2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs made inquiries as to whether the ballot papers used in the first Riverina election have been destroyed, and, if so, what is the result?
– I find that they have been destroyed, under the authority of section 159 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which enacts that -
All ballot papers used for voting shall be preserved as and in such custody as shall be prescribed until the election can be no longer questioned, when they shall be destroyed.
That provision is mandatory, and after inquiries were made of Mr. Speaker by the Department as to whether the election, so far as he was aware, could any longer be questioned, the papers were, with the approval of the then Minister, the right honorable member for Swan, destroyed.
– It is a great pity.
– Have the Government yet heard from the Governments of the States as to whether an arrangement has been come to with a view to putting an end to differential and preferential railway rates ?
– A movement in the direction referred to was initiated by the late Government, which asked the Governments of the States that the Conference of Railways Commisioners about to be held in Sydney might be requested to consider whether it was not practicable to put an end by mutual arrangement to these rates. Later I inquired of the Acting Premier of New South Wales if the matter would come before the Conference which was then sitting. He acknowledged my telegram, and a little later informed me that the Conference had considered the matter, and had arrived at certain resolutions in regard to it. Since then the Minister of Home Affairs and myself have received copies of the resolutions referred to, and of the proceedings of the Conference, and with the
permission of the Premier of Victoria, have had an interview with Mr. Tait, the Chief Commissioner .of the Victorian Railways, and Mr. Fitzpatrick, another Commissioner, in which they explained what it was proposed to do. Although one cannot at this stage express a definite opinion as to the likely outcome of the proceedings of the Conference, because our information is largely confidential, in my view, if effect be given to the resolutions arrived at in the manner the Commissioners anticipate, it will go far to remove the difficulties which exist. We have not yet been able to ascertain from the Governments of the States how they regard the resolutions of the Conference. Large matters of policy are involved, and no doubt the Commissioners would not feel justified in giving effect to their resolutions without the consent of their Governments.
– Are the resolutions to be made public?
– Not at present. They were sent to me confidentially, and I have no authority to make them public.
– Resolutions to the same effect were carried some years ago, and I have brought them several times under the attention of the House. No doubt these resolutions will be made public, as the others were.
– The other resolutions were not acted upon.
– The resolutions of the recent Conference will probably be treated as confidential until the Governments of the States have had an opportunity to consider them.
– In the previous case the Governments of the States refused to carry them into effect.
– Only one Government refused - that of Victoria.
– -Speaking only with the knowledge possessed by an ordinary member of the community, I think that the resolutions are sufficiently reasonable to win the approval of the Governments of the States, but I have not yet asked for their decisions in regard to them, because the matters dealt with are so large and important that they must take a little time to consider. After a sufficient time for consideration has been given, we purpose asking the Governments of the States how they regard the general tenor of the resolutions. Personally I hr.ve every expectation that a satisfactory solution of the difficulty ‘will be found.
– And in Tasmania.
– If the matter has not been brought under the notice of the Prime Minister, will he make inquiries on the subject, to see whether steps cannot be taken to remove this interference with Inter-State free-trade ?
– The Minister in whose province the matter comes has been considering it, but has taken no action, pending the result of the consideration given to the cognate subject of preferential railway rates. Although the two are not interdependent, they are related, in view of the fact that the same authority - the Inter-State Commission - would deal with both. If it is demonstrated that the appointment of the Inter-State Commission can be obviated by an agreement between the Railways Commissioners of the States affected so far as preferential railway rates are concerned, we hope that we may be able to obtain a mutual arrangement between the Governments of the States for the abolition of preferential wharfage rates. The matter has not been- overlooked by the Government.
– Action has already been taken in the States - in Victoria, for instance.
Mr-. WATSON.- Yes. I think that the late Minister of Trade and Customs took some action, and the members of the present Cabinet are looking into the matter. We hope that there will be no need to go to the length provided for in the Constitution.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral yet made any arrangement with the ^Railway Commissioners of Victoria for the conveyance of mails by goods trains? I brought the matter under his notice a’ few days ago, and he promised’ to make inquiries into the matter.
Arrangements would be made to send mails by permanent goods trains, so as to continue a daily mail service, if the Postmaster-General’s Department was advised of the running of such trains, but the railway time tables at present show no trains that could be so utilized. Irregular goods trains and special trains are not suitable for mail conveyance, as contractors have to carry the mails between the railway stations and the post-offices, and special instructions would have to be sent for each train to every post-office and contractor along the whole length of the line. The use of casual trains would considerably increase the payments to be made to the Railway Department.
– A question was yesterday asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and I have here now a further reply, not then available, in respect to some particulars: -
With reference to the replies given to the questions of the honorable member for Hindmarsh yesterday, in regard to the number and cost of the military Head-Quarters Staff, I desire to state that the total cost of the Staff to the taxpayers during Major-General Sir Edward Hutton’s tenure of office (covering salaries, personal allowances, and travelling expenses) is ^9,547 13s. 6d.
Also, with reference to the number of officers comprising the Head-Quarters Staff, I would point out that although eight is the actual number at present, during a portion of MajorGeneral Sir Edward Hutton’s tenure of office the staff numbered eleven.
– They are not new officers.
– Quite so. But in addition there are some thirteen clerical officers employed with the Head-Quarters Staff ; that is, employed as distinct from the Ministerial Department of Defence.
– In addition?
– There are thirteen clerks employed by the central staff, apart from the Ministerial Department of Defence.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent . public importance, viz., “The intention of the Postmaster-General not. to recognise military prefixes or titles conferred by the Crown under the law upon officers holding appointments in the Postal Department.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I hope that honorable members, both on the Government and Opposition sides of the House, will not think that I am desirous of prolonging business by unnecessary debate. I may say, however, that if I had not taken my present action, I should have occupied the same length of time in saying what I have to say when Supply was being dealt with at a later stage. Anything that affects our Citizen Forces adversely in the slightest degree is a matter of urgent importance, which we should take into consideration, and carefully deal with. Yesterday I asked several questions, based on a report in the press. Information regarding this matter was first, communicated to honorable members through a press notice, although one might have expected that so serious a departure from usage would have been placed before us in some more formal manner than through a press interview. In reply to my questions I elicited from the Postmaster- General that the prefixes of titles of military officers are given under the law or regulations which have the force of law. That much was admitted ; and what I desire to know is. what cause has brought about this violent change in a practice which has been in force in Australia from the earliest times ? I have had a long experience in connexion with the Citizen Forces; and neither as a Minister in a State Government, or as a Minister of the Crown within the Commonwealth, has it ever been brought under my notice, directly or indirectly, that a practice, which has been long established, and has grown grey with years, has been complained of or found inconvenient. If during the fifty years we have had constitutional government in Australia this question has never arisen, it seems strange that we should be brought face to face with it immediately on the advent to power of what is known as the Labour Party. As soon as the present Government take over the Executive offices, we hear of friction through the use of the prefix of military officers.
– Friction arose long ago.
– It never came under my notice, and if there was any friction I was likely to hear of it. If any friction has arisen in the Postmaster-General’s
Department, I venture to think that it is not sufficient to justify the Minister in taking his present course without giving the matter much more consideration than he has bestowed upon it. What was the answer to the question I asked ? The Minister replied that “ apart from statutory authority, it is considered that every Minister possesses the inherent right “ - I shall have something to say about that directly, because it is a new doctrine - “of prohibiting any practice which, by creating friction amongst officers, diminishes the utility of the Department to the public.” If there has been friction such as to necessitate an illegal act to be performed, let us know what the friction is, and whether it is sufficient to justify, that act. If there is any friction, I assume that it is between some subordinate officer and the immediate head of his Department. I take exception to’ the Minister taking action on the ground that, in his opinion, there is friction which diminishes the utility of his office, unless’ he is prepared to- show what that friction is. Such action has very far-reaching effects, not only in the Department immediately concerned, but throughout the whole service. I submit that our citizen soldiers, on whom we depend for our defence in times of difficulty, have just as much right to use those prefixes as have any other persons who enjoy prefixes under the Crown. Our citizen soldiers have just as much right to a prefix to their names as have the regular soldiers. We have been very careful in our legislation to say that the citizen soldier and the regular soldier are on an equal footing with regard to rank and privileges. In some States it was the practice for the regular soldier to take precedence of the citizen soldier; for instance, a captain of militia would come after a captain in the regular forces. But that has been done away with, so jealous are we of the rights and privileges of those who are willing to serve their country, almost without fee or reward. The same commission is issued to all officers - whether they be in the regular force of officers of our citizen soldiery. There is no difference whatever, and therefore I say that one officer has as much right as the other to the prefix.
– Has either the right to compel other people to call him by such titles? That is the point.
– I shall have something to say with regard to that presently. The honorable member says that 4 c 2 there is some inherent right in the Minister to break the law.
– No; not at all.
– He says :-
Apart from statutory authority, it is considered that every Minister possesses the inherent right of prohibiting any practice which, by creating friction amongst officers, diminishes the utility of his Department to the public.
That means that the Minister can deprive an officer of any prefix which the law gives him upon any ground that he conceives to be sufficient to justify such action. He may do this, if he thinks it necessary to prevent friction. I contend that he has no such power, and that if his order were disobeyed, it could not be enforced.
– In what way are these officers entitled by law to compel their subordinates to address them by their military titles ?
– The titles are conferred by the law, and that should be a sufficient answer to the honorable gentleman. I hope that he will not interrupt me any further.
– I wish the right honorable member would quote my remarks fairly.
– I am doing so. The Minister has stated that he has some inherent right which justifies him in taking away from officers the designations or prefixes to which they are entitled under the law. We used to hear a good deal about citizen soldiers. There was a time when they were sneered and laughed at, and I am afraid that honorable members opposite have not forgotten that, because whenever I have had occasion to mention anything with regard to military titles they have greeted my statement with ironical cheers. Is that the way we should treat our citizen soldiers? If we are to depend upon them in the hour of danger, should we ridicule and sneer at them whenever the question of their designations is mentioned ? We have heard sneers in the past as to their being “ feather-bed soldiers,” “playing at soldiers,” and “tin soldiers,” from the very men who are represented by honorable members opposite.
– Not only from those.
– More than from any others.
– Certainly not.
– I think so. Honorable members have apparently not forgotten these sneers and gibes. Why, when I mentioned the subject of my motion to-day the announcement was received with ironical cheers by honorable members opposite. They do not mind receiving from the Crown the right to use the designation of “honorable” for themselves.
– We never asked for it.
– Perhaps not, individually ; but if I cared I could a tale unfold with regard’ to that matter.
– They did not protest against it.
– No, they wanted it.
– They do not insist upon people calling them “ honorable.”
– They do not object. I notice that honorable senators are addresed as “ senators “ everywhere. I should like to know whether the PostmasterGeneral has spoken in this matter on behalf of the Government. He ought to have done so, because no Minister is justified in taking such a course without the concurrence of his chief. If he did not obtain the concurrence of his chief, the Minister has yet to learn what is due to the position of the Prime Minister.
– Did the right honorable gentleman always act with the concurrence of his chief?
– Yes, in all matters of importance. I knew what was due to my position when I was Premier, and I always acted towards my chief in the way that I required others to act towards me. We do not mind calling each other “ honorable member” in this Chamber; why should we? Is the rule laid down by the PostmasterGeneral to be extended throughout the service, and are University degrees also to be scouted or ignored? They certainly have not so much right to be recognised as have designations or prefixes granted directly by the Crown. We have Doctors of Law in our Legislatures and in our Public Service. Are they to be addressed as plain “Mr.” or as plain “ Brown, Jones, or Robinson ?”
– Should we address the right honorable gentleman as “ Dr. ?”
– The Prime Minister may do so if he pleases. Are the titles of the Doctors of Medicine, who are to be found within our legislative halls, and in our Public Service, to be discarded?
– The newspapers refer to the honorable member for Melbourne as “Mr. Maloney.”
– But he is not a doctor.
– Oh, yes he is.
– From what University ?
– He is an M.D.
– Then he is entitled to be called doctor. There are in this Legislature knights of various degrees. Are these honorable members to be docked of their titles and called by their bare names? I ask honorable members if this exhibition of paltriness is likely to encourage our citizen soldiers ? Are we likely to induce them to put forth their best efforts by denying to them the prefixes to which they are legally entitled? I notice that people who have never won their spurs are generally very jealous indeed of their dignity. Are we to deny the use of these military prefixes to members of our Defence Forces who have won their spurs upon the field of battle? Are we to ignore the distinction which has been gained by them fighting for the Empire far from their home and country, because the Minister thinks that some friction may arise owing to some clerk not caring to call his immediate chief “ Major “ or “ Captain ? “ Such a subordinate would not address his chief as “sir” or “ Mr.” if he had his way. Probably the Minister will introduce a system by which the subordinate officers shall not be required to say even “ sir” or “Mr.” to their superiors, but call them plain “ Brown, Jones, or Robinson.”
– Or “Jack Forrest.”
– I have been addressed in that way by men as good as the honorable member, but I never took any exception to it, because I knew it was used as a compliment, and that no offence was intended. If an officer who occupies a subordinate position has to take instructions from some one above him in the Department, and objects to address that officer by his title, whether it be “ Captain,” * or “Major,” or “Doctor,” he is a paltry, mean fellow, who, when he reaches the top of the tree, will probably be more exacting to those under him than his superiors were towards him. I should like to know what has given rise to this decision on the part of the Minister. Perhaps he will explain. I do not know whether it has anything to do with the case of Colonel Outtrim; but I should say that any officer in the Postal Department who refused to extend to the head of the Department the courtesy to which he is properly or legally entitled, would also object to call him “ sir,” or “ Mr.,” and is, in my opinion, a mean, paltry fellow.
– The right honorable member will probably be pleased to hear that Colonel Outtrim is practically in agreement with me on this point.
– I do not care if, fifty Colonel Outtrims are in agreement’ with the Minister. I say that there is no justification whatever for the step he has taken. Imagine the ridiculous position in which we shall be placed. We shall find that men who, for half a lifetime, have been designated by the title of Captain, Major, or Colonel, or who possibly are Doctors of Law - such men as Dr. Wollaston or Colonel Owen - will be called plain “ Mr.” in their offices, but outside of them will be addressed by their respective titles. What is the reason underlying the action of the Postmaster-General? Is the decision of the honorable gentleman calculated to uplift our citizen soldiers and to make them prouder of their work? On the contrary, will they not regard it as a paltry attempt to disparage them in the estimation of the public - however far removed that may be from his intentions? Instead of giving a direct reply to questions 4, 5, and 6, the honorable gentleman soars into the heavens, far from this poor world of ours, in which we have so frequently to struggle for a livelihood. Apparently he thinks that our citizen soldiers are far above all considerations affecting mundane matters, and pay regard only to patriotism and glory. I should like to know how often honorable members who enter the legislative arena, prompted by a desire to do their duty, similarly disregard opportunities of promotion to Ministerial office? What are we all endeavouring to do? Are we not actuated by a desire to so do our duty as to leave our footprints “ on the sands of time “ ? We are not all destitute of ambition ; if we were we should never make any progress - certainly we should not have desired to become members of Parliament, or to occupy high offices of State. Does the Postmaster-General imagine that his direction tends to encourage the Citizen Forces, upon whom we chiefly depend for our defence? Does he imagine that the deprivation of their military titles, many of which have been won upon the battle-field, is likely to stimulate and encourage men to become officers ? In reply, he says -
I regret my inability to concur in the light honorable gentleman’s apparent conclusion, that recruits are attracted to the Defence Forces by the prospect of becoming officers and obtaining titles. On the contrary, it is believed that the majority of men join the force from patriotic impulse to fit themselves for effectively defending their country in its hour of danger.
I hold that the two things are quite compatible. Recruits are attracted to the force by reason of one, and are prepared to face the other. If no incentive were offered to exertion, the outlook would be a poor one, indeed. What the honorable gentleman uttered was splendid sentiment ; but it is perfectly unpractical. I shall have more to say upon this matter when I know the view which is entertained by the Government. I am determined to ascertain the origin of this new instruction, which I regard as most mischievous and unnecessary. I hold that it is an attempt to disparage our citizen soldiers, and is calculated to induce the belief not alone that the people of the country fail to honour and respect them, but that this feeling is shared by honorable mem bers of this Parliament.
– In seconding the motion, I desire to say that I am not at all surprised at the action which the Government have taken in this matter. Only the other day the right honorable member for East Sydney read certain remarks which were made by the Prime Minister in reply to the May Day deputation which waited upon him. In the course of his observations, the Prime Minister voiced his hearty approval of the resolutions which were carried at the May Day demonstration, one of which expressed opposition to militarism in all its forms. I think this is the third effort the Government have made to’ show how thoroughly they desire to put into execution one of the standing principles of the Labour Party as enunciated by the late Mr. John Hancock, who declared that he “ hated the sight of a soldier.” Although the Ministry have been in office only six weeks, I fmd that they have already laid down two distinct lines of policy in regard to Australian soldiers. They are prepared to subject an Australian soldier who has won his military title in years of Australian service, and sometimes on the battle-field, to the grossest possible indignity. On the other hand, they are ready to gush over a gentleman who occupies a very distinguished position when he is decorated with the Imperial title of G.C.M.G. One of the most unfortunate letters that could possibly be written was that which was forwarded by the Prime Minister to the GovernorGeneral on such an occasion, and I am informed by those who are familiar with the inner working of these things that it constituted a remarkable exhibition of want of good form. I am indeed surprised at the action of the honorable gentleman, who seems eager to rush in and congratulate the recipient of a title, when it is conferred by the Imperial Government, but is prepared to mete out very different treatment to the Deputy Postmaster-General of Victoria, who has spent fifteen or twenty years in attaining his present military rank. Incidentally, the Prime Minister was ready enough to accept the designation of “ honorable,” notwithstanding that its application was limited to Australia.
– Order ! Will the honorable and learned member resume his seat? The matter before the Chair is a motion by the right honorable member for Swan - “ That the House do now adjourn,” with a view to discussing the following question, viz., the intention of the PostmasterGeneral not to recognise military prefixes and titles conferred upon officers in the Postal Department by the Crown under the law. Upon that motion I cannot permit the honorable and learned member to debate the question of the acceptance of the title of “ honorable “ by honorable members of the first Commonwealth Parliament. Still less can I allow any discussion upon the matter of how wide the grant of that title should be.
– I was endeavouring to show the different treatment which is meted out by the Government to persons holding Australian titles, and those enjoying Imperial titles.
– The honorable and learned member has incidentally referred to that matter, and perhaps that will suffice. I cannot permit any discussion to take place upon the question of whether or not it was proper for members of the first Commonwealth Parliament to be designated by the title of “ honorable,” and still less as to » whether the use of the title should be confined to Austialia. Probably the honorable and learned member’s incidental reference to the matter will suffice.
– The Government propose to allow an officer to be addressed by his military title only upon the parade ground or the rifle range. In civil life the Postmaster-General objects to those titles being used. If there is one thing for which I have fought, it is to establish the principle that equal rights and seniority shall exist as between volunteers, militia, and permanent officers. Parliament embodied that principle in the
Defence Bill, but the Postmaster-General is endeavouring to make a distinction. Another principle embodied, after a hard fight in the Defence Bill, was that Imperial officers should be treated in the same way as are Australian officers. The Minister, however, is also endeavouring to set aside that principle. These are the acts of the so-called National Government. A very serious injustice is being perpetrated by this attempt to administer an Act in a way contrary to the desire of Parliament. The Government asserts that it does not represent any class, but instead of seeking to upset class distinctions, it is endeavouring to create an Imperial and permanent military caste. They contend that, save when a citizen soldier goes on duty, he should not be addressed by the title which he has earned. This is the decision of a Government which have, as one of the planks of their platform, the encouragement of a citizen soldiery, and one of whose planks is a Citizen Defence Force. They are seeking to discourage a citizen soldiery by making permanent Imperial soldiers superior in all ranks of life. That is a course which should be strongly condemned. The PostmasterGeneral goes even still further. He says, in effect, that whilst he does not object to the use of military titles by officers of militia and volunteers, he objects to others being compelled to employ those titles when addressing them. ‘ Are we to have Sartor Resartus re-written? That book shows how clothes affect the man, and I would remind the House that titles and honorable distinctions will more closely affect him. They are the little courtesies of life which oil the machinery of society. Is the PostmasterGeneral going to emulate George Fox, the Quaker, who addressed His Majesty Charles I. as “Charles?”
– He was quite right.
– Doubtless the honorable member for Darwin and the PostmasterGeneral sympathize with the practice. If members of the Labour Party object to men being addressed by their proper titles are we, for example, to say. when we meet the honorable member for Darwin outside the chamber - “ Good morning, O’Malley.”
– “O’Malley,” or “ King,” will suit me.
– Let me refer for a moment to the title of the honorable mem ber for Hume. Every one knows that he is a knight, and that in civil life he should be addressed as “ Sir William Lyne.” Some persons, however, address him as plain “Bill Lyne.” The one thing leads to the other. Are we to take it that the Government, in addressing official correspondence to the honorable member, propose to omit the title “ Sir.” The position taken up by the Postmaster-General suggests that they will do so. If they insist that no man is to be addressed according to his proper military title, it will be necessary -for them, for the sake of consistency, to take care that the honorable member for Hume shall be addressed in all official correspondence not as the “ Honorable Sir William Lyne, K.C.M.G.,” but as 1 “ William Lyne.” A military officer has just’ as much right to be addressed by the title which he has earned, and which has been conferred by Commission upon him by the King, as has any private citizen who by Royal Letters Patent has been granted a knighthood. If a man has earned a title, he should be addressed accordingly. The question is not whether the Postmaster-General cares to address an officer as “ Mr. “ or as “ Major “ ; if an officer has earned the rank of “ Major.” the Postmaster-General or any member of the Government who refuses to recognise the title,, is guilty of great discourtesy. The Postmaster-General recently gave Colonel Outtrim a display of Spartan-like discipline; but he is guilty of the grossest want of discipline and discourtesy to his subordinate if he allows any of that officer’s subordinates to address him by a title other than that which he has earned in the military service, and which that officer desires to have employed. There are some persons who object to employ the prefix “ reverend,” or to speak of a Cardinal as a “Cardinal.” Are “we to take it that the Postmaster-General holds the same opinion ? I can imagine how his eyes would flash if any one were to speak of Cardinal Moran as “ Mr. Moran.”
– The honorable and learned member has no right to speak in that way. The reference .made by him is both unfair and unmanly.
– I have a right to apply the rule laid down by the PostmasterGeneral in other directions. Such titles as “His Lordship the Bishop,” “His Grace the Archbishop,” “ His Eminence the Cardinal,” are, very properly, courtesies, and the use of the word “ reverend “ when addressing a clergyman, is also a matter of courtesy. Some purists assert that because the only reference to the word “ reverend “ in ‘ the Bible is in relation to the Deity no man should be addressed by that title. The Labour Government are evidently going to stamp out the little titles and courtesies which oil the social machinery of life, and -which, because they represent honours that have been earned, make life worth living. Previous to the Government coming into office one of its supporters, who is regarded as the military strong man of the party, was in the habit of sneering at the militia, and of speaking of them as “ Saturday afternoon soldiers.” Have the Government adapted their policy to the views of the honorable member for Maranoa? Whenever reference has been made to the Citizen Defence Forces the honorable member for Maranoa has invariably referred to them in terms of opprobrium, ignominy, and contempt. We find that instead of the Labour Party endeavouring to encourage a citizen soldiery they are the first to adopt a course that will have an opposite effect. Again, there are many members of the medical and legal profession who have earned the title of “ Doctor,” and I ask whether, in addressing any member of this community who has achieved that distinction, we should drop the use of the word “Doctor.” If a man earns a certain title, it is only proper that_ it should be recognised. In a discussion which took place in another place last week, the Minister of Defence said that in his opinion no member of the active Military Forces of the Commonwealth should sit in Parliament. The Constitution permits all but fully paid permanent soldiers to hold seats in Parliament, but the Minister of Defence disagrees with that provision. There is doubtless a certain degree of solidarity even in a Labour Government, and I presume, therefore, that the remaining members of the Government are responsible for the opinion expressed by the Minister of Defence, that no member of the Militia or Volunteer Forces should be allowed to hold a seat in Parliament.
– I do not think that my honorable colleague said anything of the kind.
– I ask the honorable and learned member not to refer to debates in another place.
– I cannot now spare the time to turn up Hansard, but I will furnish the right honorable member for Swan before he replies with a reference to the speech of the Minister of Defence, so that he may read it to the House. I did not make the statement without having read the debate, and knowing it to be true. If one distinct line of policy has been laid down by this Government it is to do everything they can to bring the officers of the Military Forces into contempt. Under these circumstances, I am glad that the right honorable member for Swan has brought the matter before the House. The Government are doing their best to discourage the efforts of men who give a lot of time to their country absolutely without reward, for the slight honour which the possession of a title may or may not bring with it. If these men wish to use their titles they have a right to do so, and to insist that they shall be called by them. Honorable service should be regarded as entitling the doers to honorable courtesy, and the Government should see that these titles are used by those who have honorably earned them.
– I am sorry to see such tremendous heat poured into this debate by my republican brother who has just sat down.
– This is a fitting, opportunity to point out to the House that we sit here, not by virtue of our own personalities, but as representatives of certain constituencies, and therefore- Ave are bound to refer to each other, not by our names, or in any such way as the honorable member for Darwin has just referred to the honorable and learned member for Corio, but by the names of the constituencies we represent, in whose right alone can we sit or speak.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I recognise that the Chair is the embodiment of the order, intelligence, and everything else that is honorable in this House. Unfortunately, I come from Vermont, where they call each other “ Brother,” and I find it hard to get rid of the habit, though I have tried to do so. I am sorry that such tremendous heat has been poured into the debate by the honorable and learned member for Corio, whom I have always regarded as the absolutely republican member of this House, and as the hope of Australia in that respect. To-day we have seen him in his true colours. It is marvellous what a change a title makes in a man. The lagging behind in the commercial race which now characterizes the great British Empire is due to the cursed system of caste, rank, privilege, and title to which her people adhere. Great Britain is to-day playing third fiddle - Germany is second fiddle - to Great Britain’s daughter America. Her people have cursed themselves by their adherence to> the infamous system with which they started out, under which, because one man has a little more money than another, he is assumed to be better than the latter. I am glad that the Postmaster-General has had the courage to decide that, while persons are at business, they shall be treated only as business people. While persons are at business they are not lords, they are not “Honorable.” Of course, they are all honorable, not specifically, but collectively - all gentlemen, and all titled men. But let us push the contention of the honorable and learned member for Corio to its logical conclusion. I say that he has no right to require a clerk in the Post Office, who is a captain, to call another a major, and a third a colonel. Does he think that we should pass a law compelling members of the outside public to say “ Captain, ask the major to request the colonel to see if there are any letters for me”? Let us see what has happened in America. I was in Denver, Colorado, when they had the grand army reunion of the Republic.
– What was the honorable member’s title?
– My title was simply “ King.” I wish to show the absurdity of this title business. In the United States they have carried it to such an extent ‘that there is not a man to be found from the tepid waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic snows of Lake Superior, or from the * golden sands of the Pacific to the pine forests of Maine, who is below the rank of colonel. Forty thousand soldiers, who had come from all parts of the Union, met at Denver. An Englishman, who owned the hotel there, went among his guests, and asked each what had been his rank during the war. He found that one was a general, another a colonel, another a major, and so on, until at last he came to a forlorn man standing apart in a corner, to whom he said- “And what were you?” “Oh,” replied the man, “ I was merely a private.” “ Give me your hand,” said the hotel pro prietor, “ you are the first private whom I have met who served in the war. You can stay in this hotel as long as you like.” Today we have reached this miserable stage, that we think only about a man’s title, not about his intelligence, or knowledge, or ability to advance the welfare of the country. In a democracy like this, titles should be abolished. Am I to be required, when I go to the post-office, to take off my hat to Major This, or Colonel That? Certainly not. In a democracy men are entitled to use their titles only when thev are on the business of those titles. When they are engaged in the ordinary business of the community they are only plain “Misters.” “Good-day, Mister. Pass out the letters, please.” I suppose the day will shortly come, if the present practice is persisted in, when one will have to say to the bar tender - “ Major, cocktail,” or “ whisky and soda,” or whatever it may be. I do not know anything about these matters now, though I did some years ago. Similarly, we shall have to give titles to the barmaids. We shall have to say - “ Lady, claret.” That is what we are coming to iii this country. The idea of the time of this House being occupied by a discussion as to whether a post-office official is to be called by a military title ! Hitherto, I have looked upon the honorable and learned member for Corio with hope. I have gone home many a night thinking that if there was one man who ought to have been born under the Stars and Stripes, it was he. Now the illusion has vanished. Since the title of “ honorable “ was given to us all, there has been a great change. We shall have to petition His Majesty to stop the business, or it will break up’ the whole show. Let me take another point. Here we have captains, majors, colonels, and other ranks; but in the United States they are all colonels. Throughout the Southern States, from east to west, every man is a colonel.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the officials who have been alluded to have not earned their titles ?
– Who says that they have not earned them ? What is to be gained by the use of these titles in a civilized community - in a Commonwealth of intelligent, thinking men? Do we find the great Thomas Edison, of the United States, complaining about titles? Edison is called “ Colonel “ by the people ; but we have to remember that there is not a coloured man in the Southern States of America who is not “ General,” “ Colonel,” or “ Major.” In the Southern States, if we go into an hotel we must call the coloured bar-tender “ Major “ or “ Colonel,” or otherwise we shall not get a drink ; and the position is thoroughly understood. The hangman in Georgia is “ Colonel,” and the executioner at Sing Sing is “ General “ ; indeed, the latter will not look at an unfortunate client unless he is addressed by his title. I am amazed that the right honorable member for Swan, who is undoubtedly the. Emperor of Western Australia, should bring up a question of this kind. I know that there is no man in Australia who has a bigger heart than the right honorable member for Swan. When I was in Bunbury, I found that the people there did not call the right honorable member by his title, but were proud to tell tales and stories of “ Jack Forrest “ when he was a surveyor, and explored the Western country. In Ohio, we do not hear of “ The Honorable James Garfield,” but are told of “ Jimmy,” and shown the field that “ Jimmy “ ploughed. In Pennsylvania we do not hear of “The Honorable James Blaine,” but are told of “ Jimmy “ Blaine. When people begin to attach great importance to titles, they are losing their intelligence. Do we ever hear of “ The Honorable Julius Caesar?” Do we ever hear of any title being given to Napoleon Bonaparte? Men of brains and intellect do not want titles, and I am amazed that the honorable member for Corio should place himself on a level with people, who, but for their titles, would not be seen across their wives’ kitchen tables.
– They called Caesar the “ Imperial “ Caesar.
– Anyhow, he was always known as Julius Caesar. I hope shortly to have an opportunity to move that the King be petitioned to give Australia the right to sell public titles at auction. There could be an auction every year, and the money might go to the hospitals. I advise those who are so struck on titles to christen their children after dukes and members of the Royal Family. Behind all titles there is the man - the title is the shadow, while the man is the substance. In a democracy we want honorable men to be honorable : and it is ridiculous that there should be a fight in the Post Office, about such titles as “Captain “ or “Major.”
– I had almost felt inclined to support the position taken up by the Postmaster-General, but after the speech of the honorable member for Darwin, I feel rather disposed to go the other way. The honorable member for Darwin asks us to be republican and democratic in our contempt of titles, and yet he has proved that the greatest Republic of all is, from end to end, full of titled people. Wherever people are called democratic or republicans, they are found to be favorable to titles.
– Hear, hear; that is quite true.
– And even the ladies of the United States are obtaining all the titles thev possibly can.
– The American ladies are buying the titles of foreign roosters.
– Then it is an exchange of titles for money.
– And beauty.
– If the honorable member for Darwin feels so strongly on this matter as he would like us to believe, he ought to do away with his name of “ King,” and call himself citizen O’Malley. Personally, I am entirely opposed to titles being used in any way in our civil service. I cannot . understand any man using in his civil service duties a title which he has received for duties of quite another description ; and such a practice is altogether against our feelings and desires. I am rather surprised that the right honorable member for Swan should have introduced the subject, and, though I do not always agree with the Labour Party, I am glad to do so on the present occasion- It is extremely “ small “ on the part of the men who desire these so-called dignities. If I were a captain or a colonel-, I should certainly discard the title in my capacity as a civil servant. Instead of indicating dignity and honour, such a use of titles indicates simply smallness of mind. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will stand by his guns, and that we shall not have these follies introduced into our Public Service.
– I am rather surprised that a gentleman who is such a stickler for practice and precedent as is the right honorable member for Swan should violate both practice and precedent in the action he has taken to-day. I have never known an adjournment motion, at any rate in this Parliament, to be proposed without the Government having received some previous notice. And, certainly, when it is proposed to challenge the conduct df- a Department by a Minister, it is usual to give some indication to the Minister concerned.
– I can assure the Minister that I did not think of giving him notice.
– The right honorable member for Swan has not, however, succeeded in taking me at the disadvantage which he evidently anticipated.
– The Minister is attributing to me motives which I never possessed.
– While accepting the right honorable gentleman’s disclaimer, I would point out as a justification of the belief which I have entertained, that he did not even correctly quote the answer which I gave to this House. The right honorable member not merely garbled my answer, but actually misrepresented, in the question which he placed on the noticepaper, the decision which I had communicated to the press.
– I do not think so.
– I can prove it. Here is the question -
That was quite correct ; but the right honorable gentleman inserted the following after the word “titles”: - and that a man had no right to have such titles recognised.
That is absolutely misleading with regard to my action.
– I did not quote the Minister in that case.
– No ; but that is the inference to be drawn from the question. It was to be inferred that I had done what the right honorable gentleman challenged me with having done.
– I presented the matter as it appeared to me from the newspaper report.
– Here are the words used in the course of the interview with the Age reporter -
The functions of this Department, being purely civil, no recognition of any kind can be given to military titles.
I noted Mr. Outtrim’s supposition that “ officers can claim to use their titles at all times,” but pointed out - that the issue was not a “claim to’ use” their titles themselves, but their right to require other officers to recognise and use such titles in conversation and written communications.
Now these words appeared in the report published in the Age, and yet the right honorable gentleman puts his own interpretation on them, and does not quote the words actually used. Then he went further, and absolutely misrepresented the answer which I gave in the House yesterday.
– I should be very silly if I misrepresented what was in print.
– I cannot answer for the right honorable gentleman’s lapses from the paths of discretion and sound commonsense. I think that he erred seriously in taking up the time of the House with a trumpery motion of this kind.
– The word “trumperv “ covers the whole position.
– I say that it is not merely trumpery, but contemptible. The time of the House should not be taken up and the business of the country suspended, in order to deal with a small matter of this kind. Again, I have to complain, of the right . honorable member’s speech, which certainly was not of that frank and outspoken character that we always expect to be exhibited in addresses to this House. In condemning my refusal to recognise titles, he carefully concealed the real point at issue, which was that whilst these officers could themselves use their titles as much as they pleased, they had no right to compel other people, during official hours, to employ such titles in addressing them.
– Has that been attempted ? Mr. MAHON. - Yes, it has. I am glad the honorable member put that query, because I can give him a case in point. I find that, according to the Deputy Postmaster-General, the postmaster at Ballarat holds a captain’s . commission, whilst one of his operatives is a major, and there are several others of his staff who are in the Militia - I do not know what rank they hold. The Deputy Postmaster-General says - “ I am informed that the postmaster insists upon being addressed by his military title.” That is the whole case, namely, that this postmaster, in doing his work as a postmaster, and not as an officer of the Defence Forces, insists that he shall be addressed by his military title.
– Why does the Minister sneer ?
– Where is the sneer? The honorable and learned % member made a reference just now which I ‘described by aword that I am quite prepared to repeat. He dragged in the name of a gentleman who should not have been mentioned in this connexion. It was something that I should never have expected from him. The whole point is that the postmaster at Ballarat insisted On being addressed by his military title during the discharge of his duties as postmaster.
– By his subordinates ?
– I presume so.
– Is the trouble regarding the major?
– The trouble arose, not merely in regard to the use of titles, but also in reference to some of the officials coming to the post office in their military uniforms. They wear military trousers, put on post office coats, and then proceed to discharge their postal duties. The postmaster appears to have objected to this practice, not altogether without grounds, because it is not proper that postal officials should waste -time brushing up uniforms and polishing up military accoutrements. Of course, if anything like that happened he was perfectly justified in the action he took. However, the outcome apparently was a complaint that this officer insisted on his subordinates addressing him by his military title. Now, I wish to show the right honorable gentleman that the idea with regard to the use of these military titles did not first occur to my mind. I shall read a short minute written by the Secretary the Postmaster-General’s Department - a gentleman who has had nearly half a century of official life - long before the matter came under my notice, and without any influence or word from me. Mr. Scott said : -
Whatever rights the officers of such a force may have to their military titles, in my opinion those titles should not be used in connexion with their positions or duties in this Department.
– What is the date of that ? ‘ Mr. MAHON.- Mr. Scott did not affix the date, but the minute was written ‘ two or three days before it was submitted to me. The date on the document which evoked this minute was. 30th May, < and I did not see the papers until last Thursday or Friday, so that the honorable I and learned member can see that these ] documents must have been written shortly ( after the Deputy Postmaster- General sent t in his communication. Mr. Scott goes on to say -
The use of such titles is evidently very capable of abuse, when it is found that a postmaster insists upon being addressed by the employes working under him in a civil capacity, by a military title. Any attempt to introduce military distinctions, or military usages, or discipline, into a large civil Department, such as that of the Postmaster-General, should, in my opinion, be not only discouraged, but distinctly forbidden.
– He went very much out of his way in writing such a minute without instructions.
– I think that the honorable member is under some misapprehension. The permanent head of the Department has a perfect right to’ submit his view to the Minister, who, in his turn, may accept or reject such views.
– Did the Secretary write the minute for submission to the Minister, or as an instruction to his subordinates?
– Only for submission to me.
– I misunderstood the position.
– How many officers objected to addressing the postmaster at Ballarat by his title of Captain?
– I have no information, except that disclosed by the papers. The Deputy Postmaster-General says, “ I am informed that the postmaster insisted upon being addressed by his military title.”
– How was the question brought up?
– In the way that I have described.
– But who moved the Deputy Postmaster-General?
– The matter may have reached him in consequence of some action by certain, postal officials at Ballarat.
– Postal officials? Mr. MAHON.- Yes. Sir John Forrest. - Somebody complained, I suppose?
– The postmaster at Ballarat forwarded all the papers to the Deputy Postmaster- General of Victoria for his opinion, and that officer despatched them to the Secretary of the central office.
– Did one officer only complain ?
– I am inclined to think the trouble arose through the refusal of the postmaster at Ballarat to allow one of his officials to wear a portion of his military uniform whilst discharging postal duties.
– He was quite right in so doing.
– I do not deny that, because the officer in question may have occupied his time in attending to his military uniform, instead of in the discharge of official duties. I think that the postmaster at Ballarat adopted a proper course.
– Is not the uniform of a member of the Defence Force intended to be worn only when on military duty ?
– The hours of military parade at Ballarat appear to coincide to some extent with the postal hours, consequently there is not time for officers to effect a change of clothing. That, I think, is the explanation of the trouble. The honorable member for Swan affirmed that I had committed an illegal act, but he was very careful not to quote the section of the Act or the ‘regulation under it which I am supposed to have infringed.
– These officers hold commissions under the Act.
– Undoubtedly, they do; and as officers of the Defence Force they are perfectly justified in requiring others to address them by their military titles when performing military duties. But when these gentlemen leave the parade ground and enter a civil Department to discharge purely business functions, they must leave their military titles behind them. They may, if they choose, use them in addressing one another - that is a matter of taste - but they must not require others to do so. That is the point which the right honorable member for Swan carefully evaded:
– Could not the postmaster at Ballarat have communicated with the central office before taking action?
– No; he could communicate only through the deputy. As I have said, the trouble appears to have arisen through the major refusing to address the postmaster as captain in some personal communication.
– Is the honorable gentleman speaking with authority in making that statement ?
– No. I infer that from the papers bearing upon the subject. The postmaster at Ballarat holds a captain’s commission, and one of the telegraph operators there has attained the rank of major. I believe that friction between them was engendered in some personal interview. There is no documentary evidence to show that it was created in any other way. The right honorable member for Swan is very strong upon titles, and it is, therefore, curious to note that, as a member of the late Government, he was a party to a minute in which it was agreed to dispense with certain titles which Ministers hold “ under the law.”
– That reference shows the straits to .which the honorable gentleman is driven in defending his action.
– It may be that, in this as in other instances, the right honorable member, in order to save his Cabinet position, swallowed some of the principles which might otherwise have guided his conduct. However, the fact remains that on the 14th February, 1902, the Government of which he was a leading member, addressed to the Postmaster-General a letter couched in the following terms: -
Sir, - In connexion with the agreement arrived at by Ministers, that in all departmental correspondence, the prefix of “ the honorable,” or “ the right honorable,” when applied to Ministers, and also all affixes are to be dispensed with, I shall be pleased if you will give instructions to have this rule of action observed in the official correspondence of your Department.
I have the honour to be Sir,
Your most obedient servant, (Signed) Edmund Barton.
– That was a decision by the Cabinet ; I remember it.
– I think that the honorable member for Hume voted against it. Personally, I regarded it as a piece of foolery.
– I feel that I owe an apology to the House for having dealt with this matter at such length. There are occasions, however, when it is difficult to avoid following a bad example. Now, the right honorable member for Swan urges that the non-recognition of military titles in Government Departments is calculated to impair the efficiency of the Defence Forces, and to prevent recruiting. I should be ashamed to attribute such an ignoble motive to the members of that force, and to those who may join it. As clearly as words can express it, he has declared that these men join the force in order to obtain titles.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– I say again that this is the plain English of the right honorable gentleman’s question. I replied -
In the majority of cases it is believed these men join from a patriotic impulse to fit themselves for effectively defending their country in its hour of danger.
It is preferable to hold that view than to credit them with the sordid motive which the light honorable member has attributed to them. He asked me -
The plain inference from these questions is that the Defence Force is recruited from men who desire to obtain military titles.
– Certainly not.
– I shall be very pleased to hear any explanation to the contrary. I regret that, as my time is almost exhausted, I am unable to reply to the extraordinary arguments advanced by the honorable and learned member for Corio. I must, therefore, leave them to be answered by other honorable members. So far as the Government is concerned, no attempt whatever has been made to place the Imperial Forces in a superior position to that of the Citizen Forces of the Commonwealth. We desire to give officers of the Defence Forces all the kudos to which their rank entitles them, but our instructions are that when performing work of a purely business Department, they shall not compel others to address them bv their military titles.
– The right honorable member for Swan has endeavoured to raise “ much ado about nothing.” From the statement of the PostmasterGeneral, honorable members must recognise that the Government have no desire .to prevent the use of military titles under proper circumstances, Where is the use of titles to end ? If we are to carry out the suggestion made by the right honorable member for Swan, and to recognise all prefixes, why should we not also recognise affixes? It would then be necessary for us to spaak of the right honorable member’ as “ the right honorable member for Swan. Sir John Forrest, P.C.. LL.D., G.C.M.G.”
– Yes; they must all be used
– Quite so. This is an illustration of the utter absurdity of the right honorable member’s contention. He will surely admit that if one officer is to be addressed according to his military title, all must be treated in the same way.
The right honorable member is apparently unaware that a lieutenant is never addressed by his military title, but only as plain “ Mr.” If there1 is a subordinate in the service holding the rank of captain in the Militia Forces, he must be addressed, according to the right honorable member, as “captain” by his superior officer; but when that subordinate addresses the Postmaster, who happens to be a lieutenant, he must, according to military etiquette, call him “ Mr.” I do not think it is necessary to say more in order to demonstrate the utter absurdity of the- right honorable member’s contention. I was glad to hear the Postmaster-General make it clear that there is no intention to deprive those entitled to the use of military titles of the right to employ them ; but we could never hope to educate the general public up to the practice of always addressing private citizens by their military titles. There are many officers and non-commissioned officers employed in factories and warehouses in the Commonwealth, but one never hears a noncommissioned officer addressed by his. employer as “ Corporal “ or “ Sergeant.”
– We speak of “ Colonel “ Rowell..
– Solely from considerations of courtesy. I have heard the honorable and learned member for Corio again and again referred to in this House as * “ the honorable and learned member, Mr. Crouch “ ; but have never known him to protest or to contend that he should be addressed as “ Captain Crouch.” Nor can I say that the honorable and learned member for Corinella has ever complained because other honorable members have failed to refer to him as “Colonel McCay.” The PostmasterGeneral has issued an order which I am sure will receive the approval of, at all events, three-fourths of the members of this House; but, because he is a member of a Labour Government it is thought proper to make the issuing of that order an excuse for a shot at the Ministry. If a man holding the rank of colonel or captain in ‘:he Military Forces is to be addressed by his military title in the course of his private employment, those who hold the rank of corporal must also be dealt with in the same way. The proposition made by the right honorable member for Swan is so absurd that it is unnecessary for me to further discuss it.
– I have listened intently to the remarks made by the right honorable member for Swan - who objects,
I understand, to be addressed in that wayand also to the speech made by the honorable and learned member for Corio, Captain Crouch, of Albert Park fame. It is said that, so far as military events are concerned, history repeats itself only once in a hundred years, and I would remind the House that when the honorable and learned member for Corio took part in the celebrated Albert Park charge, he repeated an incident which occurred at the charge of Fuentes de Onoro, during the Peninsular War. On that occasion the infantry charged the artillery, and received a very rough handling; but at Albert Park the infantry turned the artillery. The Honorable and learned member complains that I speak of the Militia as “ Saturday afternoon soldiers,” but I should like to know whether any soldier would attempt such an act as was committed at Albert Park by the honorable member for Corio, Captain Crouch?
– The Japs, did the same thing a few days ago.
– I have not read of that incident, but the honorable and learned member for Corio is in good company when he is with the Japs. The right honorable member for Swan desired to know the reason for the decision of the Minister, and I presume that he is satisfied with the explanation that has been given.
– No reason has been given.
– Has not the PostmasterGeneral told the House of an incident which occurred at the Ballarat post office? A number of citizen soldiers employed in that post-office attended for duty one Saturday morning attired in regimentals, their desire being to go on parade as early as possible. Before setting to work they removed their coats, helmets, and military accoutrements, retaining only their military trousers, and as soon as their duties at the office had been discharged they were ready to don their accoutrements and set out for the parade.
– That incident does not apply.
– I will show its application in the course of a few minutes if the right honorable n.ember will permit me to do so. The postmaster at Ballarat objected to these, men wearing their military trousers while on duty, although he was a stickler for titles, and insisted upon being addressed as “Captain.” Notwithstand ing .that he was an officer he would not assist these men to attend on parade, and merely because they were only in the ranks. Had they been lieutenants or majors he would have given them every facility to carry out their desire to serve their country. I was never a prouder man than when I wore the military uniform, and I should advise every young man who is able to join a Military Force to do so as soon as possible. I have never regretted my connexion with the Army. There is no disgrace in being a member of the ranks, notwithstanding what may be said by those snobs who put o.i frills and insist upon being addressed by their military titles. There are many good officers in the British Army who do not wish to be given their military titles while in private life. It is only pettifogging men in the Public Service who insist upon being addressed in that way, whilst they are discharging their everyday duties. The right honorable member for Swan has said that these men join the Militia merely because of the titles they secure, and I ant satisfied that his assertion is correct. It seems to me that I might very well give the House on account of an incident that happened in one of the Commonwealth offices. A man once called at the Commonwealth offices, and, on inquiring whether Mr. Miller was in, was informed by a messenger that he did not know “ Mr. Miller.” The inquirer, on continuing his way along the corridor, asked another messenger where he could find “ Mr. Miller,” and received the reply, “ I suppose you want Colonel Miller, -‘Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs?” “That is the man,” said the stranger, and he was directed to another messenger, who, he was informed, would conduct him to Colonel Millers room. The stranger then ‘ remarked to the messenger, “I suppose you are a major?” “No,” answered the man, “ I am only a captain in the Collingwood cadets.” That is an illustration of the absurdity of the right honorable member’s contention. Another incident that occurred some years ago in South Australia has also a bearing on this question. When the right honorable member for Adelaide held office as Minister of Defence in South Australia, he served as a corporal under the Under Secretary of the Department, who was in command of the forces. On one occasion, while the forces were in camp, the Under-Secretary sent for “ Corporal Kingston,” and, on the right honorable member attending at his tent, said to him, “ I am addressing you, sir, not as
Corporal Kingston,’ but as Mr. Kingston, Premier of South Australia. I desire you to grant me two days additional leave, in order that I may direct further manoeuvres on the part of the forces.” Was not that an absurdity ?
– In what way?
– It shows the absurdity of the whole system. When the UnderSecretary simply wished to ask for an extension of leave, why did he not go to, or send for, “ Mr. Kingston,” instead of sending for “ Corporal Kingston.” The right honorable member said in the course of his speech hat the Postmaster-General could not override any law. A couple of years ago, when speaking on the military estimates, the right honorable member for Swan told us that in Western Australia he had spent over , £500,000 without the sanction of Parliament. Is not that rather inconsistent ?
– I acknowledged that, in that instance, I broke the law.
– My fear is not that expressed bv the honorable and learned member for Corio, ‘but that we shall have here a system of military domination. I do not wish every second man in the Commonwealth to call himself colonel or captain, as the honorable member for Darwin says is the practice in America. Let each of us stand or fall on his merits. The right honorable member for Swan twitted the members of the Labour Party with calling each other “honorable members,” but no one knows better than he does that the parliamentary rule compels us to do so. Only this afternoon Mr. Speaker informed the House that we must address each other by the constituency which we represent.
– One could say the “ member for so-and-so,” instead of the “ honorable member for so-and-so.”
– I will call the right honorable gentleman the “ member for Swan “ in future, if he prefers it. Personally, I do not care what I am called, so long as I am not called late for my “ tucker.” The right honorable member also spoke of the title of “ honorable “ which has been conferred upon the members of the first Federal Parliament. Members on this side of the chamber did not desire that title; and we may have an opportunity to prove our sincerity by voting on the subject. I ‘do not wish for a colonial distinction. I am as Imperialistic as is the right honorable member; but, although he talks about the Empire and the soldiers of the King, he is willing to accept a merely colonial brand of title, which is not to be used outside the Commonwealth. No one on this side of the chamber wishes to use such a title.
– It is an insult to us.
– It is like the cheap edition of a novel - “ For circulation in India and Australia only.”
– The right honorable member for Swan told us that he would show how the Postmaster-General had violated the law, but the Postmaster-General was able to prove very clearly that the right honorable member had not read the regulations. If we are to be forced to call these gentlemen by their military titles, by all means let it be known. The honorable member for Corio has compared Australian with Imperial officers. I have seen some Saturday afternoon soldiers in the old country, but I never saw such guvs’ of volunteers there as I have seen in Victoria. If they compare with the British soldier, God help the latter. A military man in the old country does not carry his title about with him, and tell every one “ I am Captain Soandso,” or “ Major So-and-so,” and I think that the Postmaster-General has done the right thing in nipping in the bud an’ objectionable practice which was springing into existence here.
– I am very sorry to have heard in this chamber what I have protested against in a State Parliament - the sneering at a body of men of whom we should be proud, our citizen soldiers.
– There has been no sneering at them.
– The whole tone of some of the speeches which have been made I regard as a sneer at our citizen soldiery.
– Then the honorable gentleman is mistaken.
– I think that a good many other honorable gentlemen share my opinion. The honorable member for Maranoa has proved his claim to the title of soldier; but I was sorry to hear the tone in which he spoke of our volunteers. I have no claim to a military “title. Although I was a volunteer for some years, I was never more than a private, as at the time I was always busily employed, and had not sufficient leisure to work myself up from the ranks. But I take credit for having been a good marksman and. a good private. Still, I know men who have given up a considerable portion of their leisure time for many years past - men who have not had too much leisure time - to make themselves acquainted with the duties of volunteer officers, and I am proud to say that they are regarded, not only by those whom they command, but also by the private citizens who come into contact with them and recognise the good work which thev are doing, as a credit to the service. A good deal of objection has been expressed to militarism, and I am ready to class myself as an objector to anything which savours of that. I have no desire for a huge standing army, but I wish to see a good citizen soldiery established. I would like to see the boys of our schools, the children of rich and poor parents alike, compelled to undergo a certain amount of discipline, taught the rudiments of drill, and instructed how to shoot, so that they may learn the first duty of citizenship- to defend themselves and the country to which they belong. We shall not be able to build up a satisfactory citizen soldiery if we slight the officers of our Defence Forces. There is no comparison between the shoddy titles of which we have heard so much this afternoon, and those which our volunteer officers have won by perfecting themselves on the field, and by their books, in the art of warfare. I do not wish to touch upon a subject with which you, Mr. Speaker, have declined to allow other honorable members to deal, but I would point out that volunteer titles are very different from titles which have been obtained practically as the result of accident. The title of “honorable” which has been given to the members of the first Federal Parliament has attached to it what seems to me to be a distinct stigma, inasmuch as the condition is imposed that it must not be used outside Australia. The Federal Parliament, in my opinion, has not given the volunteer officers and privates the consideration which they should have received, and the result is that, although we are now paying more to our citizen soldiery, we are not getting as good a return as when we had purely Volunteer Forces. Honorable members may sneer at volunteers who give up their Saturday afternoons, but they forget that it is a great thing for a man who enjoys only one half-holiday a week to devote it to military training, and, further, to employ additional holidays in continuous training in camp. The least .we can do for those who make this sacrifice is to give them encouragement. We shall not create the spirit which should animate our Defence Forces unless we do so. Our best defence, that upon which we can most surely -rely, will be our volunteer forces, who consist of citizens trained to defend themselves and their country. I have not gathered very clearly from the papers which have been read how this trouble has arisen, but I think that the right honorable member for Swan did right in drawing attention to the matter, so that we may have it cleared up, and know where we are. I have invariably recognised my old volunteer officers by their titles, and shall continue to do so, in spite of any action which the Government may take; just as I shall have pleasure, so long as the House thinks that they should retain them, in calling my honorable friends who now hold office by the titles which they have won. I am no slavish advocate of the use of titles. Personally, I do not believe in them. But when a man wins a title by industry, pluck, energy, or ability, I am prepared to recognise it, whether he be a volunteer, a minister of the church, a Minister of the State, or anyone else. It is a different matter when men obtain titlesthrough the accident of being pitchforked into a position. I repeat that I regret that what I feel, and what the volunteers of Australia will feel, to be a slight and a sneer upon them has been given by the action of the Government in depriving them of titles which they have fairly won.
– The honorable member for Franklin was hardly fair in imputing to honorable members a desire to sneer at our volunteers. I heartily approve of the action of the Postmaster-General, because I am anxious to uphold the honour of the Defence Forces. As a volunteer I have worn a military uniform, and am proud of the fact, and I shall continue to do all, in my power to encourage those upon whom we must rely for defence in time of need. I should be one of the last to adopt an arbitrary attitude towards gentlemen who are entitled to use military designations. But the Postmaster-General has made it clear that his object is, not to prevent the use of military titles by their possessors, but to resist the attempt, made with more enthusiasm than good taste, to compel others to use them. That is how the trouble has arisen. I think that if a vote of the officers of the Defence Force were taken on the subject, they would be found to approve of the action of the PostmasterGeneral. They do not, I presume, consider the title so necessary that they are willing to insist upon its use by those who do not wish to recognise it. That is apparently what is being done in at least one case, and that in itself is sufficient to give point to the direction of the Postmaster-General that in future no attempt of the kind shall be tolerated. I feel quite sure that in acting in this manner, the Minister has been defending the honour of the large majority of the officers of the Defence Forces, who, whilst fully entitled to their military designations, do not insist upon their recognition by others. That is the whole position, and I do not think that it is quite fair to attempt to make capital out of the incident. One or two honorable members have represented the action of the Minister as humiliating to the officers of the Defence Forces, and the attitude of honorable members on this side as distinctly hostile to our citizen soldiery. I desire to protest against both those suggestions.
– I was one of those honorable members who rose in their places to enable the right honorable member for Swan to move the adjournment. My object was to afford the right honorable member an opportunity to substantiate his case. After having heard the statement of the Postmaster-General, I feel that there is no desire on his part “to prevent titles of distinction from receiving due recognition under proper circumstances. Many anomalies might arise if military titles were recognised in connexion with service in a Public Department. We might, for instance, find a subordinate in the Postal Service holding a higher military, title than his superior officer. I understand that the Minister has decided that military titles are not to be recognised in connexion with the official work of the Department, and that juniors will not be compelled to address their seniors by such titles. I am pleased to have an opportunity to support the Minister in the stand which he has taken, because he is one of the few men capable of occupying such a position. I trust that he will continue to keep a strong hold of his Department, and see that proper discipline is maintained throughout the service.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The PostmasterGeneral charged me with discourtesy in not giving him notice of my intention to move the adjournment of the House. I desire to say that this is the first occasion during my twenty-one years of continuous Parliamentary life upon which I have moved the adjournment of the House for the purpose of bringing forward a matter of public importance. I was not aware of the procedure usually followed. Furthermore. I had in my mind that the honorable gentleman would know all about the subject. I wish to assure him that I had no idea of taking him at a disadvantage, and if I have occasion to take similar action in future I shall be only too glad to give notice of my intention to the Minister concerned.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, transmitting Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure foi the year ending 30th June, 1904; and Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New
Works and Buildings for the year ending 30th June, 1904, and recommending appropriation accordingly.
In Committee of Supply: Parliament
Divisions 4, 5, and 10 (“ Other “), £544
.I am submitting to-day Supplementary Estimates of expenditure, which, although comprising a great many items, will, on examination, be found to be not nearly so formidable as they would at first appear. I may say that they very largely represent items which have been advanced by my predecessor from’ the Treasurer’s advance vote, and that the principal reason why I come to the Committee on this occasion is that that vote has been exhausted for some week or so past. It is quite possible, in fact more than likely, that within the next few weeks contingencies will arise which will necessitate an immediate payment by the Treasurer. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain further supplies, and the only manner in which that can be satisfactorily done is by reimbursing the Treasurer’s advance by voting a large proportion of the items which have caused its depletion. I have not been able to keep strictly to the letter of the intimation I made a few nights ago. I then said I did not anticipate asking for any amounts except those which had been authorized by the late Treasurer or myself, and which would be, strictly speaking, required for the reimbursement of the Treasurer’s advance. I find, however, that there are a few items that I could not meet from the Treasurer’s advance, because I had not the money, but which it is absolutely essential shall be paid almost immediately Therefore, I have departed from the intimation I recently made to that extent, and I now ask in these Supplementary Estimates that I may be granted some extra sums of money which I shall indicate. In the first place, the total sum asked for in these Estimates is, for the ordinary Estimates, £137,216. and for works and buildings £42,294; or a total of ,£179,510. The ordinary Estimates include the sum of £18,000 odd for the payment of Victorian civil servants under section 19 of the State Act of December. 1900.
– Is that debited to the State of Victoria?
– Yeo. I might say that I do not anticipate that this sum will be nearly sufficient to meet all the claims for which the Commonwealth is responsible - that is, for which we have to find the money, but which will eventually be debited to the State of Victoria. That is not nearly the sum which has accrued since the Commonwealth took over the Departments. A number of other claims will have to be paid, but these have not, so far, been ascertained. I asked the Public Service Commissioner for an estimate covering the years during which the Commonwealth has had control of the transferred Departments ; but, unfortunately, in the absence of particulars from the various Departments, he was not able to furnish me with anything like an accurate estimate of the liability which will have to be met by the Commonwealth. It must be remembered that this liability has now been running for three years, and that the postal officials, particularly, having obtained a decision from the High Court in the case of Bond v. The Queen, to the effect that we are liable to pay ‘to an official of a similar grade in Victoria the highest salary payable in any other State, we must be prepared, as soon as the liability is definitely ascertained, to make good the whole amount from the Commonwealth finances. Of course, the State of Victoria will eventually bear the burden.
– Customs officials would be included within the provisions of that Act ?
– Yes; but the amount now proposed to he voted is to be distributed among only postal employes - mostly lettercarriers. The Public Service Commissioner, in the absence of particulars, stated that he thought that the liability would probably amount to about £25,000 per annum for the three years during which the Commonwealth had exercised control over the transferred Departments - in other words, a total liability of £75,000 has already accrued during Commonwealth control. I do not wish it to be understood that the Public Service Commissioner binds himself to those figures. That intimation, however, was the only one that he was able to make to me a fortnight ago.
– Will the obligation continue ? 1
– I shall come to that point presently. Some of the postal officials further claim that, not only are arrears of salary clue to them at the rate which was paid in December, 1900, to officials of a similar grade in any part of the Commonwealth, but that they are entitled to increments which are being paid to some officers in South Australia. I do not include any claim of that description in the sum for which I am now asking. From my point of view, it is extremely doubtful whether officers in Victoria are entitled by the operation of the law to increments which have accrued to officers in South Australia between December, 1900, and the present time.
– What is the nature of these increments?
– Some officers - there are not many of them- in South Australia - which was the State selected by the Victorian postal officials in order to test the case of Bond v. The Queen - who can point to long service and good conduct, are entitled to receive increments up to a maximum amount at certain stated periods. It is now urged that the Victorian officials, having established their claim to a salarysimilar to that received by officers of their own grade in South Australia, are also entitled to the increments which have accrued to these South Australian officers. There is this point about the matter - that section 19 of the Victorian Statute, under which this claim is put forward, contains the words “ the highest salary then payable.”
– To any officer in a corresponding position.
– Yes; but the section is largely governed by the words “ then payable.” If that view is upheld - and I may mention that the Attorney-General holds the same opinion - it seems clear that the Victorian officers are entitled to receive no more than was paid to officers in a corresponding grade elsewhere at the time the Victorian Act was passed. In other words, they are not entitled to claim these increments. I am not asking the Committee to vote anything further-
– It is to be hoped that all will be ultimately placed on the same footing.
– I am not asking the Committee to satisfy these claims, because if we did that, and the High Court subsequently decided that they should not have been paid, in all probability we should be unable to recover the money from the officers in question, and the taxpayer would be held responsible for a refund of the amount that we had illegally paid. I am merely asking the Committee to pay the sum which has already accrued, and for which we have been held liable by the High Court. As the Judges of the Full Court of Victoria, and afterwards the Justices of the High Court, intimated, it is very difficult to decide what constitutes “ a corresponding position.” The length of service of an officer may constitute an element in the matter/ For instance, an officer may be receiving a certain salary, partly because of the work that he has to perform, and partly because of the long period that he has been in the service. It is very difficult to law down a hard-and-fast rule, and to. say that any two positions correspond. That is where the primary difficulty of the Court arose in construing the Victorian Act. I agree with the honorable member for Lang that it is desirable to place all officers on the same footing. Up to the present, however, we have been governed by the State laws and practice in every instance. Neither the late Government, nor the present Government, should accept any responsibility for the anomalous state of affairs which exists.
– There is no question of responsibility.
– We do not accept responsibility for the anomalous state of affairs prevailing. I admit that the question of responsibility arises, in that it was the duty of the Government, at the earliest possible moment to introduce a Public Service Act, and regulations under it, to insure that the same treatment should be meted out to every officer in the Commonwealth service.
– In the smaller States, some of those who perform the least work get the highest salaries.
– That may be so. Coming now to the question of whether the obligation will continue, the classification scheme under the Public Service Act will be ready to be gazetted not later than the 1st July. It is certainly my own view - although it is a matter for the Courts to determine - that that scheme will supplant all the anomalous conditions now prevailing, not only in the other States, but also in Victoria, and will limit the period during which section 19 gi the Victorian Act can operate. I cannot believe that the Victorian Parliament ever intended to tie the hands of the Commonwealth Legislature in the administration of these Departments for all time, or for such time as Victorian transferred officers may remain in Commonwealth employment.
– The Victorian Parliament is responsible for some very grave discrepancies.
– From my reading of the section I do not think that it will have that effect. In my view, the classification scheme, which has involved an enormous amount of labour on the part of the Public Service Commissioner - it is a monumental work - will overcome many of the difficulties to which I have referred. T am also asking the House to vote .£9,500 for the carriage of mails upon the Western Australian railways. I understand that it has not been the practice to make so large an allowance to the Railway Commissioners of that State. Very properly they now ask to be placed upon the same footing as the Railway Commissioners in the other States, who are paid as ordinary contractors for the carriage of mails.
– They desire to be paid a proportionate sum, I suppose?
– Yes. The usual practice is to pay so much per mile per annum, with alterations where the trains do not run daily. The amount involved is a large one, and that is the reason why I draw attention to it. At present I do not quite understand why provision was not made in the Estimates-in-Chief for a sum to be paid in this connexion. No doubt if the right honorable member for Balaclava - whose illness we all deplore - were present, he would be ready with a satisfactory explanation.
– Is this payment for arrears only ?
– Yes. It has accrued, but it is one to which there should be no objection. Inasmuch as we pay the Railway Commissioners for the carriage of mails in every other State, we must pay them at a similar rate in Western Australia. There are a number of other items to which I should like to direct attention. One of these has reference to the travelling expenses of the Justices of the High Court and their Associates. It represents a sum of £1,700. That is to be charged to a special appropriation, but it really does not involve an increased expenditure. The Attorney-General has recently expressed the opinion that we must make a special appropriation in connexion with these travelling expenses. For this year, however, I ask the Committee to vote the money in the way that is proposed. It really does not represent an increased expenditure, because when the High Court was created,
Parliament contemplated paying the travelling expenses of the Justices, and provision was made for it.
– Are those expenses “on scale?”
– Under Executive min-‘ ute it was decided to pay the actual amount of the expenses.
– Upon vouchers?
– Yes. At the present time, however, I am considering the desirability of introducing a scale, in lieu of the voucher system. I shall have further information upon that subject at a later stage. What I desire to impress upon the Committee is that this sum does not necessarily involve an increased expenditure, as compared with that upon the EstimatesinChief. Then, in division 22, page 8, provision is made in connexion with the Department of Home Affairs for works and buildings. “ Transferred expenditure “ is set down at £5,498, and “other” at £3,714. Concerning these items, there will be a saving on the votes of former Appropriation Acts in transferred expenditure, which will probably balance the amount for which I am now asking. The “ other expenditure “ will be slightly more than was anticipated. In the matter of works and buildings, only eight months of the year are available in which to expend the money authorized by Parliament. The Estimates are usually passed in September, and only eight months remain in which to get out plans and specifications, call for tenders, and arrange for the starting of the works. Consequently, it is certain that there will always be a considerable saving on the nominal sum voted by Parliament. Upon this occasion, however, we do not anticipate that there will be a much larger saving than I have just indicated. In division 24, subdivision 1, provision :’s made for the sum of £2,590, on account of the cost of the Federal Capital Sites Commission. The Commission was appointed by the late Government, with, I believe, the tacit approval of Parliament, but I think that our predecessors in office should have made provision on the Estimates for the payment of a large sum on this account, so that it would have been unnecessary to have recourse to the Treasurer’s advance account. It seems to me, at all events, that this expenditure might have been foreseen.
– It was not until the close of the session that the Seat of Government Bill was dealt with. If the Bill had been finally passed into law’ a great deal of this expenditure would not have been necessary.
– I am referring to the Royal Commission, of which Mr. Kirkpatrick was chairman. The Commission was appointed before the Seat of Government Bill was dealt with.
– Does this item relate only to that Commission? I think it will be found by the honorable gentleman that it covers the cost of the work done bv the surveyors lent to the Commonwealth by the Government of New South Wales, and whose reports have been laid on the table of the House.
– I shall look into the matter, and refer to it at a later stage. At all events, this grant from the Treasurer’s advance account was made by my predecessor in office, and in response to inquiry I was tentatively informed that the facts were as I have stated. Provision is also made for an extra sum of £3.500 in respect of the cost of the general election.
– Another general election?
– No ; we do not contemplate making provision for anything in that direction.
– Is the item ‘,£3,500 or
– £3,500 is the nominal sum; but we shall be recouped £1,000 by the Government of New South Wales. They agreed to allow us that amount, in respect of the cost of taking the referendum on the question of whether there should be a reduction of members in the State Parliament, in conjunction with the Federal elections. That payment will reduce the net amount to £2,500 ; but we shall require the whole amount.
– Was there any undertaking on the part of the Government of New South Wales to recoup us to the extent named ?
– Yes; they have undertaken to pav £1,000.
– Then we can reasonably expect to receive that amount?
– Will it be paid by Mr. O’sullivan out of the loan funds?
– I do not think that at present there is any very great shortage in the public accounts of New South Wales. The State Government have been economizing. In view of the large expenditure involved in the conduct of the general election, and having regard to the fact that the Department had to largely rely on men of whom the officials at the head office had had no previous experience, I do not think that this additional sum is in any way remarkable.
– I. do not think that it is enough. Many of the officers were underpaid.
– The officers of the Electoral Department considered that they would be able to discharge all liabilities if this extra sum were provided, and I therefore had no hesitation in granting it a little while ago from the Treasurer’s advance account. It does not represent a large percentage of error, having regard to the enormous expenditure which the general election involved.
– It is so small as to suggest almost the idea of sweating.
– In division 32A, a sum of £2,683 is asked for in respect of expenses incurred in New South Wales under the Sugar Bounties Act, and £4,062 is also asked for in division 34A in respect of expenses incurred in Queensland under the same Statute. Each item represents only a bookkeeping entry.
– In divisions 32 and 33 provision is made for an increased expenditure in New South Wales and Victoria. I am aware, of course, that the late Treasurer is probably responsible for them, but are not these amounts large to appear in Supplementary Estimates? The increase in the case of New South Wales is £1,996.
– It will be found that that item does not increase the total expenditure.
– I thought that, perhaps, would be the case.
– I . shall explain these items in the course of the next few minutes. In division 32, there is an item in respect of salaries of certain officers. These are officers over 65 years of age, for whom provision was made only until the 30th September, 1903, in the expectation that they would then be retired. It was subsequently decided to grant them leave of absence, extending up to six months, according to their length of service, and this provision is necessary in order that the payments may be made to them. It represents extra expenditure ; but expenditure that was incurred during the term of office of the late Government, and upon the recommendation of the Public Service Commissioner.
– Does the same thing apply in the case of Victoria, or are the items simply, provided here in a different form?
Subdivision 1 of division 33 deals, with payments to sub-collectors and others in this State.
– So far as Victoria is concerned, this item is due to the adjustment of the expense of maintaining border customs houses. Duties are no longer collected on the borders, but it is necessary to maintain customs houses there, in order to keep records for bookkeeping purposes of the passing of- goods from one State to another. This involves no increase of expenditure. For example, the items of £585, in respect of sub-collectors, £241 in respect of clerks, £552 in respect of three watchmen, and £48 in regard to one officer, are included in the original Estimates, but are charged to New South Wales. In order to secure a more accurate adjustment, it is necessary that they should be charged against each State. We now find that we must debit Victoria with a greater proportion of the expense of maintaining these border customs houses.
– Does the total sum of £1,996 in division 32 represent additional expenditure in New South Wales?
– A portion of it does. We have, for instance, to provide for additional expenditure incurred in connexion with the proper protection of the Customs and Excise revenue. The precautions taken at once involve expense; but it often happens that we receive back a considerable amount in respect pf fines, and revenue from other sources, so that the expenditure is well justified.
– I wish to know whether the whole of these items were included in the original Estimates.
– I find that the item in division 32, to which reference was made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, is really a question of bookkeeping. A slight expenditure in Victoria is certainly involved, but that outlay cannot very well be avoided.
– I am satisfied.
– With regard to the provision made in division 32A., in respect of sugar bounties, I would point out that it is a book entry. It means that we are now charging against the Sugar Bounties Act the cost of its administration. In the Estimates-in-Chief that cost was debited to the various Customs Departments, and therefore became transferred expenditure; but, the Sugar Bounties Act having been passed, it becomes “other expenditure,” and in order that an accurate account of “ other expenditure ‘ 1 may be kept, we find it necessary to debit against the Act the total cost of its administration. It is in reality a mere book-keeping difference. The money has been granted from the Treasurers’ advance account.
– It transfers the liability from specific States to a population proportion.
– Quite so; but so far as the actual expenditure is concerned it is merely a book-keeping entry. It means, of course, a little difference in the adjustment.
– It means, for example, that Victoria will have a little more to pav.
– Possibly that is so. I regret that it was necessary to adopt this course. The action was not taken on my initiative. The whole matter had been simmering for a considerable time, and, so far as we can ascertain, there is no escape from the course proposed to be followed. We are also asking for a sum of £6,000 odd to allow of refunds of over-charges in respect of rent of quarters. I am sorry that it is necessary to bring forward the item in this way. It seems to me that it should have been provided for in the EstimatesinChief . The rent charged to officers occupying Government buildings should have been reduced to the lower rate immediately on the passing of the Public Service Act. Although the Act provides that not more than 10 per cent, shall be deducted from officers’ salaries in respect of rent of Government buildings occupied by them, the deductions were continued on the old basis, with the result that we now have to refund to these officers in two States a sum exceeding £6,000. This refund must take place in accordance with the terms of the Act, and I am therefore asking that provision be made for it. In division 178, honorable members will find an item of £1.950 in respect of refund of Customs duties paid by the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company. We have to make this refund under an agreement entered into principally by the South Australian Government, that the company should be allowed to bring in all stores in connexion with the cable service free of duty. As the company has been charged duty in respect of some of its stores, it is now necessary to make a refund. With regard to the statement made by me a few moments ago relative to the cost of the Capital Sites Commission, I find on looking further into the matter that the original item in the Supplementary Estimates included provision for the Commission, but not sufficient provision. With regard to the item on page 53, under the heading Expenditure in the State of Western Australia, Postmaster-General’s Department :
Conveyance of mails by railway, ^9,500, £12,550 was set down in the original Estimates for the carriage of mails by the Railway Department of Western Australia; but the right honorable member for Balaclava assented to a claim by the Government of that State for payment at higher rates, that is, at rates equal to those charged by the Victorian Railway Department. This necessitates an additional vote of £91500. Provision was made by the right honorable member to the extent which then appeared necessary.
– Will the honorable gentleman give the Committee some information in regard to the item -
Services of analyst, £751, which appears at page 18 of the Estimates? What is the final arangement which has been come to?
– Indorsing the action of our predecessors, we have agreed with the Government of Western Australia to pay £200 a year for any services that may be rendered by their analyst to the Customs Department in that State.
– So that there will be a saving of £55° ?
– Yes. £751 is the charge which the analyst has made for services rendered without an agreement, so that the arrangement now come to means a considerable saving. We .must, of course, pay on the old basis up to the time when the agreement was entered into, which was, I think, in October last. There is another matter to which I desire to call attention. On the last page of the Estimates, the sum of £22.000 is put down on account of the Department of Defence. The appearance of that amount is explained in this way : The late Minister of Defence desired 10 procure rifles and ammunition at. a cost greater than the amount voted on the Estimates for the year, and the Treasurer of the day agreed that if savings were made in the ordinary expenditure of the Department, he would advance a corresponding sum from his vote. On that understanding, he advanced £48,000 ; and although we appear to ask for£2 2,000 more than the original estimate, there will be a saving sufficient to balance it. The rifles and ammunition have been paid for by savings in other branches of military expenditure, and although nominally £22,000 is asked for, no greater expenditure is involved than was assented to by the Committee when it passed the original Estimates. For expenditure in New South Wales, we ask for £24,875, on account of transferred Departments, and for £9,675 for “other” Departments; while £7,525 is required for new works and buildings in connexion with transferred Departments, and £2,000 in connexion with other Departments, or a grand total of £44,155. For expenditure in Victoria, a total of £71,021 is required. That amount has been swelled by the inclusion of the £19,000 needed for the payment of postal employes. The amount required for Queensland is £16,000; for South Australia £15,000, and for Western Australia £27,000. The £9,500 for conveyance of mails by railway, included in the Western Australian amount, will not affect the finances of that State, because it is merely a book entry. The Commonwealth pays the money to the State authorities, and they show it in their books as a credit, but the taxpayers are none the better and none the worse off so far as it is concerned, though, of course, it is a proper bookkeeping transaction. For Tasmania, the total amount required is £4,800.
– Will the, honorable gentleman explain how the vote for the Post Office comes to £82,315?
– That amount includes £18,650 due to letter-carriers, which. I have explained, and £9,500 to be paid for the carriage of mails on the railways of Western Australia; while, in addition, there are a number of increases which are more apparent than real. For instance, in the original Estimates provision was made for the appointment of permanent salaried officers to do work previously done by temporary officers. In Victoria, the Department had been in the habit of employing temporary messengers and letter-carriers; but some time ago it was decided - I think very properly- to substitute a number of permanent hands for these temporary employe’s. But, perhaps because the Commissioner has been engaged in other work, or for other reasons which I have not had time to ascertain, the appointments have hot been made. Con- sequently I am asking for a vote to cover the wages of the temporary hands who are retained, although I guarantee a corresponding saving on the original Estimates.
– How much of the £50,000 unaccounted for is new expenditure, and how much was provided for on the original Estimates?
– I will obtain the information. There are other amounts which swell the expenditure. For instance, a resolution of this House, passed during the consideration of the regulations under the Public Service Act, requires that if a man has worked during the six preceding days, he must be paid time and a-half for overtime yorked on Sunday. Then, the regulations provide for sick leave, as well as annual leave, being granted under certain conditions, and this involves the employment of temporary hands to do the work of those who are absent. It may relieve the minds of honorable members to know that, although I am asking for £180,000, there will be a saving of at least £200,000 on the Estimates-in-Chief; so that what I ask for is more than balanced by the saving that will be effected.
– How will there be a saving?
– In many instances, especially in connexion with the construction of works and buildings, it will be impossible to spend the amount voted by Parliament before the vote lapses by effluxion of time. Of course, in many cases the unexpended balance will be re-voted, though the re-votes for this year will not be so large as the revotes required last year, because a larger proportion of the original votes will be spent this year than was spent last year.
– Then there will be no real saving.
– In many cases the money will have to be voted again ; but in other cases there will be an absolute saving, and no re-vote will be required. Since we have come into office, we have forbidden one or two proposed expenditures which seemed to us, on information not available to our predecessors, to be unnecessary ; but, apart from them, there are savings such as those in the Defence Department, where they have not spent money upon certain training, which they might otherwise have had, or have not recruited as they might have done, or have substituted one kind of encampment for another. I do not saythat the whole of the £50,000 odd required for that Department will be saved. Part of the amount will have to be re-voted.
– But are these savings being made at the cost of efficiency ?
– Upon that point I am not sufficient of an expert to pronounce an opinion.
– Some of the amounts unexpended may not be real savings.
– The honorable member must remember that efficiency is relative. I think, that an untrained man with a gun is more efficient than a trained man without a gun. Consequently, we cannot have lost in efficiency by expending £50,000 upon rifles and reserve ammunition, as against devoting money to the training of men without guns.
– In other words, the money formerly spent in training is being laid out upon arms and ammunition.
– Yes; what I wish to bring home to the members of the Committee is that the total of £180,000 does not wholly represent an addition to the expenditure authorized by Parliament a little less than a year ago. Against that amount we shall be able to show £200,000 less expenditure than was provided for upon the original Estimates. So that these proposals, although they involve at considerable amount, largely deal with’ the manner of the expenditure rather than with an addition to its amount. In other words, it is largely a question of how we shall expend what has been already voted, and I have thought it necessary to make a few explanations with regard to leading features. I shall appreciate the forbearance of honorable members, to the extent to which they deem it proper to exercise it, because of the total sum of £179,000, the amount of £139,000 has already run the gauntlet of examination by a careful, conscientious, and economical Treasurer - the right honorable member for . Balaclava. Then there is a sum of £10,000 for the expenditure of which I have given the authority. This includes £3,000 odd for the Electoral Department. Then there is £29,000 not yet authorized, either by myself or my predecessor. This includes £28,000, which is made up of the two items, £18,000 for the postal employes, and £9,000 odd for the Western Australian railway service. Therefore, with the exception of these two items, I am practically asking the Committee to pass what has already been authorized to be paid from the Treasurer’s advance, either by my predecessor or myself.
– I am sure that we must all regret that my late honorable colleague, the honorable member for Balaclava, is unable to be present, because he could have assisted the Treasurer in explaining the Supplementary Estimates, for the greater part of which he is responsible. I am sure the Committee will be gratified to learn that the right honorable member is making steady and sure progress, and I hope that within a few days wre shall have him amongst us again. I desire to congratulate the Prime Minister upon having made a very fair and clear statement. In consideration of the innumerable duties which devolve upon the head of the Government, the manner in which he has mastered the business which he has submitted to us to-day is greatly to his credit. I do not think that the Committee can complain that he has refrained from furnishing any information which so far seems necessary. If there has been any omission, no doubt he will supply the deficiency. The most serious statement which the Prime Minister has made is one which, unhappily, very seriously affects the State of which I have the honour to be one of the representatives. I trust that the public will be made to realize that, for this extra - and what bids fair to become an enormous - amount, the members of this Parliament are in no sense responsible. I had the good fortune not to be a member of the Victorian Parliament when the majority of honorable members of that body passed the amending Public Service Act in December, 1900. I have learnt since that the particular provision to. which I refer was a proposal which was not submitted by the Government, but was debated at some length, in the Course of a general financial discussion, and passed in the small hours of the morning by a tired House.
An Honorable Member. - The honorable member for Melbourne proposed it.
– The honorable member for Balaclava was the Treasurer of the day who accepted it..
– Under the pressure of my honorable friend and those who voted with him.
– No, I was against it. Mr. Tudor. - The honorable and learned member did not vote against it.
– I should have done if I had been there.
– The incident is useful to us as a warning against legislating under similar circumstances I am not yet entirely satisfied that we have reached safety for the Commonwealth in this matter. This payment is being made under a Victorian law, and we are assured by the Supreme Court of Victoria - by the judgment of a single Judge and of the Full Court - that the particular amount involved in the case of Bond v. The Queen ought to be paid. The matter came before the High Court in the form of Bond v. The Commonwealth. The only point settled by the High Court was the question of law as to whether the obligation rested upon the Commonwealth to find this money, although no provision had been made for it in the Appropriation Act ; in other words, whether under the circumstances the accruing and existing obligations to the public servants provided in the Victorian Act imposed such obligations on the Commonwealth as to justify the Executive of the day in discharging them, even though they were not provided for in the Appropriation Act.
– The Chief Justice of the High Court accepted the decision of the Victorian Court.
– Yes. He accepted the decision of the Victorian Supreme Court, and announced that the High Court would always follow a similar course in regard to State legislation if it were possible to do so. He pointed out that they had not considered it necessary to reconsider the judgment of the Supreme Court of Victoria. They accepted the judgment of the Victorian Court as to the amount, and laid down the principle that the obligation rested upon the Commonwealth to pay the claim, even though no provision was made in .the Appropriation Act. I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied as to the means which have been adopted for determining the financial liability of the Commonwealth in any further cases, except that of Bond. In the case of Bond v. The Commonwealth, the High Court accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court as to the specific amount to which Bond was entitled, and we are perfectly safe, so far as that is concerned. If my information be correct, an agreement has been arrived at between the Public Service Commissioner of the State of Victoria and the public servants concerned as to the amount which is to be accepted by each public ser- vant in full satisfaction of his claims. If such sums have been accepted in full quittance of their claims, the Commonwealth will be safeguarded so far as that goes. I desire to know whether we shall be safeguarded to that extent with regard to all the officers the Prime Minister has mentioned, and whether the same principle will be applied to other employes elsewhere. I hope that the Prime Minister will not fail to notice that it will be necessary to take some precaution in these cases - no less, at all events, than has been exercised in those which have been dealt with. Otherwise we may not only be overpaying without the possibility of recovery, but we may be exposing ourselves to a great variety’ of actions of a more or less vexatious character. I hope that the Prime Minister will not consider that I am trespassing if I again press the matter upon him,
– So far, we are not doing anything without the fullest consultation with our own Commissioner and the AttorneyGeneral.
– Yes. But while the Government, in consulting the AttorneyGeneral, and the Public Service Commissioner safeguard their own side of the hedge, the claimant on the other side of the hedge may not be satisfied, and may raise further claims and place the Commonwealth in a position of disadvantage. What alarms me particularly is that it is possible that the State of Victoria may be required to pay the large sum of £75,000, on account of the unwise and imprudent Victorian Act which has been referred to. I desire to know what calculation has been made, and how the estimate of £75,000 has been arrived at. I understand that it is a rough estimate of the Public Service Commissioner ?
– I asked the. Public Service Commissioner to give me an estimate of the amount of the claims for the three years during which the Commonwealth had controlled the transferred Departments, and he said that he did not think that it would amount to less than £25,000 per annum, or a. total of £75,000.
– All I desire to say at this time is that it does not rest with the Public Service Commissioner to determine the extent of our obligation. He can form an estimate, and no doubt he is in a position to arrive at a very fair conclusion. But these are legal obligations, and it is possible for further claims to arise even after a certain sum has been paid, unless a full and clear discharge is given.
– Provided that the cases come within the category of that decided by the Court, we do not wish to put the claimants to the expense of a Supreme Court action.
– Certainly not ; I wish to avoid that; but unless the Government arrive, with the consent of the claimants, at a determination of the amount which is to be paid in full settlement of the claims, we shall not be protected against further demands. The case of each individual officer stands by itself. There is length of service to be considered, and certain privileges have to be taken into account. Even the station of an officer has to be borne in mind, because a metropolitan location is supposed to possess advantages over one in the country. Consequently, the Government will have to deal with each individual case that comes under the operation of section 19 of the Victorian Act. That will be a matter of extreme complexity as well as, unhappily, a matter of great expense to the State of Victoria. The only decision that has been obtained had regard to the amount of money to be paid to one individual ; beyond that the decision has not gone.
– But the Supreme Court settled the principle.
– The Supreme Court settled, and .the High Court confirmed, the amount which was to be paid to Bond, but the amount to be paid in each other case will have to be decided apart from the decision given by the Court. Although the principle is the same all through, it is so general that it requires to be freshly applied to each particular case.
– In regard to this £18.000, what we do is to recognise the obligations admitted by the State in detail. They paid certain individual claims up to the 31st March,- 1901, when the Post Office Department was taken over by proclamation. Thev have paid these amounts in respect to the claims of a large number of officers in the postal service, and we are paying at the same rate for the period for which we are responsible.
– But are the Government receiving a full and complete discharge of all demands?
– Of course, nothing has been paid yet, and I do not know what procedure the State Treasurer has followed. We shall probably follow their example.
We still have power to make terms, because we have not paid the money. I do not see any reason why we should not accept a quittance of our obligations for the past three years. How can we insist upon the officers giving us a quittance for anyfuture period ?
– If they accept the money at all they must accept it as a complete discharge of our obligations to date. No doubt by that means we can partly extricate ourselves from a very awkward position. Then arises the question of the claim which has been made for increments. That, I am glad to hear, the Government intend to consider seriously,
– We have decided not to pay them.
– Before those increments are paid a claim will require to be contested in the law courts, and a decision obtained upon it. I come now to the important ‘question whether this obligation is perpetual, or whether it will not be concluded by the gazetting of the classification scheme of the Public Service Commissioner. If I remember rightly, when I held office as Attorney-General in the Barton Government, the opinion at which I arrived was that the Commonwealth assumes full control of its officers from the time that scheme is gazetted, that, though existing and accruing rights are preserved up to that point, the Commonwealth Government then assumes complete mastery over its cwn officers. Under these circumstances, I think I held that there was not a further obligation. The information which the Treasurer has given the Committee is as satisfactory as could be expected under the circumstances. The burden which Victoria will have to bear as the result of State legislation is very heavy. My chief concern is that the public shall not see this amount - as it probably will - .included in the general accounts of the Federation, so that it may be pointed to as another proof of the increased, expenditure consequent upon Federation. That is what we may expect to find unless honorable members embrace every opportunity to publish the legacies that we have inherited from the States Legislatures. This is one of many for which no member of this Parliament has a tittle of responsibility.
– It is somewhat unfortunate that these Estimates were not circulated a few days ago. Although they may contain subjects for criticism and discussion, serious objection is not likely to be raised to them. I join with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in congratulating the Treasurer upon the clear way in which he has presented them. In the Defence Department, I notice that there, is an increase upon the EstimatesinChief of £22,000.
– At this stage I should like to obtain the ruling of the Chair as to whether a general discussion is to be permitted on the whole of the Estimates, or whether the debate is to be confined to a particular Department ?
– The question raised by the honorable member for Hume will serve to set out the procedure which is to be adopted. I intend to follow the usual practice. Upon the first item there will be a general discussion of the whole of the Estimates, and after that the Departments will be dealt with in their order.
– I notice that, whilst it is proposed to expend an additional £22,000 in the Department of Defence, some radical changes have been made in the disposition of that sum. I Should like the Treasurer to give the Committee some information respecting the items which have been deducted from the £22,000 in question, in order to reduce it to £6,006. It is just possible that some very grave questions of administration may be involved. I notice further, that a sum of £5,000, which appears on the Estimates-in-Chief, in connexion with the defence of Fremantle, has been eliminated.
– That was done by the late Treasurer. .
– I also desire to say a few words in regard to the recognition of military titles in the Commonwealth service. When the discussion upon that matter terminated this afternoon, a very hazy notion obtained as to what rule is to be followed in the future. So far as I can gather from the papers, ‘ through which I had an opportunity of glancing, the whole disturbance arose in the telegraph-room at Ballarat. Of the four operators employed there, three belong to the Defence Forces. These had been in the habit of changing their clothes and cleaning their rifles in the operatingroom. The officer in charge of the room protested against the practice, because it compelled the sections which these officers worked, to remain idle, and because it necessitated taking the young fellows who were engaged entering up messages, entirely away from their work. Very properly, he pro tested, and the postmaster thereupon issued an instruction that the practice should be discontinued. Three of the officers then petitioned to be allowed to wear their military pants whilst they were engaged upon duty. The Deputy Postmaster-General thought that the request was a reasonable one. The whole affair, as Mr. Scott says, was a very trumpery one, and ought not to have been dragged before the public. The display of a little tact would have obviated all the trouble. It has been stated that the Ballarat postmaster demanded to be addressed by his military title, but I would point out that there is no proof of that. All the talk that has been indulged in to the effect that postal officials demand that they shall be addressed by their military titles is founded upon that illusion. Far too much importance has been attached to that phase of the question. The Secretary of the central office, writing upon this matter, says -
The practice should not only be discouraged, but distinctly forbidden. I ‘note the Deputy Postmaster-General’s supposition, that officers “can claim to use their titles at all times.” The point at issue is not their “claim to use” these titles, but rather their right to require other officers to recognise and use such titles in conversation or written communication. The Postmaster at Ballarat should ask for an explanation of the third paragraph of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral’s minute.
I do not think it is wise to absolutely forbid the practice of addressing officers bv their military titles. If Public Service officials wish to address their chiefs by their militarytitles, they should be at liberty to do so.
– There is no compulsion exercised either one way or the other.
– That is the impression which the discussion left upon the minds of many honorable members. As long as Commonwealth officers are free to do as they please, I think that the position is a perfectly satisfactory one.
– I think that the explanation which has been given of the items that appear upon the Supplementary Estimates is, upon the whole, a satisfactory one. Of course, we must recognise that the Treasurer is responsible for only a very small portion of those Estimates. I feel’ sure that the Committee will consent to his request, and not unnecessarily prolong the discussion upon them, though there may be some items which require a fuller explanation than that which has been given. The matter to which I desire to direct special attention is that of the very difficult position which has been created by the decision of the High Court in regard to officers who have been transferred from the Victorian service. I presume that the matter has been tested to its last limit. If not, I think it ought to be. It places the whole of the servants of the Commonwealth in a condition of confusion, and in a most undesirable and unjust relationship to those who have been transferred from the State of Victoria. There is a large question to face. If £75,000 is to be paid to the servants of Victoria, are the servants transferred from the other States to receive nothing - no matter whether they may now be getting lower salaries than those paid in Victoria for similar services? I do not wish to say one word about the passage of the Act by the Victorian Parliament, because I do not desire to irritate any State susceptibilities. I am quite sure that the majority of honorable members representing Victoria recognise that it was a very improper thing to force that Act upon the Commonwealth. But, I understand that the position which has been maintained by the High Court is that officers in Victoria must receive the largest salary paid in any “State for a similar position, except where increments may have been paid to an officer in a State on account of -his long services.
– Miller, who was one of the public servants who appealed in Victoria, did not receive a full recognition of his claim, because bis services were very short.
– I understand that the decision of the High Court may also go to this extent : In certain States whose territories are partly within the tropical or semi-tropical area, high salaries are paid for climatic reasons.
– The Court would not hold those to be “corresponding positions.”
– I understand - the Prime Minister will correct me if I am wrong - that the Victorian officers mayhave to receive the higher salaries paid fur climatic reasons, if they hold positions corresponding to those held by officers in those regions.
– They will claim it.
– The Prime Minister does not indorse my statement absolutely.
– Nor did the Chief Justice of Victoria.
– Possibly the honorable member is right, but there is a very serious position facing the Commonwealth. A salary paid to an officer at Port Darwin is, naturally, fixed at a higher rate than a salary paid to an officer in a corresponding position at Adelaide.
– And the relative values of the salaries differ according to the cost of living at each place?
– Of course. Salaries paid in an arid portion of Western Australia may be much higher than salaries paid to an officer holding a corresponding position at Perth. But there is a very great danger, to my mind, that in Victoria officers may be able to claim the higher salaries under the terms of the Victorian Act. Then,, again, the claim was made by counsel ‘for the plaintiff in Bond’s case, that the plaintiff was entitled to £150 a year as long as he was in the service of the Commonwealth. He was then receiving £130. The Chief Justice of the High Court said that he would not go into that matter, but that, at any rate, Bond was entitled to the £150, until his salary was legally altered by the Commonwealth authorities.
– Would not that imply that the Chief Justice referred to the classification of the Public Service Commissioner ?
– The Chief Justice said, in effect, that he would not decide whether that salary could be legally altered by the Commonwealth.
– It was not necessary to determine that, for the purpose of his decision.
– It was not raised in issue before him. Consequently, we do not yet know - it is a matter to be decided by the Court - whether a claim for the salary to be continued during the whole of the officer’s service would be sustained or not. Honorable members can see the “ sea of troubles “ that surrounds this question. Whilst no one would for a moment object to Victorian officers being raised in classification to the same level as that of officers performing a similar service, and residing in like portions of other States, we have to face the possibility of these Victorian officers receiving salaries which were intended to be paid in other States under special conditions - for climatic rea-‘ sons, and reasons connected with the cost of living. We have also to face the danger, that these salaries will continue to be paid during the whole term of their service with the Commonwealth. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister is imbued with the necessity of this matter being most vigorously defended from the Commonwealth standpoint.
– We have already taken steps with regard to increments. We have refused to pay the increments based on the salaries received bv officers in other States.
– I trust that that position will be most vigorously defended. I quite agree with these officers receiving salaries equal to those paid to officers similarly situated, who are doing similar work under similar conditions. But anything beyond that should be resisted by the Commonwealth, first of all because it is an injustice to the other public servants of the Commonwealth, and secondly because it is an injustice to the Commonwealth itself, and is forced upon it by a State Act. There is another question involved which may have to be faced, and ought at any rate to be considered. That is, what is to be the treatment of those officers in all the other States who are receiving lower salaries than those paid in Victoria to officers in corresponding positions?
– The classification scheme ought to correct differences of that sort.
– I know that it will not correct them if all Bond’s claim is sustained, which I hope will not be the case. But, then, there would still be the question of the past services of the officers transferred to the Commonwealth. My main reason for speaking, is to emphasize that with which I am sure the Committee will agree, namely, the necessity of resisting, -as vigorously as the Government can, any claims not yet decided.
– The Act passed by the Victorian Parliament was, in my opinion, a mistake. It showed a want of confidence in the Parliament of the Commonwealth that was about to be created; and (his particular provision was a sort of “ snap “ clause.
– Other States Parliaments passed similar measures.
– I think not.
– I think this clause must have been passed bv the Victorian Parliament for political purposes ; at any rate, it showed a lack of confidence in the National Parliament.
– It was designed to do justice.
– There was no necessity to pass a cast-iron clause like this in order to bring within the protecting shield of the Federal Constitution the public servants of Victoria, any more than there was a similar necessity in the case of the public servants of any other State. I do not think there was any necessity for this step; .and it is to be deplored that the Victorian Government of the day did not take a broad view of the matter, and show greater confidence in the Federal institutions about to be called’ into being. However, the clause was passed in order, as it was said, to place beyond all doubt the rights of certain public servants in Victoria, who at the time were thought to. be underpaid. The Commonwealth Constitution declares that the rights of the public servants of the whole of the Commonwealth shall be secured, and that none shall be passage of this Act by the State Parliament prejudiced by Federation. Certainly, unexpected results have been flowing from the of Victoria. It was not expected that the Act would impose on the State such a tremendous obligation as now appears.
– The Victorian Parliament thought the Act placed the responsibility on other shoulders.
– I believe that is right. I believe that the State Parliament thought that its obligations would be federalized - that the expenditure would be borne by the whole of the people of Australia. However, it turns out that this is a State expenditure and obligation, the burden of which will have to be borne by the taxpayers of Victoria, at any rate during the bookkeeping period.
– That period is nearly over now.
– When the bookkeeping period is over - if that period be unrenewed - the whole of the expenditure will be federalized and borne by the people of Australia. We cannot, however, escape a legal obligation.
– Nor a moral obligation.
– The highest Court of the State and the High Court of Australia have interpreted the section of the Victorian Act, and legal effect will have to be given to its provisions. Therefore, I think that the Government are quite justified in bringing down these Estimates. I cannot see how they can escape from giving effect to the State Act. and to the interpretation of that Aci which the Courts, both State and Federal, have expressed. I con- sider that the Ministry are not only justified, but bound, to give effect to the law as it has been interpreted by the highest Courts of the land. I think, however, that there is no necessity for creating so much alarm about this expenditure. It may be that the expenditure will continue for a little while, but I believe that, in course of time, as some of those officers are promoted from the positions which they occupied at the time of Federation, the obligation will cease. In other words, a man who was a letter-carrier at the time of Federation had his rights secured with the salary of a corresponding letter-carrier in other States. But, if a letter-carrier be promoted from one grade to another, or from one office to another, with increased salary, his rights under the Victorian Act are ended. The right and obligation continue only so long as the man is in the exact position which he occupied at the time of Federation.
– Does the honorable and learned member consider that, under the classification scheme, those rights may be abolished ?
– I do not think so. I cannot see that any classification scheme can lower the salary or take away any rights which such a man had at the time of Federation.
– Can we not, under the Constitution, abolish an office?
– I am not sure that that can be done to the prejudice of the holder of an office. I do not think that the classification scheme will prejudice officers’ rights, as they existed at the time of Federation. Classification provides, so to speak, for the advancement of men beyond the positions then occupied.
– It is extraordinary, if, owing to the provisions of the Constitution, we cannot manage the Departments.
– The Constitution merely protects existing rights - that is, rights existing by law at the time of Federation. I do not think that the Commonwealth Parliament can take away those rights. In course of time, however, those servants will gradually be promoted from grade to grade, and from office to office, and then they will no longer require the protection of the Constitution.
– Will not an immense sum be expended before these men are promoted ?
– That may be so, and I see no legal- escape from the position. It is only by promotion, and the gradual evolution or development of the service that we can get rid of the obligation. It is best to do everything we possibly can to promote advancement and change in the position of these men. A letter carrier might, for instance, be transferred from the Postal Department into the Customs Department, where he could earn a higher salary or occupy a better position.
– But men in other States might then be prejudiced.
– Men in the other States are protected, just as are the men in Victoria.
– But men in the other States are prejudiced by this difference.
– By what difference?
– By the difference in the positions.
– I do not see how an officer in New South Wales can be prejudiced by the fact that a Victorian officer is getting a salary equal to that paid to the occupier of a corresponding position in New South Wales.
– That is not all ; a Victorian officer may be occupying a certain position and obtaining a salary attached to a corresponding position in South Australia, but the salary paid in New South Wales for the corresponding position may be lower than either.
– In that case the Victorian officer gains a benefit ; but the New South Wales officer is not prejudiced in his existing rights. I am not endeavouring to justify the action of the Legislature of Victoria, whose policy was mistaken, and showed a lack of confidence in the Federal Parliament. No doubt there were some underlying considerations; but we cannot escape the consequence, and the best way- is to face the problem and work it out as well as we possibly can. I hope the problem will be solved with every consideration for the finances of Victoria ; and I have no reason to doubt that, as years go by, the financial burden will gradually diminish ; at any) rate, it cannot increase. Instead of being an increasing burden, it will be a diminishing one, and in the course of years will probably disappear. I trust that the Government will accept the advice offered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, .and be very careful, before making any of these payments, to obtain a receipt from the men in full satisfaction up to date. They should not be paid in advance, and then allowed to indulge in further litigation. It would be better to come to some agreement that the payment to be made to them is in full satisfaction of their claim, and in consideration of their accepting the terms proposed to be conferred.
– And providing, if necessary, for reclassification.
– They could not be asked to barter away their legal rights. Whilst we may regret that this proposal is necessary, I wish to point out that there is no reason for creating a feeling of unnecessary alarm as to this1 being an increasing obligation. As I have already remarked, it will gradually diminish,, and, in the course of years, will wholly disappear.
– I do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that this proposal will not place officers in other States at a disadvantage. I have no doubt -that it will. It tends to create different rates of pay in the service. The object of the classification which has taken place, although I am not quite sure that it has yet been completed
– It will be ready to be gazetted on 1st July.
– That classification has for its object the readjustment of positions throughout the Public Service of the Commonwealth, and, under it, due regard will be paid to climatic conditions and the cost of living in the various parts of the States. If, as the result of the passing of the Act in question, Commonwealth officers in Victoria are to receive higher salaries than are given to those performing corresponding duties in other parts of the Commonwealth, much dissension will undoubtedly be caused. Applications for increased rates of pay will certainly be made, and more particularly by those stationed northward. ‘ I agree, however, with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that no fears need be entertained in regard to this burden, and that, in the course of a few years, it will disappear. Reference has been made to the question of promotion, and there are many cases in which it may be necessary to abolish offices. In this way we shall be gradually freed from the difficulty.
– A particular office cannot be abolished.
– It can.
-; - That would mean the dismissal of an officer.
– I do not think that any great difficulty will be encountered. I feel satisfied that discontent can be removed in the course of a little time. I wish now to refer briefly to a matter which has been a source of great trouble ever since the creation of the Department of Home Affairs - the carrying out of public works on behalf of the Commonwealth in the various States. On many occasions during my term, of office as Minister of Home Affairs the responsibility for the delay in carrying out certain works was sought to be thrown on the Department. It was then the practice, as it is now, to ask officers of the Public Works Departments of the States to supervise and carry out certain works on behalf of the Commonwealth ; but in many cases much dissatisfaction was caused, honorable members feeling that reasonable expedition was not shown in carrying out requisite works in their constituencies. That trouble has been to some extent minimised by the appointment of Commonwealth officers in some, if not all, of the States, to supervise the carrying out of some of these works, and report upon the procedure in others. It will probably be some time before we shall have anything in the nature of a complete Public Works Department in all the States, owing to the cost, and also the comparatively small expenditure on Commonwealth public works. Some time ago it was decided that a post-office should be erected at Gundagai, a town in the electorate I represent. I happened to visit that town twice or three times whilst the works were in progress, and I learned that the erection of the building occupied something like twelve months, of which six months or more represented loss of time. That loss of time was due, in my opinion, to the fault of the State officer in charge. The contractor came from another part of New South Wales, and on three or four occasions, when I met him at Gundagai, he was waiting and anxious to go On with the work, but was unable to proceed until the State officer arrived and gave him further directions. In two cases he was delayed in this way for fully a month. When at last he received the necessary instructions, it took him, in the one case, only three days, and in the other, only two days to carry them out.
– He must have been a very smart officer.
– Delays of this kind are, to a large extent, due to the feeling entertained by some States officials that Federal public works are not so important as are those of the States. State members are continually on the spot, and urging the Department to expedite States works, and Commonwealth works are consequently delayed, lt will shortly be necessary to make some change, in order that F’ederal works may be carried out as expeditiously as are State undertakings. It is unfair that there should be delay in the construction of Commonwealth public works when there is no such delay in the carrying out of State enterprises.
– The residents of the town, to which the honorable member referred, were lucky. If a change of Government had occurred, they would not have secured the erection of the building.
– I am not referring to the construction of. a battery, although the right honorable member knows that I supported the construction of the battery which he has in his mind’s eye.
– I am simply referring to the possibility of a new Government undoing the work of their predecessors.
– I have not sufficiently examined the proposals now before us to enable me to say whether anything of the kind is being done by the Government; but I feel that there is justification for the request for certain expenditure at Perth, Fremantle, and one or twoother places. No doubt the right honorable member for Swan is well able to look after the interests of his constituents. Healways looks after Western Australia.
– And looks after it verv well.
– If we all did as well in getting money, there would not be much left in the Treasury.
– I deny that suggestion.
– I wish now to deal with the question of the use of military titles, of which so much has been said during the afternoon. It is a matter that might very well be left alone. My feeling is that those who hold commissions in the Militia and Volunteer Forces should be addressed by their civil titles when discharging their ordinary civil duties.
– The honorable member did not observe that rule when he was Minister of Home Affairs.
– I adrah that I sometimes spoke of the Secretary of the Department as “Colonel Miller.” I did not address him in that way because I considered that it was necessary to do so ; if one chooses to give a .man his military title, surely no objection can be taken?
– It is a nice compliment.
– I agree with the honorable member, but I do not think that public servants should be compelled to address their fellow- servants by their military titles whilst they are discharging their duties as members of the service.
– It is only a courtesy.
– That is really a matter for the person concerned to consider. I do not object at any time to address a man by his title, but it is quite another question when a man demands that he shall be- so addressed, and that is where the trouble arises here..
– I do not see any reference in the papers to a demand being made.
– I have not looked at the papers, but the right honorable gentleman must .know very well that this question was dealt with by the previous Cabinet.
– Oh, that is rubbish !
– I was present, and the right honorable member was also present, at the Cabinet meeting when it was dealt with, and I thought at that time that it was scarcely worth while-
– That was about addressing officers in writing by their titles.
– The right honorable gentleman may think that this is a very serious matter, but I do not. I consider that the Minister has done quite right in taking the course of action which he has done. If there is any objection to be offered to these Estimates, I do not think that it can. be raised on the score of extravagance. In my opinion, the Estimates are most economically framed. They disclose some increases in salaries and some new salaries. The item for the Patent Office is required simply to carry out the provisions of an Act of Parliament. We had to create the office, and the salaries proposed cannot be considered to be at all high. When we come to deal with the Departments in detail it may be necessary to refer to one or two small items of expenditure. If there is any complaint tj be made by honorable members it is a complaint that extreme economy has been practised. Considering that on many occasions lately I had to take the late Treasurer, and also the right honorable member for Swan, to task for extravagance, and that I was the economical member of the late Government, I do not intend to raise any objection to the economies which have been practised in this case. Honorable members and the press have always tried to make out that I have been extremely extravagant. The honorable member for Gippsland has always had a word to say about my good nature and my extravagance.
– The honorable gentleman will admit that I tried to keep him straight.’
– I think that if my honorable friend ever gets into the Treasury and examines the public accounts, he will find that I have been one of the most economical Ministers that the Commonwealth has had up to the present time. The Min- istry I think, have done well in framing these Estimates as low as they reasonably could. For under existing circumstances it is almost impossible to expect that there should be any large sums of money voted, except for those works which are absolutely essential. Not only in the States have the Governments had to economize, but in the Commonwealth the Government has done what has not been done in the States, that is, it has refrained from borrowing. I desire to say, in order that my opinion shall not be misconstrued, that, if at any time the Parliament decides to go in for veryheavy defence works or for serious extensions of railways, it cannot expect always to be able to provide the money for the purpose out of revenue.
– Can we at any time?
– It is being done now to a large extent.
– Does the honorable gentleman think that a forced loan can be treated as revenue?
-Noi If large works are to be carried out, which will return good interest on the expenditure, it cannot be expected that the money can be provided out of revenue; it will have to be provided out of loan account. I think it is wise at the present time, when it is riot absolutely necessary to carry out these extensive works, to refrain from borrowing, and I hope that we shall continue to do so as long as we reasonably can.
– On one or two occasions this afternoon, reference was made to a minute written by Sir Edmund Barton, when Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, advising the disuse of formal designations such as “ The Honorable the . Attorney-General “ in place of “ The Attorney-General,” in order to economise the time of officials, and, perhaps, to save ink. I remember the circumstances perfectly, though I had been so long accustomed to a formal style of address that I do not think I complied with the suggestion. But a minute such as that to which I refer, addressed by a Prime Minister to his colleagues, is a very different thing from a minute prohibiting the use of military titles by officers in the service. I have looked through the papers in the case which I brought under the notice of honorable members this afternoon, and I cannot see why the matter came before the PostmasterGeneral at all. I have not ascertained who made the complaint to the postmaster at Ballarat, or what was its nature. There seems to have been some slight friction, but the Minister took the matter too seriously, and had no reason for giving any direction in regard to it. I understand now that he has decided that it shall not be obligatory upon officers to address their official heads by their military titles, but that he has given no general direction that military titles shall not be used. I am quite satisfied with that, because I know that ninetynine persons in every hundred will give honour where honour is due, and will be respectful to those in authority over them. Therefore, the incident may close, so far as I am concerned.
– Would the right honorable member have civil titles recognised in the Military Departments? Would he require officers of the Defence Force to say, “Lt. - Col. Deputy Postmaster-General Outtrim,” for instance ?
– Why not use both sets of titles in one case as well as in the other?
– Does the honorable and learned member advise that it be done ?
– No. I do not think it should be done in either case.
– If the honorable and learned member had been here this afternoon, and had heard the debate, he would know more about the subject. Com- 4 d 2 ing to the Estimates before the Committee, I am aware that they are a legacy left to the Ministry by their predecessors, and I therefore do not wish to say anything in regard to them which may reflect upon the present Administration. “~ But I desire to take advantage of this . occasion, which is the first opportunity open to me, to say something about the form in which they are presented ; and I can do so the more freely since I have often expressed my views on the subject to the exTreasurer and to the Under-Treasurer. I think that the Estimates are not sufficiently clear. Though, no doubt, a good deal of the money on these Estimates has been spent, there is nothing to show how much has been spent, or how much remains to be spent. I did not follow the Treasurer very closely, but I am confident that he did not tell the Committee how much of the money has already been expended during the current financial year. No doubt, the intention of the Government is to spend the whole of it before the 30th of the present month, but we are asked to approve of that expenditure without knowing how much has been spent In my opinion, the system in force in Victoria, and, I think, in several of the other States, in connexion with Treasurer’s advance votes, is not a good one. I believe I am right in saying that in Victoria money is voted in Committee for the Treasurer’s advance, and the amount of the vote deducted from the total sum covered by the Appropriation Act. Therefore, the expenditure is not legalized by Statute. If there could be a greater farce than that, I do not know of it. The expenditure is merely covered bv a resolution of the Committee and is not included in the Appropriation Act. The Committee resolves that the Treasurer shall be granted a certain sum for an advance account, out of which to supplement votes of the Legislature, or to meet unforeseen expenditure ; but there is no statutory appropriation. I think the Legislature should limit the amount by which the Treasurer may exceed the expenditure sanctioned by the Appropriation Act; but the amount expended under this authority should be afterwards appropriated by a special Excess Bill. That would give Parliament complete control over the expenditure of the Treasurer, which it has not now. Not only do we not know whether the money now asked for has been expended, but we have no information before us as to the details of the Treasurer’s expenditure, as we should have if an Indemnity Act were passed after the money had been spent. I do not speak without knowledge, because, as Treasurer of Western Australia, I had a long experience of public finance; and, having studied the system in force here, I am satisfied that” it does not so largely safeguard the interests of the community, or give as much information to honorable members, as did the system in force in Western Australia, and which is in force also in South Australia. Mv idea is that Parliament should exercise complete control over the expenditure. Our present system is defective. Certain sums are voted for expenditure under certain headings, and transfers may be made from one item to another under these headings. For instance, if a certain sum were voted for building a chimney, it might be diverted to the purpose of furnishing a quantity of water-spouting. There is no necessity for this elasticity in the arrangements. The Western Australian Audit Act was similar to -the Commonwealth Statute, and power was given to the Treasurer to transfer money from one vote to another under the same subdivision. By that means the excess expenditure was very much lessened. In fact, it would be possible, in some cases, to avoid showing any excesses on the votes, notwithstanding that many excesses had occurred on some items, and similar decreases on others.
An Honorable Member. - And the Government would be able to spend the whole of the money ?
– Yes, the Government could spend the whole of the money, and the Legislature would not know how it had been spent. After one year’s experience of this system in Western Australia, the particulars as to the transfers were published, and they appeared to be so ridiculous and so improper that I gave instructions that the system should be no longer followed. For the rest of my term of office, extending over nine years, every item was made to stand by itself. If the amount voted on any item were exceeded, it had to be provided for in an Excess Bill, submitted after the end of the financial year, by means of which the House was asked to give an indemnity for such expenditure as was not covered by the Appropriation Act. If the abolition of the transfer system would greatly hamper the Departments, I should not press for it ; but there is no reason why every item should not stand alone, and why the approval of Parliament should not be required for any excess expenditure. It should not be sufficient to deduct the under drafts from the overdrafts. It is easy for a Treasurer, under the system of transfers, to manipulate the votes - I do not say corruptly - by saving on one vote and adding to the expenditure on others, so as to upset the vote of Parliament. That is not a good system, and I hope the Treasurer will consider the necessity of introducing a reform.
– It is only within certain definite limits that transfers can be made.
– I am quite aware of that ; but I urge that there is no necessity for transfers. They only tend ‘ to. make the departmental officers’ careless as to the expenditure. So long as they keep within the totals under the sub-heads, they think that they are quite safe. They sometimes have to obtain the Treasurer’s permission to make these transfers.
– They always have to do so.
– Even so, it is a case of Hobson’s choice, so far as the Treasurer is concerned, because very often he cannot help himself. I am quite prepared to admit that the Treasurer should be allowed to incur a limited expenditure, without calling the House together. In Western Australia, no limit was placed upon the Treasurer, and, of course, this arrangement was very convenient during the stirring times through which we passed in that State. All excesses upon votes should be legalized as soon as possible after the end of the financial year. I suppose that the Prime Minister can scarcely tell us how much of this £180,000 has been spent?
– I do not know exactly. Certain works . have been proceeded with on the strength of the Treasurer’s advance vote, but how far cannot be ascertained in all cases.
– I know that there is a difficulty in that matter. If the Treasurer could, under a carefully prepared system, such as we had in Western Australia, charge all these amounts against the items for the financial year to which they belong, he could present an Indemnity Bill immediately after the end of the financial year.
– Has the right honorable member heard of the Government of Western Australia reverting to the system of transfers?
– I cannot say what practice is now followed. I believe they have made many changes for the worse. But I hope that they have not taken the retrograde step indicated by the honorable and learned member.
– The right honorable gentleman had three years as a Federal Minister in which to put matters right, and we have had two months.
-I am not blaming Ministers, but I am giving them my opinion, which is based upon experience. I gave the late Treasurer the benefit of my advise, but I was not successful in persuading him to adopt it. He was wedded to the old system, which is, I think, a bad one, and which does not give Parliament the control it should have over the expenditure. It is very desirable that the Estimates should be presented to the House after the end of June, and that honorable members should know the amount which was spent in the previous year.
– That information is supplied in this year’s Estimates.
– Last year was the first in which that practice was adopted. The system is not in vogue in Victoria.
– In Victoria we have always followed that system.
– In dealing with the expenditure proposed for the current year, it is a gTeat assistance, not only to the Treasurer, but also to honorable members, to know what was spent last year. The system of granting an advance to the Treasurer requires to be looked into very closely. It practically gives him the right to do anything that he chooses without seeking the approval of anybody. I hold that any advance made to him ought to be expended by warrant of the Executive in a proper, formal manner.
– Would the right honorable member prefer that the Treasurer should be granted - say, £100,000 - to be spent “ as the Governor-General may permit “ ?
– The proper method to adopt in this connexion is to require a resolution bearing upon the question to be submitted each session. In all the States it is very inconvenient to appropriate a large sum of money as an advance to the Treasurer-
– In New South Wales the Treasurer’s advance has always been about £150,000.
– But was that amount actually appropriated?
– I know that it is not appropriated in Victoria.
– A Treasurer never has in hand at the beginning of the year all the money with which the Appropriation Act
– Nevertheless, a Treasurer naturally desires to avoid increasing his expenditure to such an extent that in his financial statement he must show a deficit. I claim that a resolution should be passed each session limiting the Treasurer’s advance to a certain sum.
– Under our Constitution every appropriation has to pass through the two Houses of the Legislature.
– Every Treasurer wishes to meet Parliament with a prospective balance at the end of the year. For that reason I hold that expenditure should be charged against the financial year in which it is incurred, under a proper system of executive warrant, and that the legalizing statute should be passed after the close of the financial year.
– The right honorable member would arrive at the same position in the end. He would have to trust to some person to provide for contingencies.
– My remarks are not addressed to the Treasurer in particular, because I should have made similar representations upon the subject long ago had I hot been a member of the late Government. There ‘is one other matter to which. I desire to address myself. It has reference to the administration of the Public Service. When I was Minister of Home Affairs I had some experience of the operation of the Public Service Act, and my opinion is that it is working fairly well. For that result we have reason to thank the Public Service Commissioner. He is a very able man, and one of high character. Therefore, anything that I may say upon this question involves no reflection upon him. I hold that we have been exceedingly fortunate in securing the services of a man who is intensely anxious to do only what is right. At the same time, I cannot forget that he is not familiar with the conditions which obtain in the different States. He has been kept so busy during the past two years that it has been almost impossible for him to visit the other States. Consequently he has been compelled to rely upon information which is supplied by the various Public Service inspectors. Whilst I was administering the Department of Home Affairs I was very careful to do nothing that would make the task of the Public Service Commissioner harder than it was. While I was absent in England an officer was appointed as inspector of Western Australia who was a total stranger to that State. I do not wish to say a word against the officer. I think that it would be very ‘unfair of me to- take advantage of my position to say anything against any officer unless I had very good grounds for doing so. But Western Australia was treated in an excep’tional manner.
– Because the circumstances were exceptional.
– I do not think they were sufficiently exceptional to justify the action that was taken.
– I think it was very proper action.
– The honorable gentleman surely does not wish me to reverse my opinion because he thinks differently. He can express his opinions when I have finished. I see no reason why Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania should each have an inspector selected from its own Public- Service, whilst the great State which I come from should have an inspector selected from the Public Service of NewSouth Wales. There are plenty of men in Western Australia’ who in every respect - by experience, education, position, and service - are quite as good - I hope that will not be considered offensive - as the gentleman who was selected to fill the position. I have ‘not the slightest doubt but that the officer is doing his best. He has had a great amount of up-hill work to dp. He has had to gain a knowledge of the affairs of the State, whilst the inspectors in every other State were familiar with the local conditions. There is no reason why Western Australia should have been treated differently from any other State. If it were considered wise that a stranger should be sent to each State, well and good. T should not have considered it a good arrangement, but I should be quite satisfied, as each State would have been similarly treated. But why Western Australia should be picked out, and why a stranger should be sent there, who perhaps knew a good deal about New South Wales and its Public Service, but had everything to learn with regard to the Western Australian Public Service, I know not.
– Is- the right honorable gentleman complaining of the action of his own Government ?
– I began by saying that I was not here at the time, or I should have had something to say about the arrangement. I am certainly not saying anything against the honorable gentleman’s Government, because they did not appoint the officer. But now that I have an opportunity, I desire to say that it was” a curiousthing that a stranger should be sent to Western Australia, when only those who were conversant with the affairs of the Public Services of the various States were selected in every other instance. ‘ I make these remarks on general grounds, and not with any personal idea whatever. I have no doubt that the gentleman selected is quite as good a man as was available without local knowledge. My point is that an exception was made in the case of Western Australia, which, I believe, will probably have some unsatisfactory results. No man can understand all the intricacies of the Public Service within a brief period. It must take him a long time to acquire that knowledge. Though I hope for the best, I am not too sanguine. Until the classification scheme is presented to Parliament, it will1 be reasonable and fair not to say more about it. I understand that the basis of classification is to be the salary of the official at the time of transfer, and that it will be only that portion of his salary that is chargeable to the Commonwealth which will be considered. But that will act very unfairly in the case of some officers in Western Australia, who held, perhaps, halfadozen positions at one time. An officer may have held his principal position in the Post Office, and I understand he is to be classified on his Post Office salary ; whereas, perhaps, that was not the whole of the salary he drew from the State of Western Australia before Federation. He may have received some .portion of his salary for electoral work, some portion of it as a registrar, some for doing this work, and some for that, making his total salary very much larger than the official salary of his position in the Post Office. Surely thisfact should be taken into consideration. Then, again, some officers in Western Australia went to the gold-fields, or to remote parts of the State, and necessarily received higher salaries than were paid to other officers who were stationed in the older settled districts in important positions. Probably those who were stationed in the older settled districts had twice or three times the length of service of those who occupied positions in distant parts of the State, and who were paid higher postal salaries at the time of the transfer. Can any one say that in such instances the officers receiving the higher postal salaries, though probably not higher aggregate salaries when the salaries for other officers are considered, should have a superior classification under the Commonwealth scheme, than those who had three times ,the service, and were in every way as able and as competent as the officers receiving the postal higher salaries? Is a man, simply because he received a higher salary, for climatic reasons, than another officer who had three times as much service, to be classified higher than the officer with a lower salary? I have not seen the classification, and my reason for mentioning it is that Ministers may look carefully into the matter when it comes before them. The classification, although made by the Commissioner, will have to be examined carefully by the Government, in order that they may see that no injustice is done/
– Does the right honorable member think that we ought to interfere with it?
– There is an appeal.
– But not to the Government, I think.
– The Government cannot escape from their responsibility. If they see injustices are being done, they will have to take care that they are remedied.
– The appeals will not come to the Government.
– I think the Government will see them. We have reached a curious stage of responsible government, when the whole of the Public Service of the Commonwealth is absolutely outside the control of responsible Ministers.
– By the deliberate action of Parliament in passing the Act.
– Are we to understand that one man is to do as he likes, whether it is just or unjust? Parliament will have something to say if an injustice is done, at any rate. I desire to emphasize my opinion, most strongly, that the salary basis, especially in cases where officers received special amounts from the State, which made their salaries larger than those which appear on the Commonwealth Estimates, is an unjust and unfair basis, and should not be suggested or tolerated. To transfer by force officers from one service to another, leaving part of their salaries with the State, and bringing part. of them over to the Commonwealth, and then to say that we will judge them, not by their length of service, but by the amount which was chargeable to the Commonwealth, is unjust. If ever there was an injustice, I think here is a case ; and I hope my words will reach those who are dealing with this question, and will be given due consideration.
– The appeal of which the right honorable gentleman is speaking is to a Board under the Public Service Commissioner, but the Board does not include the Minister. The Board consists of the chief officer of the Department, an officer nominated by him, and a representative of the division of the service concerned. The Board is partly elective and partly nominated.
– Always subject, of course, to the review of Parliament ? Mr. Watson. - Yes.
– I understand that the object was to do away with political influence.
– Hear, hear.
– Nothing is so irksome, not only to Ministers, but also to honorable members, as to have to interfere in personal matters in the Public Service. I hope the Minister will take a note of the two matters I have mentioned.
– I desire to refer to a matter connected with the Post and Telegraph Department. Last November I wrote to the Treasurer, asking how it was that the increments of South Australian officers whose salaries amounted to £160 per annum and upwards were not provided for. Under the South Australian Public Service Act of 1874, section 9, there are certain increments which are annual, within, the maximum and minimum of each class. I wrote a second time, and on the 4th January I received a reply from the late Treasurer, stating that officers in receipt of salaries of under £160 were to receive the annual increment, but that as to salaries of £160 and upwards, the matter would have to await the classification of the Public Service Commissioner. Fearing that this relegation was the result of a misunderstanding as to the legal position, I wrote pointing out that officers in receipt of salaries of £160 and upwards were entitled by statute to increments which had always been paid in South Australia ; and that the rights under the Act of 1874 had received recognition by the State Parliament. On two occasions, when Bills were introduced into the South Australian Parliament providing, as part of the financial schemes for particular years, for certain reductions in the salaries of all officers, it was realized that the salaries of certain officers could be altered only by statute, and under the circumstances, Parliament, as a matter of policy, rejected the proposal to reduce them.- It seems to me as clear as daylight that those officers have an absolute statutory right, which, under section 84 of the Constitution, should be recognised. So far as I know, nothing has been done since January last, and I should like the Prime Minister, or some other member of the Government, to explain the position in which the request, that the statutory rights of those officers should be recognised, now is. It will be seen that the position of the South Australian officers,, to whom I refer, is altogether different from that of the Victorian officers, because in the former case the increments are annual, and were prescribed as far back as 1874. It is clear that, under section 84 of the Constitution, all the rights of these transferred officers are conserved ; and I hope we shall be informed whether or not the increments will be provided for in the Estimates for this year, and all arrears paid.
– In considering these Supplementary Estimates, I think that considerable time might be saved if each honorable member addressed himself to the items in a general way, instead of, at this stage taking them seriatim. Most of the criticism has come from honorable members who, as Ministers, were responsible for the Estimates, and it is quite interesting to hear the comments of the right honorable member for Swan on the administration of affairs by his own Government. It is interesting to find the right honorable member criticising Bills that were brought forward by the late Government, and are now in operation, and to hear so much said against those measures which was not put forward when they were before Parliament. I suppose this only goes to show that a Minister fills but a small place himself, and that he has to bow to the will, of the majority of the Cabinet. However, that may be, I think it was the duty of those honorable gentlemen, before this stage, to offer the criticism to which I have referred, if the suggested improvement in the general management of the affairs of the Commonwealth be necessary. I take it that the present Government are in no way responsible for the position which has given rise to the criticism. The honorable member for Hume made some reference to general expenditure on public works. Personally, I am in favour of expenditure out of revenue on public works which are likely to be demolished within, say a generation; but I am not in favour of a large expenditure of money out of revenue on railway construction which will last for a century, or until some new system of locomotion has been discovered. I take this opportunity to protest against such an excessive expenditure on general public works as will necessitate increased taxation ; because there is no doubt that there must be increased taxation before the large sum of money can be obtained necessary for the construction of a railway such as that indicated by the honorable member for Hume, and approved, I think, by the Prime Minister. There can be no other railway in view at present but the railway to Western Australia, which is estimated to cost £4,000,000 or £5,000,000
– But it is said that the Government are going to get the necessary money from the banks.
– I do not think- the Government are going to do that. We know what the policy of the Government is. on this particular subject.
– The honorable member’s leader is pledged to the Transcontinental Railway more than, is any other man in the House.
– And I suppose that because the leader of the Opposition is said to be pledged, the honorable member will, by inference, conclude that I also am pledged to that railway ?
– What Opposition?
– It matters not, because we can serve under either king.
– What a convenient party !
– I have an open mind on the subject of the Transcontinental Railway.
– My advice to the honorable member is not to protest too much under the circumstances.
– As I say, I have an open mind on the subject, and, without betraying any secrets, I dare say that whether the honorable and learned member for Ballarat or the right honor- able member for East Sydney be Prime Minister, ah opportunity will be afforded honorable members to express an opinion as to whether £4,000,000 should be taken from the tax-payer, or, on the other hand, raised bv loan in London. That is really the point which is being discussed. Certain works are in course of construction throughout the Commonwealth, and I particularly wish to refer to some within the State which I represent. The honorable member for Hume says that the Public Works administration is in a very bad way ; and I am inclined to think it is. Works have been passed for construction within my electorate, the money for which has been voted by Parliament years ago, and no step has up to the present time been taken to carry them out. I should like the Postmaster-General to make a note of the case of Bondangra., because an office there is absolutely necessary.
– The money for it was voted, and it is in the Home Affairs Department to be spent.
– I am aware that the matter has been referred to the Public WorksDepartment, and although the PostmasterGeneral has no control over that Department, still I think a word from him would rouse up the officers there. The time is fast arriving when we shall have to establish a Public Works Department of our own, if necessary works are to be constructed within anything like a reasonable period from the time they are approved and the money voted for ..them by Parliament. If the works for which money has already been voted are not necessary, they should not have been recommended, and if they are necessary they ought to be carried out at once. Although the office to which I have referred should now be ready for occupation, and the people of the district placed in possession of telegraphic and telephonic communication, there is no accommodation provided for these services. I wish the Postmaster-General to make a note of the matter, and to see whether something cannot be done, to provide the people of a large and thriving district of New South Wales with the advantages of telephonic communication, promised to them nearly three years ago. In these Estimates I find a sum of £2,590 put down in connection with the selection of the Federal Capital site. I suppose that this large sum has been expended during the past year, and is an addition to the amount previously voted by Parliament for the same purpose.
It is incumbent upon the Government to take some definite step in connexion with the legislation now before this Parliament in another place. They should accept the responsibility of naming a particular site. Even though ‘ they may not agree to stand or fall by their nomination they ought to show that they have some opinion as to where the Federal Capital should be located. We ought not to have a repetition of’ these votes of thousands of pounds for making excursions throughout New South Wales to find a new site, as a suitable one has been found.
– Will New South Wales members say definitely where they want it ? .
– If the honorable member asks me where I think it should be I can tell him that it should be at Lyndhurst. Other honorable members may believe that it should be somewhere else, but that only goes to show how necessary it is that some one should be strong enough to say that it shall be at a certain place, so that we may be able to take a vote upon it, and have the matter decided once and for all. If it is not desired that we should have a Federal city during the present decade, let that determination be announced, and let us not have the matter dangled before the public to irritate the people of New South Wales. Let us not have included in the legislation dealing with the subject certain provisions which are impracticable, and others which appear to be inserted for the one- purpose of delay.
– We shall have the Bill here to-morrow.
– If the members of the present Government are at all equal to their pledges, and wish to gain my esteem, they will accept the responsibility of putting a certain name into the Bill.
– We shall see that there is a name put into it.
An Honorable Member. - A name has already been inserted.
– I am aware that the Senate has inserted the name of Bombala. . That name was mentioned before, but I am inclined to think that it will be knocked out. If that name is knocked out, will the Prime Minister undertake to put in a name ?
– We shall see that a name is put in.
– I am very pleased to hear that, because I think we should have a straight-out vote upon the question. I find that there is a levy to be made upon the New South Wales Government for £1,000 for expenditure incurred in connexion with the referendum taken in New South Wales during the last general election. I am inclined to think that that sum represents but a very poor compensation for the labour and expenditure involved in the taking of the referendum. The expenditure on the general election amounted to £48,500, a larger sum, I believe, by some thousands than the previous general election cost.
– No, it is much less than the first election cost.
– I have read somewhere that the election cost a good deal more. We do know that it was promised that under the new conditions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act the general elections would cost considerably less than the first Federal elections.
– So they did.
– I desire to . say that I think the expenditure would have been considerably less than it was had it not been for the work involved in the taking of the referendum in New South Wales. I think it should be represented to the New South Wales Government that £1,000 is not an adequate compensation for the services rendered in that connexion. It appears that the last Government neglected a payment of £112 for the conveyance of troops during the Royal visit, and I think that Ministers should give some explanation as to why that money was not paid before. At page 26 of the General Estimates I find a reference to a sum of £500 in connexion with railway fares. I assume that this amount is in addition to the large sum, amounting to thousands of pounds, that is paid for railway passes generally.
– I shall explain that for the honorable member.
– I shall be glad to hear the Treasurer on that item at the proper time. There is one other matter to which I wish to refer. In connexion with premiums upon fidelity guarantees in which certain fees are to be paid by the Government, as these premiums are paid in the interests of the officers, I should like to know why. the Government propose to pay the fees. Possibly the Treasurer may be able to give some explanation of the item.
– The fidelity guarantees the premiums of which are paid by the Federal Government are those in connexion with officers receiving less than £25 a year from the Commonwealth. They are not ordinary salaried officers. All -salaried officers contribute towards the guarantee- fund.
– Then there is a fidelity guarantee fund?
– It is a Government fund, to which all salaried officers occupying responsible positions, and having the control of monies, contribute.
– I am obliged for that explanation. There is the remarkable item in Division 175, subdivision vi. -
Settlement of claim in respect of misappropriated cheques negotiated by a postal official,. £95.
If there is a fidelity guarantee fund, how is it that this item is a charge upon the Government ? I assume that an officer in receipt of a small salary would not be called upon to receive such large sums.
– I shall explain the hem-
– It is a matter that should be explained, having regard to the fact that officers occupying high positions, and having the control of large sums of money, have to enter into fidelity guarantees.
– With regard to thequestion put by the honorable member for Echuca, as to the reduction by £16,000 of a vote of , £22,000 for equipment of field’ artillery, I desire to say that I cannot obtain the detailed information, for the reason that the item in question in the original Estimates was not specifically voted for any particular form of expenditure. It was a general authority.
– Something must havesuffered as the result of the reduction.
– Yes; the item- “equipment of forces and requirements to arm and’ equip field artillery “ has suffered. They have not purchased these equipments as extensively as was at first proposed.
– Is there any intention tointerfere in any way with the cadets?
– The item does not affect, the cadets in any way.
– What about the gun that I desired to be placed in position at Fremantle?
– We are endeavouring toprepare an emplacement for the gun in question ; but I believe that the townspeopledo not desire that it shall be placed in position at the only point at which it could beeffectively used. So far as this vote is concerned, I can assure the honorable member for Echuca that it was a general authority? given in the original Estimates of the Defence Department. No details were supplied, and the Department was, consequently, at liberty to make a general reduction. The simple position is that they have not spent £16,000 of the sum which they intended to expend.
– The reduction does not involve any radical change?
– No; it represents only a failure on the part of the Department to go as far as they intended in regard to general expenditure.
– Was not the vote based on a report by Major-General Hutton ?
– It was passed in relation . to general, and not specific, matters. The re-arming of the Cerberus is a matter that the Government have had under their serious consideration for some little time. We have not yet actually determined whether the Cerberus should have anything done to her. Improvements might be carried out on a much less expensive scale than that put forward a short time ago. The proposal to re-arm the Cerberus has been interfered with by the re-arrangement of the votes, and was interfered with by the late Government, be it remembered, to the extent of using money voted for this purpose in other directions. The work of re-arming her has, consequently, not been proceeded with during the present financial year. I regret that the late Minister of Defence is not present, because, when I was referring to this matter some weeks ago, in connexion with the general policy of the Government, I said I did not think it would be wise to proceed with the re-arming of an obsolete vessel at a cost of £25,000.
– The money could be much more efficiently spent in purchasing small arms and ammunition.
– Although we may ‘hold, as I do, that large sums should be spent on harbor defences, I consider it would be a wasteful procedure to spend £25,000 in rearming a vessel capable of steaming only nine knots an hour. The sum represents practically half the cost of a modern torpedodestroyer.
– Another £20,000 would enable us to secure an up-to-date torpedo destroyer.
– For another £25,000 we could obtain an ‘ up-to-date torpedodestroyer which for defence purposes would be ten times as valuable as is the Cerberus; still, a reduced expenditure might be incurred in connexion with improvements to that vessel, and the matter is now under consideration. When I was outlining the Government policy a few weeks ago, I referred to this matter, and the late Minister of Defence interjected that Sir George Clarke had approved of the proposed re-arming of the Cerberus. I had it on the tip of my tongue to say, what I believed to be a fact, that Sir George Clarke was not a _ naval expert, but as I was not quite positive on the point, I refrained from doing so. Inquiries since made by me have confirmed the belief that I then held. Sir George Clarke is an eminent military man - he is a General of Engineers - but he is no more qualified to express an opinion on purely naval matters than is any other military man. As against the opinion which the late Minister of Defence said Sir George Clarke had expressed, we have the fact that nearly every Imperial or local naval officer, who has been on this station, has been averse to the retention of the Cerberus on existing conditions.
– Not local officers. Mr. WATSON. - Yes ; nearly every local officer has indicated that the money necessary to re-arm her might be spent to better advantage, even in regard to port defences; or, leaving that aside, upon general defensive works.
– It was felt that she should not be destroyed altogether.
– I admit that . we should not dispense with even an ineffective vessel, until we are able to secure a better one. .
– She would be a powerful floating fort.
– Quite so ; and for that reason we do not propose to get rid of her, or to dispense with her complement of men until we have something better to put in her place. That, however, should not bind us to the expenditure of £25,006 in re-arming the Cerberus for the purposes of a floating fort. This matter practically does not touch the question of the re-arming of the Cerberus because the reduction simply- means that the matter has been postponed for the present financial year. The decision was arrived at some few months ago, at the instance pf my predecessor. Then the right honorable member for Swan has expressed objection to the existence of a Treasurer’s advance account. He asserts that it places too much power in the hands of a Treasurer. It takes away, he states, to too great an extent the power of control which Parliament ought to exercise over the public expenditure.
What does he seek to put in its place? Merely an Executive minute.
– No; but I put an excess voucher in its place.
– The right honorable gentleman, as I understood him, said he would put in its place an Executive minute, as is done in Western Australia. That simply means that the Prime Minister may assent to any other Minister making any expenditure in excess of parliamentary authority that he likes. If we are to choose as to which of two Ministers should authorize expenditure-
– Not the Prime Minister, but the Treasurer.
– An Executive minute means that any Minister, on getting the consent of the Prime Minister, takes his Executive minute to the Executive Council, and there it is passed, as the right honorable gentleman knows.
– I know that the Treasurer must do so. It always goes to the Treasurer first.
– I am informed of what the practice is in Western Australia.
– I was Treasurer there, too.
– The right honorable gentleman was also Prime Minister, and that is why he did as he says.
– He was the Cabinet too.
– I am assured that the right honorable gentleman was also the Cabinet in that State. An Executive minute, once it is assented to by the Prime Minister, goes straight to the Executive Council, and there, without discussion, receives the formal approval of the Governor in Council.
– No ; it has to go to the Treasurer.
-If I am to choose between an Executive minute and the authority of the Treasurer, I shall certainly choose the latter, for this reason, that he is, or should be, more in touch with the finances of the State or the Commonwealth, as the case may be, than would be any other Minister, even the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister is only consulted in the last resort.
– Quite so. In New South Wales and Victoria they have the system which obtains in the Commonwealth, but in the other four States they have the system which has been explained by the right honorable gentleman. I cannot see what advantage is to be gained by it. In each case you have to depend on the good sense and judgment of some members of the Ministry to provide for those contingencies which are bound to crop up, no matter how you may frame your Estimates. You must have some person on whom you can rely to provide for emergencies as they arise. I fail to see how, under the Constitution, the plan of the right honorable gentleman could be adopted. We cannot spend one penny which has not been appropriated by both Houses, and, therefore, we cannot load up, in anticipation of parliamentary sanction, any expenditure, unless it is in the shape of a Treasurer’s advance vote, where it is specially appropriated and authorized to be used by the Treasurer on certain conditions. I intend to look into the proposal of the right honorable gentleman ; but at present I do not see where any great advantage would accrue to Parliament, which requires, as far as possible, to keep its finger on the expenditure of money. But if there is an advantage to be gained by its adoption, and one which would make in the direction of more efficient parliamentary control, then by all means let us adopt it. During the short time I have been in the Treasury, I have refused quite a number of applications from different Departments, which, in my view, were not of an emergent character, on the ground that the items should have been foreseen and provided for in the Estimates, and sanctioned by Parliament. That is a stand which in ordinary matters the Treasurer ought to take. On the whole - in most instances anyhow - we can assume that the Treasurer, for the sake of his own reputation, will exercise some discretion in regard to the use of this vote. In regard to the remarks of the right honorable gentleman about the appointments to Western Australia I do not pretend to express an opinion, and I do not suppose that he expects that I should. An appeal lies from the classification of the Public Service Commissioner to a Board composed of the inspector of the State in which the officer is employed, the head of the Department to which he belongs, and an elected representative of the division in which he is. . The Board considers the case and reports to the Commissioner. The appeal is certainly determined bv the Commissioner, but after the recommendation of the Board has been received. I have always held very strongly the view that it would be a most improper thing, and an unwise precedent to adopt, for the Ministry to follow the course suggested by the right honorable gentleman - to interfere in the slightest degree in regard to the details of the control of the Public Service. In the various States we have had too much of political control : we have had too dire an experience of. the evil which results from Ministers putting their friends and friends’ friends into the Public Service and insuring promotion to those men who had ‘the most influence by the backstairs entry. We have had too much of that sort of thing in the past, I think, for any one of us to allow even a scintilla of Ministerial influence to creep into the detailed control of the Public Service.
– The Ministry have the responsibility.
– I admit that the Ministry have the responsibility ; but Parliament has deliberately, andi, I think, properly, divested itself of its authority, so far as the control of details of appointment or promotion is concerned.
– Oh. no ! the Minister has to recommend approval.
– Of course; but as the right honorable gentleman knows, that is a matter of form under the Public Service Act, and it was so considered by the Parliament when that measure was passed.
– I do not agree with the honorable gentleman.
– There is a pretty rough time brewing for any Ministry that makes it more than a matter of form, unless a large question of policy is involved.
– Oh no ! If the honorable gentleman thought that a wrong appointment was recommended surely he would not approve of it ? I would not.
– Who is to decide?
– That is the question.
– The Government.
– If the Government say that the appointment of Jones, who is an enemy, will be a bad one, but that the appointment of Brown, who is a friend, will be a very good one, of course we can see how far this interference is likely to obtain.
– The Act says that the Ministry have to do it.
– I do not consider that it says anything of the kind. Of course it leaves the approval of the appointment in the hands of the Governor-General, which means the Governor-General in Council. We must, I admit, preserve the right of veto. It is the- duty of every Minister not to allow a recommendation to be approved if he is aware of anything which ought to be reported to the Commissioner before an appointment is made. That is right. Bui. I hold that, as a general principle, unless a question of policy is involved, we should not interfere with the work of the Commissioner in relation to the Public Service Act. I think that under all the conditions set out - the appeals and the publicity given to the working of the Act - the public on the whole would get better results by keeping its administration free from Ministerial control than they are ever likely to do if Ministers are allowed to put their fingers in the pie.
– Will the honorable gentleman be equally careful to see that the public servants do not get any control over the Minister?
– I do not think that remark is justified. Certainly, on the floor of this House I have stood up for what I believed to be justice to public servants. I was one of those who voted for the minimum wage to the lower paid officials. But in relation to the provisions of section 19, I think I have shown a proper regard for the interests of the community, as opposed to the claims of some public servants. I do not think it is proper for the honorable member to suggest that there is any likelihood of this Ministry coming under the control of the Public Service. There is certainly no justification for the insinuation. The honorable and learned member for Angas has asked about the payment of increments due to certain South Australian officers under a State Act. Those increments have been kept back pending the consideration by the Public Service Commissioner of his classification scheme, and of the circumstances surrounding particular cases which may be dealt with apart from that scheme ; but such increments as will nol be interfered with by the classification, and as are due this year, will be paid during the present month.
– Does the Prime Minister infer that a Classification Board has power to take away an increment ?
– How far the classification scheme will supersede the conditions obtaining prior to Federation is a moot point.
– There must be equality.
– We must aim at equality of treatment throughout the service, but how far the general classification of officers will supersede the diverse systems which existed prior to Federation is a matter which I do not feel competent to determine offhand. It is expected by the Commissioner that his classification will largely supersede the state of affairs existing prior to Federation.
– Are not the rights of officers entitled to increments under a State Act preserved by the Constitution ?
– The Chief Justice of the High Court said the other day that those rights would continue until legally altered by the Commonwealth, but he was not unwise enough to commit himself to an opinion as to what would constitute a legal alteration, and, therefore, I may be pardoned for not doing so. Such increments as will not be interfered with by the classification scheme will be paid during the month. In reply to the question of the honorable member for Robertson, about the railway fares and freights charged to the Department of Defence, I would point out that we are now asking for £500 in addition to the amount already voted, because, since the Appropriation Act was passed, the railway authorities of the States have insisted upon being paid for the conveyance to encampments, of troops, horses, baggage, and the like, although, when the Military Forces were under the control of the States, and for a short period after their transfer to the control of the Commonwealth, no charge was made. It was, therefore, found that projected encampments could not: take place unless a large sum was provided for the payment of railway fares and freights, and my predecessor authorized the use of a vote of £3,000 odd, which had been set apart to cover the ordinary staff travelling expenses. Nearly the whole of that vote has been used in paying fares and freights in connexion with encampments in the different States, and the result is that an additional vote of £500 is required to cover ordinary travelling expenses. Even with this additional vote there will be a great saving.
– Are the Government going to discontinue encampments?
– I do not anticipate that they will be entirely discontinued, but we hope to. reduce the cost of them for a time by making them more local.
– As the charge is a mere bookkeeping entry, why discontinue the encampments ?
– The service does not cost the Railways Commissioners anything like as much as they charge the Commonwealth. They make very small concessions to the military authorities, and, indeed, I have heard of one instance in which, the military authorities were charged is. 6d. per head to carry troops to a certain encampment, while the general public were being carried there in excursion trains at is. per head. Of course, although only a book entry, these charges count against the Defence Department, as they tend to swell its expenditure. With regard to the item -
Settlement of claim in respect of misappropriated cheques negotiated by a postal official, £95- which appears on page 42, it was put there to cover an incident which occurred at a certain post-office, where the postmaster had been in the habit of cashing the cheques of well-known people in payment for stamps. Perfectly - good cheques, drawn in favour of some one not the postmaster, and presented by a person who had stolen them, were accepted bona fide by the postmaster in connexion with the payment of stamps, and we have been advised that the Commonwealth has no defence against the drawer of the cheques. It is manifestly a great convenience in many country places to allow cheques to be received at post-offices in payment of stamp accounts, but, to prevent similar occurrences, it has been decided that no cheque shall in future be taken unless it is made payable to the order of the postmaster.
– That could easily be done by the persons presenting the cheques.
– The name of the postmaster must appear in the body of the cheque, and the word “ order ‘ ‘ be substituted for “ bearer.” That will be a reasonable safeguard.
– It would be a small check ; it would not amount to much.
– It would be a reasonable check unless a person committed forgery. That, of course, could not be provided against by any one. I shall be very glad to give the honorable member for Robertson any further information that may be obtainable from the officers who are more cognisant than I am with the facts of the case. It has been stated .that the visits made by Members of Parliament to the sites proposed for the Federal Capital have involved great expense. I am glad to say that that is not the case. The sum voted on the original Estimates was £1,500. The present vote is for £2,590, making a total of £4,090. Of that amount the expenses of the Royal Commission which took evidence with regard to, and reported on, the sites, represented £3,350. That is £1,800 in excess of the original estimate, or more than double the sum originally asked for on account of the Commission. Therefore, I was practically right in saying that the extra sum for which I am asking was due to the appointment of the Commission. The actual amount absorbed by travelling and incidental expenses, including the cost of surveys, up to date is only £740. This ‘is inclusive of the cost to date of the various surveys initiated by the late Minister of Home Affairs. It is evident from this that no sum of many thousands has been spent in connexion with the visits of honorable members to the sites.
– But some thousands of pounds have been spent in connexion with the inspection of the sites.
– I quite admit that, but it has been bruited abroad that thousands of pounds have been spent in providing picnics for honorable members.
– The tour of the Commissioners was practically a picnic.
– Even so, the honorable member has no right to mix up the work of the Commission, with the visits of .honorable members to the proposed sites. Personally, I think that the evidence taken by the Commission, and the work performed by it, was very valuable. Whether the Commission should have cost so much as it did is another question. The present Government have no intention of initiating any further trips or inquiries in connexion with the proposed sites. Any additional’ expenditure will probably be incurred in connexion with the printing of the reports that may come in from the surveyors or others who are asked to obtain particulars as to the sites. I refer, of course, to the expense incurred before the site is selected. . Afterwards some expense will have to be incurred in connexion with the site itself, but I do not think there need be any further great outlay precedent to the selection.
– I desire a little explanation with regard to one item. It will be remembered that some time ago, when a Bill was introduced to provide for what was practically an increase of the Governor-General’s salary by £8,000, the House resented the .proposal to such an extent that the late Government were placed in the humiliating position of having their Bill taken out of their hands by a private member, and amended in the way that honorable members thought best. The House positively refused to grant the proposed increase of salary, but they agreed to allow His Excellency £10,000 towards the expense incurred in entertaining the Duke and Duchess of York during their visit to Australia. Subsequently the Government asked the House to vote £5,500 for the maintenance of the Government Houses in Melbourne and Sydney. I think that about £2,000 was apportioned to Sydney, and £3,000 to Melbourne. Now we find that the late Government have allowed that expenditure to creep up from £5,500 to £7,387. The amount voted during last year was £6,015, and now we are asked to provide another £1,372. Therefore, Ave are closely approaching the amount of £8,000, originally asked for by the Government, which the House, declined to grant. I think that, under the circumstances, we are entitled to ‘ some explanation. At the time that the motion relating to this grant of £5,500 was submitted, it will be remembered” that the Government furnished a list showing the expenditure that would be required. They then made a distinct promise that the £5,500 would be made to cover the whole of the expenditure.
– I suppose that that amount was not sufficient.
– Then why were not the late Government honest enough to stand by their original proposal ? They violated their pledges, simply because society was involved. We did not hear of their being so generous to underpaid public officials. Whenever the fatted sow had to be greased, they were always ready to do it ; and I think that it is about time that we endeavoured to put a stop to such proceedings. Of course, the money was expended bv the late Government, and the present Government is in no degree responsible for the excess. Therefore, we cannot very well reduce the Estimates. We are in the unfortunate position of being compelled to vote the money.
– Why does not the honorable member move to reduce the item.
– The money has been spent.
– If a proposal to reduce the item were agreed to, the
Government would not be in a position to carry out the instruction of the Committee. Moreover, they are not responsible for this expenditure, and it would not be proper to punish them for the wrongs of others. Had the late Government remained in office, I should have moved for the excision of this item. However, they have been condemned for their political sins by being relegated to the Opposition benches, where I hope they will long remain.
– How does the honorable member account for the smashing of crockery ?
– I notice a very interesting item in these Estimates, which reads, “ Glass and china, £50.” In one year I think that the breakages of crockery amounted in value to no less than £600. These breakages naturally cause people to think, and they may be disposed to place a wrong construction on the matter. ‘For instance, men like the honorable member for Darwin would probably say that a lot of crockery was broken at “ guzzles.”
– How much did we spend “last year upon the upkeep of the Governor-General’s establishment ?
– All I know is that during the present financial year the late Government spent £6,01 5, and that it is now necessary to ask for an additional £1372
– How much was expended last vear?
– Last year the amount appropriated was £5,500, of which £2,436 was spent.
– That makes a total of £9,823 in two years.
– The late Government exceeded the amount of the vote by nearly £3,000.
– I suppose that some payments were held over?
– There were some arrears.
– I think that the Government ought to take this matter into consideration in framing the Estimates for next year.
– The honorable member is out of court.
– I do not know whether the right honorable member is leader of the Opposition.
– He is one of the leaders.
– When the Estimates in chief are submitted, if the expenditure on the maintenance of the two Government Houses exceeds £5,500, I shall certainly take steps to divide the Committee in regard to the matter. I am informed by representatives from New South Wales that during the greater part of the year the magnificent Government Houes at Sydney is vacant, whilst the Government of that State are compelled to rent another establishment for their Governor at an enormous expense.
– They are willing to do it.
– That does not affect the question. The Commonwealth is paying nearly £3,000 annually towards the maintenance of the Government House, Sydney, whilst the New South Wales Government is obliged to incur additional expenditure in providing its vice-regal representative with another residence. That is wrong. For the few weeks during the year that . the Governor-General resides in New South Wales he might reasonably be the guest of the State Governor. Of course I know that a howl of indignation is always raised when we attempt to touch the society pet.
– Cut us down; cut them up.
– I notice, in these Estimates, another little item of £112 for the conveyance of troops by steamer to the Commonwealth celebrations in April and May, 1 90 1.
– That is rather belated.
– It seems extraordinary that three years after the event we should receive an account for £112. It appears to me that the late Government, despite all their assurances that they paid accounts as they were rendered, kept a few of them back. Why this account was held in abeyance, goodness only knows. I hope that it is not one of the amounts which was expended by the famous Jenkins, who was renowned for his hospitality in connexion with the Commonwealth celebrations. When the Estimates are submitted, if the amount provided for the Governor-General’s establishment exceeds £5.500, I shall move that it be struck out.
– It is quite refreshing to be able to discuss a matter which is not- controversial. Of course, honorable members realize that the present Government are not responsible for these Supplementary Estimates in any way. Nevertheless, I think that they might have circulated them earlier, so as to permit of honorable members examining them more closely. It is very desirable that we should have an opportunity to carefully scrutinize Estimates of expenditure in order that we may meet the general demand for economy. Most of us recollect the howl of indignation which was heard throughout the States when the late Treasurer submitted his Estimates, which showed a large increase in Federal expenditure. In addition to that, we have presented to lis to-night, in these Estimates, a Supplementary bill for £137,216. I am thoroughly satisfied that the present Treasurer will endeavour to keep the expenditure down as much as possible, so that the finances of the States may be placed in a better position.
– I am sure that the late 1 reasurer did his very best in that regard.
– I make no complaint against the late Treasurer. I simply say that the expenditure should be kept down to the lowest possible limit. I am quite satisfied that the present Treasurer will use every effort in that direction, and I have nothing but praise for the work which was performed by the late Treasurer. I wish to draw special attention to the supplementary expenditure in connexion with the High Court. On page 6 of the Estimates honorable members will see two items which relate to compensation for the services of Commonwealth and State officers, and. for the travelling expenses of the Justices and their associates. These aggregate an expenditure of £2,035-. That is, of course, in addition to the sum voted on the last Estimates. The honorable member for Kennedy has spoken of the increased cost of the maintenance of the Government Houses in Sydney and Melbourne.
Si’r John Forrest. - There is no increase; it is an overdraft from last year.
– But is that so?
– The right honorable member for Swan says so, and he is an exMinister. I think that a very bad plan of keeping national accounts is exhibited on these Estimates. Honorable members will see numerous instances of gratuities granted to various persons. That is a very unsatisfactory way of dealing with the Public Service.
– We utilize the services of States officers a great deal.
– The payments should be made to the States, and they should pay their own officers.
– The sums must appear on the Estimates.
– The items would then appear not as gratuities, but as payments for services rendered. This is not a proper method of national bookkeeping. In regard to the Patent Office, which has only recently been established, there is a sum of £130 for travelling expenses. The amount seems excessive, considering that the office has not been in existence very long. I should like to have an explanation.
– Officers who are removed from one State to another are entitled to a certain sum to defray the cost of moving.
– I understood that States officers were doing practically the whole of the work under the Commonwealth Act.
– A State officer transferred to the Commonwealth would have his expenses paid down to Melbourne. That, I should fancy, is the explanation.
– I should like to know for certain. I do not understand the item. Indeed, it is difficult for one who has these Estimates put into his hands for the first time, to understand them, unless he has been a bank manager, accustomed to handling large sums, or an accountant. Honorable members should take up this matter of finance seriously, because it is very important in the interests of the people whom they represent. On page 15. there is an item “ Interest on claims for refund of excise duty on sugar, £290.” I should like to have an explanation of that from the Minister of “Trade and Customs. The question of the sugar bounties is affected by certain items on page 17. Temporary assistance is put down at £3,271. Perhaps this is an improper time to open up the question of the sugar bounties, but it appears to me that this policy is an exceedingly expensive one for Australia. What is meant by this temporary assistance, which has cost £3,271? To whom has the money been paid, and over what period has it extended?
– Is it an advance in anticipation ?
– It is a supplementary estimate, and it is understood that most of the money has been spent.
– It will all have been spent by the 30th of June.
– I had intended to refer to the item mentioned by the honorable member Tor Kennedy, relating to troops in connexion with the Commonwealth celebrations of 1901. On page 18 there is another item of expenditure concerning Western Australia. It would be just as well if honorable members carefully scrutinized the expenditure on account of Western Australia. There is an item “ Protection pf the revenue, £937.” What does that mean? Then, further on, there is an. item ‘ ‘ Cost of gun-mounting at Fremantle, £5,000.” I presume that that gun is intended to protect something in Western Australia. Put what is meant by the protection of the revenue ?
– It means payments to solicitors and others in connexion with prosecutions, as well as payments for detective work done for the protection of the revenue.
– In connexion with the Defence Department, there is an item for the expenses of the officer despatched to Japan on special duty. I presume that that refers to Colonel Hoad, who has gone to Japan to watch the military operations ?
– Whilst I am dealing with the Defence Department, can the Prime Minister tell me something about a matter which I laid before the late Minister of Defence in connexion with cadets. If he has no information, will he bring it under the notice of the Minister of Defence? I was given to understand that the Department intended to re-organize the cadet corps. I should like some indication from the Prime Minister of what has been done in this direction. Some time ago certain residents of Colac made an offer which, if accepted, would have resulted in the establishment of a mounted cadet force. Parents and others interested offered to find the ponies and equipment, so that the boys might grow up good soldiers, and eventually become members of the Australian Light Horse. A change of Government, however, took place, and possibly - though I hope not - there was a change of policy in regard to the cadet movement. I hope that the Government will ask the Minister of Defence to take this matter into consideration, and see whether something cannot be done to assist the movement. If we train our boys, we shall certainly have trained men, and this is a suggestion which, I am sure, will commend itself to honorable members generally. Then, I should like to say a word or two in regard to rifle butts. Some time ago I drew attention to the fact that the rifle butts at Colac - and I suppose the case is the same at other places - had got into a state of disrepair. There is no desire to have any new rifle butts constructed, but where there are already butts, which have been allowed to fall into disrepair, some steps should be taken to put them in a better condition. In the case of the Colac butts, when a recent match had to be shot off, it was found that they were not in a fit state to be used ; and that, of course, is bad so far as the training- of the members of the rifle clubs is concerned. Turning now to the Post and Telegraph Department, the great question is whether the Act, which was passed by the Victorian State Parliament in the early hours of the morning-
– At the dictation of the Labour Party.
– I shall leave it to the honorable member for Wannon to explain this matter in detail, because I believe he was a member of the State House at the time. On looking through the items, I notice, according to page 89, that the salary of a clerk has been raised from £300. to £310, and, later on, it is shown that the salary of a switch attendant has been raised from £52 to £110, or more than double. All through the items in the Department of the Postmaster-General I notice very considerable increases in the expenditure. According to page 41, the salary of a lettercarrier has been raised from £65 to £120, the latter being more than the minimum rate recently fixed. I should like to know definitely from the Postmaster-General, or some other Minister, whether the salaries of the charwomen employed in the post-offices have been raised to the minimum rate of £11.0. Some time ago there was a talk that these charwomen intended to go on strike.
– My recollection is that the charwomen withdrew their claim, because, if it were granted, it would mean that they must become permanent officials, and pass examinations and fulfil other conditions.
– The women would not face the examinations?
– They would not face the general conditions.
– Another important point for consideration is that in Victoria a sum of £2,100 - and, I suppose, in other States the amount is greater under similar heads - is provided as the sum overcharged to officers for rent and quarters.
– I explained that matter a little while ago, during the absence of the honorable member. I mentioned that, under the Public Service Act, only 10 per cent, on salaries can be charged for rent of quarters, and the money has unwisely been allowed to accumulate, and we have now to return it in a lump, whether we like it or not. It is a legacy from the late Government.
– And it is a very unfortunate legacy. There is another item in relation to Western. Australia, and it is, I believe, the largest item under this head. On page 53 I see that, under the head of contingencies, there is set aside £1,250 as “overtime and allowance for tea money “ to officers in the Department of the Postmaster-General ; and a certain amount is provided in a similar way in the case of one of the States. It would be just as well to know how much of this money is for overtime, and how much for tea allowance. .
– There must be about 1,500 people in Western Australia amongst whom this money has to be distributed.
– They seem to have a verygood time in Western Australia. I ask the Government to give the question of finance very serious consideration, and to reduce the expenditure as far as possible.
– There is no doubt that the present Government have received legacies from their predecessors, and that we have to “ pay the piper.” T should like a little information from the Minister of Trade and Customs, with regard to the arrangements made under the Patents Act. As I understand the regulations, any one desiring to take out patent rights in the State of Victoria is at considerable advantage as compared with a person with a similar desire in any of the other States. The present state of affairs does not exhibit the true Federal spirit. While I recognise the desire of this and the preceding Government to keep down expenditure as much as possible, I am of opinion that to facilitate the taking out of patents would more than compensate for any expenditure incurred by appointing deputy officers in each of the States with whom applications for patents and specifications might be lodged. I am drawing attention to this matter, on behalf of a number of my constituents, who have been waiting for the passing of what thev thought would be a liberal Patents Act. The charges under the Act appear to be liberal, but there are certain restrictions which cannot be so described, and which give the whole of the advantage to Victoria, so long, at any rate, as the Seat of Government is within that State. I do not think that it would involve any very considerable extra expense to have deputy officers appointed in ‘the capitals of each of the States, with whom intending patentees might lodge their applications, and to whom they might go for advice. They should also be able, at the branch offices, to look over the list of patents granted or applied for, that they might be able to decide whether they are introducing a novelty. In the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department we have the Postmaster-General, with his Secretary, established here, and we have Deputy Postmasters-General in each of the States. There is no reason why the same course should not be adopted in connexion with the Patent Office. Whilst we might have here an officer controlling the Patent Office who would be the head of the Department, I see no reason why there should not be established branch offices in the capitals of each of the States in the charge of Deputy Comptrollers of Patents for the convenience of inventors, and to enable them to avoid the expense of seeking the advice of costly patent attorneys. I received the regulations under the Act only this evening, but I have gone through them as carefully as I could in the time at my disposal, i find that, under them, in this State of Victoria, where the people have enjoyed years of protection, and have trained a great number of skilled mechanics, intending patentees are at a considerable advantage as compared with persons in the other States of the Commonwealth, who wish to secure patents, and they will have that advantage so long as the head office of the Patents Department is located in this city. That is not in accordance with the true Federal spirit, and I feel sure it was never intended when the Patents Act was passed. There are a number of persons in the electorate which I represent, and in that represented by the Minister for Trade and Customs, which has also a manufacturing centre, who have been waiting for the passage of a liberal Patents Act, in order that they might obtain patents for discoveries and inventions which they have been engaged in perfecting for years past. Their hopes were raised because they considered that this was a democratic Parliament, that would be prepared to place the humblest workman on a level with the capitalist, who in the past has been the only person in a position to secure a patent, because he has been able to command the money necessary. When, in the past, a mechanic invented a machine, or discovered an improvement upon a machine, he had to sell his discovery to. some one having the money to obtain a patent for it. It was held out that under the Commonwealth inventors would be able to patent their inventions throughout Australia for a merely nominal sum. I admit that the fees required under the Act are merely nominal ; but, if intending patentees must go through all the forms laid down in these regulations, the expense involved will not be nominal, and it will be beyond the reach of ordinary mechanics. We shall in consequence have made but very little advance on the past order of things. I am aware that the present Minister of Trade and Customs is not responsible for these regulations, and that he would have been more reasonable in his treatment of inventors. If a man in Western Australia desires to take out a patent, the only place where he can get full information is the city in which the Seat of Government is located. . He can get a certain amount of information in the branch office established in the capital of his State, but in order to get full information he must come here.
– Will not copies of all patents and specifications be filed in the branch offices?
– That is so. But, supposing a man away at Port Darwin makes an important discovery, or invents a machine, and desires to patent it, he must travel round to Melbourne himself, or he must engage a patent attorney in this city, in order to secure a. patent.
– The illustration is an unfortunate one. That man’s position is improved, because before the passing of the Federal Act he would have had to go round to Adelaide, and to take out patents in every Colony.
– I admit that it is difficult to overcome anomalies in connexion with a large continent such as ours, but they should be reduced to a minimum. If we take Queensland, for example, the facilities required might be extended not only to Brisbane, the capital of the State, but also to’ Rockhampton, the capital of the central district of Queensland, and to Townsville, the capital of the northern district. Very little extra expense would be involved in producing extra copies of patents and specifications. My contention is that the Patents Department would be reimbursed the expense involved, in providing the facilities I suggest, by the number of extra applications for patents that would be made.
I am aware that it must cost a little more to have deputy officers in other parts of the Commonwealth, who will be able to give all necessary information and receive applications; but numbers of men are to-day deterred from making application for patents because they must submit them through a patent attorney in Melbourne, or some agent, whose charges will probably be higher than the actual cost of obtaining the patents. In these circumstances they refrain from making applications, when, if they could transact their business in their own neighbourhood, they would patent their inventions. Some of the inventions and discoveries patented might appear very simple in themselves, but they might confer great benefit on the Common- wealth in the future. Inventions that in the past have appeared to be of very small moment have turned out to be of very great benefit, not only to the country in which they were invented, but to humanity at large. History furnishes innumerable instances of that kind. Those of us who advocated Federation - and no man in Australia was a more ardent advocate of it than I was - claimed that it would place every citizen of Australia on a common plane as Australians. We contended that it would break down the old distinction between the Victorian, the New South Welshman, the Queenslander, the South Australian, the Western Australian, and the Tasmanian. But I regret to say that the regulations under the Patents Act which have been framed not by the present Government, but, I presume, by the Government which preceded them, confer privileges and preferences upon those who happen to be in the immediate vicinity of the seat of the Federal Government for the time being. Ari objection has been raised to what I have suggested, on the score of cost. I think that I know the aspirations of the present Government as well as most men, and I believe thev hold that the monopolization of machinery and modern inventions has done a considerable amount of harm, and has brought a considerable amount of hardship on the toiling masses in every country in the world. If the operation of the Patents Act is to be restricted in the way in which these regulations appear to me to restrict it, we shall’ emphasize, rather than remedy, that state of affairs. We shall enable the few to take advantage of all modern discoveries and inventions in Australia.- If we are to become a self-containing and self-sustaining community - and we have all the natural essentials - we must encourage, not only our primary, but our manufacturing industries. We have to keep pace with the other nations of the world. We have the intelligence, the mechanical ingenuity, and the-genius to enable us to do so, but a man who invents a new machine, or improves upon an old one, often smothers his discovery rather than hand it over for a few pounds to a man who will become a millionaire by securing a patent for it, while he remains practically a mendicant. I took no small part in the debates on the Patents Bill. I closely studied all the questions relating to the measure, and when it was before us, I understood that it was going to offer the most ample facilities for the humblest and poorest invent or to secure the fullest reward of his genius. It seems to me, however, that, if these regulations, which have been framed in a conservative interest, are permitted to remain, the Act will not do anything of the kind. I should like the Minister of Trade and Customs, who administers the Act, to be able- to assure the Committee to-night that every facility will be given, not necessarily in the capitals of the States, but in all the more important cities, to persons who desire to obtain information in regard to our Patents law. There should be agents in such cities prepared to supply all information, and to receive applications and specifications.
– What, cost would that involve ?
– The additional fees that would be secured would more than compensate the Government for the increased expenditure. Unless these branches are established many inventions will be suppressed, because inventors are often unable to bear the cost of making application to the head office, and of employing an attorney or agent to act for them in Melbourne. If branch offices existed in the more important towns and cities of the Commonwealth, at which a man might transact his business without the intervention of a third party, good results would follow. The cost of establishing these offices would be more than met by the increased fees in respect of applications for patents relating to discoveries that would never otherwise come to light. , There is only one other subject to which I desire to refer. I believe that the Defence Department has made a retrogressive step in deciding not to proceed with the formation of cadet corps.
– Have they arrived at that decision ?
– I understand that they have, for in reply to certain correspondence recently addressed to the Department, it was stated that the matter would have to remain in abeyance for some time. From the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament, it has been held that we should have a citizen soldiery. That has been the keynote of our scheme for a defence system for the Commonwealth. If we are going to have a citizen soldiery, we must begin by drilling the boys attending primary schools, and the work must be continued at the higher schools. On reaching 18 years of age lads are able to join the rifle clubs, and as members’ of those clubs, they will receive further instruction, and may subsequently be drafted into the militia. If this scheme were adopted, the more ardent spirits would doubtless leave the Militia to join the permanent Defence Forces, and in this way we should secure a complete system of defence.
– I am afraid that I shall not be able to appease the wrath of the honorable member for Moreton by the simple statement that I. am not responsible for the regulations to which he so strongly objects. When I took office I urged that the issuing of the regulations should be expedited, and I am advised that they constitute the most liberal code that has been drafted in any part of the world. I am likewise advised’ that the scale of fees is lower than any that has been fixed under other patent laws. Special facilities to obtain information are afforded to intending applicants, and, as we all know, a Commonwealth patent, covering a period of seven years, can be obtained at a cost of only £&.
– That cost relates only to the charges made by the Department.
– I am pleased to be able to inform the Committee and the public generally that the Commissioner of Patents in Melbourne is prepared to receive applications direct from intending patentees, and that it is not necessary for them to employ the assistance of any intermediary. Those who apply direct- to the Commissioner will secure all the rights, privileges,, and advantages that accrue to those who employ a patent attorney to act in their behalf Surely these arrangements should be calculated to afford equal facilities to all persons living in any part of Australia, although we know, of course, that those who live at a distance from Melbourne must be placed at a disadvantage in respect of the time within which an application may be lodged.
– Why ?
– If two men, one living in Melbourne and the other in Brisbane, conceived the same idea, and desired to patent the same invention at the same moment, the one who lived in Melbourne would, of course, have an advantage over the other. That is a difficulty that cannot be avoided.
– One could get very long odds against such an occurrence.
– Such instances are conceivable, and that is my sole reason for stating a proposition that’ is self-evident. There can be only one Patent Office. If it is not in Melbourne, it must be in Sydney, or in the Federal Capital or some other large centre of population.
– We have only one General Officer Commanding the Military Forces of the Commonwealth ; but we have a commandant in each of the States.
– It is mandatory that there shall be only one Patent Office, and there can be practically only one Register of Patents. The Patent Office must be in some large centre of population, and the Seat of Government being in Melbourne, the office for the time being is situated in Collins street. I am somewhat surprised at the statement made by the honorable member for Moreton, that the regulations issued under the Patents Act are complicated, and will put a poor inventor to undue expense in protecting his discovery. I can assure the honorable member that the Commissioner is as anxious as he is that every facility shall be afforded to the poorer classes of inventors to reap the reward of their genius. That is the desire of myself and my colleagues, and if the honorable member is able to point to any obstacle now thrown in the way of inventors who desire to take out patents, we shall be glad to endeavour to remedy the defect. Applications for patents have already been received from persons living at a distance, and what is more unusual, the regulations issued have been commended by persons living in all parts of the Commonwealth.
– By patent agents.
– I have only to add that those who desire to patent any invention will receive full consideration, and that all information that can be given, without involving the applicant in unnecessary expense, will be afforded, either in writing or otherwise. There will be one officer in each of the States, at least for some time to come, but it is not desirable that any large expenditure should be incurred in main-‘ taining an office, the fees relating to which are so lbw that a number of persons assert that we shall not be able to make it pay. The Commissioner considers that after the lapse of one or two years it will not be a largely profitable branch of the service, but that it will more than meet working expenses. I think honorable members will agree that it is desirable that the Patent Office shall be at least able to pay working expenses.
– What about the indirect advantages?
– At a cost of £1 an inventor can secure a provisional protection for a patent for nine months ; when his specification is accepted, another £2 has to be paid; and when the patent has been sealed, it is only necessary for him to pay a further fee of £5 in order to be protected for a period of seven years. At the end of that time he can renew his patent for a further period of seven years on payment of a fee of £5. Thus, at a cost of £13, it is possible for an inventor to protect his invention throughout the Commonwealth for a period of fourteen years. Other liberal provisions have been made in favour of those who desire to protect the fruits of their genius. I hope that no misunderstanding on this point will go out to the public, because I think that they have better protection now than ever they had, and at a much lower cost, too.
– I do not intend to speak at a later stage on the Estimates of the different Departments ; but I desire to refer now to one or two matters which seem to me to be of importance to the House, and to the people in the thinlypopulated districts of the States. I should like the Minister in charge of the Estimates at present to explain to me, if he can, what by-election for East Sydney the item of £370, under the head of miscellaneous expenditure on page 9, refers to?
– The by-election for East Sydney, which was held after the leader of the Opposition . resigned as a protest against the non-adoption of the electoral boundaries.
– Is that the election which is commonly known in New South Wales as “ Reid’s Folly?”
– No, the gerrymandering one.
– This represents the cost of the election when the right honorable gentleman sought to make, as it were, a false start, with the view of securing his return to this Parliament. I never knew anything so ridiculous or so unjustifiable as his action on that occasion. For the right honorable gentleman, merely as a matter of pyrotechnics, to resign his seat, and put the Commonwealth to the expense of £37°, was, to my mind, an act which did not do credit to him. I trust that in future no such folly will be displayed by any honorable member. I wish to speak more particularly of the attitude of the Post and Telegraph Department towards those residents of the Commonwealth who, in my opinion, are being victimized. I refer to the residents in the back-blocks of the States, especially in New South Wales, who have no railway communication, and very inadequate coach communication, and whose mails arrive, in some cases, only once a week, and under great difficulties in bad weather. These people, who are practically the pioneers of this country, and who have to put up with all these disadvantages, are put by the Federal Government under conditions which did not exist prior to the transfer of the Post and Telegraph Department. We find that we cannot get telephonic communication provided to these people in their interests unless they are prepared to put their hands into their pockets, and pay very heavy demands by way of guarantees and otherwise. We have heard a great deal here about settling the people on the land, and the good results which will flow to the Commonwealth from such settlement ; and yet we fail to recognise that settlers in remote districts require at least some means of communication in their isolation, if we are to keep them there. The Parliament of New South Wales used to take these matters into its ‘ consideration. It considered that by granting these concessions to men who were going out to take up its unoccupied lands, it would bring about the settlement of a large population on the soil. These settlers went into the back-blocks believing that when the Federal Government came into existence similar concessions would be made by the Commonwealth, with a view to promote settlement of people on the land, and of course the general prosperity of Australia. Yet we find that in places where the rivers overflow the flat country, and threaten the lives of the residents, we cannot get telephonic communication provided for the purpose of informing them as to rises in the rivers at higher . levels, which are likely to submerge their families and their stock. Through the absence of this information ruin has overtaken many, persons. We have a right to expect that the Commonwealth Government will be, at least, a little broad-minded in dealing with the requirements of this most deserving class, who receive the least consideration at the hands of the Post and Telegraph Department in the matter of the extension of telephonic or telegraphic communication. I appeal to the Postmaster-General to take into his consideration the regulations which were initiated by the late Government, and to see whether they cannot be liberalized. We should at least do what we can to make the lot of these people as comfortable as possible, and spare no efforts to carry out the policy of settling the people on the land which we advocate.
– I think it will be generally admitted that this discussion is another evidence, if any were necessary, of the utter futility of discussing Supplementary Estimates from the standpoint of economy. It has always seemed to me to be an absolute waste of time to discuss them, because the money has been spent. In this instance the Government who spent the money have gone out of office, and their sins cannot be visited upon them ; andwe have another Government simply putting their Estimates through the Committee as a matter of form.
– But this Government accepted their sins, and must be held responsible.
– This Government did not accept the sins of the late Government ; they accepted the Treasury bench, and have their own sins to answer for. A great portion of the expenditure which is submitted on these Estimates was foreshadowed last year by the late Treasurer, when he delivered his Budget speech. The major portion of the sum total - £137,000 - is chargeable to the Post and Telegraph Department. There are two principal causes, over and beyond the natural expansion of the Department, to which the increase is due. The first is an Act passed by the- Victorian Parliament, increasing the salaries of officials in
Departments about to be transferred to the Commonwealth control, under the impression that the other States would b; called upon to pay part of the cost. That was the belief which was uppermost in the minds of those who supported the measure, though the people of Victoria now find that they alone, and rightly so, too, have to find the money. I was a member of the Victorian Assembly at the time. The Act was a hasty, illconsidered piece of legislation, and was carried on the last night of the last session of the Victorian Parliament prior to the inauguration of Federation.
– And the Upper House did not check it ?
– They hardly looked at it. The few mild remonstrances raised in the Assembly were ignored. The other cause is the humane act of this Parliament in fixing a minimum wage. Those two causes account for £82.000 of the total increase. There are some items in the Estimates which I do not wish to particularize now, but in regard to which the Committee should have an explanation when we come to deal with details. What appear to be new appointments in the Attorney-General’s Department and in the Audit Office’ are provided for. I should like information in regard to them, and also as to the system of paying gratuities for work done by members of the Public Service. Where that work is a special service performed outside ordinary office hours, we should be informed of it. But the services provided for in Division 27A appear to be such as could have been performed by a competent officer of the Treasury or pf the Auditor-General’s Department in ordinary office hours. I hope, too, that an explanation will be given of the item £750, compensation for loss of office, in subdivision 3 of division 33. We know that most officers who retire in the ordinary way are provided with pensions or gratuities under the Acts under which they were appointed j but there are circumstances under which officers leaving the service forfeit all such rights, and I wish to know if this is such a case. I -desire also to emphasize “what the honorable member for Gwydir has said in regard to the disabilities of persons residing in outlying portions of the Commonwealth. The Postmaster-General himself represents a sparsely populated constituency, and realizes the disabilities under which such persons labour; so we should have his sympathy in our requests for improved telephonic communication.
– He used to make the same kind of speeches himself.
– I do not wish to throw Hansard at him, but I have listened to similar appeals from him, and, no doubt, if the honorable member can give him a reminder at an opportune time, something practical will be done. There appears to be a rooted objection on the part of the officers of his Department to permitting individuals to erect private telephone lines. They seem to think that these lines will compete with public lines. In two instances in which I have submitted what appeared to me reasonable applications for telephonic communication, the departmental estimate of cost was so large as to seem absurd, and was certainly beyond the means of those concerned. They, therefore, asked to be allowed to erect a private, line, but that request was refused point-blank, without consideration. It would be impossible for such a private line, if erected, to compete -with any public telegraph or telephone line, and, instead of there being a loss, or risk of loss, of revenue, the Department would gain, .because the number of messages sent from the nearest telegraph office would be increased. The petitioners were quite prepared to pay all charges, and to erect the line at their own cost, under the supervision of departmental officers. I ask the PostmasterGeneral to give more consideration than has been given in the past to the applications of those who, living in remote places, wish to enjoy some of the conveniences of civilized life.
– There are two matters to which I wish to direct the attention of the Postmaster-General In the first place, I ask him if it is desirable, when his officers report that the telephonic business of a country town is likely to be of such’ a nature as to cover the cost of maintaining and working a telephonic system, to demand a guarantee.
– They are not now insisted on in all cases.
– In one case in which I am interested, a guarantee is being required.
– The honorable and learned member will find that the departmental report is against granting the application.
– I am not so sure that that is true with regard to the case of Clifton.
– I cannot speak definitely as to that case.
– There is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. On page 48 of the Estimates appears an item of £13 for “medical and funeral expenses,’ M. J. Dwyer, killed in the execution of his duty.” Underlying that item is a question of general principle which applies to all labourers in the service of the Commonwealth. Dwyer was an ordinary labourer, and was engaged in the work of erecting certain telegraph lines. A pole, which was being placed in position, suddenly gave way. Dwyer, who was assisting in the work, received a warning and endeavoured to get out of the way. . Owing to the unevenness of the ground, however, he slipped, and before he could recover himself the pole fell and killed him. This case raises the whole question of the liability of the Commonwealth for injuries sustained by its employes, who are following an occupation in itself dangerous, and who are not guilty of contributory negligence. The official report, of which I have a copy, shows clearly that . Dwyer was not guilty of any neglect., He was doing work for his country - a class of work which the Postmaster-General will admit is dangerous, and which has to be performed in remote parts of the Commonwealth. In many instances these men go out with their lives in their hands. Dwyer was quite a young man, and his mother was practically depending on him for support. After his death she wrote to the Department and asked if there was any salary due to him. The official reply was to the effect that there was a sum of £4 10s. standing to his credit ; but that she could not receive any of his money, as it was intended to apply it to the liquidation of his funeral and medical expenses. I do not desire to make an ad misericordiam appeal, although there is ample ground for doing so. This young fellow was killed in the performance of work which the community as a whole demanded, and it seems very hard that no compensation should be paid to those who were dependent on him. I know that the matter will have to be very carefully considered before the legal obligations of the Commonwealth can be defined. The labourers employed by the Post and Telegraph Department are, as I am given to understand, exempted in such a way . that they are deprived of the benefits of the Public Service Act, and it is because of this exemption that it is not possible to claim any compensation in Dwyer’s case. I am not sure that this is a correct representation of the law, and I should like the Minister to make inquiries. I do not think that any private employer would have been guilty of such meanness as to refuse to pay over to the mother of a man who was killed in his employment the small balance of wages due to him. This may seem a trifling matter to bring before the Committee, but it is of some importance to Mrs. Dwyer. The case has been submitted to me on its merits, and I have considered it my duty to bring it under the notice of the Minister. I believe that the late Treasurer refused to sanction this payment. If he did, I hope that he acted without a full knowledge of the circumstances, and that his decision will not be regarded as final. I trust that the Minister -will be able to grant some relief in this case, and that he will also consider the general responsibility of the Commonwealth in regard to its servants, who perform dangerous ‘ work, and who lose their lives through no fault of their own, but through some misadventure.
– The complaint that has been made with reference to honorable members not having the Estimates placed before them at an earlier stage, is a very old one, and has, doubtless”, been voiced in every Parliament in the world.
– It is a very proper complaint.
– I agree with the honorable member, and I hope that, until Governments mend their ways, honorable members will protest against having Estimates placed in their hands immediately before they are asked to consider them. From the point of view of Ministers, w;e understand that it is considered that business will be facilitated if honorable members are not allowed too much time to ferret out matters which are dealt with in the Estimates. I question, however, whether that view is a sound one, because many items regarding which honorable membersfind themselves compelled to make a public inquiry, might, if they had ample time, be disposed of beforehand bv means of a personal interview with a Minister or the officers of his Department. These remarks apply to one matter to which I wish to refer. The honorable member for Corangamite informed us just now that, included in the Estimates, was an item of £5.000 for expenditure upon the defences of Fremantle, and he led the Committee to believe that a large expenditure was being -incurred in respect of defences in Western Australia. The honorable member confessed that he was at some disadvantage, owing to the fact that the Estimates had not been presented at an earlier stage, and it was evident he did not understand the figures before him. I desire to complain of the action of the late Government in regard to the defences of Fremantle. That is the only important port in Australia that is still undefended. Millions of pounds’ worth of property, lie there, unprotected, and if a hostile force were to appear off that port, it would be entirely at their mercy. For some years past representations have been made regarding this matter, and all sorts of promises have been given that something would be done. Under the heading “Expenditure for additions, new works, and buildings,” I find that the Estimates of last year contained an item of £5,000 for gun and mountings at Fremantle. The residents of that town have been patiently waiting for the gun to be placed in position, but now that the Supplementary Estimates are forthcoming I find that the item has been eliminated. Had I not inquired into’ the matter I should have been puzzled to know the reason for this new departure. The explanation of Ministers is that, although the sum in question was voted last year for a specific purpose, it was expended for an entirely different purpose. It was spent, not in obtaining a gun for the defence of Fremantle, but in providing ammunition for the rest of Australia. I protest against action of this character. What would the Committee think if, when the Estimates-in-Chief were under consideration, we voted a particular sum for a specific purpose, and were told next year that it had been spent for an entirely different purpose. If conduct of that sort is to be tolerated it will be impossible for honorable members to have any confidence in the Estimates which are sanctioned from year to year. I find, also, that the Estimates in-Chief also contain another item of £4,000, being portion of a total of £9,500, which it was intended to spend in clearing a site for the gun, and in equipping it. The sum of £3,800 has already been expended on the site, and the people of Fremantle are asking why the gun is not ready for mounting. . The reason has been kept a profound secret, but it now transpires that the money which was voted for the purpose some months ago was spent for an entirely different purpose. I ask that a matter of such great moment shall be dealt with in a businesslike manner.
Although a difference of opinion exists as to .what is the best site upon which to fortify Fremantle, we are’ bound to accept the opinion of experts. Personally, I doubt whether they are acting wisely in placing the fort in the middle of the town. It does seem to me that in the event of hostilities in the future the fort will constitute a menace to the people of Fremantle. In case of bombardment every shot fired at it would destroy thousands of pounds worth of property. I ask the Government to give me an assurance that despite the misappropriation of this money by their predecessors in office, the effective defence of Fremantle will not be long delayed.
– What would it cost to defend that town?
– I should say about £15,000. I ask the Government to consent to place on the next Estimates an amount adequate to complete this important work, and thus to allay the fears which are entertained that, in the event of hostilities occurring, the lives and property of the residents of Fremantle will not be protected.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).During the course of his remarks this evening, the honorable member for Gwydir assumed a great deal of innocence in reference to the bye election for East Sydney which took place some months ago. Now, it is well known that that election was brought about by the action of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who considered it necessary to resign his seat in order to call attention to the gerrymandering tactics of the Barton Government. Undoubtedly, it had that effect. The honorable member for Gwydir introduced the matter for the purpose of having a fling at the right honorable member for East Sydney. He will be wise, however, if he leaves that gentleman alone. I confess that I do not understand some of ‘the statements which have been made regarding the erection of telephone lines. When the Postal Department was under State control it was customary for the New South Wales authorities to demand from responsible persons who desired that telephonic facilities should be extended to them, the payment of 5 per cent, on the cost of erecting the line, in addition to its working expenses.
– A number of those persons failed to pay up.
– The present ‘trouble is that the Commonwealth has raised the interest chargeable upon the cost of the line to 10 per cent. The Postal Depart- j ment demands that interest upon the capital cost of these lines shall be handed over before their erection is undertaken. No small body of individuals can comply with such a condition. It would be far better for the Commonwealth to declare - “ We will not undertake the erection of these lines.” When applicants for telephone facilities are asked to plank down the sum of £400 prior to the erection of a line, it can easily be understood that they are unable to do so. The people cannot put their hands in their pockets for lump sums. But it is possible to find men from whom the money can be obtained. If the money has not been obtained, it is because of the laxity of the Department. When persons give guarantees, the Department should force them to pay up if there is any deficiency. The method of conducting the business is that whatever deficiency there may be between tha revenue and the actual cost and interest, the guarantors have to make up for a certain number of years. It has been asserted that persons are not allowed to have private telephones. That, however, is incorrect. I know a gentleman who has just obtained the consent of the Department to erect a telephone thirty miles long. In that instance, no objection was raised by the Department.
– Will that telephone remain his private property?
– It is absolutely his own. Furthermore, he is erecting the line not merely on his own property, but along the main road. Of course, if subsequently the Government like to come along and take the telephone from him, it will be there ready for them, upon paying compensation ; but this gentleman is taking all the risk, and incurring the cost at present. Of course, if persons erect telephones on their own private land, they can adopt their own methods ; but if they erect them along public roads they must do so to the satisfaction of the Government. I think that the present guarantee is 10 per cent. It ought to be reduced considerably so as to give an opportunity to country people to obtain communication with the larger centres of population. The PostmasterGeneral might look into the subject with a view of making the terms more liberal., without any risk to the Government. I do not wish the Government to give anything away. If responsible guarantors can be obtained, their bonds should be taken, and if the proper revenue is not ob- jtained, I certainly think that the guaran tors should be compelled to make it up, But I hope that something will be done for the people in the more isolated portions of the country, with a view to giving them better telephonic accommo’dation on easier terms.
– With reference to the complaints made by the honorable member for New England as to the excessive amount of the telephone guarantees, I may say that it has been found necessary to obtain those deposits in respect to places where there is no immediate prospect of the lines paying. But wherever a departmental officer reports that there is a reasonable prospect of a line being remunerative, the Department takes the responsibility and erects the telephone without a guarantee.
– I did not make that complaint.
– That is the position with regard to the guarantees. I cannot agree with the honorable member in his reasons for the reduction of the amount from 10 per cent. I presume that he is aware that the life of an ordinary line is probably not more than ten years. If that be so, 10 per cent, is not excessive.
– I have known some telephones that have been in existence longer.
– But it has to be remembered that repairs are necessary from time to time. I cannot see my way to authorize any reduction of the deposit, which was fixed after careful consideration.
– It is a hardship on some small outlying districts.
– The Government should not ask the guarantors to plank down the money.
– The .term guarantee is a survival from former years. Practically what is now required is a deposit of 10 per cent, of the cost in cash.
– Why ask for the whole capital cost? That is what I understand it amounts to.
– That is not correct. Mr. Robinson. - I made an application for a line between Hamilton and Ballarat, and I was told that the sum required would be £2,000.
– That was probably a trunk line, and there may be different regulations in such cases. However, I will undertake to look into the matter. The honorable member for New England has said that it is found that the guarantees in New South Wales were very unsatisfactory. But that is not so wholly for the reason given by the honorable member, that the Department has been dilatory. The fact is that it is often found that some of the persons who give the guarantees meet with reverses, and are unable to pay up. As to the case mentioned by the honorable member for Darling Downs, I have already looked into the papers, and I admit that it is a very sad case ; one that must excite general sympathy. It appears that the poor fellow referred to was killed, as the honorable and learned member expressed it, in the execution of his duty, and had he been under the Public Service Act something would have been done for his relatives. However, the late Treasurer laid down a rule that, except where there is legal responsibility for remuneration, or for the payment of some such gratuity, it should not be paid. It is a rule that works hardship in some cases. I believe that the Queensland Government, if not actually consulted in regard to this case, was consulted in regard to others, and refused to coincide in the payment of any gratuity of the kind. The case is one in which, if my hands were not tied by a previous decision. I should certainly adopt remedial measures. The honorable member for New England reiterates the complaints made by the honorable member for Moira and the honorable member for Gwydir, in reference to the isolation of the pioneers and the necessity for the extension of telephones in the remoter districts of Australia. That is a work with which I have full sympathy. I thing I can point to my three years’ service in this House as evidence of the fact that the people who are opening up the waste portions of Australia have, in my opinion, the strongest claim to sympathy and consideration of Parliament. But, of course, there again the consideration of expense arises.
– Cut down some of the luxuries, and give those people the necessaries.
– I quite agree with the honorable member, and I may tell him that it was at my instance, when a private member, that a step was taken by the Post and Telegraph Department, to connect these remoter places by telephone, by using the telegraph wires for the phonophore system.
– They want that system in New South Wales.
– Probably it is not easy to adopt it there, because there is so much telegraphic business on the lines.
– We have tried the system in Tasmania.
– Yes ; and I am very glad to say that it was a Tasmanian officer who originally carried it out in Western Australia. I have good reason to be grateful to him for the success he made of the work, which was carried out, I am sorry to say, against the advice of some of the local officers, and in. spite of their opposition. I shall look into the telephone regulations, and although they have been quite recently adopted, an effort will be made to liberalize them. There are one or two reasons for the apparent inflation of the Supplementary Estimates. The first reason is, of course, the statutory increments and arrears arising out of an Act passed in this House, and from an Act passed by the Victorian Parliament. I may point out, also, that where increases appear in the permanent salaries, corresponding reductions appear in contingencies and temporary salaries. The ‘ honorable member for Corangamite drew attention to an item of £1,250 for overtime and allowances for tea money, paid to Western Australian officers in the Post and Telegraph. Department.
– And also in South Australia, I think.
– I have no information in regard to South Australia, but in Western Australia, the position appears to be that the staff has, to some extent, been undermanned, and the result of the operation of the Public Service Act in the matter of overtime is responsible for this large sum. For instance, Sunday work is now paid at one-and-a-half rates, and that, together with some arrears, accounts for the particular item. Previously it appears overtime was not allowed in1 the Post and Telegraph Department of Western Australia, certainly not for what is known as current work. I shall be glad, later on, to give any further information which is in my possession ; but, as I have already said, I believe the increased amounts are accounted for largely by the causes indicated. Where additional officers have been appointed from time to time to cope with increased work, on the approval of the Public Service Commissioner, the temporary staff has been reduced to a corresponding extent. Certain remarks were made by the right honorable member for Swan respecting the appointment of the Public Service Inspector in Western Australia, and I may have another opportunity to deal with that matter.
Mr. MCWILLIAMS (Franklin).- Like some honorable members who have already spoken, I express the hope that the custom of placing the Estimates in the hands of honorable members immediately before they are discussed will not be continued. It is absolutely impossible for an honorable member who has not served in this House previously to go through the Estimates during the discussion, and arrive at anything like a satisfactory conclusion.
– And the more the honorable member studies the Estimates the more unsatisfactory, perhaps, will his conclusion be.
– If that be so, it is our duty to protest in a more vigorous way. The. sum provided for, £137,000, consists i!n a great measure of transferred, and not new expenditure, but the figures are large enough for some of us who think that Federal expenditure has already grown too much.
– The figures do not really show an increase.
– I know that; but it is unsatisfactory to be passing items which ‘ we have had no time to consider. It maybe unfortunate for us, but it is fortunate for the Government that they are not responsible for the items, and I suppose the present Ministry have had a little difficulty in arriving at an explanation of some of the amounts. There are one or two matters which ought to receive very serious attention. The first and most important is connected with that celebrated, or infamous, Act which makes it compulsory to give certain advances to Victorian officers. I was in hopes that some of Ihe Victorian members who had the honour to hold seats in the State Parliament when the Act was passed, would have given a much fuller and more satisfactory explanation than we have yet received. As I understand the position, the Commonwealth has been practically “bull-dozed” into the payment of this money, which means a gross injustice to the public servants of the Commonwealth and the other States. A very much worse injustice will be perpetrated if we carry out the idea of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who suggests that in order to relieve the
Commonwealth from this unfair stipulation, Federal officers in Victoria may be promoted over the heads of other officers in other States. That might relieve the Commonwealth; but I hope that suggestion will not be carried out. It would be better that the Commonwealth should bear the burden than that a grave injustice should be inflicted on the public servants of other States. There is a matter in connexion with the extension of telegraph wires to which I should like to call attention. I.t is a small matter ; but it has always appeared to me to exhibit the ‘height of folly in administration. I grant that the idea and intention may have been good ; but the practical working out of the regulation to which I refer is, in some of the States, highly suggestive of a farce. The position is that line- repairers may be employed for a period of only six months, at the end of which they “must retire, and make room for others. I believe the intention was to give employment to a greater number of men ; but I know that the result is quite the contrary. The Department will never get skilled men of experience prepared to take the. small salaries offered under the circumstances. The pay is by no means large. If we are exceedingly liberal in the higher branches of the service, the Commonwealth cannot be accused of extravagance as regards the lower branches. Good men will not be induced to take an appointment for six months, knowing that at the end of that time they will have to depend on casual work for at least another six months. That is a regulation which I trust the Postmaster-General will take into his consideration. When we get good men who are beginning to understand the nature of their work, it is a serious mistake to dispense with their services at the end of six months.
– The object of the regulation is to prevent persons being appointed through political influence as temporary officers, and then becoming permanent officers, thus avoiding the provisions of the Act with respect to competitive examinations.
– No competitive examination is necessary for an ordinary line repairer, who cuts telegraph poles in the bush, and who in sinking them has merely to do pick and shovel work. When these men have served for six months they have to retire, and make way for others, no matter how good their work may be.
– They can be appointed permanently.
– The honorable member will find that they cannot. There are other matters to which I might refer, but they can be more properly dealt with when the items with which they are connected are before us. The usual practice is, I believe, to have a little general discussion on the first item, and to reserve detailed criticism until the items are separately before us. I hope there is no desire to rush these Estimates through, without giving honorable members an opportunity to consider what they are being asked to pass. I believe that, from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, there is a grave fear in the minds of the public that Commonwealth expenditure is growing far too large. Although the members of the present Government may not be responsible for these Estimates, and they may include transferred votes, it behoves us to scrutinize the items very carefully, in order that we may prevent increments, and may reduce expenditure wherever we possibly can. The taxpayer must be considered, as well as the tax-receiver, and I hope that honorable members will give the items, when submitted to them seriatim, the serious consideration which they deserve.
– What does the Prime Minister propose to do?
– I must ask the Committee to assist me to get these Estimates through to-night. I have arranged with another place to have these Bills sent on by to-morrow. I did so, because I hoped to get them through to-night, in view of the fact that I have excluded from the Supplementary Estimates all items other than those which were assented to by the late Treasurer or by myself, the latter being a very small proportion. I must therefore ask the Committee to assist me. In reply to the honorable member for Franklin, as to the short notice given for the consideration of these Estimates, I hope the honorable member will not think that the Government are endeavour-‘ ing to establish a precedent in this regard. In connexion with the general Estimates, and every proposal involving debateable matter, we believe that ample notice should be given to honorable members, and they should have the Estimates in their possession for some time before they are called uper to consider them. I am to-night asking honorable members to make some exception, and I can assure them that these Estimates were circulated as soon as they were available. The other branch of the Legislature must be considered, and I have been anxious to consider it, as well as anxious to replenish the Treasurer’s advance account. Although’ there is only £137,000 involved in these Estimates, the Treasurer’s advance accountis slightly overdrawn at the present time. That is explained by the fact that various items here are re-votes. In view of all circumstances, I again ask the Committee to assist me to get the Bill through.
– When the Government make such a request, in such circumstances, one has to accede to it. But I must be excused for smiling slightly when the Prime Minister tells us that this is not to be taken as a precedent because the statement has such a familiar ring.
– Not from me.
– Oh, no; but it is astonishing how quickly a new Government falls into the old paths. The present Government appears to fall into the old paths very easily, and perhaps that shows that it is almost inevitable that Governments will get into these ways. I have no objection, to the Prime Minister going on with the Estimates to-night, but I do hope that the statement that this is not to be taken as a precedent is not merely the fac on de parler that’ one always hears from a Minister, and that we will not have a continuance of this kind of thing. We got it occasionally from the last Government.
– Very rarely.
– Not more often than they requited to pass Estimates or Supply Bills. I suppose that the present Government, in the same way, will always have to get Supply Bills and Estimates through in a great hurry, and there will always be some reason given for an insufficient time being allowed for their consideration. The Prime Minister has put his request so very nicely that we should have to be more hard-hearted than an Opposition such as we are could be supposed to be to offer any factious opposition to dealing with this business to-night. We are so near the end of the financial year that I do not desire that these votes should appear on fresh Estimates, and that we should be told by some people, “ Here is another proof of Federal extravagance.” There are items in these Estimates which merit a good deal of discussion, and I must admit that some alterations appear which merit a certain amount of commendation, I say that the more freely because I do not always commend the present Government for what they do.
Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan),- I am prepared to assist the Prime Minister in getting these Bills passed to-night, but I must say a word or two in reference to the remarks made by the honorable member for Kennedy. I think the honorable member was aware that he had made a mistake in certain statements he made with regard to the expenditure upon the up-keep of Government Houses, but he did not withdraw what he said, and he appeared to wish it to go forth that the late Government had spent a great deal more money on the up-keep of the two Government Houses than it was understood would be spent. The honorable member was altogether wrong. Although it would appear from the Estimates that more has been spent this year, that is due to the fact that some accounts have been paid this year which were properly chargeable to last year. I find that the vote for 1902-3 was £5,500, whilst only £2,436 was debited to that vote ; and there was £3,064 left as a balance to credit of that vote for that year. Some outstanding accounts of last year have had to be paid out of the vote for this year.
– A good deal of it is arrears.
– For the two years £9,823 was expended, and that’ would make the expenditure for each year £4,912. It will, therefore, be seen that the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy were altogether incorrect, and, in so far as they were intended to reflect on the conduct of the late Government, were not justified.
– I insisted on an explanation in regard to those items, and I found that they were arrears. I have asked that in future none of the votes shall be allowed to get into arrears, but that the money shall be paid in the year to which they properly belong.
– They should be so paid, but it is sometimes not easy. I agree with the honorable gentleman that every effort should be made to charge to each year all that is properly chargeable against it. I think it is necessary to make these remarks, because it is very easy for honorable members to find fault, more especially in regard to expenditure incurred in connexion with the maintenance of Government Houses. As long as we are required to maintain Government Houses, we must keep them in a reasonable and proper state. I regret to say that both Government House, Melbourne, and Government House, Sydney, and the grounds, . were allowed to fall into a- state of disrepair, with the result that it became necessary to spend a large sum in putting them in fairly good order. We cannot have these fine public buildings and grounds without being called upon to incur expense in maintaining them in an efficient state. My own experience is that the money spent in this direction has not sufficed to do all that is necessary. Even the proposed vote is too small to allow of what, I am sure, we all desire being done. At the same time, I am glad to learn that during the two years in question, as much money has not been spent in this direction as the late Treasurer intimated that he proposed to expend. There is only one other matter to which I desire to refer - the item “ Gun and mountings, Fremantle, £5,000.” I notice that this sum, which was provided on last year’s Estimates, has not been expended, and that it is proposed to re-appropriate it for “ arms, pistols, and reserves of ammunition.” I am well aware that these arms and reserves are urgently required, and I take no exception to the proposed expenditure; but I do not think that the vote in respect of the gun and mountings should have been allowed to lapse. An order might well have been given. I am familiar with the whole of the circumstances ‘ relating to the matter, and I understand that the late Treasurer refrained from expending £5,000 on this gun and mountings for the reason that he desired to place before the Parliament the total expenditure that would be necessary to properly fortify Fremantle. He considered it would be better to refrain from spending any money in this direction until Parliament was in full possession of the whole of the facts of tha situation, and made aware of the total expenditure that would be incurred, I trust that when the Estimates for next year are submitted to us, we shall find due provision made in them for the fortification of Fremantle. No other port in the Commonwealth has been left so wholly undefended, nor is there any other part of the Commonwealth more urgently in need of fortifications than the important port of Fremantle. I shall be glad to assist the Treasurer in facilitating the passage of these Estimates.
– I propose to put the items in globo.
– But I desire to obtain some information with regard to certain items.
– That being so, I shall submit each Department separately.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs. Division 14A (Transferred), £30.
Attorney-General’ s Department. Divisions 15 and 17 (Other), £2,169.
Department of Home Affairs
Divisions 19, 21, 22, 23, and 24 (^Transferred), £5,498, (Other) £11,572.
Divisions 25 to 27a (Transferred), £53, (Other) £2,064
Department of Trade and Customs
Division 31 (Other), £1,312
– I notice that provision is made for the appointment of several officers, and while I am quite willing to facilitate the passage of the Estimates, I want it to be understood by the Treasurer that the Committee is not accepting these appointments.
– I think that when iiic matter is explained, the honorable member will see that there are no new appointments.
– Provision is made for additional officers. In subdivision 1 of Division 31, we have the following : -
Read. - Senior clerk at £300 from 1-7.03 to 31.S.03, and ^,’310 from 1. 10.03.
In lieu of - Senior clerk, at ^’300,
One clerk at ^250. . . . and so forth. In some cases there is an increase on the former vote, and that apparently means additional officers.
– The item to which the honorable member has referred relates to a vacancy which occurred, and to which a new officer of a slightly higher grade was appointed on the recommendation of the Public Service Commissioner.
– There is another item in Division 34, in regard to expenditure in Queensland. I draw attention to these matters, in order that the Treasurer will recognise that the Committee does not necessarily accept these increases or appointments. We reserve to ourselves the right to criticise them on the Estimates.
– In regard to all the officers enumerated in subdivision 1 of division 34 - expenditure in the State of Queensland - it has to be explained that full provision was not made on the original Estimates for the payment of their salaries, because it was anticipated that they would beretired under the age limit provided by the Public Service Act. As they have been retained in the service, provision has to be made in respect of their salaries for a certain period. So far as the finances of the States are concerned, this does not necessarily mean any increased expenditureEach of these officers would have been entitled on retirement to some form of compensation, but as they retained their positions an actual saving, taking all the circumstances into consideration, has been effected. As no provision was made on the original Estimates for, their ‘salaries in respect of part of the year, we have now to make this provision for them. There are no new appointments in the ordinary sense of the word. I have only to add that I accept the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney that it is not to be taken for granted that because the Committee agree to pass these items they approve of any new appointments, if, as a matter of fact, any new appointments have been made.
– The late Treasurer said he would consult the House before making permanent appointments. The Treasurer will not regard the bringing; of this matter before the Committee as equivalent to consulting the Committee?
– There are certain items which will have to come before us again ?
– Yes, on next year’s. Estimates.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 31A (Other). £1,310.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - I desire to know if the officers in the Patents Office have been taken from the Patents Offices of the States?
– In every case where it was possible the. Public Service Commissioner selected the officers from Patents. Offices in the States. The only exceptions, I think, were in the cases of the examiner in electricity and the examiner in chemistry. As regards the examiner in electricity, the Commissioner considered that Mr. Wallack was so superior to any officer in a State Patent Office that he emphatically recommended his appointment.
– Does the Minister mind stating why the position of examiner in chemistry was ire-advertised?
– I am advised that the applicants were not considered by the Commissioner to be up to the standard which he wished to establish. He assures me that by re-advertising he will be able to secure a man with the requisite qualifications for the position.
– I desire to obtain some information with regard to the item of £8 on page 16 for refunds of fines in Queensland, and the item of £3,271 on page 17, under the head of contingencies, for temporary assistance in Queensland in connexion with the Sugar Bounties Act.
– Some fines, to the amount of £8, were remitted by the previous Minister of Trade and Customs, Newer circumstances had justified the remission of the fines, and we are bound to vote the money. The Public Service Commissioner has laid it down that the cost of inspection and general administration in connexion with the Sugar Bounties Act must be charged to the vote for temporary assistance, because the work does not continue all the year round. Naturally, it is at its greatest height during the crushing season. I think that his refusal to put these men on the general establishment of the Public Service is a very wise one, as it enables us to deal with emergency cases. As the Act is to operate for only a limited period, so far as Parliament has yet decided, it would not be a wise thing to load up the Public Service with permanent officers. We have had to lump in there an item of £3,271 for services in Queensland, where most of the bounties are paid.
Mr. WILSON (Corangamite).- It has been stated that, under the Sugar Bounties Act, men have been growing sugar with black labour, and drawing money from the Government at. tha same time, and I desire to know if there is any foundation for that statement.
– I can assure the honorable member that, so far as the investigation has gone, in every instance, the people who made the statements have declined to give any information of a definite character, which would enable us to take action. I have taken every possible step to find out 4e any authoritative statement to which we could pin them down. I have instructed the Collector of Customs in Queensland to re-arrange his staff, so as to enable a fuller inspection to be made, and to prevent the Commonwealth from suffering any monetary loss.
– Is the bounty paid when black men employ white men to do the work?
– I do not think it matters what colour the owner is, provided that white labour is employed in the production of sugar cane. I am only saving what I believe to be the law.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - I notice, on page 16, some cases of gratuities to widows, and so on, and on page 15, some cases of compensation for loss of office, I do ‘not know which of these are statutory liabilities, nor do I say for one moment that they are items to be objected to. But I do submit that we do not desire a state of affairs to arise that did occur in a State where these gratuities, at the mere will of the Minister, become often very objectionable items. It was subsequently arranged in that State that the Parliament should approve of the items, and that the Minister should only undertake to put them on the Estimates. I do not know if these have been granted on that condition.
– Not on that condition. The circumstances are not the same in these cases. I think T shall be able to explain them satisfactorily to the honorable member.
– I only wish to avoid the occurrence in the Commonwealth of what has arisen in a State - of a very large sum in the total being given in this way at the mere will of the Minister, and often under political influence, where often the deserving did not get aid and the undeserving did. There is another question which I do not propose to discuss now, as I believe I can deal with it better with the Minister himself. It is the case of some officers in the Sydney Customs House, who were appointed before the Public Service Act came into operation, and most of whom had, I understand, been State officers, and have never been permanently appointed, although they have been employed for over two years. It is now intimated, I am informed, that they are to be removed, and their places filled, not with officers in the Customs House, but with men transferred from a State service. I shall bring the case, however, before the Minister, as I think it involves a large question.
– The honorable member has already expressed his opinion.
– Yes; but the facts with which I am now provided do not bear out that opinion.
– With regard to the temporary hands-
– I thinkthat the honorable gentleman had better not reply to my remarks until I submit the facts I now have to the Minister.
– The honorable member can bring the matter before the “Minister of Trade and Customs, and the Cabinet will then have an opportunity of considering it. With regard to the gratuities, I quite appreciate the danger alluded to by the honorable member. In the Parliament of New South Wales I have seen the most objectionable differentiations between one case and another, and I have had occasion to complain of the haphazard manner in which gratuities and allowances have been granted. In these cases, however, no such possibilities can arise, because the late Government laid down the rule that they would grant no gratuities outside of their statutory obligations, without the consent of the’ State Government which would have to find the money. In each of the cases included in the Estimates, the Premier of the State concerned has been asked whether his Government was agreeable, and has signified his acceptance of the suggestion. In each instance provision is made only for the continuance of an existing practice.
-I should like to know whether this is the last time that we are to see any mention of the expenses in connexion with the Commonwealth celebrations.
– I should hope so. I queried the item referred to when I saw it.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 31b to 37 - (Transferred), £13,910; (Other). £6,745
Department of Defence
Divisions 38,39b, 39c, 39D, 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 47A, 48, 50, 52, 57, 58, 59, 63, 65, 70. 74, 75, 77. 78, 81, 82, 83, 89, 92, 93, 94, 96, 107,111, 112,114, . 116, 123, 129, 130.132,146, 147,149,155,158,168 173 - (Transferred), £8,675; (Other). £1,026.
Divisions 174 to 180 - (Transferred), £82,315; (Other), £11
Additions, New Works, and Buildings. Department of Home Affairs
Divisions 1 to 3. - (Transferred),
Division 5- (Other), £5,75o
Department of Defence
Division 6 - (Transferred), £22,000
– Can the Prime Minister give us a rough statement with regard to the nature of the savings effected in the Defence Department which have enabled him to make greater outlays upon ammunition ?
– I am sorry to say that I cannot give full particulars, because the- actual allocation of the money has not yet been determined. In the first place, the amount set down was £48,000, conditionally upon an equivalent sum being saved on the general militaryestimates. Towards that saving, , £26,000 has been contributed in this way. Upon page 6 of the works and buildings estimates, it will be seen that £22,000 is set down for equipment, but the actual expenditure has amounted to only £6,006. Therefore, there has been a saving of, practically, £16,000 under that head.
– I doubt the wisdom of that saving.
– Perhaps so ; but I look at the matter as one between the expenditure on rifles and that on equipment; and rifles appear to me to be the more important. Then there is a saving this year of £5,000 on guns and mountings for Fremantle, and another £5,000 has been saved in connexion with the arming of the Cerberus. These items bring up the total to £26,000, and leave a balance of some , £20,000 odd to be saved on the general military estimates. The Treasurer is assured by the Defence Department that this saving will be made. The officials expect to make up some of the money by refraining from recruiting to the extent they otherwise might have done. In this and other ways they hope, by the end of the year, to save, roughly speaking,
– That will not a real saving.
– I admit that. The position is that the late Treasurer has given the ___ c_ ;_
Defence Department authority to spend, on rifles and ammunition, practically £50,000, which otherwise would have been spent in other directions. There is no saving in the true sense, but this year the authorities have refrained from spending money in the directions originally intended, in order that the expenditure upon rifles may be increased.
– I suppose the Prime Minister does not know how much was saved by charging the cadets is. per day whilst they were in camp?
– I was not aware of that having been done.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Resolutions reported and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Watson) agreed to - That the Standing Orders be suspended, in order to enable all steps to be taken to obtain Supply, and to pass Supply Bills through all their stages without delay.
Resolutions of Ways and Means, covering resolutions of Supply, adopted.
That Mr. Watson do prepare and bring . in Bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
TION BILL 1903-4.
Bill presented (by Mr. Watson), and read a first and second time. . In Committee : Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to. Clause 4 -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, all foot-notes to the schedule to the Appropriation Act 1903-4, and to the schedule to this Act shall be deemed to be parts of such Acts.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- Surely this is not one of the ordinary clauses of a Supply Bill ? Wc all know that in. recent years foot-notes have proved to be matters of some moment, both in Commonwealth and in State history.
– i am informed that unless this clause is retained the Acts Interpretation Act will render the foot-notes inapplicable.
– I think that the Acts Interpretation Act is a better guide in thismatter than are the foot-notes. To make distinctions in questions of this kind is to establish a very bad precedent.
– I do not think there are any foot-notes in these Estimates.
– Yes, there are; but they are chiefly of an explanatory character. I would further point out that the. effect of this clause would be to partially repeal 4 e 2 another Act. In my judgment the Prime Minister had better risk the foot-notes, and allow the present law to remain unaltered. He should rest satisfied with having obtained Supply. There are foot-notes upon pages 33, 30, and 37 which might well be omitted.
Mr. WATSON (Bland- Treasurer).- If the clause under consideration is rejected, I am informed that trouble may arise with the Auditor-General, and the practice which has been followed in the printing of these Estimates will require to be altered. What are how fool-notes will need to be embodied in the body of the Estimates themselves. The information which is contained in the foot-notes will require to be repeated at every point where it is necessary that it should be given. That will involve considerable extra, cost in printing. As a good compositor, I suppose that I ought to rejoice in the prospect of providing more wo.k for members of my own calling, but the fact remains that the object of introducing foot-notes is to avoid additional printing. If honorable members will allow the clause to pass on the present occasion, I will promise to go into the “whole matter before the general Estimates are prepared, with a view to obviating the repetition con- . sequent upon the practice which has been been followed up to the present time.
Mr.’ McCAY (Corinella).- I would point out that the clause under consideration not only provides that all foot-notes to the schedule to the Appropriation Act, 1903-4, and to the schedule to this Act shall be deemed to be parts of such Acts, but practically effects an alteration in our Statute law which may have quite unexpected results. I ask the Prime Minister not to press the matter. It is not fair to ask the Committee to take a step which he himself admits is of some importance, and which may have more far-reaching effects than he at present foresees. Personally, I should like to have an opportunity to study the effect of the provision.
– I have just been looking at a number of items in the last Appropriation Act, and I find that in one page alone the rejection of this clause would mean trebling the space that is occupied by the printing. Especially does my remark apply to the Defence Department. Upon page 63 of the Estimates, a foot-note, which is indicated by an asterisk, says -
Pay includes forage and all allowances, except travelling expenses. Reduction if occupying quarters, as provided by regulations.
That foot-note, which is sufficient to fill three lines would have to be repeated seven times in as many items in the Defence Estimates.
– The excision of the clause cannot affect the Auditor-General, unless the foot-notes mean that more payments are to be made than those for which the Estimates provide.
– The Treasury officials are disposed to think that the AuditorGeneral will question our procedure under the Acts Interpretation Act.
– Nothing should be embodied in a foot-note which that officer can question.
– I have no desire to press the matter, because I am thoroughly satisfied that if it assumes any importance, honorable members will assist me to pass an indemnifying Act.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time.
Bill presented bv Mr. Watson, and passed through all its stages.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I have to thank honorable members who have remained, at some Inconvenience to themselves, to assist the Government in the passing of this Bill. I hope I may not have to detain honorable members for so long a time on future occasions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 June 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040608_reps_2_19/>.