election of a new Parliament. As the opinion of this House has been very clearly expressed, I wish to ask whether, until the next Parliament is elected, and has an opportunity of expressing its views upon the subject the Prime Minister will give us an assurance that land will not be alienated ? The Government should recognise the opinions of the majority of honorable members, as so clearly expressed, and should do nothing in opposition to those views until the new Parliament has an opportunity of expressing itself.
– It will be within the recollection of honorable members that I have stated that I propose, before proceeding further with the Papua (British New Guinea)-Bill to make some inquiries. I am row taking steps to that end. My object will be to inquire into several matters affecting British New Guinea upon which further information would be desirable. I include in those inquiries both the question of land alienation to which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has referred, and the question of the liquor traffic ; as to both of which I desire to obtain further facts before coming to a decision. I may tell the honorable member that nothing that I am doing now will involve my pledging the responsibility of the Government to the alienation of masses of land. I do not propose to settle that question without further consultation with Parliament.
– May I take it that there will be no alienation of land in the meantime ?
– I am answering the question of the honorable member for’ Kalgoorlie with that object. It may be very undesirable to stay altogether any settlement in New Guinea. What I will do is this : I will take care that no large blocks are alienated - that no alienations take place except of small areas adapted for agricultural settlement, so that the soil of British New Guinea will not be permanently affected by any disposals made in the meantime, except to an infinitesimal extent.
– On condition of settlement?
– I shall communicate with the Acting- Administrator of British New Guinea to endeavour to see that any land alienated is alienated for the purpose of occupation and for the purpose of use, not for the purpose of being held up, so to say.
– Yes. I have no sympathy whatever with any landgrab alienation, but I think that in the case of settlers wanting to go to British New Guinea to obtain small areas, permission may be granted to them to select, in order that we may not cause stagnation. In the meantime, my mind will be perfectly open to be influenced by the result of the inquiries which I shall make.
– What would the right honorable gentleman call small areas 1
– In a place like New Guinea, something not exceeding 640 acres.
– I think that the statement of the Prime Minister is unsatisfactory. He states that he will see that no large areas in British New Guinea are alienated in the meantime. The law provides that no very large areas shall be alienated at any time.
– Oh, no it does not.
– I venture to say that the right honorable gentleman is in error.
– Very large blocks were alienated some time ago - large even according to the opinion of some people who have been running syndicates. That was before British New Guinea came under the control of the Commonwealth.
– I venture to say that the action of this Parliament should put further restrictions upon the alienation of land there. This Parliament was elected by the people of Australia, and it emphatically stated that no further alienations should take place. But because the Prime Minister does not agree with the action of the majority of this House he says that he is going to hang up the Bill until he obtains further information. There has been grave, and I venture to say well-founded complaint, against government by Cabinet. Here we have a clear declaration by the representatives of the people, who are responsible to their constituents, of what they wish, and the Government take an action that is diametrically opposed to the wish of the majority. I venture to say that the action of the Government is quite unsound. The right honorable gentleman also wishes to make inquiries regarding the sale of liquor. It seems that he is ready to put on one side the wishes of the majority of the House on the point in consequence of predilections of his own. If these matters were, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, vital to the Papua Bill, he should have said so at the time the measure was in Committee. That was the time for him to make a declaration, and not after the people, by their associations and representative men, have indorsed our action, and have forwarded petitions thanking the House for what they have done. It is not at all satisfactory that the Government should drop the Bill at this stage, and I submit respectfully that their action is unsatisfactory. I shall watch with a great deal of interest the position assumed by the right honorable gentleman when he is before the people appealing for support in his references to this particular subject.
– I think that this matter is very serious. The position taken up by the Government with regard to the Papua (British New Guinea) Bill is not only unsound, but is based upon a frivolous objection. The right honorable gentleman told us when he introduced the Bill that it was so necessary to have it passed that it should be taken through Committee at the earliest possible moment. But because certain amendments were made in it the right honorable gentleman quietly drops the measure. It had been passed through Committee, and remained for a considerable time awaiting its third reading. What are the intentions of the Government 1 If the Prime Minister returns, after the general elections, with a majority at his back - and it is very problematical whether he will do so - he will, I presume, test the feeling of the House again with regard to the nonalienation of land and the liquor traffic in British New Guinea. He is treating Parliament with contempt. Heknows that owing to the unsatisfactory state of the electoral rolls, and the position we are in with regard to the elections, no one will take any action to turn his Government out of office at the present time. He is merely relying upon that. Practically, he is insulting the wishes of the House on every possible occasion. The right honorable gentleman himself urged that there was a great necessity for the passage of the Bill, but he has dropped it merely because two amendments were put in with which he does not agree. Who are the people who have come to the right honorable gentleman and urged him to obtain further information 1 They are the representatives of one of the biggest firms connected with the trade of British New Guinea - the firm that is likely to do the biggest trade there in the future. I allude to Burns, Philp and Co. They are the people who waited on the right honorable gentleman, in the form of a deputation, to urge upon him what action he should take. Because these people have interviewed him, the desires of Parliament are practically placed on one side and its wishes are disregarded.
– The honorable member is quite under a mistake. . Any conclusion that I have come to was arrived at before any deputation waited upon me ; and those upon the deputation who spoke were not the representatives of Burns, Philp and Co., but were gentlemen from New Guinea.
– We know all about how the deputation was worked up. Even suppose that certain members of it did come from New Guinea that is no reason why the wishes of this House should be placed on one side. If the Prime Minister made it a vital principle of his Bill, and a vital plank in the policy of his Government, that amendments prohibiting the alienation of land and the introduction of liquor should not be made in the Bill, be should have informed the Committee to that effect. But the right honorable gentleman did not do so. I feel sure that had it not been for the peculiar position we are placed in owing to the coming elections, the right honorable gentleman would not have taken the course that he has done.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - I think that this is a very important matter. The Prime Minister admits that the two great reforms which have been carried with reference to British New Guinea - namely, land reform and liquor reform - have induced him to drop the Papua Bill. Those reforms were carried by very substantial majorities. The amendment in favour of the non-alienation of the land was carried by thirty-three votes to nineteen. The Prime Minister, however, has abandoned the Bill, and has given a pledge that he will suspend all matters concerning the alienation of land until he receives reports in answer to his inquiries. So far as the liquor traffic also is concerned, the granting of any further licences is a matter of interest to a majority of honorable members.
– I undertake to say that I shall recommend that no further licences be issued pending the settlement of that question.
– It is an important admission from the right honorable gentleman that he will recommend that no further licences shall be granted pending the settlement of the question. Could he not adopt the same course with regard to the alienation of land ? The arguments used by the right honorable gentleman to-day were the arguments he used when we were considering the Bill, and the answer given then is the answer given now, that we know there are speculators in the field, and that applications have been made for an enormous area of land in New Guinea. Hundreds of thousands of acres are in process of alienation,’ and applications have been made for enormous leases.
– Nothing of the kind is being done, or is likely to be done.
– One of the large companies up there is in liquidation at the present time.
– They have 200,000 acres of land which they are unable to get rid of.
– The danger is that if the Prime Minister does not stay his hand in this matter some persons may be given the opportunity of “ peacocking “ the Territory.
– There is no demand for land.
– There may be a demand for some small agricultural areas. 10 n
– There is none to speak of.
– If there is no demand for land, it should only be more easy for the right honorable gentleman to carry out the wish of honorable members of this House and prevent any further alienation of land in New Guinea until Parliament has an opportunity to again consider the matter. It is clear that honorable members of this House believe that land and liquor reform should be tested in this Territory, where the conditions are almost primeval. I hope that the Prime Minister will adopt the same course in connexion with land alienation in New Guinea that he is prepared to adopt with respect to the liquor traffic there, until the fuller information which is desired can be obtained for the benefit of honorable members in the new Parliament, which must meet within four or five months from to-day. The right honorable gentleman has dropped the Bill in opposition to a powerful expression of opinion by members of this House on the question of land reform, and he ought to prevent any further alienation of land in New Guinea until the matter has been again considered.
– I join in the protest against the action of the Government in this matter. In my view their action is exceedingly unsatisfactory. This House arrived at a certain decision after careful consideration of the two courses, and so far as we can judge, the decision to which we came is backed up by public opinion. I believe the course proposed to be adopted by the Government is not only dangerous, but unwarranted. I hope they will reconsider their decision, and endeavour to secure the passage of the Bill through the Senate in its present form. If it is subsequently found to be an impracticable measure, there will be time enough to come back to Parliament for a i reconsideration of the subject. The action of the Government in the matter in flouting the decision of a majority of the members of this House is altogether unwarranted.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I am sure that the advice of so staunch a supporter of the Barton Government as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will be taken into consideration. From knowledge in my possession I am able to say that the Prime Minister may safely give an assurance that he will alienate no more land. Several companies possess land in New Guinea, and
I know of one or two who are very anxious to get rid of the land they hold. They must continue to hold it under the terms of their agreement. There is not very much in the Prime Minister’s assurance with respect to the liquor traffic, that no more licences will be issued. From what I know of New Guinea, Burns, Philp, and Company have the whole of the liquor traffic in their own hands.
– I did not know that, but would the honorable member desire me to say that no more licences should be issued because Burns, Philp, and Company have control of the traffic ?
– I do not say that. This House has said that liquor should be prohibited in New Guinea, and as a good democrat I bow to the will of the majority. I voted with the Government on that question because I know that a drop of grog has saved the lives of many men in the Territory. If settlers there are to be forbidden the use of a drop of whisky, brandy or rum, many of them may be driven to commit suicide. I point out that the assurance of the Prime Minister that no more licences for the sale of liquor will be granted goes for nothing when it is remembered that one firm has control of the whole of the liquor traffic in the Territory. If the trade warranted it I have no doubt that other firms would have cut into it long ago. No doubt some did cut in and failed, and they have left the field to Burns, Philp and Company. In connexion with the administration of New Guinea I saw it stated in a newspaper a few days ago that the Prime Minister had some idea of arranging for mail communication with New Guinea, and I should like to know if there is any truth in that statement. The establishment of steam communication with New Guinea would be one of the best ways of settling the Territory. Many people from Queensland would go there, and particularly from the portion of Queensland I represent, if there were ready means of communication provided. I hope the statement to which I have referred is true, because a few thousands spent in improving the means of communication between the mainland and New Guinea would be money well spent.
– I join with other honorable members in expressing regret that the Ministry have not been guided the decision of a considerable majority in this House as to the non-alienation of land in New Guinea. If the Bill had been considered by the Senate, and honorable senators had taken a different view, I could understand the desirability of our waiting for some little time in expectation’ of both Houses coming to some agreement upon points in difference. But the Bill has not been gone on with in the Senate, and it is an extraordinary course for the Ministry to take on their own responsibility, to absolutely nullify the effective voice of this House. The Prime Minister has said that there will be no alienation of land in larger areas than 640 acres ; but I do not think this a sufficient assurance for honorable members. The evil of alienation is being continued, and there is nothing to prevent a man securing any area of land by dummying. I think there should be some conditional grant system instituted until the next Parliament deals with the question. There should be some provision, for instance, that any grant in fee-simple should be subject to the legislation that may be passed next year, so that, if the principle of alienation is destroyed, there will be a right of resumption given in respect of any land alienated in the meantime. There should certainly be some provision against dummying. There is nothing to prevent a man getting -640 acres, and inducing fifty other persons to do the same thing. What is to prevent him purchasing from those persons subsequently? If there is to be no provision against that kind of thing the promise of the Prime Minister, that there will be.no alienation of land to any one person of an area greater than 640 acres, amounts to nothing. We know that, in the past, dummying has often frustrated the best intentions of land reform. Stringent provisions have been incorporated in the Land Acts of the States to prevent it, and unless we have something more than a mere promise that there will be no alienation in areas greater than 640 acres, I am afraid that, by the time the Papua (New Guinea) Bill is passed, a very large area of the best agricultural land will have been finally disposed of in fee simple.
Mr. KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie).- The reply of the Prime Minister to the questions which I put to him is very disappointing indeed. The principle of non-alienation of Crown lands in New Guinea is not the only principle involved. We have also to consider whether the voice of the majority in this House, formally expressed by resolution, is not to be given effect to. The
Prime Minister has stated that no land will be alienated except in very small areas, but, when speaking before, I explained that the amendment to which I referred had been carried by a majority of thirty-three to nineteen, with six pairs, and that number of honorable members, counting also the Chairman of Committees and the Speaker, accounts for sixty votes, so that there was a majority of fourteen votes in a House of sixty. I am aware that several honorable members who did not vote were strongly in favour of the principle of my amendment upon clause 19. That clause provided -
The Lieutenant-Governor may make and execute, under the Public Seal of the Territory, in the name and on behalf of the King, grants and dispositions of any hind within the Territory which may be lawfully granted or disposed of in the name of the King.
This addition to the clause was agreed to by the majority I have mentioned -
Provided that no grant of Crown land shall be made for any freehold estate.
That clearly expressed the wish of the majority of honorable members, and I am sorry to learn that it is the intention of the Prime Minister to act contrary to that expressed wish. ‘A further amendment was carried, of a character that would prevent any possibility of the land of New Guinea, that might be temporarily acquired, being locked up from use. It was to this effect -
The rent of any leasehold land shall be appraised on the unimproved value, and the amount of such rental shall be subject to periodical revaluation to be fixed by Ordinance.
Pending the expression of the wish of the new Parliament upon this question, the least that the Prime Minister can do, out of respect to the wish of the majority of honorable members of this House, is tu refuse to alienate or dispose of any land except in the way in which honorable members consider it ought to be disposed of. It is not at present necessary that any honorable member should enter upon the merits of the question-. This House has expressed its views by an overwhelming majority, and the least the Government can do is to adopt the course recommended by the House.
Mi-. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).I have been surprised to hear the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, objecting to the stand which the Government have taken. It seems to me very proper that the
10 N 2
Government should not regard the views expressed by this House as being the final views of Parliament upon this measure. They have gone, I think, as far as honorable members of this House could expect them to go in limiting to a square mile the area to be alienated to any one person. That, I think, is a very great concession indeed to the wish of the majority in this House. The final decision of Parliament has not been given upon this measure, and, until it has, the Government are justified in taking the stand they have taken. There is no cause for complaint at this stage, when it is remembered that the Bill will again be brought before Parliament when we have fuller information upon the subjects with which it deals. When the Bill was being discussed we were not in possession of full information. When the fuller information desired is secured, and the final decision of Parliament is expressed upon the measure, the Government must act upon that decision. But, up to the present time, the decision of Parliament upon this Bill has not been given.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay).- It is interesting to hear from the honorable member for Robertson that the decision of this House is not the decision of Parliament. We all admit that to be true ; but the Government, who are in charge of the business of, practically, both Houses, have it in their power to pass this measure and forward it to another place. Supposing the Government declined to pass the Estimates on to the Senate, would the honorable member for Robertson say that we had arrived at no conclusion ? I venture to say that there is not a single honorable member who has read half the reports of Sir William McGregor, who, when Queensland was supervising that part of our territory, dealt with nearly every phase of the question. .
– But it is not shown on what conditions the land is leased. There may be the right of purchase.
– The reports show that there is leasing as well as sale. But Sir William McGregor, rightly or wrongly, was in favour of alienating large portions of the territory, desiring to give facilities to European syndicates to develop the country with native labour. That, however, is not the desire of the great majority of honorable members of this House.
– I have given my guarantee against anything of that sort.
– I quite think that the Prime Minister does not agree with a policy of alienation ; but if we accept the reports to which I have alluded we shall be bound to do that in which this Parliament does not believe. Notwithstanding that various Governors and Lieutenant-Governors of New Guinea have advocated the alienation of land to syndicates and private persons, this House, with its eyes open and by an absolute majority, declared against such a policy.
– But we should like to know the conditions of the leases.
– Let there be as much light as possible thrown on the question. The Government have nothing to offer in support of their action, except that they introduced a measure before they were possessed of sufficient information to enable them to lay all the facts before the House. The Government are now asking for time.
– The Government are granting almost everything which the honorable member asks.
– I do not deny that the Government are granting something ; but they are granting it on lines which tend to the destruction of government by representative Ministers, and to the substitution of Cabinet government. If’ the Cabinet cannot flout the House by threatening to resign, they can lay this important measure on one side, and carry on the administration in a manner adverse to the wishes of the majority of honorable members ; and that is not sound government. As the honorable member for Kennedy has said, the Government practically have the House at their mercy, and honorable members can do nothing but wait. But it is only fair that the country should know the reason that this Bill has been laid aside. What about the great temperance bodies - thoseable and intelligent electors who have been complimenting the Government and honorable members on the proposal which they thought there would be no difficulty in carrying into effect? Although only New Guinea is affected, the principles at stake are so important that all the facts should be clearly laid before the electors at the general election. What has to be decided is whether there shall or shall not be any sale of liquor or any alienation of land in the territory, and these questions should be decided by the electors. I appeal to the Prime Minister, who will probably issue a
Government manifesto to the electors, to put this matter in such a way that there shall be no mistaking the issue.
– This is a question of great importance, which the Senate ought to have an opportunity of considering. In many of the States the law is that only a certain area of land shall be granted to one individual ; but we know that, as a matter of fact, owing to a vast system of dummying, hundreds of thousands of acres have, in cases, been handed over to companies.
– In order to prevent any misapprehension, it is just as well that I should inform the House what course it is intended to pursue. I propose to send to New Guinea some properly-qualified person to make the inquiries whicli I have previously indicated. To assist him there will be appointed the Chief Justice, who is now the Acting Administrator, and a magistrate of experience in New Guinea. I shall not attempt to influence the inquiry in any way, and I shall be largely guided by the result. In the meantime, the limitation which I have put, or which I hope to put, on the alienation, is the best course I can think of as compatible with any progress in the community, and with the desire and satisfaction of those who desire to take up land. Under the present regulations land on lease can be obtained ; if it could not, I should make provision in that direction. In the meantime no harm can be done, whatever system is adopted, because the 97,000 square miles of New Guinea cannot be affected by the disposal of a few acres. As regards the sale of liquor a similar course of inquiry will be adopted, and if the result be a recommendation to apply something like the Gothenburg system, of which I have read something and of which we have heard a good deal, I shall not hesitate to put it in force. If there be a recommendation by such a. commission as I shall appoint, in favour of leasing the land, that system ought, at any rate, to be tried.
– But what if the Commission report in favour of prohibition ?
– I shall give the recommendation serious consideration ; but I cannot say at once that I would agree to adopt it. In the Possession there have already been passed such completely drastic laws with regard to the prevention of the undue sale of liquor, that one is almost at a loss to see why there should be substituted prohibition, which, in case of illness, would absolutely prevent the missionaries from supplying stimulants necessary to save the lives of the sick in the hospitals. With regard to the mails, I have already mentioned the matter to the Postmaster-General and the Treasurer, and I hope before long to arrange for a regular service.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy). - The Prime Minister ought to give some information as to the nature of the inquiry he proposes to have made. We desire to know what instructions the right honorable gentleman has given, considering the extraordinary attitude which the Government has assumed. If the Government consent to hold over any alienation until the New Parliament meets, the revenue cannot suffer a loss of more than £100 or £200, seeing that last year only £694 was obtained from the sale and lease of land.
– I may mention that the last Government of New Guinea, in discussing the question with me a long time ago, expressed the opinion that if the system were changed from alienation to leasing, it would put a stop entirely to agricultural settlement in New Guinea. That was an opinion formed from experience.
– The same argument was advanced in regard to the laud of Australia in our early history.
– The only difference is that the opinion I have quoted came from one who knew.
– That is quite possible. But is there finer land in any part of Australia than can be found on Darling Downs 1 Yet hundreds of thousands of acres of that land were sold at practically 2s. 6d. per acre, and are now being bought back by the Government at prices ranging from £3 to £7 an acre. In my own time certain land in New South Wales was said to be totally unfitted for agricultural purposes ; and yet, on that land at the present time one may travel for days through farms upon which agriculture of every description is carried on. If New Guinea can be settled only by alienating the lands, we may come to the conclusion that a few people will monopolise a large portion of the Territory. The Government, after taking the extraordinarystepof dropping the measure, when a certain amendment had been submitted, ought to give an assurance that during the three or four months between now and the meeting of the new
Parliament no more land will be alienated. If the Government are prepared to allow areas up to 640 acres to be alienated during that time, what will be the result ? It is not probable that between now and the meeting of the new Parliament the opinion of the House in this connexion will change very materially. The probability is that if the Bill be re-introduced a similar amendment will be submitted ; and speculators, knowing that, will rush in and secure the land before the measure becomes law. The honorable member for Melbourne may laugh.
– I did not laugh ; I merely shook my head.
– The honorable member knows that there was plenty of land in Australia in much the same position as that of the New Guinea lands to-day. There is another feature of the question which has to be considered. On various gold-fields in Queensland the mining industry has been seriously hampered, owing to the fact that large areas known to be gold-bearing cannot be worked, simply because of the alienation of the land. We do not yet know the capabilities of New Guinea, and it is quite possible that alienated lands may be found to contain valuable metals. Then, in regard to the drink traffic, if the Government hold their hand between now and the next Parliament, the revenue cannot be effected to any large extent. Last year only £114 was collected in connexion with the traffic, and considering that the Government intend to introduce a Bill next year, it is reasonable to suppose that only a small portion of that amount would be lost. Therefore the course suggested would not affect the finances of New Guinea to any large extent. The Prime Minister has practically told us that in the event of the Commission which is to be appointed reporting adversely to the ideas of the Government he will consider whether he will go on with the Bill.
– I did not say that, or anything like it.
– The right honorable gentleman told us, by an interjection, that if the Commission reported in favour of the Gothenberg system the Government would favorably consider its recommendations, but that if it reported in favour of prohibition the position would be regarded as serious.
– My statement meant that I shall be slower to favour prohibition than the adoption of the Gothenberg system.
– No doubt the right honorable gentleman would be slow to favour prohibition - as slow as he is in proceeding with the Bill.
– The honorable member should be slow in imputing bad motives.
– I do not attribute bad motives, but I say that the manner in which the Government have treated the Bill is a deliberate insult to honorable members. Although it was carried by a large majority, the Government have thrown it on one side, and now we are told that if certain amendments had not been made it would have been proceeded with, although the information which the Prime Minister says he desires is not available. He has not told us the nature of the proposed inquiry. In my opinion, we have been shamefully treated, and those who desire that the dignity and the honour of the House shall be maintained, should make the strongest protest against the action of the Government.
– I gather from the speech of the honorable member for Kennedy that he blames the Government because, through their delay in connexion with the Papua Bill, numbers of men may go to New Guinea and take up large areas of land there, between now and the making of the inquiry which is promised. I think that I can show him that his fears are groundless. I am one of those unfortunate individuals who are connected with the Hall Sound Company. Although we have spent a considerable amount of money upon the laud which we have acquired in New G uinea, the company is at present in liquidation. We have land there which we should be only too pleased to let people have at even more reasonable rates than the Government are asking.
– Will the company let them have it at the rates which they paid for it
– For less than those rates, and be glad to get rid of it: If the honorable member thinks that other men will be as big fools as we were, he is mistaken.
– Then why object ?
– I do not think that the matter is of great importance, but the Government certainly have the right to make inquiries before they finally commit themselves, and the trend of legislation foreshadowed by amendments carried in the Bill is such that it would be better for us not to have the Territory, since, if that legislation is. passed, we shall have to spend £20,000 a year upon it with the certaintyof getting no development, because there is no likelihood of any land being acquired under it. We do not know yet what promises have been given in regard to the mission stations in New Guinea. It has hitherto been the custom to grant the mission authorities small areas of land upon which to build their mission houses. Are we going to put an end to that in New Guinea, and require that the houses shall be built on leased land? In my opinion such an arrangement would be an extremely unfair one. I think that the Government are taking the right step.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).- To my mind the position of the Prime Minister is inexplicable. He tells us that he is going to appoint a Commission, and that if it reports in one way he will act, while if it reports in another way he will merely “ consider.” I would point out to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that the amendment carried in Committee in regard to the liquor traffic in New Guinea was not a “ 66 Bourkestreet affair,” but was carried by a large majority. I am sure that honorable members do not wish to attempt to do anything impracticable.
– We might as well try to regulate the tides in New Guinea, as attempt to prohibit the importation of liquor there.
– Surely honorable members who voted for the amendment have as much judgment as the honorable member.
– But we cannot change human nature by passing amendments.
– I have no desire to prohibit the importation of spirits for medicinal purposes.
– If that is allowed, every white man there will soon be found to be ill.
– All I desire is to prevent liquor from being given to the natives.
– When during the last week or two I have seen paragraphs in the newspapers to the effect that the Government propose to drop the Papua Bill, I have regarded them as probable instances of the misrepresentation about which wet have heard complaints in this Chamber of late. I recognise the right of every Government to act as it chooses in regard to important legislation of which it has charge, and, ;if necessary, to drop it if amendments of which it does not approve are carried. That was the course they took the other day in regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. But they accepted without demur the amendments carried against them in the Papua Bill, and allowed the Bill to be reported from Committee. I was under the impression that the third reading was not proceeded with, merely because of the ordinary causes which create delay. I do not know that at the time the amendments were carried the Government had any intention to drop the Bill. There was a great deal of discussion last week as to whether “the Government gave fair notice to honorable members as to what would happen if the -amendment proposed in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and afterwards agreed to, were carried. Personally, I foresaw the probable fate of the Bill if the amendments were carried, and I consider that I had ample warning of the intentions of the Government regarding it. But it is one thing to treat honorable members as they were treated in regard to this Bill, and another thing to treat them as they have been treated in regard to the Papua Bill. The’ argument of the Prime Minister in regard to the land alienation question is one which may be applied against him. He says that no harm can be done by not carrying into’ law the anti-alienation provisions in the Bill, because no alienation is going on. But the fact is an equally good reason for enacting those provisions, because they can do no harm if no alienation is taking place. With regard to the inquiries of the Commission, whose recommendations are to be adopted if the Prime Minister likes them, and to be “ considered “ if he does not, surely it is more proper that the House should decide upon such an important question than that it should be left to the Prime Minister. It may be asked - “ Why do not those who disapprove o! the action of the Ministry in this matter take steps to make them feel their responsibility?” I do not believe in cutting off a man’s head to cure the toothache. The Papua Bill is not one of those measures in which the fate of a Ministry is usually involved, and under the circumstances we are practically helpless. I regret that the Ministry have taken a course which is opposed to the principles of responsible government. If the Government had told the Committee that if the amendments to which they objected were carried they would not proceed with the Bill, they would have been justified in the course which they have since taken. But it was not proper or courteous to allow the amendments to be carried, and then, when no one was looking, to take the Bill out of the back-door and drop it on the dust heap. Such an action is not calculated to endear any Government even to its well-wishers.
– The situation in regard to the Papua Bill is, to say the least of it, a very peculiar ohe. It must be assumed that the Government before framing the Bill had before them all the information available regarding the situation of affairs in Papua, and, therefore, I fail to see what more information they wish to ask for. We have not been told what information they seek to get. The Bill having been altered in Committee, the Government hung it up upon the excuse that they desire further information. What information do they desire? There has not been much said in regard to the liquor question, and I do not know what information they can get in regard to it. We are told that prohibition exists already so far as the natives are concerned, and we are perfectly capable of judging as to the effects of extending that principle to the white population. Therefore no Commission could afford us any additional information. It seems extraordinary also to send to Papua for special information with regard to the adaptability of the selling or leasing system to the lands of the Possession. Only a few white people live in Papua, but perhaps the Government intend to ascertain the views of the natives as to the respective merits of the selling and leasing systems. It is just possible that they may know of some system better than any within our knowledge, despite our boasted civilization. The Government are perfectly entitled to drop a Bill if they do not approve of some of the principles insisted upon by honorable members but, at the same time, we are justified in asking for information regarding the system of administration to be followed in the absence of legislation on the subject. The Bill would have given the people of New Guinea a Constitution which would have enabled them to manage their own affairs to a very large extent ; but now the sole control will rest in the hands of the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman has indicated that he is prepared to alienate land, and if he does so he will act in direct opposition to the wish expressed by a majority of honorable members. He has not even told us whether he will administer the affairs of the Territory under the regulations or ordinances already in force, or according to his own sweet will. We are entitled to a distinct assurance that it is not intended to alienate any land in the Possession. Attempts have previously been made to obtain control of large areas, and, although I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will exercise great care, I think he should make his intentions clear. We should also be informed whether the administration is to carried on in Papua, or whether the Prime Minister will exercise sole control over the land. Honorable members have every reason to be dissatisfied with the statement which has been made. I should not complain of delay if we could rest assured that nothing would be done contrary to the expressed wishes of honorable members.
– I have already stated that no larger area than 640 acres will be alienated, and that the land administration will be carried on under existing ordinances.
– If there should be a rush for land, and each applicant were granted 640 acres, the whole of the area available for settlement would soon be absorbed.
– I shall take every care to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth in that respect.
– In spite of all that has been said to the contrary, we are justified in assuming that a country which is capable of supporting such a large native population embraces a large area of valuable land. A great deal of land has been practically given away in the past, but when better means of communication are provided a sudden rush may take place, and the Minister may be called upon to discharge a very heavy responsibility. Honorable members are entitled to a clear and definite statement as to the Minister’s intentions.
– When the Bill was under discussion, I spoke at some length with regard to the absurdity of prohibiting the sale of liquor, and of declining to sell land in Papua. I am glad that the Prime Minister had the good sense to seek for further information, with regard to both matters, before proceeding further with the Bill. If honorable members imagine that when a Bill has been read a second time it virtually becomes law, they make a great mistake. The third reading of the Papua Bill has not yet been passed.. If honorable members think that the Government have acted in an unconstitutional or improper manner in holding back the measure, they have a remedy ready to their hands. Surely the other branch of the Legislature, whose special function it is to protect the States rights, will have something to say with regard to proposals which would have the effect of absolutely putting a stop to settlement. It is all very well for honorable members who have had little or no experience of tropical countries, and of the difficulties of settlement in such countries, to pass experimental legislation. If honorable members knew of the difficulties of settlement in tropical countries arising from their distance from the markets, and other circumstances, they would hesitate to agree to such stringent provisions as those now contained in the Papua Bill. We are aware of the difficulties experienced in connexion with the settlement of the Northern Territory of South Australia and of Northern Queensland. Is the land in Papua so much richer than that to be found in those portions of the continent, because it lies sixty or seventy miles distant from our coast ? Distant fields were ever the greenest. Many men have gone from; the Northern Territory to New Guinea, and very few have returned. The majority of those who came back died soon afterwards owing to the mischief which malarial fever had worked upon them.
– Was it not the same in the early days of Northern Queensland?
– Not to anything like the same extent as in the case of Papua; otherwise that Territory, which I believe to be rich in gold and other minerals, would have been settled years ago. Ample opportunities have been afforded to take up land in the Possession, and yet the whole of the revenue from land and everything else last year amounted to only £600 or £700. What a wonderful rush there must have been for land which, during the last twenty years, might have been obtained for a mere song ?
– How much land is available?
– We know there are over 90,000 square miles in Papua. There is also a very large area of land open for settlement in Dutch New Guinea. The Queeusland Government would have welcomed settlement in Papua. I am familiar with the conditions, very similar to those prevailing in New Guinea, under which Melville. Island was settled in the first instance, and I know also of the difficulties which were experienced in establishing the first settlement at Port Essington. At the present time those who desire to take up land can pick and choose for themselves in the Northern Territory, which has a climate very similar to that of Papua. The annual rainfall there amounts to fifty or sixty inches, which is ample for the purpose of agriculture, and there are plenty of magnificent blocks of land along the rivers fit for almost any purpose, although they are somewhat distant from the markets. That land can be taken up without survey for ls. 3d. per acre, five years being allowed for completion of the purchase. Yet, notwithstanding these liberal conditions, not one pound’s worth of land has been sold there during the last ten years. Papua reeks with tropical diseases, and it is far distant from the ‘ordinary markets ; and if it is decreed that the land there shall not be alienated, and that the liquor traffic shall be prohibited, we cannot hope that settlement will progress. Is it not sufficient to prohibit the liquor traffic with the natives, as in the case of the Northern Territory, or do teetotal faddists desire to make an experiment? If the Bill- were passed in its present form, it would perpetuate the liability of the States to contribute towards the cost of administration. Liquor would be introduced to the island in spite of all prohibitory laws, and that which reached there would probably be of the vilest description.
– That argument is always used by those who believe in legalizing vice.
– Does not the honorable member believe in regulating the liquor traffic? Does he suppose for a moment that if prohibition were applied to the city of Melbourne it would have the effect of putting a stop to the drink traffic ?
– We have a chance of doing so iti New Guinea.
– There are no people in New Guinea to drink, except the natives and the Dutchmen.
– Why, then, does the honorable member object to prohibition 1
– Because’ I” object to saddling the people of Australia with a perpetual liabilty of £20,000 a year. I object to farcical and experimental provisions of this character, which can exercise no good effect in regard to the settlement of New Guinea, and which must react upon the taxpayers of Australia.
– Would the honorable member introduce the liquor traffic amongst the blacks ?
– The blacks are not drinking intoxicating liquor.
– Does not the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, know that the experience of every newly discovered mineral field is that, so long as licences are refused, every second tent is a sly-grog shop, in which the very worst of grog is sold ? But when once licences are granted under proper supervision, the people become more sober, and certainly their health becomes very much improved. That is really the position.
– I will take the honorable member upon a 200 or 500 miles ride, and let him see for himself.
– I think that during the fifteen years in which I knocked about the northern part of Australia I did quite as much riding as the honorable member has done. I have ridden and walked a good many hundreds of miles. I merely rise to suggest that in view of the insertion in the Bill of these two absurd provisions the Government are perfectly right in staying their hands for a little time with a view to making further inquiries. If the Ministry desired to wreck the measure, I would recommend them to adopt one course only. I would advise them to put it through its third reading with these and as many more absurd provisions included in it. as the various sections of this House who are possessed of particular fads chose to insert. Then it should be sent up to the Senate, with a view to see if that branch of the Legislature would pass it with the penalty of £20,000 a year attached to it.
– Whilst I should have preferred the Prime Minister to give the House an assurance that, pending the reconsideration of this matter by a new Parliament, no absolute alienation of land would be permitted in New Guinea, I can scarcely blame the Ministry for dropping the Papua Bill, seeing that it contains an absolutely impracticable provision, one which if it could be carried out, would inflict the grossest injustice upon the worthiest class in any new country - the pioneers. In a new territory like New Guinea it is nothing short of an outrage to prevent a man from having access to that which many find to be a preventive against disease. If there were nothing else–
– Then why do we not enact a law which will allow people to take any poison they choose?
– I do not intend to follow the honorable member along all the by-paths over which he is disposed to roam. Whenever I find a man who is possessed by a fad - whether it be that of temperance or anything else-
– Or whisky ?
– I am prepared to defend a certain amount of indulgence in whisky. I object to any person who allows his intemperance upon the matter of temperance to runaway with his discretion. I do not blame the Government for having dropped a Bill which contained a provision of that kind. I hold that it would not work satisfactorily in any new country. In this connexion I could quote the testimony of a man who has lived for many years in New Guinea - I think he is a clergyman - whose remarks recently appeared in the Melboune press. In that interview he pointed out that there had been no abuse of liquor whatever in New Guinea, and that it had never been accessible tothe natives. He declared that no damage had been done; and that, so far as he could judge, there was no justification whatever for this attempted prohibition. Had I thought that this matter would have been raised again during the present session, I should have kept the extract; but any honorable member who cares to look up the files of the Age newspaper during the past three or four weeks will find the interview to which I refer. That is all that I care to say in regard to the action of the Government. A few days ago I noticed in the press a statement to the effect that the magistrates of New Guinea, who are Imperial officers, are indisposed to continue in their present positions, and to come under the Commonwealth, fearing that by so doing they may lose their rights to Imperial promotion and pensions.
– It is not a fact that there were any rights to Imperial pensions in New Guinea, so that they cannot have been actuated by that consideration. One officer asked me for a pension, and I referred him to the Imperial Government.
– At any rate they are at present Imperial officers, and as such would be open to promotion. If they are not prepared to come under the Commonwealth, I should be the last to force them to do so. I believe that in Australia we have bushmen who are quite capable of performing the duties of magistrates in New Guinea - not one, but hundreds of them - men who are well fitted for the work, who understand the native races, and who are well qualified to withstand the climate and administer the law. Consequently, I hope the Government. will not hesitate to accept the resignations of these gentlemen, and to appoint others from Australia in their stead.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- The remarks of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, would have been fitting had the third reading of the Papua Bill been under consideration. However, we are not dealing with that question. The members of the Committee have merely asked the Prime Minister for an assurance that the decision of this Chamber, that the sale of intoxicating liquor in New Guinea shall be prohibited, and that the lands of the Territory shall not be alienated, will be respected. We simply ask that, until the new Parliament has had an opportunity of expressing its opinion upon the matter, and until, according to the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, all the faddists have been removed from this Chamber, there shall be no alienation of land and no deluge of liquor in New Guinea.
– Upon what authority does the honorable member say that there ever was a deluge of liquor in Now Guinea?
– All the arguments which have been advanced by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, were presented during the discussion upon this Bill.
– Has the honorable member ever seen any intimation, either in official papers or in the press, that there is an undue consumption of liquor amongst the natives of New Guinea ?
– I do not intend to beside tracked on this matter. Its various phases- “were discussed during the passage of the Bill through Committee, and, by a majority of fourteen in a House of sixty members, we affirmed that there should be no further alienation of Crown lands. If the Prime Minister thought that that decision represented only a catch vote he had an opportunity of reversing it. He has made bo attempt in that direction. Apparently he has read the temper of the Senate to be similar to that of this House. Of course I aru aware that there is a way in which we could effectively protest against the action of the Government in abandoning the measure. The remedy would be to move an amendment to reduce this item of £20,000 by £2. If such &d. amendment were submitted, and those who believed in the non-alienation of land, and the prohibition of the sale of intoxicants, voted in favour of it, it would be carried. But the adoption of that amendment would mean the defeat of the Government, and we -are not prepared for that. Honorable members, therefore, are really manacled.
– Do not forget that the leaders on the other side of the House fought just as hard against the proposal as .did the Government.
Mi-. WILKS. - Upon every conceivable occasion we are met in that way. Personally I am prepared to vote for a reduction of the item. I am annoyed that the Government have abandoned the Bill, and so are others. Even the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who, for two and a-half years has given the Government an unqualified support, has condemned their action in throwing the measure aside. The Prime Minister has declared that there is no rush for land in New Guinea. But those who desire to traffic in land are now aware of the temper of this House, and, anticipating that a similar opinion will be held by the next Parliament, they will naturally say - “ Now is our opportunity to rush the settlement and to acquire territory.” For that reason I ask the Prime Minister to stay his hand. He will find that in the Territory even his idea of agricultural areas - he did not say whether with or without occupation
– I explicitly said “ with occupation,” and that more than once.
– I should not have used the expression had I heard that statement. I have now received from the Prime Minister two important admissions.
– That is not an admission, because I made the statement twice before the honorable -member rose to speak. The fact is. that the honorable member has got nothing in the way of admissions.
– I do not think that the people of Australia have obtained anything.
– The Committee have ; but the honorable member has not. The honorable member should not flatter himself that he has obtained admissions that are not given to him.
– Surely the right honorable gentleman does not consider that I am so foolish as to believe that this admission has been made as a personal compliment to myself ?
– -THere appears to be something of which the honorable member’s mind ought to be disabused.
– lam simply speaking from the stand-point of the Committee.
– Then we agree.
– Why should not the Prime Minister go further and say that he will not allow any of the lands of Papua to be alienated until the House has had a further opportunity to declare its mind on the subject? I do not intend to canvass this matter, but you know, Mr. Chairman, of the old game of peacocking that was played in New South Wales. The eyes of the country were picked out by speculators, and that is what we fear will be done in Papua.
– If the honorable member knew anything about Papua, he would have no such fear.
– No vested interests of any moment have to be overcome in Papua, and it seems to me that there is an opportunity for land speculators there. I fail to understand why the Prime Minister adheres so firmly to the stand which he has taken. It would be very easy for him to say - “ We have abandoned the Papua Bill ; we think the new Parliament will express an opinion different from that expressed by this House in regard to these matters, but pending the election of the new Parliament we.will grant the request of the Committee.” I have no desire to move that the item be reduced. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who was instrumental in bringing about the more important reform in relation to New Guinea lands, is entitled to do so.
– What position does the honorable member desire to bring about by such a -reduction ?
– The right honorable gentleman knows-
– We know where the honorable member sits, and the views he generally expresses. What consequence does he wish to bring about?
– I have no desire to bring about anything-
– We know what the honorable member wishes to do. He has let the cat out of the bag.”
– We have seen the honorable member play the same game in the State Parliament.
– If a game is to be played in regard to the proposed land and liquor reforms in Papua, it will be played at the expense of the people. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is a staunch supporter of the Government ; but, in view of their action in seeking to disregard the reform in the liquor traffic of Papua, for which we have declared, he would be compelled to vote for the reduction of this item by the sum of £2. The Ministry are simply flouting the decision of the House. Are we prepared to allow Cabinets to override such expressions of opinion. I am “of the opinion that the proposed liquor reform movement is a right one. The House has said that there shall be prohibition in Papua, and has also declared against the alienation of the lands of that Territory. All that is asked is that pending the decision of the Parliament the Government shall hold in abeyance any recommendation or ordinance made by the local authorities in regard to the alienation of the Papuan lands.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay). - I do not think it would be wise to allow the statements repeatedly made by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, with regard to’ the tropical portions of Queensland, to go uncontradicted. The honorable member never makes a speech without attacking those who believe that white people are able to cultivate the land in that part of Australia. In disputing our assertion he invariably relies upon his experience in the Northern Territory. One would think that no other person had lived in the northern part of Australia, He is evidently one of those who would applaud the statement made recently by Mr. Patterson at the Chillagoe Company’s meeting, that white men are simply useless in that part of Queensland. The whole of Northern Queensland has practically been developed by white labour, and the country lying north of Townsville is now, perhaps, the most prosperous part of Australia. All the great mining enterprises at Croydon, Charters Towers,. Ravenswood, and other places in Northern Queensland are entirely carried on by white labour, and it is absurd to suggest that white men cannot work in that climate. Queenslanders do not thank the honorable member for these repeated insinuations. The statement made by him that there are 90,000; square miles available for settlement in Papua is not in accordance with the official reports.
– Allowance must be made for mountainous country and. rivers.
– Is there any large proportion of the land available for settlement t
– Not in the sense that a large proportion of land has beenacquired from the natives. No large proportion of the Territory has yet been acquired from them.
– What proportion would the right honorable gentleman say is available for settlement ?
– I have been told . that there are 750,000 acres available, but I do not believe that the area is anythinglike as great. I do not think it is over- 200,000 acres.
– Even if there were 1,000- square miles available -
– Two hundred, thousand acres would be about 300 squaremiles.
– But assuming that everyavailable piece of land which has been properly acquired from the natives comprised an area of 1,000 square miles, that, would not be anything like the area which the honorable member for South Australia,. Mr. V. L. Solomon, declares to be available. Any enactment which would lead to theland held by the natives being seized by us. would not meet with my approval. The settlement of the country should be developed in a proper way. I for one protestagainst the suggestion that there is an abundance of good land in Papua which would, be taken -up only under the freehold system. Some sixty years ago Queensland was.- but very sparsely settled, and as one travels north of Brisbane he finds that settlement takes place rapidly only upon the discovery of gold. The same arguments are being used in regard to the alienation of the lands of Papua, that were used from time to time in the Queensland Parliament in reference to the lands of that State. I have heard it said by those who were interested that they would not give ls. 9d. per acre for land that is now considered tobe worth £2 and £3 per acre. Of course they would not give ls. 9d. per acre for it if they could obtain it for ls. per acre.
– Some of the land in the neighbourhood of Cairns is worth £15 per acre-
– I am quoting the minimum price. The honorable member for Moreton has heard prominent politicians in Queensland declare that the Darling Downs were worth little or nothing; that they would not grow a cabbage.
– If those early settlers had not taken up the landshould we have had any settlement there ?
– If some one had not settled on the land it would still be overrun by natives. That is no argument against the contention that we should not allow the lands of Papua to be sold for practically nothing - that we should provide against the acquirement of land there by men who might or might not develop it. Does the honorable member for Melbourne contend that those who originally took up land in the Darling Downs developed it ‘(
– If there had been no settlement in the first instance the land would not have been of any value for agriculture.
– If the credit of the people of Queensland had not been pledged in order to raise money to make roads and other improvements that land would not have acquired its present day value. The same remark applies to all parts of the Commonwealth.
– What argument does the honorable member found on that assertion 1
– An argument against the contention raised by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, that unless we part with the freehold of the Papuan lands no development will take place. If in addition to making a grant of £20,000 per annum, the Commonwealth
Government were prepared to initiate a proper public works policy in Papua, they would obtain an ample return for their money. Why should they be afraid 1
– Public works of what description t
– The development of the harbors of the Territory, the making of roads, and if necessary, the construction of railways suitable for the country. Surely the honorable member for North Sydney will admit that in such a mountainous country there must be possibilities of which we know nothing ? It may prove to be the sanatorium of Australia. The carrying out of our determination that the lands of Papua shall not be alienated should not and would not deter settlement. The bond fide settlers would consider the system of perpetual leasehold just as satisfactory as is the freehold system, and under it land would just as readily be taken up by mining prospectors. If the land can be worked profitably it will be quickly taken up under the leasehold system. The chief surveyor of Papua states in his report that the land there is better than the average land in Australia.
– Some of it is very good.
– He asserts that great tracts of it are excellent, The development of Papua is admittedly slow, but with the advancement of inventions relating to meat preserving, dairying, and cane growing, there will be ample scope for the development t of those industries in this new land. My desire is that we shall not part with the freehold of large tracts of land in Papua. The Government have no right to flout the will of Parliament. A great principle - the principle of leasehold as against the freehold system - is at stake. The leasehold system is repugnant to many people, but that is no reason why the Government should seek to alter the course which Parliament wishes to follow. This House has said, “ We desire the adoption of a certain system,” and the Government say “You shall not have it.” The time will come when the Parliament will have to assert itself. I have this further statement to make : I desire to know from the Prime Minister whether he has put his view in the form of a minute to the officers whom he desires to prepare the report which he states he intends to lay before Parliament 1 Every one will admit that it is not so much what is inquired into, as the form of the question submitted to the persons who are to make the inquiries, that is important. J wish to know what kind of questions the Prime Minister is going to submit to the officers ? It would not be very difficult to put such questions as would almost compel the officers answering them to support the views of the questioner. I hope that the right honorable gentleman will lay upon the table the terms of the minute to be submitted to the officers. That is only a fair thing. Within a few months we shall all be before our constituents, and we should be able to explain to them fully what our views are. It is also mandatory upon the Government that they should show what their position is regarding this question.
– An interjection made by the honorable member for Melbourne just now, might lead people to think that the development of the Darling Downs, and of other parts of Queensland, had been affected by the alienation of land. I take the opposite view. I contend that settlement on those rich plains has been retarded by the alienation of land. In the first place, those who occupied lands on the Darling Downs leased them from the New South Wales Government - Queensland being then known as the Moreton Bay District of New South Wales. In order to keep settlers from going to those districts, it was industriously stated that it was of no use for a small man to try to make a living there. The Darling Downs, which has now become the garden of Australia, was described as a place where it was impossible to grow a cabbage. But we had an example of what that country can produce the other day in the form of the produce exhibited at the Victorian Royal Agricultural Show. What has been the result of the alienation of land there? When the Queensland Government wanted to cut up the large properties that were held in pastoral leases, and passed an Act-calculated to have the effect of cutting them up, and’ of settling yeomanry on the land, there was wholesale dummying, as a result of which the large estates were still held together. The consequence of such aggregations of land is seen in Victoria as well as in Queensland. What is being done to-day 1 The Governments of those States are purchasing large estates for the purpose of settling the population and making the railways pay. The problem that is before the Railways Commissioners in Victoria, and in all the other States, is to make the railways pay. That can only be done by settling the people on the laud, so that they may have produce to send over the lines. Land that was dummied in some instances at 2s. 6d. an acre is now being purchased by the Governments of the States at £4 or £5 per acre. My memory carries me back to the early days of settlement in Queensland, before separation from New South Wales, and I am able to speak with a certain amount of knowledge. I repeat that the problem that now faces the States, particularly in connexion with their railways, has been rendered acute by the alienation of land which has not always been acquired honestly. I do not know that we can expect that a different state of things will obtain in New Guinea than has obtained in the States, if we adhere to the old policy. This House, by a wise decision, has declared itself averse to the alienation of land in the Territory. A reasonable request has been made to the Government to postpone the alienation of public land until, at any rate, after the elections. In deference to the wishes of the House that request should be acceded to. The condition of things prevailing throughout Australia, as exhibited in the late railway strike in Victoria, in the raising of freights and in the cutting down of wages, can be traced to the aggregation of lands in the hands of a few, and to the construction of railway lines by political influence, often for the benefit of estates held by particular individuals. Those estates are only used as cattle runs and sheep walks, instead of being occupied by prosperous farming communities, who, by providing traffic for the railways, would make them pay. In my opinion no matter what expert management may be imported from abroad, or trained in Australia, that problem cannot be solved until the people are settled on the land ; and while large estates are held for speculative purposes, as they are being held in many places, it will be impossible to obtain that settlement which is needed to make Australia, what we hope she will become in the future - a happy, prosperous, and progressive nation. One of the wisest Acts passed by the late Government in Queensland was that for the repurchase of estates. But look at the price that had to be paid for them. I recollect the first settlement in the Moreton Bay district. I know of estates that were then alienated, and which, if the Government required them would have to be repurchased at one hundred times the price for which they were originally sold. Many of these estates have been lying idle ever since. Some properties in Brisbane that were sold for £25 an allotment are now worth on the unimproved value £25,000 per allotment. Some may say that this enhanced value is due to the prudence and foresight of those who purchased the land in the first instance. But we know that it is due to the aggregation of population, and to the improvements effected by the construction of harbors, the improvement of rivers, the building of railways, the erection of telegraph lines, and other developments. At the beginning of our national life as a Commonwealth I do not think we should be afraid to step out of the groove. No one will be harmed by our declaring that the lands in New Guinea which are under our administration shall be held by the Crown for all time. Let those who want to use them pay a rent for them. There will thus be a revenue derived from them, and they will not be held for speculative purposes. I also want to say a word or two about the erroneous idea that seems to be industriously promulgated about the unhealthiness of the- northern portions of Queensland. If honorable members look at the vital statistics they will find that the death rate among the alien population of Queensland is at least three times as great as the death rate amongst the white population.
– And the latest figures are even worse.
– I do not want to exaggerate, but I desire to emphasize the fact that in calculating the death rate of the white population the infantile population is taken into account. But the aliens who come into Queensland - particularly the kanakas - are adults. When the blackbirders go to the South Sea Islands they do not bring back weaklings, but fullblooded, strong men. These people die like rotten sheep from malaria. I have known malaria to be as bad round about Moreton Bay as it is now in the northern districts of Queensland. Indeed,, malaria is invariably bad in any new country, when virgin soil is being opened up, in the neighbourhood of the Tropics. Honorable members can still see the graves of the navvies who first cut their way through the scrub in the western plains, engaged in. railway construction work. A little while ago, when ‘we were discussing the question of the prohibition of the sale of intoxicants in New Guinea, there were those who urged that without rum and quinine it was impossible for white men to live in such countries. I know better. I know that the men who abstained from the use of rum when the works to which I have alluded were being constructed, were those who came through best. In the early days of settlement, men who did not drink rum, and sleep under a bullock dray, were considered to have no chance of life. But, as a matter of fact, those who abstained were able to endure hardships far better than those who took intoxicants.
– They are all teetotallers there now, I suppose.
– No, they are not ; but I dare say that in the early days of Western Australia the right honorable gentleman saw some pretty hard drinking, just as I saw it in the early days in Queensland. Very often when bullock drays laden with rum were sent up country, the casks when opened were found to contain something else than that they started with. The vital statistics of Queensland prove that white men are able to work in that part of the country quite as well as any alien, people can do. Only a little while ago I was looking over a newspaper that is by no means democratic in its sympathies, and I found there a statement that the men in the cane-fields were cutting cane, and doing it more satisfactorily than it was done in the past by kanakas. I think that any loyal Australian should take these reflections upon the unhealthiness of any part of our territory, when they are known to be untrue, as a libel upon our country. I have travelled pretty well all over the north, and there is no part of Australia, so far as I have seen it,, which cannot be inhabited by white people. I cannot speak of the Northern Territory. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, knows more about it than I do. But I can speak confidently of Queensland, and I say that there is no part of it where the white man cannot work in comparative comfort if he has the proper opportunities. I have no desire to give a vote adverse to the Government on this matter, and I shall therefore not support any reduction of this item, but I do think that the Government should take notice of the opinions expressed here, and should hold their hands until after the next general election, so far as the alienation of land in New Guinea is concerned. The wish of this House on the subject has been expressed in no uncertain way, and the Government by giving expression to the will of Parliament in this matter will also be giving expression to the will of the country.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 14 (Mail service to Pacific Islands) - £6,000; division 14a (Miscellaneous) - £900, agreed to.
Division 15 (Secretary’s Office) - £2,365
– I should like to ask whether the Government will follow the practice hitherto followed in the different States of sending to the universities and to institutes copies of the Acts of Parliament? At present they are not being sent to those bodies.
– What does the honorable and learned member mean by “ institutes?”
– Public libraries and mechanics’ institutes in the country districts.
– That would be an immense order.
– I do not think so. The circulation of parliamentary papers rests, I believe, with the Speaker and President, and some of them are being sent to institutes, whilst Acts of Parliament are not being sent.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 16 (Grown Solicitor’s Office) - £2,300, agreed to.
Division 1 7 (The High Court)- £4,500
– In this division the sum of £3,500 was put down by the Attorney-General as the anticipated expenditure upon registrars, marshal, and officers, but since that estimate was framed my honorable colleague has made arrangements which enable me to ask the Committee to reduce this sum by £2,000, leaving the sum of £1,500 to provide for Judges’ Associates and one or two messengers. For the time being, and I hope for some considerable time, we shall be able to have the rest of the work done by State officers. A small honorarium will, of course, have to be given to those officers for the extra work they will have to do, but, on the whole, my colleague has been able to make an economical and satisfactory arrangement for the conduct of the High Court upon its initiation. I move -
That the item “Registrars, Marshal, and officers, £3,500, be reduced by £2,000.
– I should like to ask the Treasurer ifhe can favour the Committee with any indication of the time when the Judges of the High Court are likely to be appointed 1 Honorable members are aware, and it is a matter of public notoriety, that the names of various members of this House have been connected with the appointments to the High Court Judgeships. I venture to think it is highly undesirable that matters of this sort should remain in uncertainty. The J udiciary Bill having been passed, there is a necessity for the appointments, and I am inclined to think there is a feeling, with which the Treasurer will not be disinclined to sympathize, that the sooner these things are settled and the present uncertainty ended the better it will be for the constitutional position generally and for the conduct of public affairs.
– I can assure my right honorable friend and the Committee that the Government will be in aposition to make the appointments before the end of the present month.
Amendment agreed to.
Reduced vote, £2,500, agreed to.
Division 18 (Administrative Staff) - £8,344
– I desire to call attention to the item, ‘‘Office Cleaners,’ £829.” I should like to know what the vote covers ? For 1902-3 the amount was £679, and out of that vote £590 was expended. What is the reason for the increase, and what offices are included?
– (Swan. - Minister for Home Affairs). - This vote is to provide for the wages of office-cleaners engaged in the cleaning of all the Commonwealth offices, with the exception of those used by the Treasurer.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 19 (Electoral Office)- £3,934
– I desire to know whether at the ensuing election the Minister proposes to utilize the services of the returning officers of the States, so far as the Commonwealth Electoral Act will allow that to be done. A very great mistake will be made if the services of the returning officers of the States are not retained. I am afraid that when new appointments are made from officers in the Post Office or other Departments great confusion will result.
– Why ?
– Because there will be scarcely time for them to make themselves acquainted with the duties of the position, whilst the State returning officers are familiar with the work, and their assistance has been availed of in the compilation of the rolls. If postmasters are appointed for the purpose they will be thoroughly unfamiliar with the duties. I do not know what the M inister proposes to do. But I know there is a strong opinion existing among some experts as to the inexpediency of making new appointments for this purpose. The late Minister for Home Affairs was under the impression that we must have new officers for all purposes, and he required a special staff for public works and electoral matters, but if that idea is pushed to the extreme in this instance the result will be confusion. The State returning officers of South Australia carried out the work for the last Federal elections. I assume that the Federal officer will act as principal returning officer for each State, but I think we ought to utilize the existing State machinery for the subordinate positions.
– I do not think there is likely to be much confusion. We have not actually decided on the appointments yet, but we shall have to do so very shortly. We propose to utilize Commonwealth officers connected with the Postal Department as far as possible.-
– And of the Customs Department also.
– We may be able to do that, but the post-offices are generally the centres for the polling, and it will probably be found better to allow some one connected with the post-office in each district to supervise the election.
– Will that be done in large cities ?
– I think not. In large cities we shall have special polling booths. I may say that we have already made a request to the States Governments for the use of the schools throughout the Commonwealth for the taking of the poll.
– The court houses are generally more central.
– That may be so in some cases, but school houses are to be found almost everywhere, and they will provide very suitable buildings for the purpose. Electors are required to vote at certain polling places and these have already been arranged for throughout the Commonwealth, although they have .not been finally approved. A great deal of trouble has been taken in connexion with them. Persons having special knowledge, or who are interested, have been consulted, and I believe we shall be able to give satisfaction in this respect.
– Electors may vote at other places.
– There is a provision in the Act under which they can vote at other places under regulations which are about to be laid upon the table.
– Does the Minister intend to use school-houses in the cities ?
– I cannot say exactly what will be done in the cities. Under the Electoral Act voters are enrolled for certain places, and ordinarily an elector would have to vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled.
– He can vote elsewhere.
– That is so, but that will be exceptional. In the majority of instances the electors will vote at certain polling places.
– It is possible there may be no schools in particular divisions.
– Then we should have to select some other places, but I am speaking generally.
– Will the States grant the use of school houses 1
– I do not think there will be any difficulty in securing the use of the school houses. So far as my experience goes the States Goverments have always been willing to oblige and assist the Commonwealth .
– It may mean interrupting the school work.
– In many of the States it is the practice to utilize the school houses for this purpose. In the State from which I come the school houses are always used for this purpose, and if we have the elections on a Saturday they will not be required for ordinary School purposes on that day. I do not anticipate that there will be any difficulty. It seems to me that it will not require a genius to manage an electoral division. The States being divided, the taking of the poll for the whole State for senators will be made easier. I can assure honorable members that every care will be taken. Should any honorable member desire further information, I shall be very glad to give it, or to bear in mind any suggestions which may be made.
– This is the time at which we should make our suggestions, and we should make them clearly. I think the right honorable gentleman might have made his policy a little more definite. We are now within a few weeks of the time when the electors will first exercise their right to the ballot under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, and the Minister should state clearly the whole position and the policy of the Government. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has suggested that we should utilize the services of the various State returning officers. The desire of the people of Queensland is that Commonwealth officers shall conduct the elections ; and it is for the Minister to declare the policy of the Government on the point.
– .Forrest. - I have already said that it is the intention of the Government to use Post-office officials for this work as far as possible.
– I am glad to hear that that is the intention of the Government. I have no fear on the point regarding which the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr Glynn, has some misgiving. That honorable and learned member is afraid that the Commonwealth officers will not be able to conduct the elections properly.
– I was merely referring to the forthcoming elections, and not to subsequent elections.
– I do not know any officers better fitted for the work than the post and telegraph masters, who have to deal with confidential matters, which require the highest honour, great astuteness, and promptitude. The Minister has stated that the electors are grouped around certain polling places ; and I am afraid that that statement, if allowed to go unqualified, may leave the impression that electors must vote at a particular place. That, I am sure, is not the intention of the Minister nor of the Act.
– An elector may poll at anypolling place within his division on making a declaration.
– And in the case of theSenate elections I venture to say that an elector may vote in any part of a State.
– Subject to regulations which have not yet been issued.
– I trust that under certain safeguards an elector may vote for the Senate in any part of a State. I admit that there will be difficulties and dangers connected with the first elections under our Electoral Act, but that only makes it all the more necessary to approach the question calmly and deliberately, so that all thesepoints may be stated and discussed before thevote is passed. The electors, who must know a little less than we do, require some guidance.
– The regulations will be published in a few days giving full information.
– I am glad to receive that assurance. In Queensland there will be a. different form of ballot, a different method of voting, and a different method of counting the votes, from what has been the practice* hitherto in that State. The probability isthat only at one centre in each State electorate will the ballot-boxes be opened forthe purpose of counting the votes ; and that is a sound policy. Every honorable member is in favour of the principle of the secret ballot ; but that principle cannot becarried out if at each small polling place,, where only a few votes have been recorded, the voting-papers are counted. Itis the duty of the House to see that theballot is secret in fact as well as in law, and that can only be accomplished by having all the ballot-boxes taken to large centres,, and there opened by the returning officer or assistant returning officer, who must mix the ballot-papers before opening and counting them. If that is not the law,, there is yet time to make it the law; but in my opinion the Electoral Act enables the Government to adopt that policy.
– I understand that arrangements are beingmade for the settlement of the various polling places, and I ask the Minister to expedite this work as much as possible. Under section 25 of the Electoral Act before a polling place, other than the chief pollingplace fora division, can be constituted, reports- nave to be made by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer of the State to the Minister, specifying what polling places are required to meet the public convenience. Unless this work is done quickly it will be impossible in the case of centres which have been overlooked to send word to the electoral officer of the State, and for him to communicate to the central office in Melbourne in time for the Governor-General in Council to make the necessary notification. We understand that the elections are to take place some time in December, and as the polling places have to be declared before the issue of the writs, there remain only seven or eight weeks in which to make the necessary arrangements. I urge the Minister to take immediate steps to have the polling places declared, especially in States like Queensland and Western Australia. When the polling places have been settled by the Governor-General in Council, distant States have to be notified ; and it is only on the publication of that notification that it can be seen whether any centres have been overlooked. In Queensland, since the State polling places were declared - and I suppose these will form the basis of the report of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer - large settlement has taken place in various centres, and, further, some of the polling places in the State electorates have not proved altogether satisfactory. We are not asking for any favour on political grounds, but merely urging that all populous centres shall be fairly and honestly constituted polling places under the Act. I am sure the Minister will give serious attention to the point raised by the honorable member for Wide Bay. In Queensland and other places the complaint is that where there is a polling place, with only five or six electors, and with, perhaps, the owner of the property as returning officer, the secrecy of the ballot is a farce.
– The business place of the property-owner may be the polling booth.
– The returning officer in such a case, when he opens the ballot-box, can tell exactly how the five or six. men have voted.
– Under such circumstances the returning officer will not now open the ballot-box.
– But hitherto that has been the practice in Queensland, and the honorable member for Wide Bay is asking that assistant returning officers shall be appointed only at populous centres.
– Unless the ballot-papers are mixed at the centre they might as well be opened at the polling booth.
– It would not be so serious if, for instance, the ballot boxes were taken 150 miles away. When the Electoral Bill was before the House this point was very fully discussed ; but it is really a matter of administration. In ‘ one State electorate, such as Wide Bay, there may be three populous centres, such as Gympie, Bundaberg, and Maryborough, where the voting-papers ought to be counted.
– The point raised by the honorable member for Wide Bay and the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has already been considered, and when the detailed information is given, I think honorable* members will see that the Government are doing what is desired. The idea is that there shall be a returning officer for each division, and at each populous place in such division there shall be an assistant returning officer, with as many presiding officers as are necessary. The presiding officers will send the ballot-boxes to a returning officer, or an assistant returning officer ; and the assistant returning officer will count the votes and send the numbers to the returning officer, who will declare the result.
– Will the voting-papers be mixed before they are counted 1
– The assistant returning officer will mix the voting-papers before he counts the votes. I thoroughly understand the point raised. The desire is, first, to maintain the secrecy of the ballot, and, secondly, to have as much expedition as possible. We do not wish to have all the boxes sent to one centre, because that would take up too much time. We had a law to that effect in Western Australia, and the result was that sometimes a month elapsed, and we had forgotten all about the election before we knew the result. The Government will be able to do exactly what honorable members desire, namely, to maintain the secrecy of the ballot, and have assistant returning officers at the various important centres, where the voting-papers will be mixed, before they are counted.
– It is vital to the proper administration of the Electoral Act that there shall be an early notification of the proposed polling places. The conditions are different in regard to the State Legislatures, inasmuch as under the Electoral Act, every elector has to be registered on the roll with respect to a polling place where he is supposed to record his vote. I know there is a provision enabling an elector to record his vote elsewhere, but there will be some difficulty in doing so, seeing that he will have to provide himself with a form of declaration.
– There will be forms at the polling places.
– But an elector will have to sign a declaration ; and experience in New South Wales has shown that, in many cases, such a formality acts as a deterrent. There is no need to withhold the publication of the polling places. If the lists are completed the notification can be issued at a moment’s notice, thus enabling the electors to know whether any important centres have been overlooked.
– The polling places will be notified as soon as possible. In Victoria they have been notified already.
– There has been no notification in respect to New South Wales, so far as I know.
– There is the printing difficulty, but we are getting over it.
– There is another point which I wish to impress upon the Minister, and that is that it would be wise, so far as New South Wales at least is concerned, to adopt the polling places used for elections of members of the Legislative Assembly. At some of these places only a small number of votes is recorded, and there may be a disposition on the part of the Federal Government to abolish them to save expense, particularly since under the Commonwealth Electoral Act provision is made for voting by post. I would point out, however, that these places are a convenience to persons living in isolated parts of the country whose access to larger centres is very difficult, and great injustice will be done to them if the polling booths to which they have been accustomed to go are not provided. The exercise of the postal vote is surrounded by a good many difficulties which will tend towards the disfranchisement of persons living in isolated places, and therefore I strongly urge the Minister to have the list of polling places printed as speedily as possible, so that the necessary corrections can be made before the elections are held. Another suggestion I have to make is that electors be supplied with information in regard to the main provisions of the Act. There are a number of provisions in our electoral law which do not find; a place in the State electoral law, and for. the smooth working of the Act, and for the information of those who will be selected to administer it, the Minister should have a short synopsis of its. provisions compiled. This synopsis should be printed in a. handy form, and while I do not think it possible to distribute it to every elector, copies might be hung up outside polling booths, post-offices, and other places of public resort where they will be readily accessible to the public, whocan thus make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the law. If this is not done many mistakes will be made, and informal votes will be cast.
– The Commonwealth electoral law is probably more likethe South Australian electoral law than it is like the electoral law of any other State ; but it differs very largely from .the States-, laws generally. In all the States the electors have become accustomed to certainpolling booths, and I do not want what T regard as unwise economy to be practised7 by the abolition of any of them. Although such a step would, by lessening the numberof officers required, effect a certain saving, the economy would be dearly bought, inasmuch as it would prevent a considerable1number of electors from voting. Probablythe bulk of the electors, whether they bomen or women, cannot afford the time to-* hunt round their district to ascertain wherethey should go to vote.
– They will not do so.
– Aman who leaves his work at 5 o’clock in the evening, and has to goseveral miles in order to record his vote before 7 o’clock, should feel certain that he will, be safe in going to the place to which he hasbeen accustomed to go.
– A month’s notice.* will be given of the situation of the pollingbooths.
– The average man hassuch confidence in the Government that hetakes it on trust that everything will be properly done. I venture to say that the right honorable gentleman has hitherto>relied upon the officials, and has not troubled to see if his name is upon theelectoral list. The average man or woman* has so much to do in attending to his or- her own work as not to have time to look after matters like these.
– The candidates will tell the electors where to vote. They might even send round little circulars.
– The expense of the necessary printing and the hire of halls .will so greatly reduce the amount which the candidate is allowed to spend that there will be very little left for other purposes - indeed a candidate who is anxious not- to contravene the law must watch the expenditure of every penny. But as the Act will introduce a great many changes, and consequently create a certain amount of confusion and difficulty, we should see that that is not increased by the abolition of polling booths to which electors have been accustomed to go. It must be remembered that the public have now only a couple of months in which to assimilate the provisions of the Act. I suggest that the Minister should cause to be prepared a short statement of its provisions, not so much for the guidance of officials as in order that electors may know what to do to comply with its requirements. It should not be an elaborate statement, dealing in full with the various exceptions, but one setting forth shortly the duties of the elector, such as that he should ascertain the polling place for which he is enrolled ; and giving him information as to the booths at which he- can vote, what he should do at’ the polling booth to which he goes, how he can arrange to vote outside his division, and how he can obtain permission to vote by post. I do not suggest that this statement should be published in the Government Gazette, because that publication is very little read, but I have no doubt that the newspapers would be glad to print it for the information of the public, and that it would do much to prevent mistakes.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella has practically told the Committee that, although it is now more than a year since the Act was passed, the electors will not know how to vote under it.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– No doubt the honorable and learned member will do what he can to instruct the electors of the Corinella division. The electors of Victoria are not less intelligent than those of Queensland. I am glad that the Minister has assured the Committee that Commonwealth officials are, as far as possible, to be employed in administering the Act. That announcementwill be hailed in Queensland with delight. During the last month we have heard a. great deal here about gerrymandering ; but if honorable members had sat in opposition to .the Queensland Government which has. just gone to its doom-
– “ Unwept, unhonoured,. and unsung.”
– Yes. If they had sat in opposition to that Government, they would, know what political jobbery means. The members of that Government have done some of the most diabolical things that it is possible to do in connexion with elections. There is a polling place named Bonna Vanna, out near Cunnamulla, 100 miles from the nearest railway station, which was frequently not appointed a polling place until it wasseen that the Government candidate was getting behind. In one instance they put off the election for a month, and rounded-up voters from Victoria, Tasmania, and NewZealand. I believe that they even cabled to the old country for two or three voters whowere there. After gathering together as many voters as they could, they conveyed them out to the voting place by special coaches, and defeated the opposition candidate by about ten votes. Some honorablemembers of the Opposition in this Chamberhave complained about jobbery and gerrymandering in connexion with the electoral divisions ; but they would have had greatercause for complaint if they had been in Queensland. Under the Commonwealth. Electoral Act the voters will have a fair andsquare deal for the first time. We are told by the Minister for Home Affairs that in the first place the assisting returningofficer will open the ballot-boxes in the presence of the scrutineers and count theballotpapers without opening them. Theboxes will then be forwarded to the Returning Officer for the division, and the whole of the ballot-papers received by him from thevarious polling booths will be mixed before the count takes place. That will secure an absolutely secret ballot, and will enable a man to vote according to his conscience, instead of at the dictation of his employer. I am acquainted with every dodge in connexion with electioneering matters, and if I had been able to exercise the same poweras the Premier of Queensland, I should have brought about an ‘ alteration in the results of the last State election. Since the- people of Queensland have had an opportunity to make their power felt at the Federal ballot-box, the Premier of Queensland has been absolutely checkmated, and he has been squealing ever since we have been here. If the electoral arrangements for Queensland are fully carried out, the votes given -will truly reflect the opinions of the electors, -and every one will be satisfied.
– I should like to know whether the salary of £450 provided for the Chief Electoral Officer is to be paid Whim in addition to the pension of £365 which he is already drawing from the Hew South Wales Government.
– Yes, the salary to be paid is in addition to the pension.
– That would bring the annual income of the Chief Electoral Officer up to £815.
– The salary attached “to the position was £450, but Mr. Lewis is drawing only £300.
– I do not consider that £450 is an extravagant salary, but I have ji/Il along protested against the appointment of the gentleman who now occupies the position of Chief Electoral Officer. I have nothing against him personally. I have revery reason to believe that he is a very estimable gentleman, but I do not think that he is fit to occupy his present position. He has, however, had charge of the Electoral Department up to the present time, and as we are now within a few months of a general election, it would not, perhaps, be wise to “swap horses when crossing a stream.” Therefore, I do not propose that a change should be made at present. I should like to know whether Mr. Lewis has been permanently appointed as Chief Electoral Officer ? When the last Estimates were before us, we were given to understand that no permanent appointment would be made until honorable members had an opportunity to consider the matter.
– Mr. Lewis has not yet been permanently appointed.
– I think it is too much to expect a gentleman well up in years to undertake the organization of an important Department such as that of which Mr. Lewis is now in charge.
– He is only 57 years of age.
– Has not all the really heavy work been, done 1
– So far as I can see it has not been done satisfactorily.
– But it has been done.
– Yes, after a fashion. I am not under rating the importance of the work, which constituted a big task for any man, however well qualified, energetic, and resourceful. I wish to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether any provision has been made for the appointment of State electoral officers, other than in the case of Tasmania. Apparently provision has been made upon the Estimates for the payment of any such officers. Unfortunately, the Electoral Act of the Commonwealth differs from those of the States, except, perhaps, in the case of South Australia. The returning officers are to be practically permanent officials of the Government. In New South Wales, and . in most of the other States, the returning officers are appointed merely for the purposes of an election, and all the work connected with the registration of voters, and keeping the rolls clear is done by public servants, who act as electoral officers and registrars, and also in many cases perform other public duties. Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act the returning officers must be public servants, because they will have to perform work in connexion with the purging of the rolls, which will keep them occupied ‘ all the year round. I am not speaking of the State electoral officers, but of the returning officers, who are responsible for the state of the rolls, and who alone are authorized to issue certificates for voting by post. Therefore, an immense amount of work is placed upon the shoulders of the returning officers in each of the divisions, and apparently no amount is set down for their payment. I do not know, whether the Minister expects men to do this work for nothing. It will be impossible to secure efficiency for nothing, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get Commonwealth officers to perform the duties of which I have been speaking, in addition to those with which they are now occupied.
– The Government evidently do not intend to pay the Post Office officials who have been doing work in connexion with the preparation of the rolls.
– Yes, they are to be paid out of the £45,000 for which provision is made.
– That amount is intended to defray the cost of the elections, and the Treasurer must see that it will not cover the expense incurred in carrying out the permanent work either of the electoral officers of the States under the Commonwealth, or of the returning officers whose duties will be permanent and continuous.
– The amount set down is intended to cover everything.
– That seems to be an improper method of bookkeeping. The £45,000 is intended to defray the expenses of the elections, pure and simple, and the ordinary work of the Department, which will go on from year to year, whether there is an election or not, has apparently been ignored.
– A vote will be placed upon the Estimates every year to provide for that.
– It is not right to debit the election for one year with that expense.
– It will be debited to the £30,000 and not to the £45,000, to which the honorable member has referred.
– That does not affect the argument. The expenditure to which I have been referring should not be debited to the cost of the election pure and simple.
– The £45,000 is intended to defray the cost of the election, and £30,000 will cover the expenses to which the honorable member has been referring. A much smaller sum will be voted each year for the same purpose.
– But we should have a distinct statement showing the cost of working our electoral machinery from year to year.
– Provision for that will appear in each year’s Estimates.
– But it does not appear on these Estimates, because two lump-sum items are given, amounting in all to £75,000, without any particulars. The Estimates should clearly show the cost of the Chief Electoral Officer’s staff and also the amount proposed to be set aside in each State for the payment of the returning officers. The additional amount required to defray the cost of an election in any year could then be stated separately. But the average expenditure should be stated, and provision made for it upon the Estimates.
– That will appear each year subsequently. Of course, this year a very large amount has to be provided for the initiation of the work. Thatsum, I admit, might have been broken up. into two amounts.
– Exactly. It has noconnexion with the extraordinary event of an election, and I think that the provision made for it should be shown upon theseEstimates.
– The honorable member does not want salaried officers in all of the States.
– We must have at leastone officer, and probably one or two assistants in each State, to act as Stateelectoral officers. But we can scarcely expect a postal official to act as returningofficer, and do all the work appertaining tohis office without some additional remuneration.
– We shall give him. an honorarium for his work.
– But why should not theprovision made for it be shown upon the Estimates 1 It seems to rae that the presentway of dealing with it exhibits a lamentablelack of system in regard to accounts. Weare utterly at sea as to the cost of a general election, as distinguished from the ordinary annual expenditure of the Department.
– In, connexion with the matter which has been raised by the honorable member for Bland,. I would point out that not only should weknow the yearly expenses of the Department as distinguished from the extraordinary expenditure involved in a general election -r but by this time we should have appointed those officers whose duty it is to purge therolls, to see that they are properly collected, and to supervise them–
– The Revision Courtdoes that.
– But under the Electoral Act the Minister knows that there arelocal officers who are required to keep a registration of the names upon the rolls, tomake additions to those names, to supervise the rolls generally, and as far as possible tokeep them in an accurate condition, so thatshould occasion suddenly arise for their use, they may be in a proper state for the conduct of an election.
– We must get our rolls ready first, and that is what weare doing.
– But by this time these appointments should have been made.
– The electoral officers have been appointed for each State.
– I am quite aware of that. I am, however, pointing out that the registrars and local officers have not yet been appointed.
– That is right. The
Tolls are not yet ready.
– The lists have been obtained–
– But they have not been printed.
– I am very much afraid that we are getting no further advanced with this electoral bungle.
– The honorable members does not seem to realize the volume of work that has to be done.
– I complain of the way in which the work has been done.
– The way in which it has not been done.
– Certainly it has not been properly done. Surely we are not to expect that at every general election, matters will be in the confused condition in which we find them to-day?
– But on this occasion we are getting the rolls together for the first time.
– The muddle arises not because the work has been done through the medium of the State authorities-
– We are under a different franchise.
– I am quite aware of that. The Minister knows that, although his predecessor did not seem to realize it when he issued his instructions in the first instance. .We know that there is a difference between the franchise of some of the States
And the Federal franchise, but we have to recognise that the work of preparing the Federal rolls is similar to that which is performed by the States when they collect their rolls, which they do at frequent intervals.
– In Victoria it is entirely different.
– In New South Wales the Government utilize the services of the police in the collection of the rolls, and the same practice is followed in some of the other States. I desire to point out to the Minister that if this work is not expedited there is a very serious danger that all the rolls will not be ready in time to permit of the holding of the elections for the return of members to this House simultaneously with the elections for the Senate.
– I think I may say that they will be ready. The printing is a little behind, but by the end of the month all the rolls will be printed.
– The collection of the rolls is also behind. At the present time neither the head of the Government nor the Minister himself can supply us with accurate information as to the number of voters upon the lists in the electorates of New South Wales. Only the other day certain figures were quoted by the leader of the Opposition, the accuracy of which was disputed by the Prime Minister. Where are the figures which will show that one or other of their statements is incorrect? Have the differences been reconciled ?
– The figures did not relate to the same franchise.
– Both the figures quoted by the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition related to the lists of voters under the Federal franchise.
– The electors had hot the same qualifications.
– The Treasurer knows that both the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition declared that their statistics related to the Federal franchise.
– I was under a different impression. Those quoted by the leader of the Opposition were State figures, and those of the Prime Minister Federal figures.
– The figures quoted by the leader of the Opposition were supplied by the State Electoral Office, but they applied to voters under the Federal franchise. Where” was the utility of the comparison if both groups of figures were not compiled upon the same basis? They were alleged to have been collected upon the same basis - namely, the Federal franchise. The difference was that one set of figures was supplied by the State Electoral Office which collected the Federal lists.
– As far as I can ascertain, the honorable member is not correct. The figures “quoted by the leader of the Opposition relate to the State, and not to the Federal franchise, and that is why there is such a great difference between them.
– Does the Treasurer say that the leader of the Opposition quoted them as State figures? it is true that they were provided by the State Electoral Office-
– They were collected upon the basis of the State franchise, and not upon that of the Federal franchise.
– I wish to understand whether that was the statement of the leader of the Opposition, or whether the Treasurer is now explaining the difference which exists between the two sets of figures ?
– So far as I recollect the discussion, the leader of the Opposition was comparing the old State figures for 1900, 1901, and 1902 with the State figures for 1903.
– With the State compiled figures ?
– No ; with the figures on which the State elections would take place under the State franchise. He was comparing the one set of figures with the other, the statistics used by the Prime Minister were compiled upon a different basis altogether. They were figures obtained under the Federal franchise, which, as my honorable friend knows, is very different from the State franchise.
– Then where was the necessity to reconcile them %
– That is just what I could not understand. The’ leader of the Opposition was quoting figures which were not applicable to our case.
– The peculiarity of the position is that the Prime Minister questioned the accuracy of the figures of the leader of the Opposition, and stated that if they were placed in his hands he would have them investigated and show that they were inaccurate. Where was the use of endeavouring to reconcile figures which were compiled upon a different basis ?
– Did not the Prime Minister question their relevancy rather than their accuracy ?
– He questioned their accuracy, and asked that they should be placed in his hands in order that they might be looked into and their inaccuracy exposed.
– Were not the State figures used as applying to the Federal divisions 1
– I did not happen to be present upon that occasion, and therefore I cannot answer that question from my own personal knowledge. I can speak only from what I have seen reported. I am, however, quite willing ‘ to accept the statement of the Treasurer. But I would point out that the honorable member for Macquarie submitted certain figures relating tothe Federal lists which were obtained from the State Electoral Office, and which differed materially from other figures that were supplied by the Commonwealth Electoral Office. It is about time that we knew how many people are entitled to vote under the Federal franchise in each State.
– We shall not be able to learn that until the lists are finally prepared.
– We shall not secure it until after the lists have been finally revised. But we had a right to obtain, approximate information long ago. Here we are with no definite figures as to. the number of voters upon the lists. Those lists require to be exhibited for thirty days so that objection may be taken to them and applications made to have fresh names added. Then Revision Courts must beheld, and subsequently the rolls have to be printed - not as they used to be in globo - but with, the names of the voters for each of the polling places separate. I am very much afraid, that if this work is not hurried, we shall find ourselves in some of the States in the middle of an election with the machinery that is necessary for its conduct absolutely inefficient.
– I do not think so.
– There is every indication of it.
– We shall have it complete by the end of the month.
– It is all very well for the Minister to say that.
– After the rolls have been prepared the electors require time in which to make application for the- insertion of their names upon them if they have been omitted.
– Exactly. The lists have to be exhibited for .thirty days.
– I am sure that we shall have everything ready.
– We were given a similar assurance in regard to the electoral divisions, and we see where we have arrived: in that connexion. As the honorable member for Maranoa seems to have suffered terribly by reason of the manner in which the electoral rolls are prepared in Queensland, I am naturally astonished that he did not vote differently upon the proposals /relating to the electoral divisions. I suppose, however, that he regarded the discrepancies which exist between the number of electors in the various divisions as a matter of such small importance compared with what he has been accustomed to, that he thought we ought to be able to -endure them, or else he was showing us - -as he said he could - how, when he happened to be amongst the majority, he could, work the oracle. I regret that his own suffering has not created in him greater sympathy for the sufferings of others. We have made one bungle, and I trust we shall not make another, and find ourselves face to face with insuperable difficulties when the general elections come round.
– I think every honorable member recognises the magnitude of the task which the Chief Electoral Officer has had to perform, but there is a feeling that the names of a great many electors have been left off the rolls.
– Thousands of them.
– A number of my constituents have informed me that their names do not appear on the rolls, and have in. quired what steps should be taken to rectify the omission. The Chief Electoral Officer has shown the fullest desire to extend every facility to those who wish to have their names placed on the rolls, but there appears to be a want of knowledge on the part of the electors as to when and where they may inspect the lists.
– They will be distributed all over Victoria in the course of a day or two.
– Greater publicity should be given to the names of places at which the lists may be inspected. I rose chiefly for the purpose of emphasizing what has been said as to the feeling which exists in Victoria - that the electors may not have an opportunity to inspect the rolls and rectify any omissions before the elections take place.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 20 (Public Service Commissioner) -£10,432.
– I should like to learn from the Minister whether the Public Service Commissioner’s Department is now fully equipped. Have all the officers whom it is intended to appoint been appointed to this Department 1
– I believe that I may practically reply in the affirmative. It may be necessary to appoint a few clerks. I think that a little clerical assistance has been applied for. There is practically no increase on last year’s Estimates.
– I notice that the Commissioner is now doing without a cleaner. Is he attending to the cleaner’s work himself?
– He is provided for under the other vote.
– When the Estimates were before us last year, the present Minister for Trade and Customs told us he was sure that the expenditure, under the subdivision relating to salaries in the Public Service Commissioner’s Department, would not amount to more than £3,500 or £3,600 a year. The present Estimates, however, show a total expenditure of £3,882, as compared with the appropriation of £3,594 made last year. If these expenses are to go on increasing year after year, the Department will prove to be one of the most expensive in the Commonwealth. We find some very heavy items. We have for example -
Postage and telegrams, £800 ; office requisites, exclusive of writing paper and envelopes, $100; writing paper and envelopes, including cost of printing and embossing thereon, £100; account, record, and other books, including cost of material, printing, and expenses, £1,500; temporary assistance, £500 ; . expenses - Courts of Inquiry, £250 ; expenses - Boards of Appeal, £500; expenses of holding examinations, including advertising, £.1,000 ; other advertising, £150 ; incidental and petty cash expenditure, £500 ; expenses, election divisional representatives, £50.
The expenses of this Department are like a youngster ; they keep on growing, and swelling in importance. Although the present Minister for Trade and Customs told us last year that we should not require to expend a very large sum in connexion with this Department, I’ felt satisfied that the expense would go on increasing, and the impression which I then formed has been fully justified. The cost of every Department originated by that honorable gentleman has gone on increasing, not by hundreds, but by thousands of pounds.
– The honorable member must surely have been to Kyabram?
– Representatives of Victoria are the only honorable members who have to face the “ Kyabramapootras.” There are none of them in Queensland. We should shoot and eat them there. It is not to be said, because an honorable member criticises the Estimates, that he is a Kyabramite. The
Minister should put a check upon this expenditure. He succeeded very well in keeping down the expenditure of the Defence Department, and I trust that he will show the same zeal in administering the Department for Home Affairs.
– I do not know that the criticism of this Department by the honorable member for Maranoa is altogether a fair one. A great many of these items of expenditure have been incurred as the result of the measure which we passed.
– They were inevitable under the Public Service Act.
– There were certain provisions in the Bill as originally introduced, and others were inserted by us, which involved considerable expenditure, and if there is any blame-
– I am objecting only to the way in which the expenditure of the Department is increasing. The Minister said it would not do so.
– I do not know what the Minister said. We must remember that at the outset all the Public Service Inspectors were not appointed.
– They were appointed last year.
– Their appointment extended over only a portion of the year.
– And the Public Service examinations were only entered upon this year.
– There are five items in the subdivision relating to contingencies, which are entirely due to the provisions of the Public Service Act.
– And only portion of the sum appropriated last year under the subdivision relating to salaries was expended. All the appointments had not been made.
– Quite so. I agree with the honorable member for Maranoa that there should be no excessive expenditure ; but the area to be covered by the Public Service Commissioner is so great - every one of the Federal Departments in all the States has to be controlled by his officers - that we cannot say that even the amount it is now proposed to vote will cover the cost.
– The honorable member for Maranoa could not hare carefully examined these items before entering upon his criticism of the Department. He has had much to say as to the increasein salaries from £3,594 to £3,882, but if he examines the items he will see’ that that increase is to be accounted for inthe first place by the appointment of three* junior clerks at a salary of £40 per annum, which is not by any means a magnificent remuneration, and also by the provision of £65- to meet increments and adjustments of salaries which did not operate last year. These increases have been due to the action of honorable members. The Public Service Commissioner has 15,000 public servants under his control, and naturally great expense is: incurred in regrading the service. Asagainst the item “ Expenses of holding examinations, including advertising, £1,000,”’ we must not overlook the fees paid by candidates. When it is remembered that thePublic Service Inspectors have to travel all over the Commonwealth, and that the Department controls 15,000 public servantsscattered throughout the length and breadth of Australia, it will be recognised that th& attack made by the honorable member for Maranoa is not justifiable. As against theexpenditure of this Department we have theintroduction of a system by which the servicesis entirely removed from political influence, and that is an advantage to the public. Mr. McLachlan was Secretary for Minesand Agriculture in New South Wales, and was always noted for his economical management and all-round efficiency. If theservices of any officer in the Public Service* can be justified by us, those rendered by Mr. McLachlan can. There is no ground for thehonorable member’s criticism.
– I do riot propose to discuss any item in the list of salaries, but I think this is the proper timeto call attention to the dissatisfaction whichcertain regulations, framed by the Commissioner, have caused throughout the serviceI admit that the Commissioner had an arduous task to perform in harmonizing theregulations of the six States, but I scarcely think that he has kept within the law in framing all the rules. I may be wrong - even the youngest of us are fallible - but itseems to me that some of them do notcome within the provisions of the PublicService Act. Honorable members will find at page 9 of the Public Service Regulations one scale entitled “general’ allowances,”’ while, on the same page, regulation 155 provides for “allowances to certain officers.” -I- was curious to ascertain what provision ia the Public Service Act justified the Commissioner in establishing two scales of allowances. We are referred in the regulations themselves to section 78 and paragraph g of section 80. Section 78 bears in a very remote way upon the matter. It merely declares that salaries shall not exceed the amount appropriated by Parliament, and so forth ; but the provision on which the Commissioner apparently relies is to be found in paragraph g of section 80. The section provides that-
The Governor-General may make filter or repeal regulations for the carrying out of any of the provisions of this Act, and in particular for all or any of the following purposes, namely -
For regulating and determining the scale or amount-
Not the scales or amounts, but the “ scale or amount “ to be paid to officers for transfer or travelling allowances or expenses, or for living in localities where the climatic conditions are severe ; and so on. In these regulations we have not one scale as provided for in the Act, but two different scales. We have one scale for officers with certain salaries. They are paid so much as daily allowances, and so much after one week’s residence in each place. That scale is about 50 per cent. higher than the scale for officers of the Post and Telegraph Department. All the officers of the service are graded,and the allowances are based upon salaries. In actual effect it comes to this - that an. officer in the Customs Department, the Treasury, or the Attorney-General’s Department who is receiving over £300 per annum would receive an allowance of 10s. a day after he had been one week in a place and so long as he remained in that place ; whilst an officer in the Post and Telegraph Department, whose annual salary was the same, would only receive 30s. a week. That is to say, an officer of the favoured Department would receive £3 10s. a week, whilst officers of the Post and Telegraph Department receiving the same salaries and occupying the same grade in the service would receive only 30s. a week. I think that the Minister might fairly look into this matter.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- With respect to whathas been said concerning the high qualifications of the Public Service Commissioner, I desire to remark that that officer did good and honorable service in New South Wales. He has had to undertake a gigantic task in connexion with the Commonwealth Public Service, and it is very much to his credit that he has carried it through with the success that has attached to his labours. In passing the Public Service Act we had to deal with States where varying customs and legislation prevailed. ‘ Our knowledge was not sufficient to enable us to do full justice to the subject at that time, and the Commissioner is considerably hampered by the legislation which we passed. Probably the Minister may see the need of introducing some amending legislation, so as to do away with many of the difficulties that have been encountered. There is one matter as to which I should like to have some information from the Minister. Every now and again a notice appeal’s in the Federal Government Gazette which reads very like a “lost, stolen, or strayed “ advertisement, intimating to some officer in a remote place that a Commission has been appointed to investigate charges against him. He is called upon to present himself before the Commission at a certain time on a certain day. The notice is so worded as to give the impression to the reader that action of this kind has to be taken because officers have disappeared. It seems to me to be ridiculous to send such a Commission composed of three officers to investigate a case when it appears that the officer affected will not present himself.
– Has a case of that sort happened ? I have not heard anything about it.
– I want to know if it is so, because the notices are worded in the Government Gazette in such a way as to lead to that inference.
– Probably the officer affected reads the notice and understands it.
– There is another matter in connexion with the examination which is necessary before officers can receive increments. I understand that a number of officers in the Postal Department have been waiting for a long time for some notice as to when, according to the regulations, examinations will be held.
– For what class?
– The clerical division of the Post and Telegraph Department. It is from that source that information has come to me. I have been led to believe that officers in the clerical branch have been waiting for some time for these examinations to be fixed, so that they may know whether they are to receive increments.
– They have had the increments for last year.
– My information does not disclose that that is so ; but I should be glad to know that the trouble in this respect has been cleared away. My desire is to obtain definite information on this head so that the officers may be seized of what the Department is doing.
– I believe that the classification will be finished about January. It must be remembered that the service has not yet been classified properly. I believe that the Commissioner hopes to have it finished about January.
– Will that determine the increments 1
– It will determine the position that officers hold and the salaries they get.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 21 (Public Works Staff)-£14,685
– This Works Department is one that requires looking to. There is no limit to its growth, which is coincident with the expenditure on Public Works Offices in the various States. The consent of Parliament was obtained to a certain amount of expenditure for a Commonwealth Public Works Staff, but I do not think that we are prepared to see this expenditure grow year by year until it amounts up to very large figures. I notice that the estimate for this year is about £400 more than last year.
– The actual expenditure lias been kept down .very well so far.
– The increase is not very much in itself, but we have an intimation that there are to bc further appointments.
– They are not provided for here.
– But we have that intimation.
– We have done without increases as long as we could.
– Is Lt.-Col. Owen’s salary provided for in these Estimates ?
– Yes; it is the first item.
– I merely wish to” point out that the Public Works branch is the one in which I see the greatest possibility of the growth of an undesirable expenditure. I think that we ought to try to work with the officers who have previously done the work in connexion with the States Public Works Departments.
– I should like to know whether Lt.-Col. Owen, the gentleman whom the late Minister for Defence was so anxious to have appointed to the Public Works staff, is provided for in this subdivision ?
– No, we have passed that subdivision.
– We have not passed the contingencies vote yet, and the right honorable gentleman is not yet out of the wood. We were told by the ex-Minister for Home Affairs that this Department would not cost much money, because he could get the bulk of the work done by States officials, and there would only be two or three superintendents of works required in the States. I see that subdivision 3 contains the item -
To recoup the various States for salaries of professional and clerical officers employed by Commonwealth, £8,000.
If the States officers are doing the work there should be no reason for the extensive Public Works staff proposed. If the Government are anxious to appoint an InspectorGeneral of Works and the Defence Department does not desire to part- with Lt.-Col. Owen, there are plenty of officers in the States as well qualified for the post as is that gentleman.
– The principle reason for desiring the appointment of an engineer officer connected with the military Department to take charge of the Public Works Department, is one of economy. We think we shall save a considerable sum by the adoption of that course. This officer will continue to act as Consulting Military Engineer, and the arrangement will be found to be an economical one if ‘we are able to carry it out. Many of the public works which the Commonwealth has to undertake are connected with the forts, and if we can get one officer to look after that work and generally control all other public works constructed by the Commonwealth at the same time, we shall be doing well. As public works have to be earned out over the whole Commonwealth we require some one to take the matter in hand at headquarters. We especially require some one to take charge of the business connected with the transfer of properties from the States to the Commonwealth. This involves a large amount of money, running into millions, with which the Commonwealth will be debited by the States. The accounts are now coming in from the States, and though we have only received one or two up to the present time, the matter is one which will require a great deal of care and attention, and we must have some one specially to take charge of it. It is not reasonable to believe that the work can be taken in hand by the clerical staff of the Department of Home Affairs.We must have a professional man accustomed to public works and valuation to specially supervise the whole of the arrangements in connexion with these transferred properties.
– The Commonwealth Government are not going to pay the States for the transferred properties.
– I understand that the States expect to be paid. I believe that my right honorable friend the Treasurer is not in any great hurry, though some of the States Governments are more impatient than he is about it.
– They will not send in their bills.
– They are beginning to do so, and they are not assessing their properties at less than we think their value. Some of the valuations will astonish honorable members when they are submitted to them. There is no certainty that the arrangement proposed will be brought about, but I hope that it will, and, in any case, we must have a reliable and competent man in the Home Affairs Department to supervise the whole of the public works of the Commonwealth. The States officers are doing most of the work now, and we have very few of our own officers.
– Who are the four superintendents provided for?
– We have one transferred officer at £600 a year in Victoria and another officer, Mr. Oakshott, in New South Wales. Provision is made for two others at £300 a year each, but the positions have not been filled. I think that the present arrangement with the States Governments for paying for the work of supervision might be improved somewhat. We are at present paying 6 per cent. on the value of the works constructed. That is very well so far as it goes, but under the existing arrangement with the States I do not think we shall ever get an entirely satisfactory service until we have some officer in each State who will be in a way connected with us, . who will have our interests at heart in the supervision of works, and who will be paid a small honorarium by the Commonwealth. The system has been found to work well in connexion with the Treasury Department, and I see no reason why it should not work as well with regard to the Department of Public Works. I am in correspondence at the present time with some of the States, with a view to getting the Under-Secretaries of Public Works, or some such officers, to act as officers of the Commonwealth, in the same way as Under-Treasurers act at the present time in dealing with the Treasury matters. The desire of the Government is to cut down expenditure as far as possible, and to utilize the service of States officers where they can.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - I point out that whilst the expenditure on the Federal Public Works Department is growing, the amount we are paying to the States for the services of professional and clerical officers employed by the Commonwealth is also increasing. I presume that a part of this vote is paid to the Public Works officers in the States.
– This is money paid to the States direct. They do what they like with it.
– But it is money we pay for the services of their officers.
– So that, while the. expenditure on our own Department is growing, we are also paying the States Departments a larger sum annually for the services of their officers, and there is, therefore, a double growth of expenditure under this division.
– We pay the States so much per cent. on the value of the works constructed.
– It does not matter upon what basis the payment is made, the expenditure is increasing. It must not be forgotten that our public works are being constructed out of revenue, and not out of loan money, and they have been for that reason somewhat limited. I am, therefore, unable to understand how the work which has had to be done justifies the increased expenditure in the payment of Commonwealth and States officers.
– All that we pay is not necessarily paid to the States officers.
– I do not care where the money goes. We are paying for certain work done, in one case to our own officers, and, in . the other, to the States for their officers, whilst the amount in each case is increasing, and our expenditure upon public works has not been very extensive. I agree that this item may include the services of officers other than Public Works officers, and I should like to know whether it includes the absolutely useless expenditure upon the subdivision of the States into electorates, which we have rejected.
– No ; that is paid out of the electoral vote.
– Then this expenditure is all in connexion with public works. When we come to the other item, I shall be very much interested to know the extent of the absolutely useless expenditure to which I have referred. I have pointed out that there is a double increase in the expenditure connected with the supervision of public works, whilst the total expenditure upon their construction is not very large*.
– There are all the repairs to be considered.
– The amount required for repairs at the present time should have been required during previous years. I am asking whether the Minister can explain the increase in expenditure in both the Commonwealth and States Departments under this vote. One would think that when we are creating an expenditure of our own, by appointing officers of our own-
– We are not appointing any new officers.
– The Minister has just referred to the possible appointment of Lt.Col. Owen. Is he not a new man, and will not the salary paid him help to increase “the vote ? We are increasing the numbers of the officers employed in the Commonwealth Department of Public Works.
– We -are doing more work.
– If we are doing more work in our own Department, we are also “increasing the sum paid for the services of State officers.
– The money is for the extra work we are doing.
– What is the extra work for the coming year ?
– We are going to spend £137,000 this year, as against £40,000 last year.
– Does it cost £9,000 in salaries to expend £40,000 ?
– No, it does not. The sum of £2,919 was paid to the States last year.
– The sum of £5,000 was voted last year, but only £3,000 was expended.
– Was there altogether £9,692 voted, while only £4,359 was actually expended last year 1
– Yes ; that includes everything.
– I think the Minister will find that in a previous year we spent more than £137,000, without all this expenditure on officers.
– We have spent very little on public works, so far ; and that is what threw me out in my calculations. I have to re-vote all the money this year which was not expended last year. We appropriated £365,000, and we spent altogether, including post-offices - which, however, do not come in here now - £150,000. On public works we spent only between £40,000 and £50,000.
– But the post-offices partly come under this vote.
– But the amount of £365,000 included an immense amount for Post Office work, such as electric telegraphs, and so on, which is now done by the Post and Telegraph Department.
– All post-office building work comes under this estimate 1
– I think the Minister should give some explanation of the fact that whilst we are appointing Commonwealth officers in order to reduce the amount which is paid for the services of State officers–
– We have not appointed all these officers yet.
– But it so appears in the Estimates.
– We had all this new work to do, in connexion with the transferred properties, and so on.
– That maybe so, but there has been one officer appointed in New South Wales, and it is proposed to appoint others elsewhere.. The reason given for these appointments is that the States officers cannot properly attend to the work, and that the appointments will reduce the payments which have now to be made to the States. At the same time, however, the pay men b to the States, as it appears on the Estimates, is largely increased.
– We pay the States a percentage on the value of the works.
– The honorable member for North Sydney has asked a very fair question. Last year we expended £2,919, being £2,639 on transferred services and £280 for “other “ services. This year it is proposed to increase the vote for transferred services to £8,000, an increase of £5,400, while there is an increase of £720 in respect of “other” services, and at the same time it is proposed to increase the expenditure on the Public Works staff of the Commonwealth by £1,000. In the face of these formidable figures, some explanation is necessary. The Minister for Home Affairs shelters himself behind the fact that last year, of the amount appropriated, only a certain amount was expended ; but we are told that this was because the officers had not drawn out the contracts. We cannot hope that works will be postponed from year to year, but rather that they will be completed within the year for which the money is provided.
– Last year some of the items were appropriated for only a portion of the year, as is shown by the footnote.
– We expended £1,245 of a sum of £4,042 appropriated.
– That shows the Minister did not take advantage of his authority and make appointments.
– We cannot expect that to go on from year to year; and we are now told that appointments are in process of being made. The Treasurer in his Budget speech told us that during this or next year we could not expect works to be postponed. It is significant that expenditure which ought to be decreasing, is increasing.
– Why ought it to be decreasing ?
– The cost of the Commonwealth staff is increased, and it is reasonable to suppose that we shall get the full complement of officers. If we have the full complement of officers, there is not the same necessity to utilize the services of the States officers.
– Last year we expended £68, 5 4 8 on repairs, maintenance, fittings, arid furniture, and £44,329 on additions and repairs.
– Were there not a lot of plans prepared for buildings which were not erected?
– If we allow 6 per cent on the £44,329-
– Is that not rather a “ stiff” percentage ? The allowance is 5 per cent, in the business world.
– The States wanted 10 per cent.
– At any rate, that accounts for the amount of £2,919. This year we provide £80,807 for repairs, maintenance, &c, and £137,471 for additions and buildings and other works ; and if this expenditure be carried out, we shall want all the money in order to pay 6 per cent, to the. States.
– Is that not rather “tall”’ commission ?
– I did not make the bargain.
– Is not some of thatmoney spent under the supervision of the Minister’s own officers ?
– Very little. I believe some is spent under the supervision! of our own officers in New South Wales and also in Victoria, where it is possible todo so. But we cannot superintend works all over Australia, and it is a much more economical nnd better arrangement to utilize the services of the States officers. The Public Works Departments of the States, are familiar with all the buildings, and know what is required, and it is much better to leave the work to them for the present. I hope I ‘have given all the information! that is required.
– I donot think it matters very much what amount we pay by way of commission to the States, though it will be of importance after the book-keeping period. The Commonwealth will then have to pay it as “ other “ expenditure - it will then be all “ other “ expenditure - and debit it per capita amongst the States. The transferred expenditure is debited to the State in which it is spent - we pay the money to the State, and the State itself is charged with it. “ Other “ expenditure is charged percapita, and the proportion of that will be debited to the State in which the expenditure takes place - not in proportion tothe total expenditure, but per capita. I understand that at present each State is debited with the capital expended in it, So> that if a post-office is erected, the amount is debited to the State, and the percentage charged by the State for carrying out the work is added to the capital amount. When the properties have to be paid for, they will be treated in the same way as the old buildings; in other words, the States will get credit for the capital expended, and also the amount paid as percentage. The States have to pay the money now, and hereafter they will be credited with it. It does not matter what amount we pay now, inasmuch as the States have to pay and hereafter will be credited with the amount when we are paying for the properties transferred.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I quite agree that it does not matter to our finances what we pay to the States at the present moment, because what is paid is debited to the States. At the same time, my objection is that the amount we are paying for the services of the States officers is increasing, while the expenditure on our own Department is also increasing. The Minister stated that last year £68,548 was expended on repairs and maintenance, and £44,329 on additions and buildings, making a total of £112,000.
– The £68,548 in cluded other items, such as rents, electric lights, and telephones.
– TheMinister for Home Affairs said that on that expenditure 6 percent. was paid, and when I asked if none of the work was done by. our own officers, he answered - “ Very little.”
– The two items of expenditure were really £44,000 each, so that the total is £88,000.
– I will take the expenditure at that figure. That would represent £5,280 paid to the States for the services of their officers, whereas the amount set down here as being paid is practically only £3,000. Therefore the Minister’s explanation does not explain the matter at all. Commission at the rate of 6 per cent. upon the amount estimated to be expended next year - £217,000- would amount to about £13,000.
– The Minister included other items. The amount voted for repairs this year is £43,000, and the £130,000 would make the total something over £170,000. It is reckoned upon an amount of £150,000.
– I merely wish to call the attention of the Minister to the necessity, if we are going to employ officers of our own to do certain work that is now performed by States officers, for seeing that we are not continuing to pay increasing sums to the Governments of the States for the services of their officials.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 22 ( Works and Buildings) - £80,807, agreed to.
Division 23 (Governor-General’s Establishment) £6,015.
– I suppose that we are committed to the maintenance of both the Sydney Government House and the Melbourne Government House, but I notice that there is an increase in the proposed appropriation for both establishments.
– One item which has increased is the cost of lighting on public occasions, for which we have now to provide, and the cost of certain fittings was omitted last year.
– Personally, I think that to have two Government Houses is to have one too many.
– Would the honorable and learned member give the Governor-General his choice?
– Yes. I have never been able to enthuse on the question where the Governor- General should live, or where the capital should be. Although I gave a reluctant assent to the proposals finally agreed to last year, I do not think that the expenditure upon these establishments should be allowed to grow,’ even by a few hundred pounds per annum. I cannot understand why the expenditure last year was so much below the appropriation.
– In Victoria there was a dispute in regard to the garden employes, so that about £800 was not expended, while we could not get the accounts from New South Wales when they should have been sent.
– The appropriation for the two establishments is £5,500, and the expenditure only £2,346. It is surely a novelty in New South Wales finance for the expenditure to be less than the appropriation.
– I notice that whereas the cost of china and glass for the Melbourne Government House is put down at £150, the cost for the Sydney Government House is only £50. They must have had a rare old flare-up in Melbourne to break £150 worth of china and glass during the year.
– The Melbourne Government House was occupied last year for a longer period than the Sydney Government House.
– From the way in which the Victorians growled about the absence of the Governor-General, I thought that he was longer in Sydney than in Melbourne. Is not £150 a bit stiff, any way ? It is more than nine out of ten of my constituents have to live on in a year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 24 (Miscellaneous) - £89,522.
– -I notice that provision is made for expenses in connexion with choosing the site of the capital of the Commonwealth. Last year £1,500 was voted, and the expenditure amounted to £3,451. This year it is proposed to appropriate £1,500, and I should like to know if that amount is intended to partly cover the cost of the parliamentary inspection ?
– No ; that was provided for last year. This year’s vote will cover the cost of the Commission of Experts who reported upon the Capital Sites, and the preparation of the plans, ite.
– Does the item cover the whole cost of the Commission 1
– We shall make it go as far as possible.
-! think that the Minister should give a reply to the ‘question asked by the honorable member for Canobolas. Apparently, £3,451’ was expended last year, and the two items of £1,500 each for this year and last year would not be sufficient to cover that total.
– The difference between the £1,500 voted last year and the amount actually expended will be provided for in the Supplementary Estimates, which will be brough t down in a day or two. The £ 1 , 500 which .honorable members are now. asked to vote will be expended upon the Capital Sites Commission, and very little, if any more, money will be required.
– Honorable members have already pointed out that no provision is made for any further expenditure in connexion with the selection of the Capital Site, and I do not wish to argue that matter. . I should like to ask the Minister a question regarding the item “ Expenses in connexion with the introduction of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, including preparation and printing of electoral rolls and electoral registration, £30,000.” Does that include the amount paid to the Electoral Commissioners who divided the States? I should like to know how much of that amount is intended to meet expenditure which has been rendered useless by the rejection of the distributions ?
– The total cost would represent only a few hundred pounds.
– Would that include the cost of the collection made by the police ?
– That has nothing to do with the rejection of the distributions.
– In the case of New South Wales we adopted the State rolls.
– Yes ; but further collections were made by the police.
– The rolls were collected by the State’ Government who gave us the benefit of the work done for them.
– I understand that the police made a collection for the purposes of the State in the first place, and that it was agreed that half the cost would be paid by the Commonwealth. Through some mistake, however, that ‘collection was not made on the basis of the Federal franchise, and consequently had to be rejected as useless.
– Why was the first collection valueless ?
– Because it was abandoned, and a fresh collection had to be made.
– But that had nothing to do with the rejection of the distribution proposed by the Electoral Commissioner.
– The Minister must know that in the first place the rolls were compiled upon the basis of the State franchise only, and that since then a fresh collection has been made.
– Only of the names of those who came under the Federal franchise, but not under the State franchise.
– But a complete collection was necessary in order to ascertain the extent to which the original lists were at fault. I know that the whole of the lists had to be re-collected on the basis of the Federal franchise.
– But that had nothing to do with the distribution made by the Electoral Commissioner.
– The faulty nature of the first collection was one of the causes which led to the rejection of the distribution.
The whole of the ground had to be gone over again after the Commonwealth had agreed to pay half the cost of the first collection.
– I am told that there was no definite arrangement that the Commonwealth should pay half the cost.
– I am otherwise informed. The Commonwealth will certainly pay a share of the cost of making the last collection.
– I should like the Minister to give us some idea of the cost of the collection and also of the amounts paid to the Electoral Commissioners.
– The Electoral Comissioners for New South Wales and Victoria received £100 each ; the Commissioners for South Australia and Queensland, £75 each ; and the Commissioners for Tasmania and Western Australia, £50 each.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I do not quite understand the item relating to -the cost of introducing the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Last year £35,000 was voted, and only £1,840 was expended. This year £30,000 is asked for, and this amount will include the expenses in connexion with the introduction of the Commonwealth Act, including the preparation and printing of electoral rolls and electoral registration. Then the cost of the elections is estimated at £45,000.
– That is a distinct item.
– Do 1 understand that the £30,000 is intended to cover the cost of preparing the rolls, and of providing the necessary machinery for the conduct of the elections ?
– Yes. It is practically a revote of the £35,000, less the savings which we hope to effect.
– The explanation of the Treasurer dissipates some of the doubts which I entertained in respect of this particular item. At the same time, I should like to know whether the cost of the appointment of divisional registrars, for the purpose of carrying out the machinery of the Act, is included in it ?
– What steps have been taken towards the appointment of those officers ?
– We propose to appoint them very shortly.
10 0 2
– We have been told that ever since the Electoral Act was passed. Seeing that one of these officers has to be. appointed in connexion with every polling booth throughout the Commonwealth, it seems to me that the Department would be wise if it expedited its work in this direction. Otherwise the necessary machinery will not be ready in time for the conduct of. the approaching elections. So far, the compilation of the rolls has been left in the hands of the local police, and I presume that those officers will be permanently charged with that duty. In New South’ Wales, however, the work of compiling and purging the rolls has been intrusted to deputy electoral registrars, who are appointed for that purpose in every division. I should like to know the intentions of the Government in regard to this important matter.
– I recognise that the Minister is at a considerable disadvantage, inasmuch as his colleague, who actually compiled these Estimates, is not present. I have the greatest sympathy with the view which has been expressed, by various, honorable members, that these deputy returning officers should be appointed without delay. What the Committee require is an assurance that the matter will be dealt with immediately.
– It is being dealt with. If the honorable member will ask me about it this day week he will find that the work has been completed.
– I hope that accompanying their appointment will be an advertisement in the morning newspapers intimating where the rolls can be seen and where the various Registrars can be consulted. There is only one other item to which I desire to direct attention, namely, “ Cost of compilation and publication of a new edition of the> Seven Colonies, £500.” I am sure that that amount has been very wisely expended. I should like to know what steps are being taken towards placing the Statistical Department upon a better basis.
– Nothing has yet been done, but we are thinking about the matter.
– It is important that some effective arrangement should be made in this direction. If we can work in harmony with the different States, probably,, we may effect a considerable saving, and, at the same time, secure a more reliable statistical production. This is a matter to which the Minister might devote special attention as soon as possible.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 26 (AuditOffice)- £13,331.
– I desire to know when we are likely to obtain the Auditor-General’s report. To my mind it should be in the hands of honorable members before we are called upon to discuss these Estimates.
– The statement of the finances will be completed by the end of the present month. As honorable members know it is impossible for the various States to complete their financial statements for about three months after the expiration of the financial year, and as we have to obtain all our information, check our items, and make them agree throughout the Commonwealth, a considerable time is necessarily involved in reconciling differences. I am informed by the accountant in my Department that the work so far as ‘the Treasury is concerned will be complete by the end of this month. The AuditorGeneral continues to check our accounts as we proceed, and, consequently, I hope that within three or four weeks his report will be ready for circulation.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy). - I would point out to the Treasurer that we are called upon to discuss these Estimates although we are quite in the dark as to the contents of the Auditor-General’s report.
– It is impossible to get it any quicker. The honorable member must recollect that we are dealing, not with one State but with six States.
– I quite recognise that. I know that even in Queensland it was very difficult to obtain the AuditorGeneral’ s report, and the same remark is doubtless applicable to the other States.
– I am pushing the matter forward as fast as I possibly can.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– The honorable member for Yarra has requested me to bring under the notice of the Treasurer certain matters in connexion with the Federal
Government Printing Office. He informs me that boys who have been employed there for over two years receive only 7s. 6d. per week. They are frequently compelled to work until 2 a.m., they receive no tea money, and are paid only 2d. per hour, with nothing extra for overtime. To my mind that is a disgracefulstate of affairs.
– The honorable member for Yarra gave me the name of one boy, and I inquired into his case, and ascertained that the honorable member had been misinformed.
– I will deal with that. Then, again, I am informed that girls have been working in the Government Printing Office under conditions contrary to the Victorian Factories Act.
– The Act does not apply.
– And that those conditions were changed only when the Inspector of Factories threatened a prosecution. If these statements be correct, the sooner the Victorian Factories Act is made applicable to the Commonwealth Printing Office the better it will be.
– It is not the policy of the Government.
– I doubt that statement.
– They dropped the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. They do not mind sweating.
– I should not go so far as that. I feel satisfied that the Treasurer will remedy these grievances.
– If the honorable member gives me information in regard to these matters I will investigate them, but I cannot otherwise do so.
– These are the details which I have received from the honorable member for Yarra, who was called away from the House. The other case which I desire to bring before the Committee relates to the employment of a small boy in the Government Printing Office. On the 28th August last the honorable member for Yarra wrote as follows to the Treasurer : -
Dear Sir, - I made an inquiry recently re the employment of a boy at the Government Printing Office. I have found out that his name is C. Ramus. He is not thirteen years of age, and he has been employed until 2 o’clock in the morning. As a result of such late hours he has been off his work with illness. . I would like you to inquire into this matter, as I do not consider it right that boys of such an age should be employed till such an hour. I would like to know the result of your inquiry ?
The Treasurer handed this letter to his Secretary, who minuted it as follows -
Will the Government Printer please report?
The Government Printer replied asfollows: -
There is no boy of the name of “ C. Ramus “ engaged in this office.
A mistake had been made in the initial -
An “ Arthur Ramus “is, however, employed here, but he is over the age of thirteen years.
The honorable member for Yarra made inquiries and found that the boy was just over thirteen years of age, although, when the complaint was first made, he wan under thirteen. The honorable member desired me to bring this matter forward, and I trust that if these statements be correct, the Treasurer will see that the state of affairs which they disclose no longer continues in the service.
– I am always pleased to investigate any complaint which is brought before me.
– I am sure that the right honorable gentleman will investigate this complaint.
Proposed vote agreed to
Division 28 (Unforeseen expenditure) - £1,000; division 29 (Refunds of revenue) - £55,000 ; and division 30 (Advance to the Treasurer)- £200,000, agreed to.
House adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 September 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030915_reps_1_16/>.