2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. KELLY. - I wish to know from thePrime Minister if the. following newspaper paragraph contains a true statement of theintentions of the Ministry: -
There appears to be some doubt as to whether it is contemplated to hold.a special census next year’ under Mr. Groom’s Slates Representation Bill, before re-adjusting the Federal electorates, in anticipation of the Commonwealth , general electionat the end of next year. It is not the present intention of the Ministry to hold such a census.. Under the provisions of the Bill an enumerationday will be chosen next year, and the best statistic* of population relating to’ the population on that day will be compiledby Commonwealth officers on the system set but in the Bill. These statisticswill be made the basis of the readjustment of electorates.
Mr. DEAKIN. - So far as I know, the statement is made without authority, but I hope that the Minister of Home Affairswill have an, opportunity, either to-day or to-morrow, to explain the Bill.
IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION ADMINISTRATION.
Mr. BAMFORD- I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether he is aware that it is alleged that ten aliens who arrived in Common- wealth waters under permits to work in the pearling shelling industry of Torres Straits have deserted, and are now supposed to be in Australia? Will the Prime Minister make such inquiries as may be necessary to establish the truth or otherwise of these allegations? If it is ascertained through the Customs Department or -otherwise that such allegations are well founded, will the Prime Minister take :such steps as are necessary to have the “bonds entered into by the persons indenting those aliens duly estreated?
Mr. DEAKIN. - I know nothing of the incident, and shall be glad if the honorable member will supply me with the name of the place where it occurred, and the persons concerned, so that inquiry may be made.
In Committee of Supply: (Consideration resumed from 5th September, vide page 0910), on motion by Sir. John Forrest -
That the item, “ President, ^1,100,” be agreed to.
– It has been my duty on more, than one occasion to call attention to the imperfect ventilation of this Chamber. I do not know if a disease which appears to have broken out amongst honorable members - a certain affection of the throat - is attributable to that cause.
– Is the disease cacoethes loquendi?
– You, Mr. Salmon, being a medical man, will understand me if I endeavour to give a name to the disease to which I refer. One of its symptoms is manifested by many prominent members, and especially by representatives of New South Wales, in their constant endeavour to address the Committee early in the afternoon rather than late at night. The only reason I can discover for these attempts is the fact that the speeches delivered early in the afternoon are recorded fully in the metropolitan papers of New South Wales. The name I propose to give to this mysterious disease is limelightis. I call it so because of the evident desire on the part of those who suffer from it to appear beneath the full glare of the limelight. I was quite prepared to fill the breach, and make what remarks I had to make last night, in order that those who suffer from this disease might have an opportunity to speak to-day; but it has, nevertheless, fallen to my lot to commence the debate this afternoon. While on the subject of diseases, I would refer to what is known to the medical profession as general paralysis of the insane, one of the symptoms of which is that the sufferer begins to hold wrong ideas as to his position. His ideas become grandiose.
– Would the honorable member mind examining those who are now sitting on the front Opposition bench?
– If the cap fits any honorable member, though I hope it does not, he is at liberty to wear it. A man suffering from this disease begins to take large views of life, thinks that he is possessed of unlimited means, entertains his friends lavishly, taking every man he meets by the hand, and offering him untold wealth. 0 I greatly fear lest the Treasurer of the Commonwealth may develop symptoms of this kind, because, if we are going to spend money at the rate which he proposes, we shall quickly find ourselves in serious difficulties. We have almost reached the limit of the ,£500,000 at our disposal, and if we go on as we are doing, it is possible that within the next five years we shall spend a very considerable amount of money. At the cost of some time and labour, I have estimated that expenditure as follows: - Old-age pensions, £1,500,000 ; penny postage, £200,000 ; underground telephones, £100,000; sugar bounties. ,£500,000; iron bonus, £300,000; weather telegrams, £60,000 ; High Commissionership, £20,000.
Mr. Wilson. Would £20,000 cover the expenses of the High Commissioner ?
– A High Commissioner who would fill the post as it should be filled, must be a man of independent means, and prepared to spend a large amount of money. Then there is the naval subsidy of £50,000, the cost of the census £25,000, and the expenditure in connexion with quarantine and meteorology £25,000, making a grand total of £2,780,000. I have heard the Treasurer speaking of millions as if they were pence, and I take this opportunity to ask him to put the break on, and not to be too lavish in his expenditure. The previous Treasurer was very careful of the funds at his disposal, but we have had examples in New South Wales of the way in which the public coffers can be emptied without any consideration for the good of the general community. I notice that there is a tendency to spend a large amount of money on defences, and I can hardly see why we should incur a large outlay in that direction. It is an utterly unproductive way of spending money. All the ironclads that are built speedily become so much, scrap iron, and we have the testimony of the ex-Minister of Defence that a few good fire brigades would afford us the best safeguard against loss in the event of an attack being made upon us. We have at present to depend entirely upon Great Britain for our defence. Here we are, a small number of people - less than 5,000,000 - inhabiting an enormous country with a coastline of 8,500 miles, and I ask how we can possibly hope to satisfactorilysafeguard ourselves against invasion? It is true that we contribute £200,000 per annum towards the maintenance of the Australian Squadron, but I think that we might strike off even that item, because it is a mere drop in the bucket to Great Britain. If we, like Canada, declined to make any contribution towards the expenditure upon the British Navy, it would still be to the interest of Great Britain to protect us, so long as she felt that we remained part and parcel of the Empire. With regard to the Cerberus, I should like to say that I spent two lamentable days upon that vessel. Purely with a desire to obtain information, I accepted an invitation to spend two days on the ship, because I was told I should see some interesting target practice. It was suggested that I would be best able to judge as to the effectiveness of the practice by occupying a position inside the turret. I had first to crawl through, a small hole and to take my place upon what was called the rear platform, behind a gun weighing 25 tons. I can assure honorable members that I required to exercise great strength of mind to remain in that position when I saw a mass of metal, weighing 25 tons, recoiling, and approaching within an inch of my body. The turret contained two 25- ton, or 10-inch, muzzle-loading, slow firing guns, and I think that as such weapons are absolutely useless, they should be done away with. I think also that the Treasurer should strike his pen through the proposed vote of ,£2,000 for the purchase of guns to re-arm the Cerberus, because that craft is quite out of date. Even as a training boat she would be of very little value. We have heard that the Japanese gunners in the recent naval engagements against the Russians owed their success largely to the accuracy of their fire in rough weather. In the case of the Cerberus, the whole of the sailors become seasick in rough weather, because the vessel,, instead of rolling and pitching like an ordinary boat, revolves like a saucer, and’ produces a most peculiar feeling of nausea,, even, in the most seasoned navigators.. I have already referred to the fact thai: owing to the smallness of our population we should find it difficult to properly de- . fend our coasts, and I think it is our duty to increase our population as far as possible by encouraging the introduction of suitable immigrants. Instead of encouraging immigration it appears to me that we are seeking by our legislation to keep people out of the country.
– Certainly not.
– So far as I can judge, that is the effect of much of the legislation that has been passed to suit one particular section of the community. An honorablemember on the Ministerial benches proposes that we should invite two or three experts to come here and look at this country, but there is no necessity to adopt that course. Every week experts in their own businesses are coming to Australia from the old country. I meet them at thehotel at which I am staying, and I havefacilitated many of them coming here and listening to our debates. They havethus been enabled to see very clearly what class of men are legislating for Australia,, and the objects they have in view.
– I hear that they are awfully disappointed with the Opposition-.
– At the time to which- I am alluding the Labour Party sat in opposition. These men have told me, “ We are sent out here by our firms to inquireas to the possibility of finding suitable investments, but we regret to say that we feel” that this is not the place in which weshould launch out. We would rather seek a field of operations in the Argentine or some other South American State. Hereyou have a magnificent country, which is capable of producing wheat and wool tomuch more advantage than, say, Canada.”’
– Give us a few names sothat we may have something tangible.
– I think that it is quite unnecessary to mention any names. Experts have said to me : “In the northern parts of Australia there is an enormousarea which is quite capable of growing good cotton, and to-day in Manchester we are paying high prices for that commodity-
But Australia will never be able to establish the cotton industry if cheap labour is not available, and, unfortunately, the whole tendency of Commonwealth legislation is in the direction of driving cheap labour out of the country.” I have already said that we ought to encourage immigration.
– And our young men should marry.
– I certainly believe in encouraging the intermarriage of our race with foreigners. The finest nations of the world have been produced by the intermarriage of opposite .races. What is the British ./race to-day but the progeny of various nationalities. We know perfectly well that the offspring of people who live in the same locality are not so sturdy as are those of persons who live in districts which are widely separated. ‘ In support of my statement, we have merely to look at the type of our population in certain isolated districts of the back-blocks. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Darwin,, who has travelled through those districts, will admit that in these places our native population is degenerating.
– From where do we obtain our sturdy citizens, if not from the back-blocks ?
– I am speaking from my own professional experience, and I defy any man to deny the accuracy of my statement. I maintain that in the back-blocks we are rearing a class of people who are little better than blackfellows. They are constantly intermarrying, and, as the result of their environment, we are producing a race of degenerates.
– In many instances we do not give them sufficient to live .upon.
– That is exactly what I am fighting for. One has only to walk the streets of Melbourne or Sydney at night to see a lot of undersized brats of boys and girls, who will be the fathers and mothers of future generations. What are we doing to assist them? We are merely attempting to bolster up our factory system, under which many of these children are employed in what can only be described as “ dens.” I say that we should encourage immigration - I do not care whether the arrivals be Celts or foreigners. Let us welcome them all, irrespective of whether thev be French, Italian, or German settlers, and by so doing we shall establish a better nation. In this temperate zone, it is certain that we cannot continue as we have been doing, unless we wish eventually to become anaemic and to produce a race of degenerates. If we encourage immigration, we shall be doing the right thing. We wish to attract to our shores those who will populate the country, and work upon the soil. Another important matter to which I desire to direct the attention of the Committee has reference to the urgent necessity which exists for Commonwealth action in regard to quarantine arrangements. At the present time we are doing absolutely nothing in this direction. A number of Bills are being submitted by the Government which nobody apparently desires, and which, I contend, will not accomplish any good. There are many other matters, however, of which no notice is being taken, and which deserve very serious consideration, and amongst them is that of Federal quarantine. Under present conditions, we are exposed to the introduction of all sorts of diseases from other countries. Only the other day, I read in Coghlan that much inferior fruit is sold in Australia because of the introduction of certain pests from America and elsewhere.
– The honorable member must know that a system of Federal quarantine can, be established without the introduction of any Bill.
– Then the sooner the matter is dealt with the better. I am inclined to think* that members of the Labour Party agree that vaccination is not a good thing. At any rate, I am satisfied that we have a good many conscientious objectors to- that system. I do not propose to discuss the merits or demerits of vaccination, but I do say that if we had a proper system of Federal quarantine we should incur very little risk of the introduction into the States of such diseases as smallpox.
– I am in favour of a system of Federal quarantine being immediately established.
– As the honorable member now occupies the box seat of the Ministerial coach, and handles the ribbons, he should so direct matters as to bring about that desirable result. Another disease to the introduction of which we are extremely liable is tuberculosis. Yet no effort is being made to guard against that contingency. It would be the simplest matter in the world to create a Federal quarantine system, and it could be managed very much more satisfactorily than quarantine is at present managed by the States. Unity is strength, and unity in this matter would provide us with a better opportunity for combating the disease. I look forward to the time when we shall establish a Department of Health which will be presided over by a Minister. I see no reason why there should not be a seat upon the Treasury Benches for a Minister of Health, who would be able to direct our various bacteriological examinations, laboratories, and attend to kindred matters. Moreover, it would be a great advantage if the various, medical Acts in the different States were made uniform. At the present time is quite possible for medical men to commence practice in some of the States without being called upon to pay any fee, whilst in others a heavy fee is exacted before they are at liberty to engage in their calling. Uniformity in this connexion is extremely desirable. I appeal to the Labour Party to recollect that there is such a thing in theworld as unionism, and I am of opinion that it would be well if the members of the medical profession who qualify in this country were given some advantage over those who hail from elsewhere. I also contend that this Parliament should be given an opportunity to pass an Adulteration Act which would deal with the adulteration of our wines. It is all verywell for the Minister of Trade and Customs to say that he will look into the matter, and insert a clause in a Bill dealing with that question.
– Such, a provision, is already to be found in the Commerce Bill.
– But I should like to see a comprehensive arrangement made under which all these matters could be dealt with in one way. Then we should not witness the spectacle of a private individual, who is merely a piano expert, and knows nothing whatever about health matters, being allowed to travel abroad for the benefit of his own business, as an accredited representative of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable member hold that that appointment should not have been made?
– I express no opinion upon the matter. We have been told that Mr. Beale served an apprenticeship under Dr. Mackellar. I do not understand what that means. How can we possibly expect a piano expert to know anything about patent medicines or children’s foods? His commission looks to me as though it were nothing more nor less than a piece of political dodgery on the part of a protectionist Government.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I did not intend to address the Committee on this question, and should not have done so, except for some of the statements which have been made, and the fact that no replies to them have been offered by honorable members opposite. They seem to take all the criticisms, from whatever quarter they come, as needing no reply. Perhaps they are right from their stand-point, butI purpose to say a few words in regard to certain matters to which I think the attention of honorable members ought to be directed. Last week I came into collision with the Treasurer in regard to a statement about “eating dirt.” I had no wish to be offensive to the right honorable gentleman. We all like him. He is a jovial, kind-hearted man, although there is a certain amount of method in his joviality.
– The honorable member knows that it was not a friendly thing to say.
– I have not had time, nor have I the inclination, to wade through all my right honorable friend’s old speeches, but I have a few quotations to make from some of his past utterances which, I think, will be interesting to the Committee. We think that it is our duty to criticise the Government, and in that connexion I was much struck with one remark made by my right honorable friend with regard to the Labour Party when their Government was in office. He said -
In my opinion, the Opposition should never say anything very complimentary about the Government, but should find fault with them if they do wrong. If they are right, the Opposition should say, “ that is just what you ought to have done; you have done your duty.”
That is the sort of generosity which my right honorable friend manifests towards his opponents.
– What led up to that?I said there was too much “beslobbering “ with praise.
– I will tell my right honorable friend what led up to the remark. The leader of the Opposition is, as we all know, invariably generous to his opponents. I think that the honorable member for Bland will admit that the leader of the Opposition was always fair in his criticisms .when the Labour Government was in office. Whenever credit was due, he was always big enough in his ideas to give praise. But the Treasurer is not large-minded enough to adopt the same attitude towards his opponents.
– I was supporting the Opposition then ; so was my leader.
– Well, the leader of the Opposition and the head of the present Government are both big enough men to say kindly things of their political, opponents when they are deserved. I make these remarks because I was very much struck with the absence from the Budget speech of any reference to the late Treasurer, the right honorable member for Balaclava, though the Treasurer took advantage of all the hard labour of his predecessor and former colleague. We all know the care and attention which the right honorable member for Balaclava devoted to the preparation of the Estimates. The Treasurer must admit that he adopted the Estimates of the late Government to a very large extent, making very few alterations in them. The late Treasurer was as careful, painstaking, and conscientious a finance Minister as ever sat on the Treasury bench.
– Hear, hear.
– For years I was opposed to him on certain principles. He believed in protection, and I believed in free-trade;- but at the same time we admitted his fairness in dealing with financial matters. But the Treasurer never said a word in his Budget speech about the care and attention devoted by his predecessor to the preparation of some of the figures he used.
– I referred to him very often, and always in complimentary terms.
– I have not read the Budget speech through, but I can find no such references. I presume that that is the principle upon which the Treasurer chooses to deal with those opposed to him.
– I do not’ think he is opposed to us.
– I remember hearing an old and prominent politician in New South Wales remark that on one occasion he was opposed by a supporter, who defended himself by saying, “Well, I always vote for you when you are right.” The reply was : “ I like a man . to vote for me when I am wrong ; any fool will vote for me when I am right.” That remark was recalled to my mind by an interjection made by the Treasurer last week. * He said, “ I ‘wish I had the honorable member in Western Australia.”
– !That was only said jocularly.
– It is recorded in Hansard. If the remark was made jocularly, I wish to reply in a similar spirit. In former days my right honorable friend used to be called “ the Emperor of the West.” Whenever any politician dared to oppose him in those days, he had a method of getting rid of the offender. I believe a case was referred to a committee, which, it is said, decided against his opponent. On another occasion I am informed a supporter dared to criticise him in regard to his financial arrangements. The_ right honorable gentleman resented this criticism, whereupon the opponent said, “ I think I have a right to criticise you if I choose.” The reply was: “What right have you to complain? Did I not make you a magistrate?” I do not know how highly the position, of magistrate was valued in Western Australia in those days ; it is not, I regret to say, much valued in New South Wales.
– The position was spoilt in that State.
– At all events my right honorable friend evidently thought that it was a very great honour to confer upon the man.
– It surely ought to be regarded as a very honorable position.
– I quite agree with my right honorable friend. But it is an extraordinary doctrine to preach that because he made a man a magistrate that man ought to support him whether right or wrong.
– He was elected to support me.
– My right honorable friend admits the truth of the story.
– My Government supported him.
– And therefore my right honorable friend thought that the member of Parliament ought to support his Government right or wrong.
– We wanted a general support.
– At all events I believe that the one time supporter of my right honorable friend resented this interference, and promptly resigned the position of magistrate, saying that if it was given to him with the object indicated, the sooner he vacated it the better. My right honorable friend denied that he ever made any statement about eating’ dirt. I am not going into the question of the exact words he used, but I shall read a few extracts to illustrate the position of affairs when my right honorable friend was on this side.
– We cannot get away from Hansard, can we?
– I believe not ; though sometimes some of us may wish we could, especially when we go before the electors, and are quoted.
– I am not afraid of Hansard.
– I have gone through the mill as many times as my right honorable friend, and I have always come out all right.
– Hansard is all right.
– I am not afraid of anything in Hansard so far as I am concerned ; but I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman will say that after I have read some extracts from his speeches.
– I am not frightened.
– I ask my right honorable friend to listen to these ‘extracts from his speeches : -
He has found since Parliament has met that parties are almost of equal strength. The supporters of the Government are, perhaps, stronger than either of the other parties, but a combination of the force gathered together under the standards of Labour and the Opposition could at any time bring about the expulsion of the Government from office. That is a position which, it would be impossible for any one with any experience in leading Government to regard with equanimity. To me the position seems impossible. It will be just the same for those who suceed us, if any one does succeed us.
I am in accord with him when he agrees with the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney that the existence of three parties in the Federal Legislature of nearly equal strength has thrown public affairs into confusion, makes Parliamentary Government on constitutional lines impossible, and calls for some immediate remedy.
I am opposed to the platform and the methods of the Labour Party. I am opposed, to the domination of any class, irrespective of whether they are members of Labour Unions or otherwise.
– A proper sentiment
– Yes,; and I am showing the honorable member what a different position the Treasurer takes up to-day - ,
He offered us the security that we should enjoy, by acting as the tail, or perhaps, in time, as a very small part of the body, of his party.
– Who made the offer?
– I believe there was an offer made that if certain honorable members would, go over and support the Labour Party they would not be opposed.
– I thought the honorable member was quoting me.
– I am quoting the right honorable member -
It was another case of “ Come in to my parlour said the spider to the fly.” ….
In view of the principles I profess, I, for one, should not be willing to kiss the hand that struck me a severe blow. I know that if I did I should sooner or later receive another blow which would practically destroy me.
I do not know when that blow is coming - Why did not the honorable and learned member and his party turn us out? Because it did not suit them to do so.
– Who was “ the honorable and learned member “ ?
– I think it was the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, when he was AttorneyGeneral in. the Labour Government.
I should not have given them a week’s trial.
I believe that on one occasion the right honorable gentleman denied that he made that statement, but this is an exact quotation of what he said: -
I should not have given them a week’s trial if I had had my own way, but that was due to only one reason - that, in my opinion, they had not a majority in this House.
I rejoice that honorable members of what is called the Labour Party (and, as I have alreadydefined the meaning of the term I need not do so again), are in Opposition. I prefer to see them there, or in possession of the Treasury benches, rather than directing the Government from the cross benches.
– Can the right honorable member give us one instance in which we directed the Government of which he was a member?
– Yes ! the great pressure which was exerted resulted in section 16 of the Postal Act being inserted in the Bill, and the previous action of the Government in the Senate being reversed.
We shall now have their physic direct from their own hands. We shall not have to take physic from the third party as has been the custom, not only in this Parliament, but in all State Parliaments of Australia in which there is a Labour Party.
– I was referring to the time when the honorable gentleman was under the dominance of the Labour Party in New South Wales.
– Perhaps so. It is difficult to ascertain what is the right honorable gentleman’s mind on any subject. At all events, he cannot find such passages as these in any speeches I have delivered : -
Hitherto they have not been so numerically strong as they are, but they have occupied the position of a third party with the balance of power, and have wielded that enormous power that all third parties similarly situated exercise in the administration of the affairs of a country.
What does he say in regard to them now? The Labour Party are in the same position, and he cannot move in any direction without their support. I shall show presently that in regard to the contract section of the Immigration Restriction Act, Ministers were afraid to give expression to their opinions until they heard the honorable member for Gippsland say what the late Government intended to do. Thereupon, the honorable member for Bland expressed his opinion, and now the Government) are going to break their silence upon the question.
– The honorable member for Gippsland did not state what the late Government was going to do.
– The honorable gentleman indicated’ what the late! Government was- going to do.
– The late Government announced no policy.
– If the late Government had had1 an opportunity of meeting the electors, as we wished to do, the honorable member would have known what our policy was.
– They kept it very dark.
– There is a record of what we were going to do. But let me continue the extracts from the speeches of the Treasurer -
– Does not the right honorable member think that we gave the Government, of which he was a member, a good innings?
– The honorable member for Bland no longer occupies the commanding position of real power which he held for the three years during which his party sat on the cross benches; it is no longer “Yes, Mr. Watson.” The honorable member is now a humble suppliant for an alliance in order that he may regain the power that he has lost, and which, of course, he desires again to exercise. . . . They must realize that although at one time they were a “ Samson “ in the House they have since had their hair clipped.
– The Minister is happier than when he was in the clutches of the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– He was out in the cold then.
– Yes.. The right honorable gentleman practically denied that he ever was in the clutches of the right honorable member for East Sydney. Replying to a question by a reporter, he said that he was never a supporter of the latter, but he was very anxious, I think, to get his support in Western Australia, when a large number of the Labour Party were going over there.
– I do not know that. It was more in the interests of the right honorable .-gentleman that I took action then.
– That shows that the right honorable member was a member of the party for the time being.
– I was helping the right honorable gentleman. What I said was that he was never my chief.
– If the right honorable gentleman will refer to the newspapers, I think he will find that he used the word “ supporter “ to the interviewer.
– I was supporting the right honorable member for East Sydney, but I always owed1 allegiance to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney was leader of the Government, and when he was asked to go to Western Australia he went, at much personal inconvenience, in the interests of the party, of which, at that time, we believed the right honorable member for Swan was a member.
– That was before the secret cable.
– The honorable member for Macquarie surely does not say that I was ever a free-trader?
– I do not say that for one moment of the right honorable member for Swan.
– I was a member of the party which was led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and which _ i__ was helping the party of the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– At all events, we went into office in an honorable manner, and we retired with flying colours. That Government were prepared to face the people, and to abide by their verdict, and we were told by the present Treasurer, and the present Prime Minister, that there was no occasion for us to have gone out of office.
– The honorable member for Macquarie advised suicide. .
– It is not often that Governments are found prepared to commit suicide ; as a rule, Governments are anxious to cling on to office on any conditions or terms. Considering what had taken place, we felt, as honorable men, that we could no longer remain in office - that the only course open to us was to place our policy before the peopleand abide by their verdict.
– Yes, after the Government had wasted six months in recess.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay and his party have wasted a good deal more time. The honorable member has no reason to complain, because those whom he represents have done very well over the sugar legislation.
– What was the policy of the honorable member’s Government on that question?
– The present Treasurer did not give that Government an opportunity to come down with a , policy. It would, no doubt, have been very different from that advocated by the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– We had the policy from the honorable member for Gippsland, who was a member of that Government.
– That Government never dealt with the matter.
– Never dealt with it?
– The question was never considered by the Cabinet.
– Then what did that Government do during the six months of recess ?
– I shall show presently that the Treasurer didvery little during the time he was a State Premier. If Western Australia had been looked after then, that State would not have been in its present disgraceful position in regard tothe Post and Telegraph Department.
– What did the honorable member for Macquarie do for Western Australia in postal matters while hewas Postmaster-General ?
– The Treasurer ought to ask the present PostmasterGeneral that question. I am prepared tolet my work as Postmaster-General stand on its merits.
– The honorable member, as Postmaster-General, never did? anything for Western Australia.
– I leave my work to the judgment of honorable members.
– The people inWestern Australia were most dissatisfied with the postal administration.
– And no wonder, considering the state in which that administration was left by the present Treasurer. I shall presently read a few reports dealing with the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department in Western Australia.
– Why did the honorable member, when Postmaster-General,, not go to ‘Western Australia and see after the administration of the Department?
– I sent over an impartial officer to make a report, and I think that honorable members, when they hear the result of that action, will say that I was quite justified in what I did, and, further, that the revelations did not reflect credit on the present Treasurer’s administration.
– The people of Western Australia are more dissatisfied now than ever they were with the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department; they say that the whole Department has been upset.
– All I can say is that if the Treasurer looks through the report to which I have referred, he will see that there was strong reason for an “ upset “ of some kind.
– The people are more dissatisfied now than ever theywere.
– It is very easy to satisfy people by spending thousands of pounds on -useless works. However, I am not given to any policy of that kind. If a public work be justified, I am glad tocarry it out, but I refuse to spend money merely for the purpose of gaining additional support.
– I have no doubt that the honorable member, as PostmasterGeneral, carried out some wonderful reforms !
– I leave the reforms which I carried out to speak for themselves.
– The “reforms” made the people dissatisfied, at all events.
– The people had been dissatisfied for a great many years under the present Treasurer’s administration as State Premier. Honorable members ought to read the report which was submitted to this Parliament soon after Federation was brought about. That report was referred to by the late PostmasterGeneral, the honorable member for Coolgardie, when he was dealing with the’ postal administration of the present Treasurer” in Western Australia. The right honorable member for Swan went on to say of the Labour Party -
They must realize, although at one time they were a “ Samson “ in the House, they have since had their hair clipped, and that the strength, power, and influence, which they wielded for several years, has now disappeared. They have had to make a humble alliance with protectionist members who have seceded from the protectionist party.
Honorable members opposite know perfectly well that I am opposed to them because of their programme, which I call socialistic, and because of their methods.
There are numerous other quotations which could be made from speeches delivered by the Treasurer, but I think I have quoted sufficient to show that, if I were not correct in saying that he had complained of having to eat too much dirt, he is quite prepared to eat humble pie, in order to secure a seat on the Treasury benches.
– He is quite prepared to take the “ physic “ of which he spoke.
– The Treasurer is now prepared to take that “physic” again. The right honorable gentleman complained that for three years he had been taking “ physic ‘ ‘ from the honorable member for Bland, and he said that, rather than take any more, he was prepared to leave office. We now find, however, that the right honorable member is quite prepared to take more “ physic “ of the same kind. .
– We were forced to come into office, because we could not leave the honorable member and his party there.
– No doubt that is the right honorable member’s, opinion. The Ministry, composed of members of the party to which the Treasurer belongs, must have been a very happy family. The honorable and learned member for Adelaide, who has always been regarded as a strong democrat, when speaking of the present Treasurer, with whom he had been associated in office, said, “ We have practically had enough of the Forrest curse.”
– What the honorable and learned member said was that Western Australia had had enough.
– Well, that meant enough of the “ Forrest curse “ ; and I think there is a great deal of truth in what the honorable arid learned member for Adelaide said.
– The honorable and learned member and myself were then in controversy, .when people sometimes say disagreeable things.
– The honorable member for Denison last night made a strong speech, showing that he, at all events, is quite sick of the “physic” he had’ to swallow while he’ was a colleague of the present Treasurer.
– Nevertheless the honorable member for Denison hung on to office.
– I daresay that the honorable member for Denison might, had he chosen, have been a member of the present Government. No doubt, in refusing to support the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the honorable member for Denison took the course which he considered justifiable. Nevertheless I think he would have had a good chance of becoming a member of the Cabinet had he voted in the same way as did the right honorable member1 for Swan. The present Prime Minister also condemned in no light way the methods adopted by the Labour Party, of ;the domination of which he’ expressed himself as perfectly sick. He said that he would not have any more of it. The right honorable member for Balaclava also spoke in a similar strain.
– When did the Prime Minister make the statement to which the honorable member refers ?
– I could cite a number of cases in which he said that the methods adopted by the Labour Party
– I did not. The honorable member should not attribute to me statements that I have never uttered.
– The right honorable gentleman said something worse than that. When challenged by the honorable member for Boothby, he remarked that, “ You know that Ministers have often to vote for measures in which they do not believe.”
– When did I make that statement? I am prepared to accept a quotation from Hansard, but certainly not a statement made from the honorable member’s belief, and without foundation.
– I shall give the right honorable gentleman the exact words that he used. He told the honorable member for Boothby that it was well known that members of a Government,’ out of loyalty to their party, had often to vote for measures in which they did not believe. Thus, four members of the Barton Administration practically stated that they were sick of ‘the control which the Labour Party, while sitting on the Ministerial cross-benches, exercised over the Government. Sir Edmund Barton and Senator O’Connor, two other members of that Administration, left it, and are well provided for. We do not know what are their views regarding the Labour Party, but we find that the right honorable member for Swan, notwithstanding the assertions to which I have referred, was quite prepared to return to the fold, and to submit to such direction as the Labour Party might choose to give. I was disappointed by his Budget statement. The right honorable gentleman quoted numerous returns from Coghlan, which are very valuable in their way, but in view of the present position of the finances of the Commonwealth, we anticipated that he would be prepared to come down with some original proposal.
– What time did I have to formulate an original scheme?
– The right honorable gentleman and’ some of his colleagues were in office when the Federal
– I explained that, but for the sugar arrangements there would be an increase.
– But the Government propose to continue the sugar bonus, and that being so it is idle for them to offer such an explanation. They must provide for the payment of tlie bonus just as they have to provide for public works, or other undertakings. It is estimated that this year we shall be able to return to the States only £469,000 over and above the three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue to which they are entitled. It must be borne in mind that we shall have to provide for interest upon the post-offices, and other public buildings taken over by the Commonwealth, and that, according to estimates prepared by the States, £450,000 will be annually required te* meet these interest charges, and to provide the necessary sinking fund.
– Not if we deal with balances. If we adopt that system, the balance cannot be more than ;£i, 000,000.
– According to a report laid on the table of the House some time ago, the estimated value of transferred properties is, in round numbers, £10,000,000. Three per cent, on that sum would mean £300,000, and 3^ per cent.., £350,000 per annum.
– But under the proposed arrangement-
– Unfortunately, we do not know what arrangement has beenmade. The Government has not made any disclosure to the House.
– I referred to thematter in my Statement. I said that balances only would be dealt with.
– I know that the right honorable gentleman said something about balances, but he is trying to mislead’ the Committee and the public. We know that the value of the transferred properties has been estimated at .£10,000,000. Weare using them for departmental purposes, and we know that we shall be required” either to pay for them or to pay interest on the cost of their construction. ‘
– I do not think so. Let the honorable member read the Constitution.
– I hope the right honorable gentleman does not propose that we should repudiate our obligations to the States.
– Let the honorable member read the Constitution, and he will find that Parliament has to decide, if we cannot agree with the States in the matter.
– The right honorable gentleman will at least admit that we are now receiving the benefit of the use of the transferred properties.
– The States are receiving the benefit also.
– My right honorable friend can put it in any way he pleases, but we know that the Federal Government are receiving an advantage in having the use of the buildings which have been transferred to the Commonwealth. We must pay for those buildings, or meet the interest which has to be paid on the money borrowed for their construction.
– The balances are what we shall have to deal with.
– That may be so, but the whole of the transaction must appear in the balance-sheets of the Federal Treasurer. I do not know how the right honorable gentleman proposes to . manage the financial affairs of the Commonwealth ; but he will not find that commercial men manage their affairs in the way he suggests. I can tell him that he will have to make a very different explanationto the States Governments.
– If we cannot agree we must come to this Parliament to decide the matter; that is what the Constitution says.
– I am sure that this Parliament will deal fairly by the States, and will have no desire to repudiate Commonwealth obligations. Parliament will realize that these buildings having been transferred to the Commonwealth, we have the right to pay for services rendered.
– The payments will have to be made from the revenue returnable to
– I admit that.
– When we return a surplus to the different States it comes to practically the same thing as paying for these services.
– The honorablemember will admit that we must keep our accounts separately from those of theStates, and we must account for the properties transferred to the Commonwealth either in capital or in interest; if in capital, we must pay interest to the people from whom the money has been borrowed, and” if in interest we must also pay it out of the annual revenue of the Commonwealth. No. doubt the various sums will be debited to the different States, but the money has tobe paid by the Federal Government. No Commonwealth Treasurer has yet proposed’ a scheme for dealing with the matter in a manner acceptable to the States..
– A Bill dealing with, the subject has been passed by the Senate.
– The right honorable gentleman estimates that there wilt be this year a balance of only £469,000, but I point out thathe has made no provision for a number of important measures, involving expenditure, which the Government has in contemplation. I refer, first of all, to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Honorable members are aware that I have made no secret of my opposition to that measure, though, in all probability, the iron deposits in the district which I represent are of greater extent than those of any other district in New South Wales.
– Would the honorable member nationalize the industry ?
– The honorable member for Wide Bay is aware that I have fought the proposal in Parliament, and before my constituents. I cannot be accused of inconsistency, for I stand to my previously expressed opinion on the subject, and do not approve of the principle involved in the measure. The present Government propose to pass the Bill. They believe they have a majority in this Housein favour of it. I doubt that, but time will, no doubt, tell whether they have or not. It will involve an expenditure of £300,000 in bonuses, but the Treasurer does not show how the Government propose to provide for that expenditure. Again, expenditure is involved in the proposed survey of the transcontinental railway.
– That is dead and buried.
– I do not know what the Government propose to do in connexion with that matter. In reply to a question, they intimated last night their policy in regard to the railway, but so far ihe proposed survey has not received the approval of this Parliament.
– What was the policy of the Government to which the honorable gentleman belonged on that matter?
– There is no secret about it. We proposed to allow an inquiry to be made.
– Yet the honorable member is condemning the present Government for proposing the same thing.
– No; what I say is that the Treasurer reminds us that there is ‘a decreasing revenue, that the surplus to be returned to the States will come down this year to £469,000, an amount which will be required for the payment of interest and sinking fund in connexion with transferred properties; and yet the right honorable gentleman makes no provision for £300,000 involved in the payment of bonuses under the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, or for some £20,000 which will be necessary for the survey of the transcontinental railway. If that proposal is carried, it may involve an additional amount. Then we have to consider the old-age pensions scheme. I do not know “how much money is provided for the operation of that scheme. It has been before us since the Treasurer first took office in 1901, and it is still in the same position. It has, no doubt, been a splendid card with which to gull the public. The Treasurer does not intimate where the Government are going to get the money necessary to give effect to an old-age pensions scheme, and I presume, therefore, that it is again put forward merely to gull the public. We have a Bill submitted for the appointment of a High Commissioner, and that also will involve serious expense for which no money is provided on the Estimates. We propose to deal with navigation and shipping, with the lighting of the coast, and with a Statistical Department for the Commonwealth. There is no provision on the Estimates in connexion with these matters, nor is there any provision made in, connexion with the proposed Commonwealth Agricultural Department. Honorable members are aware that this House unanimously, and, I think, wisely, decided in favour of the establishment of a Department of Agriculture in connexion with Federal affairs. I think that a great deal can be done in this direction. The Treasurer admits that he is in favour of assisting rural industries, and intimates that the Government intend to bring forward some scheme dealing with the question, but I can see no provision made on the Estimates for any expenditure in connexion with agriculture.
– What provision did the late Government make for it?
– The late Government were going to make provision for it.
– They were going to have a general election first.
– They were prepared to go to the people and submit their policy to them, if they had been given the opportunity. I have no doubt they would have come back with a majority. This matter of a Federal Agricultural Department was discussed by the late Government, and they proposed to place a sum of money on, the Estimates in connexion with it.. I think that the present Government should give some attention to the matter. It is not a new proposal. It was discussed on a motion submitted by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and seconded, I think; by the present Attorney-General.
– What was the decision of the Hobart Conference in connexion with that subject?
– The Conference met for the purpose of dealing in an amicable way with certain matters, but the Federal Government of the day is surely not to be led entirely by the decisions of a conference.
– It put a stop to the proposal.
– It did not, as my honorable friend will find if he refers to the honorable member for Gippsland.
– The proposal is as dead as Julius Caesar.
– The honorable member for Gippsland is an honorable man, and I am prepared to leave him to say whether he intended to do anything in that direction. At all events, we intended to deal with the matter, and I think that it should be dealt with. There are many ways in which it could be dealt with without interfering with the functions of the States. As one who has had a good deal to do with agricultural administration in New South . Wales, I know that the States Departments are doing excellent work. But the expenditure in this direc- tion might be lessened’, ind greater efficiency obtained, by the establishment of a central Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. Very often diseases affecting stock or plant life cause serious loss to stock-breeders and farmers. At present we have in the States five or six different agencies ‘investigating such diseases; but the division of forces makes it impossible to obtain the services of the very best experts. If the Commonwealth carried out investigations to ascertain how best to prevent or to remedy diseases such as tuberculosis, the tick pest, or swine fever, the people of all the States would be greatly benefited. Salary should be no object in considering the appointment of the best man procurable.
– The money will be well saved.
– I am sure of it. If there were a Federal Department of Agriculture, with a large, properlyequipped laboratory for the investigation of diseases of animals, and of plants, under the direction of the best man obtainable, our farmers, pastoralists, and others would benefit greatly, and the country might be saved millions of expense.
– This is Socialism. I thought that the honorable member did not believe in Socialism.
– I call it assisting individual effort; but even though the honorable member calls it Socialism, I am in favour of it.
– There are already Departments of Agriculture in the various States, and by amalgamating them we should obtain better results.
– Yes, and should effect economies.
– Speaking for Queensland, I think there is too much centralization now.
– A very large number of pastoralists and others in Queensland were ruined a few years ago by the spread of the tick pest there.
– But the honorable member saved New South Wales from the pest.
– I tried my best to do so, and I did a little in preventing the tick from spreading, though my efforts incurred the hostility of a large number of pastoralists in Queensland. I felt it my duty to protect, not only New South Wales, but Victoria, and in that I was ably assisted by the Agricultural Department of the latter State.
– The tick would notlive down here; it will not live in Western. Australia
– I did not think it wise to run any risks.
– It would have meant ruin* to the dairying industry of New South. Wales if the honorable member for Macquarie had not taken the action he did.
– I do not knowabout that. The pest does not exist irc temperate climates. We know that front our experience in Western Australia.
– At all events,, the northern districts of New South Wales, were very close to places in Queensland’ where the pest was doing great damage. In regard’ to the means of prevention which we adopted, we were at variance with: the Queensland Department of Agriculture. In such cases there should be a Federal’ authority, empowered to take measures to» prevent the spreading of disease from Stateto State, and to secure uniformity of action on the part of State authorities. That initself would be very beneficial.
– Under what law would it” be done?
– Under theCommonwealth law. It was previously held that our power to make laws in regard to quarantine applies only to> human beings; but the Attorney-General of the late Administration gave the opinion that it applies also to animals. I cannot see why any limitation should be placed on the word, and I think that the interpretation which he gave is that which would beaccepted by the High Court. Even if there were a little trouble at first, I think that the various States would soon see theadvantage to be gained in the way of economy and greater efficiency by the establishment of a central authority. The dairying industry, the wool industry, and the meat industry might any of them be seriously affected by the spread of disease, and if that happened- a large number of the citizens of the Commonwealth would be injured. Therefore, it is our duty to try to protect these industries.
– We have already enoughcentralization.
– The Commonwealth must exercise power in regard to quarantine.
– The Treasurer indicated that he is rather in favour of doing away with the Braddon provision of the Constitution at the end of the ten years during which it must have effect, though he says that the matter has not yet been dealt with by the Cabinet. I think that there is a great difference of opinion even among his own party on that subject, which will create a good deal of trouble, and it would have been better, as he is not prepared to deal with it now, to say nothing at all about it.
– No alteration can be made for four years to come, and the present Government will probably not be in power then.
– There is every probability that they will.
– Perhaps the Treasurer will have joined the caucus party then.
– -No doubt we shall see the honorable member there.
– How far is he from it now ?
– During the many years which I have been in politics, I have always been fair to labour, but I prefer to remain independent of caucuses, so that I may give free expression to my views. I am perfectly sure that mv attitude in this respect will meet with the approval of the workers, and that I could successfully contest an election against the right honorable gentleman in a working man’s constituency. The right honorable gentleman is acting in accordance with the desires of the Labour Party, because he knows that he cannot live without them. The honorable member for Gippsland suggested that the contract labour section in the Immigration Restriction Act might be modified in such a way as to make it apply only to men introduced under contract at lower rates of wages than those prevailing here, or at the time of a strike. Not a word was said by the Government as to their policy on the subject, until after the honorable member for Bland had expressed his approval of some action being taken in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Gippsland, but two days later we were told that the Government were favorable to a modification of the provision. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney recently stated in Sydney that the Act had been badly administered, and that it had been made to operate more drastically than was intended. The Treasurer having made a statement to-day with regard to the dissatisfaction existing in West ern Australia in reference to postal administration, it may not be out of place for me to offer a few remarks with regard to the condition of postal matters in that State. I do not wonder that dissatisfaction should exist. When I was administering the Post and Telegraph Department, I found that the condition of affairs in Western Australia was anything but what it ought to be, and I approved of the appointment of an officer from New South Wales to make a comprehensive inquiry. I thought it desirable to select an officer from another State, who would be able to view matters apart from any local influence, and give us the benefit of his experience. I adopted a. similar course in connexion with the revision of the arrangements for letter clearances in Melbourne. When I found that letters for Queensland and New South Wales, instead of being sent away on the day that thev were posted, were detained for twenty-four hours, I thought it necessary to make a change, and I brought over an officer from New South Wales.
– The honorable member did not bring over any bull.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports displays great anxiety when any matter relating to the manufacturing interests is mentioned, but he ridicules every effort that is made to assist the agricultural class. I may tell him that the importation of the bull to which he has referred, resulted in more good to humanity ‘than the honorable member will be able to effect during his whole life-time I am glad to say that in a report dealing with the work of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, special reference was made to the good work done by New South’ Wales in that direction. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will take the trouble to make inquiries, he will find that there are other industries just as important as those in which he takes such a great interest. The Treasurer challenged me in regard to the state of affairs in the Postal Department in Western Australia, and I wish to refer to a report referred to by the honorable member for Coolgardie last session. This disclosed a most disgraceful state of affairs.
– Was that an official report ?
– Yes ; it was prepared, I think, by the accountant of the Postal Department. I believe the time has arrived when we should deal with the Post and Telegraph Department from a Federal, rather than from the State stand-point. That is why I proposed to appoint a chief electrician and a chief inspector to visit the various States, and furnish reports entirely free from any local colouring. I atn very glad to know that my successor in office has also adopted that course. I felt the need of some such officer to advise me at the time of the trouble with regard to the clearances of letters for Bendigo and Ballarat and other matters. I was said to have acted in that matter in the interest of the.. Melbourne daily newspapers, but I claim that the changes I made conferred appreciable benefits upon a large section of the public. At present over 2,000,doo letters, which were formerly subject to a delay of many hours, are being despatched daily, and although the newspapers may have been incidentally benefited, I say, confidently, that the change has been justified by the results. I was subjected to a very severe criticism in connexion with the English mail contract, but I was not afraid to face it. I showed the shipping companies that the Commonwealth law must be observed. I sent an officer to Western Australia to report upon the Post and Telegraph Department there, and I have here a list of between fifty and sixty alterations which were proposed in the telegraph and telephone services. The officer referred to sent his report to the Deputy - Postmaster - General of Western Australia, who recommended its adoption. As a consequence, a saving of £8,000 will be effected during the current year, whilst a permanent saving of over £5,000 per annum will result, and the efficiency of the service will be increased. The minute of the Under-Secretary, covering Mr. Young’s report, reads as follows : -
I submit herewith the report of Mr. Young, manager of the telegraph branch, Sydney, and formerly an inspector in New South Wales, on the condition of the telegraph and telephone branches of this Department in Western Australia, made pursuant to the special instructions of the Minister (vide previous papers).
The report is, in my opinion, very full and complete,- and contains information <of great value, not only from the stand-point of economical working, but also what is even more important, increased efficiency, if immediate effect is given to the recommendations that have been made.
I fully concur in all the recommendations with only two exceptions, one, a very minor matter, viz., the substitution of caps for messengers’ wear, instead of the straw hats now worn by them. This may, I think, be left to the discretion of the Deputy Postmaster-General ; it is largely a matter of climate, and, in my opinion, the caps do not afford sufficient protection in a warm climate during the summer. Thecustom of the country might, I think, safely be followed ir this respect. The second is much more important, that is allowing the acting manager of the telephone branch, Perth, to retain hisposition for another three months to demonstrate his ability. In my opinion he has had ample time in the past for this, and has miserably failed. I think he should make way for a better man without further delay.
The whole report reflects very adversely and necessarily very severely upon the whole management of the Department in Western Australia. It shows that money has been wantonly wasted, and efficiency sacrificed, owing entirely to the incapacity or negligence, or both, of highly-paid and responsible officers. They should have an opportunity of replying to those portions of the report concerning them.
The Deputy Postmaster-General, Perth, should! be instructed to impress upon all his officers, and particularly upon those holding responsible positions, that, without respect to either persons, or positions, officers who prove themselves to beeither negligent or incapable in the discharge of their duties will be dealt with under the provisions of the Public Service Act and regulations.
As a first step towards dealing with this report, the whole of it, and the accompanying papers, should be referred to the Public Service Commissioner for his concurrence in those matters in which it is required.
I think it is only due to Mr. Young that he should be thanked for his report.
The Treasurer wishes to make it appear that my administration of the Postal Department resulted in an unsatisfactory condition of affairs, so far as Western Australia is concerned.
– That is the general feeling over there.
– I rely upon facts, not upon feeling.
– The statement has been made in the press.
– I can tell my right honorable friend that within two or three days after I had appointed a board* to inquire into the conduct of- a certain officer I received from one of the newspapers in Western Australia a telegram congratulating me upon the step which I had taken. Upon the report of the officer to whom I have referred, I wrote the following minute: -
In view of the numerous complaints received with respect to the conduct of the business of this Department in Western Australia, I approved of Mr. E. J. Young, of the Sydney office - an officer of wide experience and ability - being deputed to make a thorough investigation of the matter, and his report fully justifies the step taken. If Mr. Young, a stranger to the £>lace, could in a few weeks discover so many evidences of waste, and want of business capacity, what excuses have the officers concerned to offer for allowing such an unsatisfactory state of affairs to remain so long without suggesting any remedial measures? The responsible officers have been tried, and this report, which is supported by Mr. Hardman, the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, shows that they have sadly failed in their duty to the public and the Department, and they should be dealt with under section 65 of the Public Service Act. Public money has t>een squandered, and the public compelled to -submit to inconvenience and loss, through either incompetence or neglect. In addition to the other evidences of maladministration, it appears that a new telegraph line, to cost nearly £5,000, was recommended without any justification.
– What line was that?
– I will give my right honorable friend the name of it presently. I cannot recollect it off-hand.
– One would think that the honorable member would remember an expenditure of £5,000.
– I did not anticipate making any reference to this matter, or I should have been prepared with the full report.
– The honorable member can supply me with the information only by reference to his papers. He does not recollect the name of the line in question.
– I will give particulars later. When he was delivering his Budget statement the right honorable gentleman did nothing else but refer to papers. My minute continues: -
Mr. Young also makes reference to the way in which the condenser system has been used, -and it is with surprise that I learn how little interest officers have evinced in the working of this inexpensive means of communication. Under this system, small communities can be given the advantage of cheap telephone communication, but instead of the officers assisting to perfect its working they appear to have shown the utmost indifference and neglect. I have, during the last few months, authorized the extension of the condenser system of telephone connexion to a large number of country districts, and, as the success of these facilities will largely depend upon the care and attention bestowed by the officers in charge, I wish the Deputy PostmastersGeneral to inform all concerned that I understand the efficiency of the system is being seriously imperilled through carelessness on the part of the officers, and that any case of neglect will “be severely dealt with.
Prompt action should be taken to carry out the suggestions made by Mr. Young, except as to the use of caps and the appointment of the acting manager of the Telephone Branch, Perth, and the papers may then he- forwarded to the
Public Service Commissioner, who will, I am sure, see the necessity for a complete alteration in the staff arrangements in the State mentioned.
The Treasurer- has made a statement which reflects upon my ‘ administration as PostmasterGeneral. If I had given effect to some of his proposals no doubt things would have been all right. But before carrying out any reform, I endeavoured to ascertain whether they were justifiable in the public interest. I leave it to my successor to say whether many of the reforms which I initiated have not added to the efficiency of the Department.
– The*- honorable member continued the good work which he found in progress.
– I am not here to reflect upon anybody. As PostmasterGeneral, I claim that I did my duty, by endeavouring to make such alterations as I thought would eventually prove of service to the people. During the period that the Reid-McLean Government remained in office I kept the expenditure of the Post and Telegraph Department within the revenue.
– The line to which the Treasurer referred a few minutes ago is that from Perth to Eucla.
– The work to which I referred just now was the extension of a wire from Midland Junction to Northam, and the arranging of circuits, instead of erecting an additional wire from Perth to Coolgardie, at. a cost of £3,562. Mr. Young considered it to be unnecessary, and therefore he proposed an alteration which got rid of the necessity of putting up the additional line, and made a saving of some thousands of pounds.
– Who recommended that line ?
– I. could not say.
– Did the honorable member take any action to find out?
– Yes, I asked the Public Service Commissioner to appoint a board to find out whether the officers who allowed such a state of affairs to exist ought to be retained in the service. I felt that it was due to the Department that suchan inquiry should take place, because I admit that we have excellent officers in the Post and Telegraph service who are doing good work; but I considered that incompetent officers ought not to be allowed to reflect discredit upon those who are efficient.
– Was the inquiry made?
– The board was appointed before I left office. I do not know what has been done since.
– I think the Committee ought to know what the result was
– The board was instructed to inquire what officers were responsible. I felt that in the public interest the matter ought to be dealt with promptly, and I also approved of the recommendations by Mr. Young, which were supported by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral and by the Secretary of the Department, making alterations which, I presume, have been carried out. During my term of office the Post and Telegraph Department had a surplus of £64,730. Therefore I do not think that we have any reason to be ashamed of our administration, nor has Parliament any reason to complain of the way in which affairs were managed. Indeed, no complaint has been made except by the present Treasurer.
– I merely said that there was a great deal of dissatisfaction in Western Australia.
– I do not wonder at it.
– The honorable member did excellent work.
– I merely did my duty. Reference has been made to the contract made with the Orient Company for the carriage of mails to Europe. The Treasurer did not say much about that subject in his Budget speech, except to remark that the price was large. We all admit that. My right honorable friend knows that I was subjected to a good deal of criticism at the time the negotiations were being conducted.
– I think I was rather friendly to the honorable member in that matter.
– In his Budget speech my right honorable friend made it appear that it was one of the matters as to which I merely; did my duty, and that rather a big price was paid. The Government of which I was a member had a considerable amount of trouble in connexion with the contract.
– I thought that the honorable member was too long in concluding negotiations.
– If we had occupied a shorter time we should have had to pay perhaps £30,000 a year more. I believe that when, the matter is gone into fully, honorable members will admit that the Administration to which I belonged did its duty by the people of the Commonwealth in resisting what we thought an unfair demand by the Orient Company.
– Why was Brisbane left out?’
– I asked the Orient Company to give consideration to the proposal to extend the service to Brisbane, but at that time the reply was that to do so would necessitate an extra vessel being engaged upon the line, and that it could not be done.
– Why did the honorable member tie the company to go to Melbourne and Sydney?
– Under the old contract the boats were compelled to go to Melbourne and Sydney, and the onlyalteration we made was one to enable them to go to Brisbane, and to make that port a terminus if they could make satisfactoryarrangements.
– How much difference would it have made in the amount of the contract if Melbourne and Sydney had not been included?
– I do not think that it would have made any difference. My object was simply to give them more latitude. Under the old contract Sydney was looked upon as the terminus, and I altered the condition so as to enable the vessels to go to Brisbane, if satisfactory arrangements could be made by the company.
– They have made them now..
– Does the honorable member know that according to the contract the boats have to go to Sydney, whether they carry mails or not?
– The boats have to go to Sydney with parcels and! mails.
– But the contract says that the boats have to go to Sydney, whether they carry mails or not.
– That madeno difference to the price, because the boatsalways carry mails. By striking out Sydney and Melbourne, we should give the company more latitude, and enable then* to do practically as they liked in connexion, with time-running.
– Had the contract been for a service to Adelaide, would not the price have been less?
– I do not think so, because the boats must go to Melbourne and Sydney for trade purposes. I could not get the boats to Brisbane, and I felt that I could not get the service performed for a less sum by asking the company to deliver the mails at Adelaide.
– The honorable member had no thought of Brisbane.
– I did all I could to study the interests of Brisbane. The honorable member will admit that tenders were invited, not by our Government, but by the previous Government.
– But for a service, including Brisbane as a port of call.
– The only tender which was received! bv either the Deakin or the Watson Government, excluded Brisbane, and included Sydney and Melbourne only.
– A good way? for the honorable member to show his bona fides is to assist us to get the £26,000 out of the Commonwealth.
– I must see the terms and conditions of the contract before I can make a statement on that point. I was asked by a gentleman, “ Why do you not cut out Sydney and Melbourne, because if you do, you will have no complaints from Brisbane.” I said, “ I have no right to do that. It will not cost any more to impose the condition, but it will give us the advantage of being able to compel the boats to run to time, and eventually I believe they will run to Brisbane.” We also had considerable trouble about the Vancouver service before we renewed the contract. At first, the contractors asked for an extra sum of £20,000 a year.
– Thev get -£66.000 a vear.
– The Barton Government entered into this contract. All that the new contract will cost trie Common; wealth is an additional sum of about £2^000 a year. I tried very hard to get the price reduced to the former sum, but I did not succeed. In the interests of Queensland, as well of Australia generally, it, would be unwise, I think, to discontinue this service. I believe that it is surrounded with great possibilities.
– Our exports to Vancouver are valued at £725,000 a vear, and we pay an annual subsidy of £66,000 a year.
– I admit all that, but I should be very sorry indeed to see the service discontinued! at the present time. I believe it is surrounded with great possibilities, and if we could only get a quicker service on each side, there is no reason why mails should not be landed more quickly by that route than via Suez. I believe the time will come when it will be done. In time of war, the service by the route will be quite free from a number of complications which must inevitably arise in the neighbourhood of the Suez Canal. At all events, the late Government sanctioned the continuance of the service in the public interest. Previously, Queensland had to contribute £10,000 a year.
– It seems to me that the honorable member is on his defence.
– My honorable friend has referred to this contract, and I think I may be excused for saying a fewwords, especially when it is remembered that my action in this regard has been criticised a good deal.
– I thought the honorable member rose to criticise the Budget. But he is defending himself instead of criticising me.
– I am not here to be the critic of the right honorable gentleman, but to deal generally with the Estimates from the Federal stand-point. At this stage, we have a right to deal with all financial questions, and the right honorable gentleman ought not to object to my remarks. Previously, Queensland and New South Wales used to pay the whole of the subsidy for the Vancouver mail service, but the late Government felt it was. their duty to charge the expenditure according to population, and, in- my opinion, the right course was taken. I am very glad to find that the Postmaster-General has adopted the proposal of the late Government for the administration of the central office. For years the work was carried out in most unsuitable premises. Although the staff were as good as the staff to be found in any office, still they had not the necessary accommodation to enable them to carry out their work in a satisfactory way, and, worse than that, their number was not adequate to the work to be done. The late Government felt that, in the public interest, it would be wise to increase the number of the staff, and I believe that the increase which we sanctioned, has tended not only to economy, but to better administration. We all remember the great delays that used to tate place in dealing with various matters. The time taken up in looking up papers and instituting inquiries necessitated a great deal more expense than that occasioned by the appointment of a few extra clerks. I am also glad to find that my honorable friend is carrying out our proposal to appoint a chief electrician and a chief inspector. We found that great advantages were derived from the sending of officers from other States to inquire into various matters. I felt that it would be a proper thing to have at the head office a chief electrician and a chief inspector, who could advise the Minister on the spot, and also report on special cases in the various States. We used to get reports from the Deputy Postmasters-General and the local officers, but very often we felt that matters were not dealt with, from the Federal stand-point. I think that the presence of two expert officers at the head office will tend to efficient, as well as economic administration. Reference has been made to the question of a penny post, and the Treasurer indicated that, in his opinion, that is a desirable reform, though he has not told us when he would like to see it carried into effect. I should like to see penny postage established throughout the Empire, if we could afford to adopt the system. Unfortunately, I found that at present the loss consequent on penny postage would be more than we are in a position to bear. The Government of which I was a member approved of the next best plan, namely, an Empire rate. The British Government suggested that if there were an Empire rate of twopence, the authorities in England would adopt a rate of a penny from England to other parts of the Empire. The Government fell in with that idea. Then, again, the rate on postcards throughout the Empire was reduced to one penny ; and all these changes are in the direction of cheapening ‘postal communication. We had to be careful in the matter, because the finances of the various States had 1 to be considered. I shall be glad to see the day - and I hope it is not far distant - when the Commonwealth will be able to approve and adopt an Empire fate of, not twopence, but of one penny, because I feel sure thai such a system could not fail to have a. useful influence throughout British possessions. However, as I have al ready said, we are not in the position now to adopt penny postage; although if the finances of the Post and Telegraph Department continue to improve, I 1hope to see the reform accomplished in the not far distant future. I regarded the construction -of the additional telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne as perfectly justifiable; and I am glad to observe that my successor concurs in that view. Speaking from memory, I think inquiries showed that the income would return 10 per cent, on the cost of construction. During my term of office I was able to carry out a number of alterations in regard to the telephone service; and, since the beginning of the year, towns to the number of 400 have been approved to be placed in communication on the cheap system. For years these have been applying for extensions, and I thought it only right to place within the reach of the people this cheap means of communication. The honorable member for Illawarra suggested that Wollongong should be connected with the telephone system, and the cost of the work was estimated at £3,100; but by means of the condensor system, we gave the desired convenience at a cost of only £60. Expenditure of that kind is economical, and, at the same time, it offers facilities to the residents of the country districts, who are entitled to our consideration. In the past there has been a prejudice in some quarters against these cheaper systems of telephoning ; but. all the same, I think that the advantages they offer ought to be availed of, and trees and fences utilized, and the condensor method adopted as far as possible.
– Where were the towns connected by these cheaper means?
– There were some in Western Australia and some in Queensland.
– How many towns were there in Western Australia?
– There were fifteen or sixteen towns approved to be connected in Western Australia, about 150 towns in Victoria, and, I think, about 200 in New South Wales. These lines were either approved or constructed - some were approved, but not carried out. People in the country districts, who . live far away from medical men, and are not overburdened with facilities for carrying on. their business, ought to receive some consideration in this connexion. The Treasurer, I regret to say, takes a different view from that which I would approve in connexion with the status of the Deputy* PostmastersGeneral. It has been decided by the Government to make the maximum salary for a Deputy Postmaster-General £800 per annum. In my opinion, we ought to get the best man possible for this position. In New South Wales, for example, there are about 6,729 official and non-official postoffices, with a revenue of about £1,000,000, and an expenditure of about £950,000 per annum. To control a business of this kind we, as I say, require the best men, and these cannot be obtained unless the salary is adequate.’ By one act of neglect or carelessness in wrongly placing one of the subordinate officials, a loss might be incurred far greater than the saving which is sought to be made; , by a reduction’ of the salary, What is necessary is, as far as possible, to place this position beyond political influence, and it would be better to leave the question of salary to be dealt with by the Public Service Commissioner under the Public Service Act, the same as are “those of other officers of the Post and Telegraph Department.
– It would be possible to have the Deputy PostmastersGeneral graded by the Public Service Commissioner.
– All other officers are graded by the Commissioner, the only officers not so graded being the Deputy Postmasters-General, although they are in charge of a branch of the Public Service which employs thousands of men. An incompetent deputy, who is paid a limited salary at the instance of the Government, “might frustrate all the intentions of the ^Public Service Commissioner. The present PostmasterGeneral would be wise to give this matter further consideration. If we give the Public Service Commissioner power to grade subordinate officers, we ought to give him power to grade the Deputy PostmastersGeneral, subject, of course, to the approval of the Governor in Council. One of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral ^ brought this matter under my notice. The officer in question took exception to certain statements made in the press as to the duties which he and his fellow deputies had to perform, and submit ted a long list of functions discharged by them, his object being to show that they were now called upon to perform more responsible duties than fell to their lot prior to Federation. I did not have an opportunity to bring his report before the Cabinet. Parliament concurred in the view which I submitted last year, that the salary of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral ‘ should be fixed at £920’ per annum. On that occasion I thought, it my duty, -in the public interest, to defend the fixing of the salary at that: amount, and the House agreed with me. As the report, to which I refer, was not dealt with by the Cabinet of which I wasa member, it cannot be said that a Cabinet decision has been overruled; but the factremains that Parliament determined last year that the salary should be £920 per annum. In my opinion, that remuneration is not too high, having regard to theresponsible duties performed by these officers, before retiring from office, I left on> record a memorandum, in which I stated* that -
Owing to the pressure of other important questions, I regret I have not had an opportunity.’ before of looking into this matter, but, in my opinion, the success of the postal system of the Commonwealth must largely depend upon the intelligence, the initiative, and the vigour with, which the Deputy Postmasters-General managethe business in their respective States. The nature of the business is such, and is so far removed from the centre of Government in most cases, that I personally do not quite see that their responsibilities can be considered as, lessened since the establishment of the Commonwealth.. We require in such positions men of tact, judgment, and good business ability, and if they act up to the public requirements in the positionsthey hold, I am of the opinion that they cannot be considered to have lesser responsibilities than they had under the State, when’ they had practically at their elbow a responsible Minister to whom they could submit their every action for confirmation.
This, as stated, is my personal view, but as, I am about to leave office, I merely place this on record.
In these circumstances, I hope that the -Government will carefully consider this question, and determine whether it would not be advisable to place the Deputy PostmastersGeneral in ‘the position occupied by other Public Service officials, so that it will be the duty of the Commissioner to> report whether he can obtain an officer, at the salary mentioned, to .fill any vacancy that” occurs. The Public Service Commissioner might have to appoint an officer below the standard which be considered desi r- able, simply because he was called upon to pay a salary below that which he thought justifiable.
– Does the honorable member think that £800 per annum is not a sufficiently high salary for a Deputy Postmaster- General ?
– I think that in some cases it might be impossible to secure a suitable man for the office at that salary. The time is coming when the deputies, being far removedfrom the central administration, will be called upon to discharge even more important duties than they have at present to perform. Each Deputy Postmaster -General controls notonly a very large number of officers, but all matters relating to the construction of telephone and telegraph lines and various postal requirements involving an expenditure of many thousands of pounds, and it should be our effort to secure men of the highest ability for such positions.
– Doesthe honorable member think that the salaries paid in times gone by were sufficient?
– The Deputy Postmaster-General of New South Wales received £920 per annum before Federation, and I admit that in some cases very good ; men were secured for the office. I would remind the honorable member for Barrier that a private company, carrying on operations in his own constituency would think nothing of paying £5,000 or £6,000 per annum for the services of an expert officer.
– But would the honorable member be agreeable to the (Commonwealth paying £5,000 or £6,000 per annum to a Deputy Postmaster-General ?
– I do not think it would be necessary to go to that extent, but we should give the Public Service Commissioner power to recommend to the Governor-General in Council what, in his opinion, is a proper salary to pay, in order to secure an officer of high standing and competency.
– The blundering way in which the Postal Department has been administered seems to show that we have not paid enough. There have been more mistakes in connexion with that Department -than have occurred in any other.
– That is one reason why I hold that, in relation to this office, we are pursuing a false economy that may prove disastrous. If we cannot obtain a suitable officer for less than £1,000 per annum, we must be prepared to pay that salary.
– Is not the honorable member advancing an argument against centralization?
– No. We must have a central authority, and I think it only fair to say that we have not a more honorable and trustworthy officer in the Public Service than is Mr. Scott, the Secretary to the Department.
– He is an able man. Mr. SYDNEY SMITH.- He is an able man, who does his duty fearlessly and conscientiously, and he has a large body of excellent officers associated with him. It has been urged that if the Deputy, PostmasterGeneral in New South Wales received £920 per annum, the difference between his salary and that of the Secretary of the Department would not be sufficiently marked. That fact, however, should not prevent us from granting the former a reasonable salary.
– The Deputy PostmastersGeneral in the other States receive less.
– But their responsibilities are less.
– In some cases, they are further removed from the central administration. Take, for instance, the Deputy Postmaster-General of Western Australia.
– It is true that they are in some cases far removed from the central administration, and that is a reason why we should do our utmost to secure competent men for the position. The condition of affairs which prevailed in the Department in Western Australia in the early days of Federation serves to emphasize my point.
– A big salary does not always carry the best man.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– But the honorable member seems to think that £800 per annum is a small salary.
– It is a good one, but I hold that a salary of £1,000 per annum would not be too much, if it would command the services of a highly competent man to control the work of the Department in New South Wales, or, indeed, in any other State.
– £2,000 might not be too much in certain circumstances. The trouble is that, although we have paid good salaries, we appear in the past to have had some’ duffers receiving them.
– One reason why we passed the Public Service Act was that it was desired to do away with political influence. If the Public Service Commissioner is competent? to deal with the grading of officers in the subordinate ranks of the service, he should surely be intrusted also with the grading of officers in the highest ranks, on whom he must depend to see that the work of the subordinate officers is efficiently performed. This power should be taken out of the hands of Ministers. I do not hesitate to say that I would not accept the position of PostmasterGeneral if I had to make appointments in the Department without the assistance of a Public Service Commissioner. In view of the great distance of many places from the centres of government, and the trouble which he would have in dealing with applications for increases and appointments, the life of a PostmasterGeneral would be most unenviable. No matter how conscientious a Minister might be, he could not properly carry out such duties.
– Social influence is quite as bad as political influence.
– I do not believe in either. I never on my own initiative appointed a single man to any position whileI was in the Post Office Department.
– The honorable gentleman had not the power to do so. He was simply a recording clerk.
– I might have appointed temporary officers had I chosen to do so.
– The honorable gentleman was only a temporary officer himself.
– That may be so, but I feel sure that no PostmasterGeneral desires any such power of appointment. He would be aware that the appointment of any one of his friends would offend twenty other persons.
– The honorablegentleman said the salary of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral should be raised from £800 to £920 a year.
– I say that we should leave the matter to the Public Service Commissioner. Ministers should not deal with such questions.
– The honorable gentleman left the recommendation for the higher salary on record.
– I know I did, and I have no hesitation in saying that, for a competent man in the position, £920 a year is not too much to pay. My strong argument is that such a matter should not be left to this or that Postmaster-General, but to the Public Service Commissioner. That officer should make his recommendation to the Government, and then, if the Government disapproved of the recommendation, Parliament should say whether they were justified in doing so.
-The Public Service Commissioner has already too much say.
– The honorable member assisted to give the power to him.
– I am sorry for it
– I have had a good many years’ experience of the work of the PublicService Commissioner. He was an Under-Secretary of mine in the Department of Mines in New South Wales for two or three years, and I am in a position to say that there is no more efficient, trustworthy, and honorable man in the Public Service of Australia. We were fellow clerks together thirty years ago, and I speak of him now, not as a personal friend, but as a public servant, when I say that he is a trustworthy, conscientious man, and that the Government of the Commonwealth were fortunate in being able to secure his services.
– No one in this House has said a word against him.
– He is one ofour appointments.
– I give the Government of which my right honorable friend was a member every credit for the appointment of the present Public Service Commissioner. I believe they got the best man who could have been selected for the position.. He is a man of great determination of character, and is not afraid to follow his judgment, even against a friend.
– But the honorable gentleman will admit that he is not perfect.
– We are all liable to make mistakes, but I am sure that the Public Service . Commissioner is a man who would be found willing to admit that he has made a mistake when it is pointed out to him, and there is no man more ready to do what he. believes to be justice. The honorable member for Maranoa is of opinion that this officer has already too much power. I do not admit that. The honorable member admits that the Public Service Commissioner has been given certain powers in connexion with all subordinate officers of the Public Service, and I see no reason why he should not have b)een given similar powers in connexion! with Deputy Postmasters-General. I. believe that Parliament intended that he should have those powers, but when the question was raised subsequently the AttorneyGeneral decided differently.
– The question was not raised while the Public Service Bill was being considered.
– I would ask the honorable member- whether at that time he did not understand that every Deputy Postmaster-General was as much under the power of the Public Service Commissioner in these ‘ matters as were the subordinate officers of the service?
– I did.
– I venture to say that nineteen out of every twenty members in this House held the same view. When the question was subsequently raised this power was withdrawn from the Public Service Commissioner, and in that respect justice was not done to the Commonwealth service.
– Why did not old parliamentarians like the honorable gentleman see that the matter was dealt with properly in the Public Service Bill?
– I admit that a mistake was made in not making what we intended more clear, but we should now try to remedy the mistake.
– The present PostmasterGeneral has now settled the matter by fixing the whole of the salaries.
– I hold that the officer who is responsible to Parliament for the work of the Public Service should be satisfied that competent men are placed in charge of the Departments. They should also be paid a salary which will enable the Public Service Commissioner to select for such positions men who will be competent to see thai his classification scheme is properly carried out.
– Why did not the honorable gentleman practise what he is now preaching?
– I did practise it. I proposed a salary of £920, as recommended by the Public Service Commissioner.
– The honorable gentleman greased the fat pig every time.
– The honorable member cannot say that of me. If we want brains and ability we must pay for them.
– We may pay too much for them.
– If we consider our own position we shall find that while we are paid £400 a year as members of Parliament, honorable members, on taking office as Ministers, are given a salary of £2,000 a year.
– Is there no honour attached to the position?
– Of course there is, but there is also extra pay attached to it, because it is admitted that Ministers of the Crown have to assume extra responsibilities. I am aware that the present Postmaster-General has no feeling in this matter.
– It is an easy thing for a Minister when leaving office to leave a recommendation for the payment of a big salary.
– My honorable friend cannot accuse me of that. The matter was raised in this House. I stated my opinion and my determination to have the salary fixed at £920.
– The taunt of the present Postmaster-General is a very unfair one.
– It was no taunt. It is sometimes very much easier to talk about these things than to do them.
– This is what I said : -
The suggestion was then made that the salary attaching to the office (Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney), should be reduced to £Soo per annum. It is perhaps needless lo say that I do not agree with that suggestion. I think that an officer who is qualified to fill such an important position, should, by reason of his ability and experience, be able to command a salary of ^’920 per annum. There is no doubt whatever as to the ability of the present occupant of that office. He has to control a revenue which last year amounted to ^,’941,000, and an expenditure which aggregated ^,’950,000. Further, he has to take charge of the Government Savings Bank’s transactions, and of all Money Order and Postal Note business. He has also to accept a responsibility which he was not previously called upon to bear. In pre-Federation days the PostmasterGeneral shouldered the responsibility of approving of practically all expenditure in connexion with the Department, but at the present time it devolves upon the Deputy Postmaster-General. Last year this officer had to control no less a sum than ^,’11,000,000. He controls 3,865 permanent officers, and 2,859 non-official officers, or a total of 6,724 officers. Obviously, it is necessary that we should have a man of ability to nil that position, and to secure the services of such an officer we must pay him a good salary. We all know what is done by private employers. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company does not hesitate to pay £5,000 or £6,000 to a person to manage its business.
– There is no comparison between the requirements of the two positions. The manager of the Broken Hill mine is an expert of high reputation.
– Yes, but- the officer of whom I am speaking must possess a fair knowledge of post and telegraph matters, and of business generally. There is another question arising out of (he Budget to which I wish to refer. This Parliament has affirmed tlie desirability of paying for public works out of revenue. I think that that is a course which tends to economy, and the Treasurer himself has expressed the view that public buildings should always be paid for out of revenue.
– That is my view of what should, be done, and the practice followed in Western Australia was, as a rule, to pay for buildings out of revenue.
– We have adopted this principle, and have boasted that we are going in for economy. The Treasurer of the day comes down, and points out that all the new buildings and works in connexion with the big Departments of the Post Office and Defence are to be paid for out of revenue, and that there is to be no extravagant expenditure. But, on looking through two reports of the Auditor-General I find that the Treasurer of Queensland has done what amounts to the overriding of the Federal authority by that of a State. In two instances, in one of which ,£34,760 was involved, and in the other £23,183, the Treasurer of Queensland has taken out of Queensland loan funds the amount deducted by the Commonwealth, and paid it into the Queensland revenue. The Auditor- Genera I in his report refers to this matter in the following terms: -
The following amounts charged by the Commonwealth from rst July, 1901, to 31st May, 1003, to revenue fund on account of new works “ and buildings were charged by the State to the
State loan fund. Votes and consolidated revenue fund credited with the total amount -
The following amounts charged by the Commonwealth from 1st June, 1903, to 31st May, 1904, to revenue fund on account of new works and buildings were charged by the State to the State loan fund. Votes and consolidated revenue fund credited with total amount -
The Premier of Queensland wrote to our Government protesting against the expenditure in connexion with the erection of post-offices at Cairns and Wollongabba, but we did not take notice of his request, because we considered that the buildings were required in the public interest, and we were prepared to take responsibility for the expenditure. But our economy will come to nought if a State Treasurer can, by taking from loan funds the amount we expend, and paying it into his consolidated revenue account, practically meet the expenditure out of loan money. Whilst we are practising economy and endeavouring to meet current expenditure out of revenue, it is not fair that a State Government should adopt this means of adding to the public loan burden. We should have some controlling power in the matter, and a uniform system should be adopted in connexion with our public accounts. The sooner some definite arrangement is made the better it will be for the Commonwealth and for the States.
– Does the honorable member argue that the fact of our confining our expenditure to the amount available out of revenue tends to economy?
– Yes. It is very easy to apply loan funds to the construction of all kinds of works, whereas, if the money has to be found out of ordinary revenue, greater care is as a rule exercised in expending it.
– Loan expenditure leads to waste, and to too lavish an outlay.
– Yes; but it would be impossible to carry out all works with the money available from revenue. At the same time, I believe that the policy which has been adopted by the Common-. wealth is a good one, and that we should strongly discountenance the course adopted by the Queensland Government.
– Does the honorable., member mean to say that the Queensland Government have recouped their revenue out of loans to an amount corresponding with that which has been devoted to the construction of public works in that State by the Commonwealth?
– That has been done in the two cases to which I have referred.
– That is absolutely dishonest.
– I have been unableto ascertain whether a similar course is being followed during the current year ; but I hope not. I obtained my information with regard to the expenditure last year fromtheAuditor-General’s report. It is unfair to us that the States Governments should thus increase their loan liability whilst we are endeavouring to study their interests by practising rigid economy.
– Are all the States doing as the honorable member describes?
– No; the only cases of which I know have occurred in Queensland. The Government of that State may consider that they are doing a very ingenious thing; but I do not think that they are acting fairly towards the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has had a good deal to say with regard to the Tariff. He seems to think that the duties levied by us should be regulated in such a way as to suit the particular needs of the Victorian manufacturers. Am agitation has been entered upon to induce the Tariff Commission to report as tothe effect of the Tariff upon certain industries in Victoria before they pursue their inquiries in other States, but I contend that that would be an utterly unjustifiable course to take.
– What is desired is that one industry shall be made the subject of inquiry in every State, and that a report shall be presented with regard to it before other matters are inquired into.
– But surely it must be recognised that one item in the Tariff may affect a number of industries. Take, for instance, the sugar duty. We know that that has a considerable influence upon a large number of enterprises.
– The Commission might inquire into a group of inter-related items.
– The duties should be considered from the” stand-point of those engaged in every industry that is likely to be affected by them. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports represents that the industries of Victoria are in a very distressful condition, but, according to a report which has been laid upon the table of this House, the position of affairs is not so unsatisfactory as has been represented. The report reads as follows: -
In order to show in a concise form the development of the manufacturing industries of the States, and the effect of the Federal Tariff on such development, the subjoined summary of the values of transfers to other States of Australian goods is given. The figures show the total trade from ‘each State, after carefully eliminating articles of agricultural produce, rawmaterial, and coin and bullion : -
That does not bear out the statements put forward by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. It has actually been suggested that, in the interests of local implement makers, we should prohibit the importation of harvesters.
– I wish that we could.
– The honorable member will give no consideration to the other industries of the country. He was not justified in making the statement which he did. Does he expect the Treasurer to support his claim that drastic alterations should be made in the Tariff? Some time ago the right honorable gentleman wished to know where was our mandate for making any such alteration?
– When was that?
– During the current year. The right honorable gentleman said -
Where is our mandate from our constituents to alter the Tariff? I am in favour of the existing Tariff being givena fair trial. It was arrived at after much labour and controversy, and I recognise that it would be unwise to disturb it, and that to do so at the present time would be detrimental to the interests of Australia and to trade all round. The verdict of Australia will, at the coming elections, be in accordance withthe above decision. *
The Prime Minister, it will be recollected, made a similar statement. Yet, despite these facts, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is now attempting to force the Government to effect drastic alterations” in the Tariff.
– We have appointed a Tariff Commission since then.
– The Treasurer adopts a very peculiar method of reasoning in regard to the operation of the Tariff. In his Budget speech he said -
We have often heard that Queensland has lost an immense sum of money through the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff, but the people of Queensland have in their pockets the money which is said to have been lost. On the other hand, we are told that New South Wales has gained considerably, but the people of that State have had to make up the excess which the Treasury has received over the revenue of 1900. The Treasurer of New South Wales will have gained, up to the 30th June, 1906 - the end of the financial year- £5,941,408.
In one case, the right honorable gentleman argues that, because the taxpayers of New South Wales have contributed to the Treasury £5,941,000 in excess of what they would have contributed under the old State Tariff, they have gained to that extent, and. in the other, he claims that the people of Queensland, who have been taxed to the extent of £2,100,000 less than they were previously, have also gained. The Treasurer has declared that the cost of Federation represents only is. 5½d. per head of the population. I venture to say that he will experience some difficulty in persuading the people of New South Wales of the accuracy of his statement, in view of the increased taxation which has been imposed upon them.
– What have the Government of that State done with the additional revenue which has been returned to them ?
– In many instances, I regret to say, that they have spent it in a way that I do not approve. I have no desire whatever to prolong this debate, but I felt that it was my duty to criticise certain portions of the financial statement. I regret exceedingly that, in regard to some matters, the Treasurer was not more definite.
– Definiteness is the honorable member’s strong point.
– We look to my honorable friends in the Ministerial corner to give us a definite lead in connexion with these proposals, but I am afraid we shall look in vain. Reference has been made in the course of the debate to the administration of my honorable and learned friend the member for Corinella while he was Minister of Defence. It is only due to him to say that during the time he was in office he put in as much work for the improvement of the defences of Australia as all his predecessors had done.
– He was the best Minister of Defence we have had.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. Those who listened to or have read the honorable member’s speech will admit that he has given a great deal of thought to a problem which we must all admit to be an exceedingly difficult one to solve. For many years past our defences have been in an unsatisfactory condition. I believe that the time will come, and that at no distant date, when we shall be called upon to increase out defence expenditure very largely. When that time arrives I hope that such advice will be tendered to us as will enable us to expend our efforts in the right direction, and so to lay out our money as to insure the best possible result. In the past our expenditure has not been so usefully directed as it ought to have been. I trust that the present Government will give their earnest attention to the problem which, complicated as it is, must be solved, and that they will bring forward a satisfactory defence scheme for our consideration.
– Does the honorable member think that we have had value for our money in the past?
– I have no hesitation in saying that we have not. I have myself criticised severely the reduction of expenditure on equipment and ammunition.
– Does the honorable member think that we are going to. get value for our money in the future?
– I hope so. There can be no question that the British Government has done a great deal for us, and is still doing much. I am afraid that had it not been for the protection of the grand old flag we should1 have been in a very sad position. . The recent war in the East has shown us the necessity for immediate and close attention to all questions connected with our defences. We are living in a fool’s paradise.
The matter must be taken up seriously and efficiently by the military authorities and by the Government. When the Estimates come forward for discussion in detail I intend to take some action in connexion with the military and naval expenditure, and I trust that other honorable members will be prepared to criticise it thoroughly. I regret that I have taken up so much time, but I hope that I have said nothing that is offensive to any honorable member. Our object should be so to conduct our debates that, although we may hit hard in the Chamber, we disturb no friendships outside. Personally, whenever in the heat of debate I have let fall any remark which appeared to be of an unfriendly nature, I have always ,’been more sorry for iti than the honorable member whose feelings it hurt could have been. I felt it to be my duty to make these observations in connexion with the Budget in order to make “known what I believe to be the opinions of those whom I represent.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat gave us an explanation of the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department while he had the honour of being at the head of it. I think every honorable member representing a country constituency throughout Australia can cordially indorse what he said, because if ever there was a Postmaster-General who did his utmost to benefit those people in the country districts who live at a great distance from the centres of civilization, the honorable member for Macquarie is that man. . He did all he could for them at the smallest possible expense, and every one must feel satisfied that he succeeded in his efforts, and I sincerely trust that his successor will follow, at any rate in this respect, in the footsteps of his predecessors, and look after the interests of country people, more particularly in connexion with the question of telephone communication. I agree entirely with everything which has been said by honorable members in regard to the helping of rifle clubs. If there is one thing more than another that we should encourage as far as possible, it is rifle shooting. We should make as many of our citizens as possible expert rifle shots. I am very sorry indeed to see that the vote for this purpose has been cut down. I have always endeavoured to support their interests here. I sincerely trust that all honorable members who have followed recent doings in warfare will encourage the establishment of these clubs. The principal question on which I rose to speak is one which affects me personally as a member of perhaps the most important Royal Commission which has ever been appointed in Australia. I take this step because of an article in the Age of this morning. I am sorry that the Prime Minister is not present, because I think it is a matter to which we ought to direct his very serious attention, in the interests of not only the Commission itself, but the ‘ country generally.
– Some of us have not seen the article. What is it?
– I intend to read a few extracts, so as to enable such honorable members to understand the references I intend to make.
– My view is that it is a very serious matter for a member of the Commission to raise such a question here.
– That is a matter for me to consider. At any rate, I think it is of such serious importance that I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the article, in the hope that he will see that the Tariff Commission is protected against attack in this way. The passages to which I wish to draw attention I will now quote -
In their impatience with the dilatory delays of the Tariff Commission, the Protectionist Association and the Chamber of Manufactures simply speak the sense of the industrial community. The proceedings of that Commission are really an outrage on the interests which the Commission was designed to serve. . . . It. is a common expression now in the lobbies of Parliament House that there will be no attempt at Tariff revision in this Parliament, and that the Tariff Commissioners are astutely marking time with that very intention.
– Hear, hear.
– It shows the feeling amongst some honorable members in connexion with the Tariff .Commission when one of them can say “Hear, hear,” to a grave accusation of that character against its members. The honorable member for Wide Bay interjected that this is a serious matter for a member of the Commission to bring forward here. Surely I have a right to resent accusations of this sort, especially when I know them to be absolutely untrue ?
– My reason for the interjection was that the honorable and learned member held a commission from the Crown, and that nobody could touch him.
– I know that, but the further accusation I am about to read is one from which the Commission should be protected by the Government, because it is a very serious one indeed -
New fiscal questions will arise doubtless in all the States- questions affecting, the encouragement of sugar and cotton, hemp, flax, fibre, essences, and the like. But they are not questions which need a Tariff Commission for their settlement.
We all agree with that.
And it is almost literally true to say that in Victoria alone are there any extensive injuries to industry from the Tariff. And yet the Chairman of the Tariff Commission would have us believe that there can be no recommendations in relief of the ruined industries of this State until there has been an exhaustive inquiry into all kinds of irrelevant matters in all the other States. It is this bad faith on the part of the Commission towards Victoria which excites the indignation of those who are so sorely suffering.
The members of the Commission as a body are accused of bad faith to Victoria. Much as I have always disagreed with the policy of Victoria, much as I have believed that it has been a mistaken one in the interests of the people, still I have always been prepared, as I still am, to give not only Victoria, but every other State, full, fair and honest consideration in this inquiry. I, as a Commissioner, object to be accused of acting in bad faith to Victoria or any other part of the Commonwealth. When we are accused of acting in this way, I, as a Commissioner, call upon the Prime Minister to find out from its Chairman the circumstances under which the Commission has been conducted. In this article, we are accused of neglecting to inquire into the industries of Victoria, and it is pointed out that irrelevant evidence has been taken in other States. I want the Prime Minister to inquire from the Chairman what were the circumstances under which the Commission left MelBourne in the first instance. The members of the Commission removed, first, from Melbourne to Sydney ; secondly, from Sydney to Brisbane; then from Melbourne to Tasmania; and now some of them are on their way to Western Australia, whence it is proposed that they should go to South Australia, and next to Melbourne. We all know that it was in Melbourne where the whole trouble was supposed to exist. It was, I take it, the real or supposed stagnation of the metal and machinery business which caused the Commission to be appointed. Yet this industry, which was supposed to be the one, above all others, which needed inquiring into, has never been touched by the Commission at all. In justice to myself arid other members of the Commission, I wish the Prime Minister to ascertain from the Chairman the views which were expressed by its members in connexion with the removal, of the scene of inquiry, in the first instance, from Melbourne. I do not wish to sit on the Commission and to be accused of bad faith to Victoria, or any other State. When such accusations, as are contained in this article, are made against the members of the Commission, it is the duty of the Prime Minister, I take it, in protection of its members, to take steps to find out the truth. From what is pointed out in thisarticle, one would think that_ no part of the Commonwealth except Victoria was entitled to consideration ; for it is pointed out that in no other part of the Commonwealth have industries been wrecked. But, I takeit, the people outside of Melbourne and” Sydney are entitled to consideration in thisinquiry. Surely we are not entitled to’ consider only the industries in our big cities? Surely we ought to give the pioneers of the country - the men who are engaged in mining, agricultural, pastoral,, and other pursuits - an opportunity of going before the Commission, and giving evidence in support of or rebuttal of the casewhich has been made out for certain industries? I think that every opportunity ought to be afforded to these personsto give what evidence they think fit. One case,- which was brought beforethe Tariff Commission, is illustrative of others. This is a case in which it is stated that the American harvester combine, having copied an Australian, invention, is now engaged in the task of strangling the business of local producers by means of a vast capital, and unlimited powers of production. In dealing, with this matter, I am not revealing anything of a confidential character. We knowthat an application was made to the Chairman of the Tariff Commission to give thefarmers of Victoria an opportunity during the Show Week of giving evidence. It ismost important that all people concerned, whether as manufacturers or consumers, should have a full opportunity to state their case to the Tariff Commission. I regret having to call attention to the newspaper article, but I felt that I must doso, in justice to the members of the Commission, in order to protect them from vileslanders of this sort. It is absolutely untrue that the Tariff Commission is astutely marking time in connexion with the taking of evidence with the object of preventing the presentation of a report during the life of this Parliament. Every member of the Tariff Commission has sacrificed his time and done his utmost to expedite the business. But the matters to be dealt with :are of great moment, and the results of the , report of the Commission will be of a far-
Teaching character. It is our duty, therefore, to inquire into all the facts, and probe them to the very bottom, in order to ascertain the absolute truth. Such a work necessarily means the occupation of a vast amount of time, and it is ‘absolutely impossible with any fairness to hurry the inquiry. I again ask the Prime Minister, in justice to the Commission, to have a report from the chairman showing the circumstances under which the Commission left Melbourne. I should also like it to be shown that there is no evidence of any bad faith on the part of the Commission in connexion with Victoria. Such a report as I have suggested is necessary to disprove the allegation in the newspaper article - to disprove, further, the statement that scandalous delays have taken place in connexion with the proceedings of the Commission. I trust that the Prime Minister will be able to regard this matter from the same point of view that I, myself, do. A Royal Commission of this character is entitled to protection from outrageous statements, such as I have quoted. The newspaper article, referring to matters outside the Tariff Commission, goes on to say that, so far as the effects of the Tariff are concerned, it is- the Victorian industries on which it has worked havoc. I have here a return prepared at the instance of the late Treasurer, the honorable and learned mem”ber for Balaclava.
– Havoc has been worked in the jam factories in Queensland-
– The increased produc tion in Victoria has worked havoc, so far as the revenues of Queensland and Tasmania are concerned. The report to which I refer, shows the effects of the uniform Tariff on trade and manufactures, and the facts have been compiled by the collectors of Customs in the various States. The present Minister of Trade and Customs declared on the floor of the House that this -document was of such importance that it ought to be printed and circulated. I sincerely trust that the report will be printed and so circulated that every person in the
Commonwealth may be able to realize that the Victorian manufacturers, and the people of that State generally, have no reason to be dissatisfied with Federation - that, on the contrary, beyond every State on the continent, Victoria has reason to be satisfied, from the point of view of increase of trade and employment
– Up to the present there has been no protection afforded in Victoria under Federation.
– I know that the Commonwealth Tariff is low, compared with the high protectionist Tariff operating in Victoria in years gone by. Although Victorian industries may have been established, and may have been successful under the old State Tariff, no one engaged in manufacture in Victoria! now has reason to be dissatisfied with the results of the Federal Tariff.
– Is that not rather pre- judging the result of the Tariff Commission’s inquiry?
– I do not think that what I am now saying has anything to do with the Tariff Commission.
– What . return is it to which the honorable member is referring?
– It is a return which was laid on the table at the instance of the honorable member for Kooyong, by the present Minister of Customs, although it had been compiled at the request of the late Treasurer, the right honorable member for ‘Balaclava. I should be pleased if the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would peruse the report, because I am sure he would thereby receive an “ eye-opener “ as regards the effect of the Commonwealth Tariff on Victorian industries. Too great publicity cannot bet given to this document, and I trust that, in accord! with the promise of the present Minister of Trade and Customs, it will be printed and circulated, so that the public generally may be informed as to the results of the uniform Tariff.
– The sooner we get the report of the Tariff Commission, the sooner we shall have the information in proper form.
– I do not know that it is the duty of the Tariff Commission to compile Inter-State returns of this character. So far as I understand, I, as a member of the Tariff Commission, am commissioned to inquire into the effect of the Tariff on Australian industries generally; and I think I am now perfectly justified in referring to a return laid on the table of the House. In connexion with the transfer of Australian goods between State and State, I desire to draw attention to a comparison between the year 1899, prior to the establishment of Federation’ and the years 1903 and 1904. My object is to show the difference between, the export- of Australian-made goods from Victoria to the other States in the year prior to Federation, and the export in the two years which I have mentioned.
– But it will be necessary for the honorable and learned member to show how much of her own trade Victoria lias lost.
– I wish to show that, as the outcome of the uniform Tariff and Inter-State free-trade, the people of Victoria have benefited so largely that, instead of being the first to complain of the effects of the Tariff they should really” be the last. Local manufacturers ought to be amply satisfied with the results shown in the return to which I refer, for it shows that Victoria has established a great trade. with the other States. I do not wish to refer to the return to any greater extent than is necessary to give point to my argument in opposition to the statement made by the Ace as to the effect of the Tariff on Victorian industries. The first item that I have selected from this return, which shows the exports of Australian-made goods from Victoria to the other States, is that of “Apparel and articles n.e.i.” The value of these articles exported from Victoria to the other States in 1899 was £119,929; but in 1903 - two years after Federation - it was £336,776, while in 1904, the export of these goods from Victoria to other States had increased in value to £382,383. These figures show that the establishment of Federation has resulted in Victoria securing an increased trade with the other States, so far as these articles are concerned.
– In the return to which the honorable and learned member refers, are the goods of local manufacture distinguished from those of foreign?
– Yes; the return makes a distinction between exports of local goods and of oversea imports. One or two of the items relating to the export of oversea imports .show that Melbourne - which in this matter represents Victoria - has become a larger distributing centre for Australia than she was prior to the establishment of Federation. I am not in a position to say whether this remark will apply generally to the articles enumerated; but it will be open to honorable members to examine the return for themselves. I am dealing with the exports of Australian-made goods from Victoria to the other States. I come now to the item, “Arms and cartridges,” the value of the exports of which from Victoria to other States in 1903 was £29,306 in excess of that for 1899, while the exports for 1904 show an increase of £19,865 over those for 1903.
– What proportion of those goods was supplied to the order of the Government ?
– I cannot say. To my mind it is immaterial whether the goods were sent out to the” order of the Government or of private individuals.
– The point is that, as the industry is practically a national one, the Government have sought to help it by giving orders for supplies for other State’s. They would have given those orders quite irrespective of the Tariff.
– I am quite willing to give the honorable member the benefit of the doubt. There are many other articles in support of my contention. Take, for instance, the boot and shoe industry, of which we have heard very frequently in this House.
– No one has ever mentioned the boot and shoe industry as a strangled one.
– I should like to know how we are to determine whether or not am industry has been strangled until we have the evidence before us. In this matter are we to accept the statements of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, or even those of the Age newspaper? I think not. We cannot be expected to accept the statements of representatives of fiscal associations, or of newspapers supporting a particular policy.
– The honorable and learned* member has pronounced judgment, or very nearly so, to-day, on the results of the Tariff.
– I have expressed no judgment in the matter.
– The honorable and’ learned member’s speech will read very like it.
– I have simply requested the Prime Minister to make inquiries as to the accusations made against the Tariff Commission. When the Commission is attacked as it has been by the article in this morning’s issue of the Age, it is surely my duty to see that steps are taken to defend it. It is outrageous that charges which, in my opinion, are absolutely without foundation, should be made against it. I have here the figures relating to the exportation of Australian-made blankets from Victoria to the other States of the Commonwealth. The value of these exports in 1903 was £26,370 in excess of those for 1899.
– What was the decrease in tweeds ?
– So far I have merely selected indiscriminately certain items that support my contention, but if the Committee desire it I shall be prepared to read the whole return, although it is a very extensive one. I am sure that honorable members will agree that such articles as apparel, boots, shoes, and blankets relate to very important industries in Victoria.
– Blankets are the only line of woollen goods the output of which has increased under the Commonwealth Tariff.
– The honorable member may be correct, and I shall be glad if he is able to prove from these tables that he is. Honorable members opposite, however, will find it difficult to disprove the figures which appear in ‘the “returns from which I have quoted.
– There is no necessity to dispute them.
– The honorable and learned member is anticipating his decision on the operation of the Tariff.
– I am not referring to the Tariff Commission in any shape or form. I am referring to returns supplied by the Customs Department, at the instance of the late Treasurer. The honorable and learned gentleman cannot show me how they affect the decision of the Tariff Commission.
– The honorable and learned member is pronouncing judgment now.
– I am not anticipating the judgment of the Tariff Commission in any way. I am referring to these returns to show that certain Victorian industries have not been injured as the result of the operation of the present Tariff.
– The honorable and learned member is making use of his knowledge as a member of the Tariff Commission, to prejudice the case.
– The honorable member is making an absolutely untrue accusation against me.
– The honorable and learned member must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw the statement, but I say that the . accusation is absolutely incorrect, and I suppose that is as far as I shall be allowed to go. It is very un’fair of the honorable member to say that I-am making use of mv knowledge as a member of the Tariff Commission in making these statements.
– “To prejudice the case,” is what I said.
– I am not endeavouring to prejudice the case before the Tariff Commission. I have not expressed any judgment on it. I am directing the attention of the Committee to “the results of the operation of the Tariff in connexion with the exportation of goods manufactured in Victoria to other States of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable and learned member is making an ex parte statement.
– I am making no ex parte statement. I am referring members of the Committee to a compilation of figures prepared at the instance of the late Treasurer, and signed by the Collectors of Customs of the various States.
– I do not refer to the figures, but to the deductions which the honorable and learned member has made.
– I have made no deductions. I have merely quoted figures dealing with the exports of Victorian manufactures to the various States. I can appeal to the Committee to say that I have not gone beyond that in what I have said in connexion with this matter.
– But, on the basis of those figures, the honorable and learned member has said that Victorian industries are infinitely prosperous. *
– I never used that expression.
– Well, exceedingly prosperous, or very prosperous.
– I deny that I have used any such expression. What I have said is that, judging by these returns, Victorian manufacturers have no ‘reason to be dissatisfied with the results of the application of a uniform Tariff to Australia.
– That is the same thing in other words.
– The honorable member” may say so if he pleases, but I object to his putting into my mouth words which I did not use. I take another industry, that o£. the manufacture of hats and caps. The increase in the value of the exports of this industry in 1903 as compared with 1899 amounts to £31,667, and in 1904 the increase on the figures for 1903 is £4,260. In hats and caps other than felt, I find that the increase in 1903 as compared with the figures for 1899 is £30,541 ; and the increase in 1904 over 1903 is £3,781. These figures show that this industry in Victoria has not been ruined, or is not in a state of stagnation, as the result of the operation of the uniform Tariff.
– They prove nothing to the contrary.
– The figures prove that the exports of Victorian manufactures have very largely increased.
– They do not prove that the imports into Victoria have not also increased.
– I have made no reference to that aspect of the question. When I sit down the honorable member for Melbourne Ports can have the use of these tables, which are the property of honorable members, and he can make what reference he pleases to the figures dealing with oversea imports into Victoria, if he thinks that any such references will affect the position I have been endeavouring to put to the Committee. I take another industry, under the heading of “ Implements, machinery, &c,” and I find that the increase in 1903 as compared with the figures for 1899 was £76,207, and the figures for 1904 were ,£83,660’. Those figures clearly show that Victorian manufacturers engaged in this particular industry have made good use - and I commend them for doing so - of the opportunities given them under Federation to get into the markets of other States of the .Commonwealth.
– What does this go to show ?
– That since the establishment of Federation the exports of Victorian manufactures into the other States Of the Commonwealth have very largely increased.
– I think the honorable and1 learned member should keep an open mind on the question.
– I have an open mind’ on the question, but it is surely in theinterests of everybody that the publicshould know the actual figures which bear upon the matter. I desire that these figuresshall be put before the people of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable and learned’ member desires that the verdict shall be given before .all the evidence has been heard.
– I desire nothing of thesort.
– We want a verdict.
– Honorable members will, so far as I am concerned, get a verdict as quickly as it can be givento them. I do not propose to discloseany proceedings of the Tariff Commission,, but I can assure honorable members that the members of the Commission desire tosubmit their report as quickly as possible, consistently with a proper inquiry into the important matters submitted to them. The Attorney-General asks me what I intend to prove by these references. I can make a further reference which will show that, so far as the industries to which I refer are concerned, they are not in the condition in which the newspaper article to which I am referring would have people believe. The present is a very opportune time for the appearance of such an article, when we know that the city of Melbourne is full of country people. This article should not be put before them without any contradiction, and it is only right that the figures which I am quoting should be made known, that people may have an opportunity of understanding what is the real state of affairs.
– That article would be read throughout Victoria, whether the country people were gathered together in Melbourne or not.
– Unfortunately it would, and I think it is not in the interests of the Commonwealth that it should appear without contradiction. In 1903, as compared with 1899, there was an increase of £76,207 in the value of agricultural implements and machinery exported from Victoria to other States, whilst in 1904 the increase amounted to .£83,666. Piece-goods and flannels also showed an increase of £42,222 in 1903, and £27,185 in 1904. I wish to direct attention to further statistics which have been compiled by the Government -Statist of Victoria, and published in the Age. These figures summarize the manufacturing returns of the State for 1904. They show that the number of factories in Victoria, in that year was 4,208, an. increase of fifty-seven over the previous year. The number of hands employed was 50,555 males, an increase of 1,120; and 25,733 females, an increase of 1,938. The wages paid to these operatives amounted 4o £4,794,365, an increase over the previous year of £220,570. The value of the machinery, plant, land, and buildings used or occupied for manufacturing purposes was £13,668,185, as against £12,978,841 in the previous year. It is pointed out that comparisons with years prior to 1903 cannot be made on account of the new classification adopted by the statistician. I have also a statement showing the number of hands employed, and the wages paid in a number of the principal manufacturing industries during 1903 and 1904, to which I desire to direct special attention. In the soap and candle industry, to which special reference has been made, 485 hands were employed in 1903, and 492 in 1904, or an increase of seven bands. The cement industry showed an increase from 115 to 154 hands. The glass and asbestos industry is one of the only five mentioned in a long list which show a decrease, the number of hands employed in 1903 being 683, and in 1904, 67. The glass-bevelling industry shows an increase from 164 to 171 hands. I propose to mention only a few of the principal industries. The agricultural implement industry shows an increase in the number of hands employed from 1,114 to 1,496, an addition of 382. The engineering, boiler-making, and iron works employed 4,614 hands in 1903, and 4,676 hands in 1904. The! number of men employed in the sheet-iron and tin industry increased from 788 to 877. The confectionery industry showed an increase from 1,276 to 1,338; the woollen mills, an increase from 1,138 to 1,231 ; the hat and cap industry, an increase from’ 1,129 to 1,202 and the boot and shoe industry, an increase from 5,267 to 5,655. In the whole of this list, only five industries, namely, brush and broom, cabinet-making, including billiard tables, jams, pickles and sauce, wire, and glass and asbestos show a decrease. The most striking increase is exhibited by the agricultural implement industry, in which there was an increase of 382 in the number of hands employed, and of £51,438 in the wages paid. Honorable members must draw their own conclusions from these figures, which I take this opportunity of placing before them and the country, iri order that some conception may be formed of the condition of Victorian industries. There is one other matter to which I desire to refer, namely, the question of increasing our population. No doubt, one of the greatest necessities of Australia at the present time is population. Want of population is a very serious matter in many ways, more particularly in connexion with our necessities for defence. We occupy a country of great extent, having a coast-line extending over 8,000 miles, whilst our population amounts to only 4,000,000. Judging from recent developments in connexion with the various nations of the world, it is clear that the first thing we should do is to look to the defence of the great heritage upon which we have entered. It will be of no use for us to make laws for the establishment of a White Australia and other purposes if we are not in a position to retain this land for ourselves, and to see that such laws are properly enforced). In this connexion, we should all hail with delight the introduction amongst us of the proper class of settlers from the mother country, to which we owe the position we occupy at the present time, and to which we are indebted for our safety from attack. Unfortunately, however, our Immigration Restriction Act has been administered in such a way that a serious stigma now attaches to the Commonwealth, so far as the people of Great Britain are concerned. Recently, a case arose in connexion with a groom who came out here in charge of some horses, arid who was informed by the shinning company that he could not land. He was, however, provided with a certificate from the Acting Agent-General of New South Wales, Mr. Coghlan. Upon this matter being made public in the newspapers, the deputy-leader of the Opposition asked the Prime ‘Minister whether the facts were as reported in the press. In reply, the Prime Minister said -
The report is likely to be correct, because one of the first communications which I received upon entering upon the administration of the Department of External Affairs last month was a letter from the Acting Agent-General for New South Wales, asking for authority to issue that permit. He was at once informed, by my direction, that no certificate of the kind was necessary.
Later on, the honorable and learned member for Wannon asked the honorable and learned gentleman -
Whether he is correctly reported by the press to have said upon Friday last that Britishers coming to Australia under contract do not require exemption certificates.
In reply, the Prime Minister said -
I did not say that they do not require exemption certificates.
It will thus be seen that the Prime Minister denied the statement which he had previously made in answer to a question put by the deputy-leader of the Opposition. The honorable and learned member for Wannon then interjected -
The honorable and learned gentleman is reported to have made that statement.
In reply, the Prime Minister said -
What I was alluding to was this : that exemption certificates are not generally used in connexion with British subjects.
– That is to say, exemption certificates are not used in connexion with the contract provision at all, and when the Agents-General were asked to issue those certificates, they were informed that it was not intended they should be issued in the case of British subjects.
Mi. FULLER. - In the first instance the Prime Minister affirmed that exemption certificates were not necessary, then he denied that he had made the statement, and finally he. admitted that they were necessary but were not generally used.
– Only by a very technical legal interpretation can it be urged that the groom to whom the honorable member has referred was under contract to perform manual labour in Australia.
– I would point out that this embargo is not necessary.
– It is the exemption certificates which are not necessary.
– Those certificates constitute an unnecessary embargo, and consequently should be at once dispensed with. We should extend to persons coming from the old country the fullest opportunity to become part of our population. I am glad to notice that the leader of the Labour Party has definitely declared himself in favour of amending the contract provision in the Immigration Restriction
Act. I also learn by this morning’s newspapers that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has made the following statement in regard to that provision : -
I have no personal objection to an amending. Act confining the operation of the provision to instances where it is intended to meet the cases of persons brought here during a strike to takethe places of other workers. In some instancesthe Department has administered the Act foolishly and against the intention of the framers of themeasure.
I think that the people of Australia almost to a man would hail with delight the removal of the restriction to which I refer. It is indeed a good sign that the leader of the Labour Party and one of his chief lieutenants are in favour of amending that restrictive section of the Act so as to meet similar cases to that which I have cited. It is only fair that we should extend to the people of Great Britain from whom we have sprung, every opportunity to enjoy the freest intercourse with us. I am surethat none of us desire that in times of industrial disputes, men shall be permitted to land here under contract, and to accept less wages than those which are paid in the Commonwealth.
– Are not strikes illegal ?
– They are supposed to> he illegal, but we know that they take place. Everybody will welcome the amendment of the Immigration Restriction Actin the direction that I have indicated, so* that workmen from Great Britain and other parts of the Empire may be allowed to enter Australia with freedom. Now that the honorable member for Bland, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney have spoken in regard to this matter, it seems to me that the Prime Minister - who is dependent on their support for his position on the Treasury bench - should” take action.
– Do not put it inthat way.
– I will put it in that way. In view of the Treasurer’s utterances regarding caucus rule and the way inwhich - as a member of a previous Administration - he had to submit to the dictation of the Labour Party, I am surprised*that he should have joined a Government which owes its very existence to the support of the men whom he so strongly denounced. I should have imagined that both he and the Prime Minister - in view- of their statements, both here and elsewhere - would have been the last to accept office under such conditions. But now that the honorable member for Bland and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney have given the Prime Minister permission to amend the Immigration Restriction Act in the direction indicated, I hope that he will seize the opportunity to remove a stigma from our statute-book.
– I shall not detain the Committee very long, and but for the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, I should not have spoken at all. However, seeing that he has thought it wise to enter on a defence of the Tariff Commission, I feel impelled to say a few words.
– The way in which the Commission has been attacked is disgraceful.
– It seems to me that the honorable and learned member has made themistake of showing plainly - although the inquiry is incomplete - that he has arrived at the conclusion that Victorian industries are not suffering in any way. Inthisconnexionhehascitedsuchindus- tries as the manufacture of boots and shoes, arms and cartridges, apparel, blankets and woollens, and hats and caps. It is a very remarkable circumstance that his selection was limited to the very industries which enjoy a reasonable measure of protection. When the request was made that a Commission should be appointed to investigate the working of the Tariff, it was never intended that the inquiry should extend to the whole of the items which it contains.
– The honorable member read the terms of the Commission?
– I say that when the Commission was asked for, it was never contemplated that it should investigate the operation of the Tariff in regard to the whole of the items which it contains. The honorable, and learned member will recollect - he can see it in Hansard - that, time and again, I urged that if the Commission inquired into the effect of the Tariff on the whole of the items which it embraces, years would elapse before we could hope to obtain a complete report. I pointed out that the Tucker Commission and the Mirams Commission each occupied three or four years in dealing with the Victorian Tariff.
– Did the honorable memberobject to the terms of this Commission when issued?
– Most decidedly I did, and I urged on the Treasurer and the Minister of Defence, who were sitting at the table when I was speaking, that if Parliament had to wait for a report until the whole Tariff had been inquired into, disaster must result to several industries. We knew that, while from our point of view even apparel and slops were not sufficiently protected,they were better protected than the industries affected by the 121/2 per cent, duty on machinery and manufactures of metals, and it was regarding the effect of the Tariff on the trades which, we knew were in a bad way, and likely to be strangled, that we wished inquiries to be made. While I admit that the Inter State trade of Victoria has grown, it is a remarkable thing that last year the value of boots and shoes imported into the Commonwealth was £446,000, and the value of hats so imported £338, 000. Yet the honorable member for Denison said last night that the importations had practically ceased, as the result of the Tariff. If that be so, I would like to know what he would call an increase.The Tariff Commission has been blamed, not for the work which it is doing, but because it has not taken into consideration first the industries which are suffering most, and reported on them before dealing with matters of less urgency. It was appointed for that purpose. A general inquiry was not asked for, nor was the Commission appointed to make such an inquiry.
– The honorable member should read the terms of the Commission.
– I had nothing to do with the framing of the terms of the instrument, though I had a great deal to do with the appointment of the Commission.
– Must not the Commissioners act on the terms of the Commission ?
– They should have been guided by the views expressed in the debates in this House.
– By the protectionists ?
– It was urged, first by me, and then by the honorable and learned member for Indi, that a number of industries - notably those connected with the iron trade, several branches of the woollen trade, and the distilling industry - were suffering acutely as the result of the Tariff. We mentioned a dozen industries which were being strangled, and in’ regard to which we wished the Reid Government tohaveaninvestigationmade.
– The effect of the Tariff on the distilling industry, has been inquired into.
– But the effect of the Tariff on the iron industry - which is infinitely more important, since it employs men rather than women, and is capable of affording work to thousands more than are now employed - has hardly been touched.
– I object to it being said against me that I, as a member of the Commission, have acted in bad faith in respect to these trades; but that is what “is said in the Age.
– I am not responsible for ‘ the statement to which the honorable and learned member refers ; but there is a strong feeling among the artisans and people of Victoria that they are not being fairly dealt with.
– I am not responsible for that. I have specially asked the Prime Minister to get a report from the Chairman.
– Men connected with the engineering and iron trades are now out in the streets looking for work. Victoria was essentially the manufacturing State of the union, and had most to lose by the reduction of duties.
– Things are very bad all over Australia.
– They will continue to be bad until we have something like adequate protection for our industries, and put an end to these enormous importations.
– What we require is stable government.
– Honorable members speak of people leaving the country; but the best way to attract population is to enable our people to manufacture the millions of pounds’ worth of goods which ate now imported. If we find employment for those who are here, we ‘shall soon attract others. I am aware that the Tariff Commission has done an immense amount of work; but their manner of procedure is not what it should have been, so that the outlook is now anything but encouraging, and the feeling of the community, so far as I know it, is expressed in the article which the honorable and learned member for Illawarra has read. He spoke about the importation, of arms and cartridges from Victoria to other States ; but he must know that these arms and cartridges are manufactured in a semi-Government institution –;in establishment with which, first, the
State Government, and now the Federal Government, have had large contracts. These contracts have been increased to provide supplies for the other States, but that fact is no evidence of a general increase of trade to the other States.
– I said that I would make the honorable member a present of that increase.
– Unless it can be shown that the Victorian manufacturers of boots and shoes have not only increased their Inter-State trade, but have not lost their State or home trade, there is no force in the argument that they are not suffering under the Tariff. I admit that the InterState trade has increased immensely. But for that increase of business the Victorian manufacturers would have had: to shut down.
– In boots and shoes the home trade has also increased.
– The honorable and learned member for Illawarra, taking the Victorian statistics, said that the number of men employed now showed an increase over last year. But that year was a very bad one, practically the worst we have had in our commercial life. What we must pay regard to is the number of men now out of employment, and the volume of importations. If half of the goods which are now imported were manufactured locally it would largely decrease the number of people out of work. The honorable and learned member referred to the making of blankets and flannels ; but the value of the importations of woollen piece goods has increased by thousands of pounds, and not one woollen factory is paying anything like reasonable interest. As a matter of fact, the importations into Victoria, and into Australia, too, have increased. Does the Treasurer anticipate a falling off in the revenue from the duties on apparel and attire? If the local manufacture were increasing the Treasurer would not anticipate more revenue from those items in 1905-6, both for Victoria and for New South Wales, than was obtained in 1902-3. His estimate shows that he does not anticipate that the importations will decrease. That is a plain indication that the Tariff is not effective. The importations are likely to increase, and the number of unemployed will increase correspondingly. I sincerely hope that the honorable member for Illawarra will do his best to secure an immediate inquiry into the condition of those industries that have been injuriously affected, and will lend his aid to have a progress report submitted to Parliament at the earliest moment. I am not going to blame him. But I do say that complaints as to the condition of the iron trade come not only, from Victoria, but also from South Australia, and his own State. I feel confident that he will be doing a splendid service to this country if he uses his best efforts to secure an early and full inquiry into the condition of that trade especially. I quite agree with my honorable friend, that if the inquiry . is to be complete, every State must be visited. Let the Commission visit every State half - a-dozen times if it thinks it necessary to do so. But let the inquiry be first concluded as to the principal industries that are suffering; and whilst Parliament is considering the report, the Commission can continue its work. Before I sit down, I wish to make one or two remarks as to some observations which fell from the honorable member for Hunter. He launched a tirade of criticism - I will not say abuse - as to the physical condition of the occupants of the back-blocks of this country.
– Some of them.
– The honorable member said, if I remember rightly - he will correct me if I am mistaken - that there had been a general physical deterioration.
– He said they were a race of degenerates.
– He attributed the deterioration to the mixing of races. I think that is right.
– No, it is not.
– Well, he spoke of its being, the result of inter-marriage, and that is pretty much the same. I shall leave it to the honorable, member for Moira to defend the country residents of Victoria from the charge of physical deterioration. The remark to which I particularly wish to allude is that which the honorable member made- about what he called the factory dens, in which he said the workers were having the life crushed out of them.
– So they are.
– Where are these dens? Has the honorable member ever visited a Victorian factory? Has he been inside a single one of them? He could not have made such a statement had he visited any_ one of the boot,clothingorhatfactoriesofthis
State. I shall have much pleasure in taking him round to look at them if he will accompany me. I assure the honorable member that he makes the greatest possible mistake if he imagines that there is any sign of deterioration as a consequence of our factory life in Victoria.
– I think we ought to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I maintain that for ventilation and cleanliness, and for general healthiness of environment, due largely to the operation of the present splendid Factories Act of this State, there is not a factory to which the slightest objection can be taken. I am sure that the young men and women in our factories will, either from the physical or mental point of view, bear comparison with similar workers in any part of the world.
– The honorable member did not allude to the Victorian people, but to the bush-whackers.
– He first made a tirade against the back-blockers, and then said there was a number of boys and girls who were suffering deterioration physically, and were being contaminated by the evil surroundings of factory life.
– He was speaking of the streets of Sydney.
– He did not say a word about Sydney ; though New South Wales has been free-trade for so long that perhaps signs of deterioration may be apparent there. I am talking of the Victorian factories system, of which I know something, and I say that it is a credit to the factoryowners, to our legislation, and to the people employed. If thenumber of our factories were vastly extended, and we manufactured the whole of the goods that are at present imported, it would be far better for Australia in every way. In conclusion, I say again that I sincerely hope that my honorable friend the member for Illawarra will lend his influence to obtain a report from the Tariff Commission as speedily as possible, because the need is urgent and great.
– I propose to say a few words, not so much with regard to the Budget submittedby the Treasurer, as concerning a few general questions connected with the finances of the Commonwealth in which I have taken an interest. Before doing so, I should like to bear out what has been said by my honorable friend who has just spoken about the factories in Victoria. There can be no question about it, so far as my knowledge goes - and I claim that it is considerable - that, speaking generally, the factories of Victoria are second to none anywhere in respect of sanitary and other arrangements. It is a remarkable thing, and within my own knowledge, that young men and women coming into these factories, after a few months, show a marked improvement in health and general condition. Only those who are ignorant of such facts would doubt this. To come to the matters with which I desire to deal, I propose to refer to the difficulties that have arisen in respect to the financial sections of the Constitution. On looking back to the history of the Conventions which formulated our Constitution, I think there can be no doubt that, notwithstanding the great ability shown in drafting its main features, there was an exception in connexion with the financial clauses. Many critics at the time felt profoundly dissatisfied with the manner in which the financial arrangements necessary under the Constitution were settled. The reason, why. the settlement was unsatisfactory was that the problem with which the Convention had to deal was a difficult and complicated one, and the data upon which its members could form opinions as to the future requirements of the Commonwealth was of so varied and inconclusive a character that it was almost impossible for the Convention to deal satisfactorily with this part of the Federal arrangement. It was unfortunate that it was so, because there can be no question that those who strongly advocated the Federation of the States looked primarily to seeing that savings were made in the cost of government. They looked forward to an amalgamation of the debts so as to enable the borrowers - that is the States - to have the rate of interest on their loans reduced as speedily as possible by acting in concert with and through the Commonwealth. These anticipations formed no inconsiderable portion of the inducement to the States to give up their individuality, to become one great Commonwealth, and intrust their fortunes to a central Parliament. When we, who were elected to deal with these questions, come to face the position, it is found that nearly all the arrangements which were made to enable satisfactory conclusions to be reached have created difficulties which up to the pre sent time no one has been able to solve. We know that at the Conferences of Premiers, held this year and last, this question was threshed out at very great length; but I apprehend that we are not much nearer a settlement than we were before those meetings took place. I have read with some care the debates on the question of the States debts at the Hobart Conference. What struck me most forcibly was the fact that, apparently, the States Premiers and Treasurers had scarcely grasped the nature of the problem they had to deal with. They went to the Conference with the full conviction that it was their duty, above everything, to protect themselves against the Commonwealth, and against supposed inroads which it was likely to make on their revenues. It is most unfortunate that this feeling of jealousy and antagonism should be exhibited by men occupying leading positions in the States. We ought to remember that, although in our : wisdom, or as some persons may consider our un-wisdom, we determined to form the Commonwealth, public men, whether sitting in the Parliament of the Commonwealth or in that of a State, are all servants of the public of Australia, whose interests they represent jointly and severally. That idea seems to be lost sight of on many occasions when thesequestions are discussed. The people decided that certain clear and well-defined duties were to be cast upon the Commonwealth. These duties were removed from the States and vested in the Commonwealth alone. The residuum of obligations, duties, and privi leges enjoyed by the States were still left in their hands without possibility of interfer . ence by the Commonwealth. The duty of the Governments and Parliaments of the States was to fully protect the interests of their people. The obligation resting upon them was no greater than is that of the members of this Parliament, to carefully protect and maintain, the interests which were given in trust to us. If that idea be allowed to prevail in the minds of those who seek to approach the financial questions, with which the interests of the Commonwealth and the States are so closely bound up - if that idea of separate responsibility be not lost sight of - I apprehend that we should be very much more likely to reach a reasonable solution of the knotty problems involved. I think I ought, in passing, to allude to the unfortunate habit which the members of States Parliaments and
Governments - and, I am sorry tosay, even some members of this House - indulge in of continually rating the Commonwealth Government and Parliament for great extravagance. As the right honorable member for Balaclava has so often pointed out, this Parliament cannot be accused of anything like extravagance - in fact, its course has been marked rather by penuriousness than by too much liberality. We find also that in the States whose revenues have decreased, notably Tasmania and Queensland, public men have attributed their misfortunes, as they consider them, entirely to the Federation. In nearly every case, these aspersions have been absolutely without foundation. This Parliament, as representing the people of Australia, has thought fit to reduce certain duties, and to repeal others, as, for instance, the duties on tea and kerosene.
– What about sugar?
– I am not dealing with sugar.
– The honorable member might just as well deal with it first as last.
– If the honorable member had only had patience to listen to my argument, he would have found that I could not bring in the question of the duty on sugar, for the simple reason that I am dealing with duties which were taken off, whereas he is dealing with duties which have been put on.
– The remission of Customs duties and the sugar bonus have affected the revenue of Tasmania.
– Tasmania had, I think, a heavier duty on tea than any of the other States. This Parliament removed that duty, and, consequently, the revenue of the State suffered to that extent ; but of course its people have not had to pay the duty. That is a form of objection to the Federation and its Government which, I think, is almost childish in its futility, because it can be easily shown that it was impossible to make a Tariff which would affect every State alike, and some States have felt the effects of its operation more than have others.
– The duty on tea was taken off by one vote.
– As my honorable friend is very insistent about the wrongs of Tasmania, I shall give him a Tasmanian instance, to show the want of justification for some, at least, of these charges against the Commonwealth. At the Hobart Conference Mr. Evans, the Premier of Tasmania, made the following remarks : -
Sir George Turner said wild statements have been made as regards extravagant expenditure. I will name a few items of extravagant and wasteful expenditure. Take, for instance, the first expenditure on transferred Departments; I am of opinion there has been extravagance displayed there. In Tasmania alone it has increased since Federation to something like ?72,000.
– Your own estimates were ?140,000, and we expended less than , ?134,000.
Mr. EVANS. That?134,000onthe transferred Departments.
– Yes it was.
Mr. EVANS. It does not matter very much whether it was the Commonwealth or the State Parliaments thatincreased the expenditure - it was owing to Federation.
The Treasurer of Tasmania, Mr. Stewart, when speaking on the same subject, said -
The expenditure on the transferred Departments has largely increased, but it must, in justice to the Federal Treasurer, be pointed out that?22,000 was added to the expenditure of this State by one of my predecessors in office prior to the Departments being transferred, for which the Federal Parliament were in no way responsible.By some process of reasoning, which I am unable to understand, my predecessor seemed to think thata fund existed out of which this additional outlay could be met without affecting the revenue of this State, whereas a little reflection should have convinced him that it would simply be deducted out of the surplus returnable to Tasmania.
A good many people connected with other States Parliaments and Governments made the same mistake - “hence these tears.” Those gentlemen omitted to point out that they, in many cases, had themselves created the so-called extravagance with which they charge the Commonwealth, by increasing their expenditure prior to Federation, in the full expectation that the Commonwealth would take the whole burden on its own shoulders.
– The honorable member is quite wrong in that.
– I may be wrong, of course, but I am quoting an official report.
– The honorable member for Mernda is quite right, though Tasmanian representatives will not admit the fact.
– What about building the big post-office in Hobart?
– The Treasurer of Queensland has made a worse statement than that of the Premier of Tasmania.
– The Premier of Tasmania the other day broke out again with an equally extravagant, or even more extravagant, statement, and a member of the Queensland Ministry, who ought to have known better, also made some extraordinary remarks.
– He ought to be locked up.
– I would not go so far as to suggest that. I merely point out that it is high time members of the Federal Parliament, and no less members of the States Parliaments, recognised that we are all working, or are supposed to be working, for one common interest; namely, the interest of the general body of the taxpayers of Australia.
– Will the honorable member show how much Tasmania has lost by the sugar bonus? It would be only fair to do so.
-I did not come here to talk about sugar. My desire is to deal mainly with the States debts, the Braddon section, and the bookkeeping period, and I do not intend to be drawn off to the discussion of other matters with which I am, perhaps, not acquainted. While I do profess to know something of the matters with which I propose to deal, I am not familiar with the ramifications of the Tasmanian sugar business, and shall not attempt to throw any light upon the subject. Under the Constitution, accurate . accounts have to be kept of Inter-State trade for five years after the institution of a uniform Tariff, so that each State may obtain the duties from the commodities it consumes irrespective of the place in which the duties are paid. This bookkeeping system, which, I suppose, was inevitable at the time it was adopted, was confessedly one which did not commend itself even to the Federal Convention. It was then pointed out that Federation would never be absolutely complete until we arrived at the point when the revenues collected would be paid’ back to the States per capita. At that time it was said to be quite impossible to have the per capita arrangement, because of the position of several of the States. This was notably so in the case of Western Australia, whose inhabitants were almost entirely adult men, who consumed largely both stimulants and narcotics, and also other kinds of goods, and the duties, therefore, were enormously greater per capita than were those of any other State. Another difficulty was that, for some reason or other, which I did not understand then, and which
I do not understand now, the duties paid by the people of Tasmania, and also of South Australia, were very much smaller in. amount than those paid in the three largereastern States. The bookkeeping period: - while it may have been inevitable at thebeginning - expires in 1906, and I trust that before October next year this Parliament will be in a position to make somearrangement by which this system shall cease, and we shall have a per capita distribution, not necessarily a uniform rateper capita in all the States, but one fixed on a fair and equitable basis, according tothe contributions of the different States, asshown by the official returns for the last two or three years of the bookkeeping: period. I would suggest that the compromise might be so arranged that the difference of payment in some of the States; would gradually taper off, like the special Tariff for Western Australia, and become inoperative in five or ten years’ time. According to the. statistics for last year, furnished by the Treasurer, the amounts which the people of New South Wales, ‘Victoria, and Queensland contributed to the revenue by way of Customs and Excise duties were £20s.10d., £20s. 2d., and £21s. 8d. respectively per head of the population, those contributed by Tasmania and South Australia were £1 16s. 9d. and £1 15s. 2d. per head, and the amount contributed by the people of Western Australia, exclusive of the special Tariff of that State, was£4. per head of the population. At the establishment of Federation, however, I think that the per capita contribution of Western Australia was something like 1 6s. per head. As time passes, the condition of affairs in Western Australia will approximate to that of the other States. As the population increases the number of families will increase, and eight or ten years hence its contribution per capita will probably not differ very materially from that of the other States. In these circumstances, I do not think that it will require the exercise of great wisdom or ability to enable this Parliament, before the expiry of the bookkeeping period, to arrive at an arrangement that would be fair to the States individually, as well as to the Commonwealth, and at the same time would give absolute freedom so far as Inter-State exchanges are concerned.
– Would the honorable member differentiate as to the per capita returns ?
– It would be possible to do so: it would be simply a matter of calculation. If we find, as I have said, that three Slates contribute to the revenue toy way of Customs and Excise duties amounts ranging between £2 and £2 2s. per head of the population, that two others contribute from£1 15s. to £1 17s. per head, and the remaining one £4 per head, we may arrive at a fair compromise.
– Would the honorable member have no Inter-State adjustments ?
– I would not.
– That is all that would be saved.
– Quite so, but the saving would be a very important one. The bookkeeping and entry passing which the present system involves upon the public is something enormous.
– Hear, hear.
– I think that the Tasmanians are the greatest sufferers by the present system.
– I believe that an arrangement has been made by Victoria and New South Wales which does away with the difficulty.
– They have made a give-and-take arrangement.
– That might be done by the other States.
– I think it would be better to give them the money they contribute on a fair basis. I am a Federationist, and am looking to the day when we shall arrive at a perfect oneness - when there will be an end to the present difficulties, and the necessity to make giveandtake ‘arrangements will no longer exist.. We ought to seek to achieve this object as soon as we reasonably can with justice to theStates - I always postulate that we must act justly to the States, as well as to the Commonwealth - and until we do we shall never be truly federated.
– There is a difference of £114,000 in the case of Queensland.
– This is, after all, a mere matter of accountancy, and a smart accountant would adjust it in avery short time. The difficulty in the way of making such an arrangement as I have suggested, at the inception of Federation, arose from the fact that we had no proper data to go upon. We now have complete returns, showing what each State has actually contributed during the last two years; and, on 30th June next, a return tor a further period of twelve months will be available. It seems to me that it will be quite possible, after three years’ experience of the contributions which the different States make to the revenue by way of Customs and Excise duties, to arrive at a simple scheme which would substantially give to the States that to which they were entitled, and by gradually tapering off over a series of years would place them all on a common per capita basis. Only then will our Federation be complete. I do not propose to waste the time of the Committee by reciting the advantages that would accrue to Australia from the assumption by the Commonwealth of the States debts. The difficulty is to determine how that task shall be accomplished. We know that it is desirable, but the question is how best to do it. To my mind, the matter has been materially complicated by the fact that at the Hobart Conference, the States Premiers, in their anxiety to make secure the position of the finances of the States, insisted on imposing, as a condition to their doing anything to settle the transfer of debts question, the continuation of the operation of the Braddon section. In reading the report of the debate which took place, one cannot help feeling that there was something almost pathetic in the manner in which the right honorable member for Balaclava, then Treasurer of the Commonwealth, pleaded for the acceptance of the scheme that he had propounded - in a very able paper, which most honorable members have doubtless read - without the imposition of that condition. One can see, from a perusal of the report, that the right honorable member, who had an absolute conception of what he conceived to be right and necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth, was, in his ill-health and weakness, overborne by the representatives of the States, who insisted that the Braddon section should be continued indefinitely. I say, advisedly, that it would, in my opinion, be an enormous misfortune for Australia if the Parliament were to agree to extend the operation of that provision of the Constitution. I think it is very doubtful that it will do so ; but the mere fact that the proposition secured the imprimatur of such a representative body as a Conference of State Premiers, with the representatives of the Federal Government, would in itself have been a misfortune. The continuation of the Braddon section would cripple, to a very serious extent, the usefulness of the Federation. It would possibly have a most detrimental effect on the future of Australia.
– It would hobble, the Commonwealth.
– That is so. What would it mean ? The great spending departments have been transferred to the Commonwealth. I refer to the departments by which money has to be expended, and from which little or no revenue is derived, notably the Defence Department, and, to some extent, the Post and Telegraph Department. Honorable members will find, that, with the exception of the Customs Department, the departments which must be charged with the carrying out of almost all the powers set forth in what are known as the “ thirtynine articles “ of the Constitution are spending departments, whose requirements must increase as the Commonwealth develops. If we hake, for instance, the Defence Department, the receipt of a telegram, which we might get any day, concerning European complications might involve a very large Commonwealth expenditure, to be immediately undertaken in the interests, not of any one State, but of the whole of Australia. That, in such circumstances, the Government should be hobbled by an arrangement of this sort, and compelled to raise, by some direct form of taxation, a large sum of money at short notice, would certainly hot be a desirable position for it to be placed in. I have spoken of the spending departments, but when we come to consider the revenue-earning department which has been passed over to us, and of which we have exclusive control, it will be found that the revenue to be derived from it is perhaps the most fluctuating of any. I refer to the Customs Department. Honorable members are aware that in the States during lean years we have seen the Customs revenue drop as much as 40 or 50 per cent.
– As much as that?
– Yes: in Victoria, on one occasion, the revenue from the Customs dropped nearly 50 per cent., and, instead of the State Treasurer having sufficient money to carry ob the administration of affairs, he found himself faced with an enormous deficit.
– About £1,000,000.
– I think it amounted to about that. The honorable member for Moira arid I had to face such difficulties in the State Parliament of Victoria.
The Federal Parliament is therefore vested with exclusive control of the most fluctuating form of revenue. When I point out that, on the one hand, we have charge of all the departments which may be called spending departments, and whose obligations to spend money will continually increase, and onthe other that the revenue department irc our charge is the one (most subject to change, I need say nothing more as to the inadvisability of tying the hands of the Federal Parliament in the way suggested.
– It was only proposed as a temporary expedient at first.
– It wa’s. Now let us look at the position of the States. We are all human, and it is quite natural that the States Treasurers should say, “We do not wish to run short of money to meet the State obligations.” I think they are entitled to look after the interests of their States ; but while they do so, they should remember that, as the Commonwealth Government have taken over many public services which they have heretofore had to carry on, and for which they have had heretofore to pay out of their States revenue, they must reduce their expenditure in accordance with the saving made. That is precisely1 the duty that I think our friends in the States Parliaments have not recognised. Public opinion at the beginning of Federation was on the right track when it was said, “ You have formeda Federation, the Federal Government will take over many of the services and duties which the States have heretofore carried on and paid for, and we therefore expect you to make trenchant reductions in your State expenditure.” Bowing to that mandate, some of the States did reduce expenditure, but only to a strictly limited extent. They began bv reducing the States Governors’ salaries, and, in some instances, the number of members of Parliament. I should like an examination to be made as to the extent to which the States Parliaments have effected savings in other directions, where, I think, they should be made in consequence of the services which the Federal authorities have assumed, and for which the States have not to pay. Whilst I agree that the States Parliaments are entitled to take care that the Federal Parliament shall not deprive them of any of their rights, it is their duty, just as it is ours, to remember that whatever money is wasted by the Federal Parliament, or by the States Parliaments, is equally money which comes out of the pockets of the taxpayer, and that the obligation- to see that due economy is exercised is mutual. When the representatives of the States Governments met at the recent Conference in Hobart, it seemed to me that they were animated by a somewhat hostile feeling towards the Federal Parliament. Indeed, I think it was rather improper that before they met the representatives of the Federal Government they should themselves have met in solemn conclave, and, before hearing the other side, have arrived at certain conclusions, which were drawn up and presented almost as an ultimatum to the Federal representatives. The States representatives were full of this antagonistic feeling, and several of them said, “ We do not want the odium “ - 3 ask honorable members to mark the word - “ of proposing new taxation. Let the Federal Parliament take the odium.” I quote words which were actually used, and I say they do not display a proper Federal spirit, without which we cannot hope that any arrangement in connexion with these matters will be come to. The States representatives should remember that the Braddon section is to continue in operation for only ten years, and that after the expiration of that period in 191 1, the Federal revenue will be entirely in the hands of the Federal Parliament. They must not forget that, whilst justice must be done by this Legislature to the people of Australia, any settlement which may be proposed must receive the support and confirmation of this Parliament.
– It will not be a Hobart Conference that will settle them.
– I would also say that I think our friends of the States Parliaments have been unduly frightened. They have not projected their minds into the future sufficiently to realize the new position which will be created by the transfer of the States debts -to the Commonwealth, and a general arrangement of the finances as between the States and the Commonwealth. They talk of being unable to meet their obligations. They talk of being placed in such a position that they will not be able to meet the interest on their loans. If the States debts are transferred to the Commonwealth they will not have to meet the interest on their loans, and the whole position will be changed. I think that gentlemen who have dealt with the matter from the stand-point of the States have nos considered that fact sufficiently. If the Commonwealth takes over the debts of the States and pays the interest on those debts the States Governments will unquestionably be in a better position than they are in now, because the obligation which presses upon them as a debt which must be met will be removed from their shoulders. A good deal of the difficulty which has arisen in connexion with the public finances of the States is due to a cause to which I drew attention years ago, when a member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. It is this : In all the States the practice has grown up of treating railway income as if it w<?to revenue from Customs, or other ordinary revenue, and looking upon the interest on the railway debt as if it were a public burden similar to the charge for the maintenance of the police, or the expenditure necessary for the carrying on of our educational system. lft borrowing money to construct railways, we have done what has not been done in Great Britain,, and what has been done in Canada to a limited extent only; but the model upon which we have framed our finance is unquestionably the mode of submitting the public accounts which prevails in Great Britain. In the accounts of Great Britain, there is no item corresponding with our railway item. The nearest approach to it is the receipts and expenditure in connexion with the administration’ of the Post Office, which appear also in our accounts. In Great Britain practically no great public works are carried on by the Government for the benefit of the people,” and consequently the national finance is not swollen on the debit side bv interest on loans for railway making, and on the credit side by earnings from the working of the railways. The fact that our finances are so swollen has been a great misfortune to this country, because it has led to the idea abroad, in the minds of those who are not acquainted with our accounts and our system of affairs, that our taxation and expenditure are enormously heavy. But if the figures relating totrading concerns are deducted from our debit ‘and credit accounts, a reasonable basis of comparison with other countries isobtained:
– When reference is made to our statistical records, the facts are clear.
– But who makes such reference ?
– The financiers, about whom we hear so much.
– I am not thinking of them. I am speaking of the opinion of 4he multitude.
– The multitude never hear anything about the matter, except through a financial review.
– I do not propose to -discuss that point, and have made these remarks merely by the way. The practice by the States Governments of treating railway income and expenditure as part of the ordinary State revenue has had one peculiar and unfortunate effect. The ordinary working expenses of the railways” have io be provided month by month, while the interest on the cost of construction has only to be paid half-yearly. The result is that the proportion of the earnings, which represents the interest charge, gets into the revenue, and may, when a Treasurer is hard pressed, be expended for other purposes. If, therefore, at the end of the financial year, when the interest has to be paid, the Treasurer finds his income short, he has to finance to meet his interest pay ment, which gives the appearance of being in the position of making default, unless he can procure the money. In my view the income earned by States railways, or other reproductive works, should be earmarked and applied first to the payment of interest on such works, as it is a fixed arid inexorable charge, and then wages and other working expenses should be provided by the State out of State finances, and if there is a’ deficiency in the earnings of the railways to meet their working expenses, that must be met by either reducing expenses, increasing earnings, or by a Government subsidy. On one occasion grave difficulty overtook the Gillies Government from failure to keep money in hand to meet an obligation of this kind. A sum of £600,000 or £700,000 of interest fell due in London on the 1 st July, but the Treasurer, in making up his balance-sheet for the financial year ending the 30th June, “did not debit himself with that amount. There was nothing illegal in his failure to do so, and he could not be blamed for not doing it. But the collapse of the boom came, and before October he had to break his deposits in the banks to obtain the money with which to carry on, because of this payment of £600,000 or more which hs had to meet.
– We used to charge our interest monthly in Western Australia.
– Was it paid monthly?
– Yes; it was provided for.
– If the money was kept in reserve that was all right. The effect of this practice on our accounts has been that our finances never get straight. We are always behind, and the community fails to see clearly and definitely the loss arising on. the working of the railways, and to discern the fact that the ‘interest charge should be met regularly, say monthly, as the Treasurer says is done in Western Australia, and the wages and other working expenses weekly or monthly, instead of allowing the interest bill to accumulate until the day when payment is due, and then having to scuttle about the money market to obtain a loan to carry on with. I may be asked how it is possible to apply these facts to the present argument. I think the States, for their own sake, ought to provide for the payment of interest as they go along. If they did so, they would very much simplify the problem with which we have to deal. Sir George Turner, in his memorandum upon the question of the Commonwealth taking over the States debts, made it a condition that we should have the right to exercise’ what would be practically a lien or mortgage over the whole of the revenue derived from the States railways. His idea was right, but - I am sorry he is not here, because I should have liked to make these remarks in his presence - I do not think that he quite grasped the point, because if he had done so, he would have been satisfied with less than he demanded. I think that it would be very unwise and improper - and I do not think the States would ever consent to it - for us to take over the gross revenue of the railways, because we should then practically become responsible for their management. That is to say, we should have to find the money to carry on the railways - to effect repairs, to pay wages and salaries, and to provide for every contingency. If the States debts were taken over by the Commonwealth, as is proposed, we should impose conditions somewhat upon these lines. I have not had an opportunity to thoroughly think the matter out, because there are great difficulties in the way of a private member dealing with such a complicated question, owing to want of access to many of the documents necessary to enable one to come to a sound conclusion. Therefore, what I say to-night is, of course, always subject to correction in the light of further knowledge or increased information. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the States debts were taken over on condition that the Railways Commissioners and any other governing bodies having control over reproductive works, were required to pay to the Commonwealth Treasurer, or, perhaps, to Commissioners appointed for the purpose, the interest upon the debts incurred in order to carry out such works. I believe that in order to deal practically with the conversion of the States debts, it will be necessary to appoint what may be called Commonwealth Debts Commissioners, who will administer the funds placed in their hands in a variety of ways, which I shall explain later on. If the condition were imposed that all the interest money should be paid to the Debts Commissioners monthly, what would be the effect upon the States? In the first place, they would be brought face to face with their obligations in connexion with the railways and other works. That is to say, they would not wake up to a realization of the necessities of the case only at the time when the financial statement was prepared, but they would know all along what was required of them. The States Treasurers would not have in their hands the large funds which they are now able to manipulate, but would be able to watch their revenue from the railways and other reproductive works. If they could not make ends meet they could reduce their outgoings, or impose increased rates upon the public, or if they were satisfied that fair rates were already being charged and fair wages were being paid, they could make up the deficiency out of the general revenue. Such a condition of affairs would be advantageous from the point of view of the States finances, because it would reduce things much more closely to a cash basis. It is always wise to adopt this course in dealing with the public finances. On the other hand, the Federal Government would have the income from these public works placed in their hands for the payment of the interest on the debt, and would need no other security. All they need is to feel assured that they will be able to meet the interest charges on the debt. The obliga tions of the States would be provided for to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth,, and of the public creditors, in a manner that would render it unnecessary to lower the status of the States or embarrass them in any way. In addition to that, another difficulty which has been foreseen would beovercome. ‘We cannot possibly expect rising States, many of which are only at the beginning of their career, to come, cap in hand, to this Parliament, and ask permission to build a railway. If we took up theposition I have suggested we should say tothem, “ You can build your rail[way or other reproductive work; that is a matter for you to consider, but, provided we give you the money for that purpose you wilt have to plank down the interest monthly.” Consequently, the States would he free te make railways where and when they liked. Of course, I am speaking in general terms, but it must be apparent that somereasonable limit would have to be fixed. Speaking generally, however, if a State thought it desirable to build a railway which was not expected to return workingexpenses, in addition to the interest on theoutlay, it would have to face the necessity of providing the interest out of its own coffers.
– The States have been doing that all along.
– Of course they have, and therefore no hardship would be involved under my proposal. My object is to leave the States, as far as possible, masters of their own affairs within their own spheres, and, at the same time, to do absolute justice to the Commonwealth by protecting it in regard to its debt obligations..
– Does the honorable member think that it would be unsafeto allow the interest to accumulate in thehands of the States?
– I do not think that it would be unsafe, but it would be far moreprudent for us to stipulate for the payment of the interest monthly. Under the influence of a pressing demand the StatesTreasurers might use, for some other purpose, the money which should be devoted to the payment of interest. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what is done in some cases at present. It may Le said, “ It is all right, the money is there “ ; but verv often the money is not there, and what I am now suggesting must commend itself to any practical business man.
– No, I do not suggest that, but I say that any attempt to limit the borrowing powers of the States would’ necessarily involve an interference with their liberty to construct railways. Suppose, for instance, New South Wales wanted to build a railway, and came to us and said, We want you to borrow £5,000,000, because we desire to construct a certain railway.” Suppose, further, that we said we would not borrow the money. That would be tantamount to telling the State that it could not construct the railway. That would be the result of the line of action suggested in some quarters, and I do not think the States would be justified in tying themselves up in that way. They must be allowed to exercise their full liberties as sovereign States, and to bear their full share of responsibility. They have certain rights of administration which we should respect. Under the plan I have suggested, the States would know exactly what their obligations were. Their position would’ be brought home to them at once. This consideration brings me back to the Braddon section, and to the suggestion which was made the other night by the Treasurer of a return to the States of a fixed sum. If the States did as I suggest, it would naturally lead to a re-arrangement of the amount to be returned to them. After we had ascertained their exact position, and after arrangements had been made for taking over their debts, we should be able to say to -them, “ During the next five years we will return you so much, or so muchper head.” But before we did that, it is only reasonable that we should satisfy ourselves astothe amount which the States Treasurers actually require to carry ‘on the greatly diminished services which they have to perform. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I do not suggest that there should be any inquisitorial inquiry into the affairs of the States, but, in arriving at an arrangement with them such as I have described, I think that we should be justified in asking them to show, by means of their public documents, the amounts which they had actually been expending . prior to Federation upon the various departments which they still retain: For instance, we should be warranted in seeking to ascer
– Because it was not expected that the States would borrow anymore.
– It is immaterial whether the borrowing is done by the States or by the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth borrows, it must lend to the States. In my judgment fifty years hence the Commonwealth will be the only borrowers. I cannot understand why the framers of Our Constitution limited the power of the Commonwealth to the taking over of the debts existing at the time the Federation was established. The idea that any debts would subsequently be contracted by or on behalf of the States does not seem to have occurred to them. When the Federation was established these debts amounted to £203,000,000, and since then the States have borrowed an additional£31, 000,000. If we merely took over the debts which existed when the Commonwealth was inaugurated, the other debts would become depreciated to a certain extent. They would not possess the same standing as the Federal stock, and it would never do for us to create another class of debts from those already in existence. I quite agree that the Commonwealth should take over the whole of the States debts, because I believe that by so doing we should be enabled to deal with this important question at a very early date. I find that in 1906 loans aggregating £2,221,300 fall due; in 1907, stocks valued at £5,037,500 will mature, and in 1908 an additional sum of £7,111,000 will require to be met. In other words, loans to the amount of about £15,000,000 will mature within the next three years. Consequently I hold that there is every reason for facing this question at an early date, instead of deferring action in regard to it until the last moment. As a matter of fact, the manner in which these loans are converted, and the rates at which they are taken over, may have a very important influence on the future of our financial transactions.
– We cannot take over the whole of the States debts without first amending the Constitution.
– My honorable friend suggests that the transfer to the Commonwealth of the whole of the debts will necessitate an amendment of the Constitution. That is literally true. But provided that we can enter into an amicable arrangement with the States on the lines I have suggested, there is a way of overcoming that difficulty without effecting an amendment of the Constitution. Under paragraph XXXVII of section 51 we are authorized to deal with matters referred to the Commonwealth Parliament by the Parliaments of the States. Suppose we came to a mutual arrangement with the States; before it was completed it would be necessary for each of the States to pass a Bill authorizing the Federal Parliament to take over its indebtedness and to meet its obligations.
– There would have to be an alteration of the Constitution to permit that.
– It might be necessary to alter the Constitution. That would be a very complicated process, and if there is any section of the Constitution which would enable the States to fall into such an arrangement as I have sketched it would be infinitely better to follow that course. Of course. I am not a 1 lawyer, but it occurred to me that the provision to which I have alluded might be taken advantage of to enable the. States to hand over those debts that were not in existence at the time of the passing of the Constitution.
– What does the honorable member suggest with regard to future borrowings?
– I have alluded to that before, but will mention it again. If the method which I have suggested is not practicable we shall have to alter the Constitution. In answer to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I say that I would make the arrangement applicable to ali future loans. That is to say, a State would apply to the Federal Government, giving reasonable notice, for a loan to build a railway, or for some other purpose, and it would then be the duty of the Commonwealth Government to make arrangements to secure the money in due time. Of course, the State would have to undertake that the interest would be forthcoming. This brings me to a point about which the minds of a great many people are exercised. I refer to the question of how to limit borrowing, and at the same time to prevent clashing. Some honorable members, many of the outside public, and a number of newspapers, say that we ought not to borrow at all. But looking at the past history of any country that can be named, I reply that a country can only be developed by the expenditure of capital ; and’ if we are to wait until that capital is derived from revenue, development will be much delayed, for people will say, “ Why should we be taxed to make improvements for posterity ?! ‘ We must borrow money for reproductive works ; and so long as it is borrowed for investments which will develop the country, with a fair prospect of yielding interest and working expenses, that is a sound policy to’ pursue. A hard-and-fast rule of no borrowing, which so .many people advocate, is impracticable. My honorable and learned friend, the member for Northern Melbourne, made some allusion to restricting the borrowing of the States to what they could obtain locally, and said that the Commonwealth Government only should borrow outside the limits, of Australia. But that would be no real safeguard. It would attain no object. Because, if I were living in London and had £10,000 to invest, and a loan was being floated in Australia, I could go to my banker, who would give me 10s. on every £100, would land the money in Melbourne, invest it in stock on my behalf, and hold it for me. Therefore it is idle to talk about limiting the States Governments to Commonwealth markets. Under my scheme, however, there would’ be jio borrower except the: Commonwealth, which would have the right to borrow within a State or beyond, according to the condition of the money market. If the debts are taken over there ought henceforth to be only one borrower - the Commonwealth. The States would then look to the head of the house.hold, so to speak, for any money they wished’ to raise on loan. It would be a family arrangement. The amount which New South Wales borrowed through the Commonwealth would be put through the ledger and charged to that State. The amount which Victoria borrowed would be debited to her. It would be like the head of a family lending out money to the different members of his family, and saying to them, “ You pay me interest on the amount which I lend to you for your advancement in life.” That is the position which the Commonwealth ought to take, though I admit that it will be a long time before it can do so.
– Borrowers do not “like the man from whom they borrow, as a rule.
– If the obligation to pay the interest due every month be met I do not think we need trouble very much about the feelings of the States. They will get accustomed to the arrangement.
– We have always been able to pay our interest.
– Yes, but sometimes byobtaining another loan. And that is what I am seeking to prevent. I wish to take away the temptation from the Treasurer of any State to say, “Let us live a jolly life while we have the money ; the cash is rolling in, and we will spend it,” without having any regard to the day of reckoning. When that day came the State would be in the doldrums, and would have to raise, say, £800,000 by way of overdraft in order to enable it to pay the interest on its debts. The first charge on public works is the interest, and after that the working expenses. These must be met either by making the revenue pay the working expenses, or by openly subsidizing the States railways on public grounds. We are often told that it is far better for the Government of a State to borrow in Australia than to borrow abroad.. At first sight, that seems a very sound proposition, but it must always be remembered that the ability to borrow depends on the ability to lend. If you borrow in the country, you are distinctly limited. It is, I take it, almost an axiom that the money which accumulates in a new country like this ought to he applied primarily, not to lending it to the Government at a low rate of interest, but to developing its various resources and industries. What chance can industries in a new country have of borrowing money outside their own country, unless they are huge concerns like the squatting industry, and some others? A comparatively small manufacturer or’ tradesman cannot borrow money in London, but he can borrow money in Melbourne, or Sydney, or Brisbane, as “the case may be, because those who have the money, know what he wishes to use it for, and can look after it. I have always viewed with considerable disfavour the idea which is fostered in many quarters that it is a right thing to lend to the Government the money which is accumulating in the country, and have our industries strangled, or kept back from want of means. The Government is the right party to borrow money abroad. With the credit of the whole country at its back, it can borrow on favorable terms; but private persons cannot do that. So long as the money is borrowed for really reproductive purposes - and the crux of the question is that the works shall pay the interest and the working expenses - then we need not trouble ourselves very much about the amount of the loan, that is, within reasonable limits, lt does not matter in that sense where the money is borrowed by the Government. It is just as bad for the Government to borrow the money in the country, and misspend it, as to throw away money that was borrowed abroad.
– Would the honorable member place a limit on the borrowing power of the States?
– I have purposely left that indefinite. I am only stating what lias been passing through my mind. I desire to provoke discussion. I have thought out a scheme, but I do not say that I tie myself to it in that respect. There might be a necessity to limit the borrowing, and if you formulate a proposal that the money must only be borrowed for reproductive works, you thereby impose a limitation. My limitation is that henceforth the States should not be allowed to borrow for other than reproductive works.
– Who would be the judge - the public?
– The Federal Government would have to ascertain the purpose for which the money was sought to be borrowed. I do not wish to discuss details. I find that, speaking generally, whenever an important question is raised there is a very great tendency on the part of critics to dwell upon unimportant issues and not to deal with the main points.
– But this is vital to the scheme ?
– Yes. If the obligations are incurred on the terms and conditions I have laid1 down, I do not think we shall need to impose a limit. If the States borrowed money through the Commonwealth for schemes which entailed a heavy burden of new taxation, that fact would become known to the State taxpayers, and they would have to be trusted to see that such blunders did not recur. This Parliament cannot take away powers which are inherent in the people of the whole country. If they will make fools of themselves, all we can do is to put them in a position in which they shall not be deceived. If they are guilty of unjustifiable extravagance they will come to see that they have been making fools of themselves, and we must trust to their common sense to prevent them from continuing to be fools. These are the main points that I intended to deal with. This question seems to me so important that it brooks no delay. It is no reproach to either this or any previous Government that it has not yet solved this problem. The inherent difficulties arising from the circumstances in which the Constitution was framed have yet to be overcome. This is not a question which affects the Ministry or the Opposition ; it should be treated as an absolutely non-party question which all of us ought to seek ta solve by repairing to the best of our ability the parts of the Constitution relating to finance which are defective or have proved to be unworkable. The best thing the Government could do would be to consider at an early date the propriety of appointing a small Commission of qualified men - and the smaller the number the better, for I do not believe in large Commissions - to make an inquiry from each stand-point, and endeavour to bring up proposals, which, on their face, would be manifestly fair and reasonable to both the Commonwealth and the States. Such a report would be a guide to honorable members, and, of course, it might differ from the scheme I have outlined tonight. But I think that the suggestions I have made, which I have tried to put in such a way that they would appeal to the common sense of honorable members, are entitled to consideration. I suggest tothe Government the advisability of remitting this matter to a small Commission of, say, three suitable men, who should beallowed twelve months in which to complete their work. It would possibly take fully that time, if not longer, to obtain absolutely accurate information, and consult legal gentlemen as to what may or may not be done under the Constitution. The recommendations of such a Commission would be useful not only to this Parliament, but to the other Parliaments concerned.
– Would a Select Committee of this Parliament not- be sufficient ?
– I do not think so. lt is no reflection on this Parliament to say that this is a highly expert matter, requiring somewhat peculiar knowledge.
– The. honorable member for Kooyong has a motion on the noticepaper dealing with the matter.
– I to-day pointed out to the honorable member for Kooyong that,, according to my view, though I did not give him my reasons in full, his proposal’ would not answer the purpose. According; to the motion of the honorable member for Kooyong, the question would be remitted’ to gentlemen who had largely to deal withthe same matter in the Federal Convention. I do not” think it is necessary or advisableto seek the aid of men who have not given special attention to these questions, not only from the political stand-point, but also from the stand-point of the financier or accountant. I should not even like tosee this work remitted to an accountant, because the question is one which must be settled to some extent by the exercise of the political instinct. With) some knowledge of accounts, I could laydown hard-and-fast lines in order to secure a certain result, but, as practical politicians, we have, in dealing with an important subject of this sort, to consider political possibilities. We have to consider what we may and what we mav not do under our Constitution. This is a question, therefore, which has to be settled in a quasi-political and financial way. I donot think that I have’ omitted any of the points I sketched in my notes; but, if I have, I dare say honorable members will be able to fill in any hiatus there may bein the argument. My opinion is that, ultimately, when this great question of the debts conversion comes to be dealt with, commissioners will have to be appointed, whose duty it will be to arrange loans and deal with the interest. I would even go further - and this, is a point which will require very great and grave consideration - and intrust them with the command of capital in the shape of bonds or otherwise, up to the amount of, say, £5,000,000, so as to put them in a position to conduct financial operations in the event of any “corner” being established. The misfortune is that nearly two-thirds of our debts fall due at fixed dates. About £40,000,000 of debts can be taken up at any time after a certain period, but, unfortunately, as I say, a large proportion are payable on a certain date; and it would be advisable to place the commissioners in the possession of funds, so that they might be able to meet any combination against conversion. If that suggestion were carried out, the commissioners would be able to say, “Very well; we are prepared to give you Commonwealth bonds at 3 per cent, at par, and if you do not like to take those we will give you your money.” The effect of such an arrangement as that would be that the Commonwealth could not be “ cornered “ in a conversion.
– All the Western Australian loans are floated that way.
– I am not dealing with Western Australia. Although that State is a very important one, it is not quite the hub of the Commonwealth.
– What I say is that the term there is twenty years.
– That is simply because Western Australia has only lately come into the market.
– There are many loans of other States on the same terms.
– That is not so. Out of the £202,000,000 of debts there are, speaking in round numbers, £160,000,000 at fixed dates, the remaining £40,000,000 falling due in a way which is open to negotiation; that is to say, notice may be given at a favorable time. This makes it most important that the Commonwealth commissioners, in the event of undertaking this vast business, should be in possession of capital to enable them to go into the market and offer “ new lamps for old,” and, if that offer be not accepted, to return the money. The effect of such a plan would be, as I say, to frustrate any attempt to form a “corner.” A scheme to convert loans so vast cannot be carried out at once. The public .and some honorable members very often express the idea that all we have to do is to go to London and say, “We will give you Commonwealth bonds for State bonds, and pay you 3 per -cent.” But the lenders are now getting perhaps 4 per cent., and it is quite idle to. suppose that we can compel anybody to give up his security until the debt falls due. If people do give up their security, they will want an equivalent in capital in order to compensate them- for the loss in interest; and that would add enormously to our loans, and limit the benefit of the conversion. I think that in Western Australia a convertible loan is due from 1911 to 1916, and that will be the first occasion on which the Commonwealth will, on the lines I have proposed, be in a position to really test its strength. All the ,£15,000,000 of debts which fall due in the next three years, are at fixed dates, and must be financed, and the Commonwealth Government ought to have a Debts Commission in a position to finance them, and to anticipate and prevent any attempt at boycotting or cornering. I have now referred to the three main questions - the abolition of the bookkeeping system, with which I hope we shall be able to deal next session, the transfer of the States debts, and also the question of the continuance of the Braddon section. I say, unhesitatingly, that the continuation of that section would be a great misfortune to Australia.
– Has the honorable member anything to suggest in regard to inconvertible stock?
– We should have to decide, in the light of London advice, what would be the most acceptable form of security. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that we floated loans having a currency of fifty years, with a provision that after the expiration of fifteen years they would become payable on six or twelve months’ notice being given. In that case the stock-holders would know that they would have a security for at least fifteen years, and that at the end of that period they might be repaid, on reasonable notice being given. On the other hand, if the advices received from financial quarters were favorable, we might make our stocks interminable ; we might make them Australian consols ; but even” those would have to be payable on notice after a specified period. It will be necessary for us to have regard to the future. At the outset, we might have to pay 3 per cent., but as time went on it might be open to us to give only 2
– They would be interminable only so far as one side was concerned.
– Would the honorable member support the creation of a -sinking fund to meet the loans as they fell due?
– That goes without saying. The right honorable member for Balaclava attaches very great importance to the establishment of a sinking fund, and so do I, up to a certain point. I think that in the case of loans expended on reproductive works like railways - and railways, if maintained in a proper state of efficiency, instead of deteriorating must necessarily appreciate in value as population increases - a small percentage contribution to a sinking fund would be justifiable. One does not need to make provision to meet a loan by large contributions to a sinking fund when he has an appreciating security. I believe, however, that loans amounting to about £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 have been spent on unreproductive works ; and my suggestion is that, instead of making a large annual contribution to a sinking fund to meet loans in respect of railways, we should make but a. small one, and pay, say, 2 per cent, to a sinking fund to meet loans expended on non-productive works. Such works must deteriorate ; but the railways are sure to maintain they: value, unless they are wholly neglected. Even in the case of railway loans, however, it would be judicious to have a small stinking fund.
– In connexion with the railways there must be a sinking fund to meet depreciation in rolling stock and machinery.
– That is so. If the country were going to remain stationary, the railways themselves would depreciate; but as it is not the position is different. The honorable and learned member is quite right in saying that provision must be made for depreciation in machinery. Railway managers and others controlling businesses in which machinery is used, must put aside money to cover depreciation, unless they wish to come to grief. I come now to another point. A good deal has been said about the defamation of Aus tralia. I have had occasion to visit Great Britain more than once, and although I was not there during the recent tempest of misrepresentation, I can say that when I was in London in connexion with the affairs of a certain financial institution, I felt absolutely humiliated, and almost enraged at the manner in which Australia was defamed by people who owed everything they possessed to this country. ‘ The Commonwealth has no more dastardly enemies than the gentlemen in the various cities of the Commonwealth - they are not confined to Melbourne or Sydney - who write to the financial journals of the old world articles which, while in a sense true, because it is impossible to meet them with an absolute denial, are absolutely misleading as to the condition of ‘affairs in Australia. Only yesterday, a friend of mine, a leading banker in this city, who regularly reads the Economist, said to me - “ In reading this influential journal, I am amazed at the opinion which it entertains, of Australis- I know that all it has to say in this regard is utterly untrue. If I believed what it wrote on the subject, I should consider that Australia was absolutely done for - that everything was rotten ; but I know, as a banker, that we were never more prosperous than we, are to-day.” We know that this is so. At the same time I would ask honorable members whether we are altogether blameless? I hold that we are not. Many statements have been made in this House, for mere party reasons, which, if confined to the Chamber, would have been taken at their true value. But unfortunately such statements are taken up by the newspapers. The press gives but little information of what transpires in the Parliament; but any bonne bouche of the kind to which I refer is given undue prominence, and it is telegraphed to the other side of the world where little knowledge prevails as to the position of the Commonwealth. Very often the only statements with regard to Australia, which the people of the old world see in the press consist of scandalous misrepresentations. It behoves us, therefore, to remember, when speaking in the House, that we have an audience beyond this country whom it is wise to consider. I would say to my honorable friends of the Labour Party, for whom, as they know, I have every respect, that, in my humble opinion, some of their actions betray even from their own stand-point a short-sighted policy. I am glad to learn that two of the -leaders of the party have publicly stated that they wish a section in the Immigration Restriction Act, which, I admit, has been most shamefully misrepresented, to be amended. It is pleasing to know that they take that view of the position. I am convinced that all that the Labour Party desire is merely to prevent an abuse of immigration. They have no wish- that an impression should go abroad that we do not want immigrants ; and I do not think that any one in the House, or outside of it, believes that in the case of a strike or disagreement between employers and employed in some big industry, the country should be swamped by men, brought in like a foreign army, to interfere with a purely local trade disturbance, that should be settled by ourselves. While on this point, I may say that I think the insertion in the Post and Telegraph Act. of the provision prohibiting the employment of black labour on our subsidized mail steamers, was a great tactical blunder. The employment of coloured men on board steamers carrying our mails has, after all, no earthly connexion with the principle of a White Australia. Honorable members may make the regulations to prevent them landing in Australia as strict as they please. But why should we prevent them from working on vessels, that carry our mails, and are paid for that service?
– Why not address these remarks to the acting leader of the Opposition ?
– That honorable member was once leader of the party to which the honorable member for Herbert belongs, but he is not now.
– I was never leader of their party.
-I withdraw. I remember many years ago reading a sentiment of the late Mr. Gladstone which made a very great impression on my mind. He was, I’ think, speaking to public men. and he said, in effect, “The first thing is to be sure that you are right in what von want to do. The next thing, and it is quite as important, is to make it apparent to the public, and those with whom you have to deal, that you are right.”
– That is far more important.
– I think that it is far more important in our position. I say to honorable members of the Labour Party that, however strongly they may be in favour of the provision to which. I have referred, nothing they cando or say will satisfy those with whom the Commonwealth should stand well that it is not a gratuitous act of interference with matters practically outside of our own jurisdiction, and to achieve something which is not necessary in order to maintain the principle of a White Australia. The game isnot worth the candle. The Labour Party represent a large body of people in Australia - we are all citizens of no mean country - and I say that we ought by every means in our power, whilst upholding our principles, and carrying out the legislation’ we think necessary to build up the country, to avoid even the appearance of that whichsavours of .dictation or interference withthose beyond our own shores, and to avoid’ doing anything - especially of a trivial character, and which can do no good to anybody - that will prejudice against us thosewhom we seek to bring to the country ascitizens. We should not invite them tothink that it is our desire to keep this country selfishly for ourselves, and to have noconsideration whatever for them. Withregard to the sugar bounties, the honorablemember for Franklin the other night objected to their payment, and spoke of thegrievance they were to fruit-growers. Asone who understands a little about the working of these things, I say that I think the’ honorable member has been misled. I have seen it stated’ by associations of fruitgrowers that they are paying all thesecharges in connexion with sugar, and that they are at a disadvantage. They are at no disadvantage. It is the consumer whohas to pay for the sugar that is in their jams, and the matter affects them only as regards exports. If they wish to export jams to South Africa they must get adrawback of dutv, or they cannot competethere with English exporters of jam. TheFederal Government gives them a drawback of five-sixths of the duty they pay, on foreign sugar, and on a most liberal scale. That is to say, if a jam manufacturer uses 1,000 tons of” sugar a year, and he can dispose of 500- tons of it in the manufacture of jam sold in Australia, and of 500 tons in the manufacture of jam sent to South Africa, he is; able to buy 500 tons of foreign sugar onwhich he pays a duty of £6 per ton, anc? he Can use that sugar in his general business. I think that a great concession has been granted, for on the 500 tons of sugar on which he has paid£6 £6pertondutyheisallowedadrawbackof £5pertonif he exports jam to that extent.
– That is rough on the Queensland grower, because it forces the jam manufacturer to go outside the Commonwealth for sugar.
– The Queensland growlers have a very wide field for their operations. They have the benefit of the whole of the home consumption of Australia, and that is a very big thing. With all respect to the honorable member, I say that I think the proposal made by the honorable member for Gippsland is a reasonable one, ana] could be carried out on safe lines. We should let the payment of the sugar bounties continue for a time, and then taper off, until they entirely disappear.
– The question is, when should the tapering off begin?
– Two or three years from the present time. In the history of country these are small matters. I declare to honorable members that it has been sickening to read in the proceedings of the Conference held at Hobart the small, petty provincialisms that were enunciated there. I think we should try to inaugurate a day of better things, and take larger views of public questions. What will it matter to the Commonwealth if we have to continue the payment of these sugar bounties for a year, more or less, provided it is agreed that they shall then taper off? The thing is not worth talking about.
– If the honorable member were a fruit-grower he would not talk like that.
– I am not a fruitgrower; but, as a matter of fact, I would talk like that if I were a fruit-grower, and understood my business. Does the honorable member meanto tell me that if I put up a tin of jam, the fruit in which costs me11/2d., and thesugar11/2d, and I sell it for 4d., or whatever the profit charged may be, the consumer does not pay the duty on the sugar?
– The honorable member represents the biggest fruit-growing district in Victoria.
– I do; and I have pointed out to fruit-growers who have complained to me that they have been misled by a grievous fallacy.
– Why should the payment of the sugar bounties be continued, when they were only intended to operate for a time?
– The honorable member is raising a very different question. I have found the principle of reasonable compromise a very satisfactory principle to adopt in order to get out of a difficulty. When one comes to an impasse between himself and his opponent, he says, “ there is no use in our going to law; let us settle the matter. You want something, and I will give you half, or I will give you something today and something else next week.” If the application of that principle is satisfactory in dealings between private individuals, it is likely to be infinitely more satisfactory when applied to dealings between countries. We should1 endeavour to take a view of these questions above all petty considerations. I am not saying that the consumer has not to pay in this matter. I say that he has, and not the fruit-grower or the jam manufacturer.
– Would the honorable member like to be compelled to pay 40 per cent. on the raw materials of his manufactures ?
-If the honorable member did he would pass it on to the consumer.
– I would.
– That is one against protection.
– Is it against protection? I have never said, in any of my speeches on the subject, that the consumer does not pay a revenue duty ; but I do say that it does not follow from that that he has to pay more than he would have to pay if he purchased imported articles. I am in a position to prove that, in the case of many of the articles to which I referred during the discussion on the Tariff, and on which there was a contest, that since the duty was imposed the price has gone down, as I predicted it would, for reasons which it would take me too long to explain now. I am sorry that there are not more of our honorable friends from New South Wales present this evening. I have been a politician for a long time, and when I began political life we were at about the same stage in Victoria as they have now reached in New South Wales. There was then here a strong, irreconcilable, dominating, and domineering body of free-traders, more extreme than Cobden ever was, and we had to fight them.
– Good free-traders.
– Good free-traders, I admit, but very bad legislators. “Until their guns were absolutely spiked by the knowledge supplied to them, they persisted in -their efforts to block protection, and some of them to this day like to have a parting kick at the old question. If our friends on the Opposition side of the Chamber only knew the other side of the question, and would allow their minds to be permeated with views which they are not accustomed to read–
– Because they know them too well.
-The self-satisfied man is the hardest1 to convince that he has made a mistake.
– The honorable member is all right.
– The honorable member says that I am all right. I have been on both sides in this matter, and I will tell the Committee my experience. I am a little older than some of these honorable gentlemen. I was born in the middle of the free-trade controversy, and was brought up amongst, and saturated with free-trade doctrines, I inherited the great free-trade principle as I imbibed my mother’s milk. T believed in the freetrade view, though I was never so extreme as some of my honorable friends, because that is not my nature. I was, however, a free-trader, but as I grew older, and perhaps wiser, I had reason to doubt the soundness of the free-trade position. 1 began to see that there was another side to the question, and I would like my honorable friends here to do the same. I began to discover that things did not exactly work out as they should according to free-trade theory, and I tried to get books to read on the subject of free-trade and protection. I knew John Stuart Mill, and I was aware of his famous exception clause, which, to my mind, breaks down his whole argument. He is free-trade to the hilt, but for that. I had also read all the other free-trade works ; but I could not get an English book which would give me’ information on the other side of the question. I therefore sent to America, and also got books from Germany, and one or two from Italy. I saw that there was a very big field of knowledge, of which I had known nothing. I then read List’s book, and I recommend it to my friends here, since I feel convinced, because of their cocksureness, that they have not read it. The result was that I began to doubt the correctness of my views on the fiscal question. In 1887, for the first time for thirty-five years, I re-visited Scotland, my native land, and in the country towns which I knew in my school days, where there had been busy mills and cultivated fields, I found the mills abandoned, and the fields turned into grazing grounds, and, most convincing argument of all, I passed on the road a big waggon laden with bags of flour, marked Minnesota. I began to think that while free-trade might be a good thing for commerce, it was a bad thing for England. Thev are, however, going to alter this state of affairs. Furthermore, I visited the big cities which are busy manufacturing centres, and I found that the terms which were so improperly applied to our Victorian factories the other night were quite applicable to many of their factories. I then asked myself the question, Where, in fifty years’ time, will England get the labour necessary to carry on her manufactures, the country districts having been depopulated by the destruction of the rural industries, and the emigration of the people to other countries and to the big cities? Thus I became a protectionist on the spot; in England, hot in this country. If we wish to build up our industries, we must build them up on protectionist lines.
– Forty per cent, of the population of Victoria resides in Melbourne.
– And what percentageof the population of New South Wales isto be found in Sydney ?
– - At all events, protection has not corrected the evil in Victoria.
– I wish that my honorable friends would open their minds, and1 talk rationally to those who differ from them on this question,.- because I believe that if they did they would get a lot of light and information. As to the’ aggregation of the people in the cities, is not that a movement of the age, common to all countries, free-trade and protectionist alike, arising from moral and social reasons, intothe discussion of which I shall not enter to-night ?
– The honorable member has not referred to the fact that population, has been leaving Victoria for many years past.
– I am a native of Scotland, and they say that Scotchmen are to be found everywhere ; that they like their own country’ so little that they go elsewhere. I do not agree with the latter statement. Many Scotchmen do well in Scotland.
– They do well whereever they go.
– Yes ; and although I am a Scotchman, I am proud of Victoria, because we have trained our agriculturists, manufacturers, and merchants so well, and they are so self-reliant, that if anything is to be done in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, or elsewhere, a Victorian must be got to do it. That is a remarkable fact within my personal knowledge.
– This is the man. who is rebuking us for our self-satisfaction.
– The honorable member brought the remark upon himself, because I did not intend to say anything on the subject. I first visited Sydney in 1877, and established a business there, and my interest is as large in New South Wales as it is in Victoria.
– Did not the honorable member establish his New South Wales business without the assistance of a Tariff?
– There was a Tariff there then. The right honorable member for East Sydney had not come into power. The Tariff is, to some honorable gentlemen, what King Charles’ head was to Mr. Dick. They cannot speak of anything without bringing it in. I went to Sydney in1877, and I think that our firm was one of the first Victorian houses established in New South Wales. Since that time nearly all the old New South Wales houses in leading lines of business have ceased to exist, and their places have been taken by Victorians. I could mention the firms of Sargood, Butler, Nicol and Ewen, Robert Reid and Company, and many others. Who developed Riverina? Who developed Queensland? Who started the Queensland sugar industry ? Men in Melbourne, who lost, I have been told, about , £5,000,000 in doing so. As to Western Australia, in 1891, before gold was discovered in that State, the population was only 30,000. Since then Western Australia has achieved greatness ; and why? Because 150,000 Victorians have gone there..
– Did they leave Victoria because they were doing well?
– The honorable member asks that question most innocently. I never yet met an enterprising man who had any pluck who was not prepared to go where he could better himself. I know of what is going on now. Men always seek the line of least resistance. Our Victorian farmers, for instance, finding that, owing to the high development which their industry has reached, the good markets which are open to producers, and the benefits of our protectionist Tariff, the land for which they paid , £2 is now worth £10 per acre, are parting with their properties and going to New South Wales. A man who has 100 acres of land in Victoria, and finds that he can obtain £1,000 for it, makes up his mind to go to New South Wales or Queensland, where he can obtain 500 acres for the same money. He does not go because he is dissatisfied with his condition in Victoria, but because he thinks he can do better elsewhere.
– That is a very good thing for New South Wales.
– Perhaps so. The honorable member may depend upon it that the Victorians who are going into New South Wales will shake things up there. I should like to say a word or two with regard to another point. The question of what is to be done with tropical Australia will ere long demand1 the most serious attention of this Parliament. We cannot play the part of the dog in the manger too long. I think that we shall not be allowed to do so, or, at least, that we shall have great difficulty in retaining our possessions, unless we make good use of them. I admired the poetical rhapsodies of the honorable member for Moreton in describing bis State, and I agreed with a great deal that he said. Whilst it may be true that sugar can be grown in certain districts of Northern Queensland by white labour, other very important considerations will have to be dealt with. We shall have to solve the problem of how we can make the best use of that large tract of territory stretching right across the continent from the Queensland coast to the north-west coast of Australia, and lying between the roth and 25th degrees ofsouth latitude. We shall have to ascertain whe ther white men can work and thrive there, and it will be the duty of this Parliament to take some steps in that direction. I am not prepared to say how it shall be done, but no solution has been suggested by honorable members who have had experience in those northern latitudes. We find that in the Northern Territory of South Australia there are only 300 or 400 white people, although the settlement there has been in existence for many years. I recently looked at a map of the world, on Mercator’s Projection, and followed the 10th and 25th degrees of south latitude to South Africa and South America. In Africa, I found that they enclosed a country which has been the home of the black races from time immemorial, and which, although invaded by northern races, such as the Assyrians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks, to-day bears no traces of any permanent settlement by white men. In the South American territory, between those degrees of latitude, we find the negroes who were imported, and the native Indians, the inhabitants of Portuguese blood being nearly all half-breeds. Whatevermay be our views with regard to a White Australia, we cannot ignore these important facts, and steps should be taken as early as possible to solve the problem before us. It might be possible to establish, at different points, a number of settlements of white men, with their wives and children. We might insure good pay for such workmen, and offer them every reasonable facility for establishing their homes under reasonably good conditions. We should then , ascertain what they could do, and how climatic influences would operate upon them and their children.
– Croydon has been settled for twenty years.
– I do not know anything about Croydon. It may be exceptionally well situated upon high ground.
– No, its situation is a low one.
– We should take reasonable means to ascertain whether that great tropical belt can be settled by white people. If it can be so settled, we should persist in our efforts to obtain men of the right class. It may be that Italians or Southern Europeans will be able to work there under conditions whichwould be intolerable to the men of our own race. I think it is due to the Commonwealth that the Government should give attention to this question, and seek to devise some means of ascertaining how the country can be worked by white labour, and what effect the climate will have upon the race. I thank the Committee for the kind hearing they have given me, and I trust that everything I have said will be taken in good part, as I had no desire to say anything that would hurt any one’s feelings.
Mr. LIDDELL (Hunter).- As a matter of personal explanation, I desire to say that it has been pointed out to me - it does not appear to me to be a very serious matter - that some remarks I made at an earlier stage of the discussion may be made to bear a meaning different from that which I intended to convey. At the time there was a considerable amount of interruption, and I am not as experienced a speaker as are many older members in this Chamber. Any one who knows me will understand that I would not for a moment seek to convey any such meaning as that which can apparently be placed upon my words. I said -
X maintain that in the back-blocks we are rearing a class of people who are little better than blackfellows. They are constantly intermarrying, and as the result of their environment we are producing a race of degenerates.
When I used_the term “back-blocks,” I perhaps did not fully appreciate the meaning which might attach to it. I was not referring to our large station properties or to our agricultural districts. Those are the parts of Australia from which our best men come - such, for instance, as the men who went to South Africa. I had in my mind certain isolated ‘districts away up in the ranges where the children of poor settlers so seldom see strangers, that, when they do catch sight of them, they actually rush away, and hide behind trees. I know of places where that occurs, and I simply used that ‘illustration in support of ray argument that these people, as the result of their poverty and intermarriage, produce children who are not so bright mentally as they otherwise would be.
– I propose to make a few remarks upon the Treasurer’s Budget, even at the risk of being charged with a desire to waste time. Personally I have never been accused of anything of that kind, but Ministerial supporters have charged members of the Opposition with having adopted “ stone-walling “ tactics during the whole of the past week. There is absolutely no foundation for that accusation. There has been no wilful waste of time by any honorable member on this side of the Chamber. Any waste of time which may have occurred has been entirely due to honorable members opposite, and particularly to members of the Government. It is seldom indeed that more than one Minister is present in the Chamber, and to-night I suppose I should feel highly honoured, because there are no less than four Ministers listening to my remarks. I only regret that they were not present to hear some of the very excellent speeches which have been delivered by honorable members on this side of the House - speeches to which no Minister has attempted to reply.
– What is there to reply to ?
– It is possible that some honorable members opposite do not possess sufficient intelligence to enable them to appreciate an excellent speech when it is delivered. I am sorry to say that all the measures which have been submitted by the Government during the present session bear on their face the hall mark of the Trades Hall. In this connexion I refer specially to the Commerce Bill and the Trade Marks Bill. Members of the Opposition are opposed to socialistic legislation, and hence the criticism in which they have indulged, and which I maintain has been legitimate throughout. I repeat that if the business of Parliament has been delayed the fault rests entirely with Ministers. I contend that they have neglected their duties, and I resent the charge of time-wasting which has been levelled against members of the Opposition. Personally I was very pleased when the Treasurer referred to the population of Australia. The question of how we can increase our population is one of immense importance to us all. When the right honorable gentleman referred to that matter I naturally imagined that he intended to outline some policy by which the Government hoped to attract to this country people from Great Britain and the Continent. But all that he said in that connexion was very disappointing. He admitted that since 1802 the flow of population to Australia had come to an abrupt stop.
– I could not alter the facts.
– I do not find fault with the right honorable gentleman upon that score. Indeed, upon the whole, I think that his Budget was a very clear and intelligent exposition of our financial position. Referring to the question of population, he said -
On the 31st December, 1904, the population was 3,984,376, while on the 1st January, 1901, when the Commonwealth was established, it was 3,765,813 - an increase in tlie four years of 218,563. But if we take into account the excels of births over deaths during that period, which was 223,009, we find that the departures actually exceeded the arrivals by 4,446. The flow of population .into Australia was satisfactory, or fairly so, up to 1892. Then, however, it seems to have Come to an abrupt stop, and it has remained practically at a standstill ever since. For the ten years, from T882 to 1891, the excess of arrivals over departures was 372,832. In T891 the excess was 28,794, but from 1892 to the end of 1904 - a period of thirteen years - the departures exceeded the arrivals by 15,116. During the four years of Federation the departures have exceeded the arrivals, as I have said, by 4,446. Prior to 1881 there were 646,000 persons introduced into Australia wholly or partly at the expense of the various Governments; but State aid, as we al! know, has practically ceased in this connexion for the last twenty years.
I believe that that is to a great extent correct. Very little Government assistance has been given to immigrants from the old land in recent years. The Treasurer went on to say that the whole question was a serious one, which we have to’ face. No doubt every honorable member, could give his own reasons why the immigration has been so small. In my opinion the principal reason is the competition of the United States and Canada. I can quite believe that the attractions of Canada have had something to do with’ preventing emigrants coming to Australia, the distance of this country being so much greater than to Canada. But I do not think that the attraction of the United States has had much influence, because I take it for granted that British people, .on removing from the old land, would prefer to go to a country under British rule.
– They go in thousands to the United States. For one emigrant who goes to Canada, 100 go to the United States.
– They are chiefly emigrants from the Continent of Europe.
– A great number go from Great Britain.
– Quite a large number, I freely admit. Australia was never more prosperous than when we had a stream of immigration arriving every three or four months. For the past three or four years we have been expecting .the Commonwealth Government to do something to bring out to this country a good class of people to settle amongst us. There is room for them. No one will .deny that. I am in accord with the Treasurer when he says that the whole question is serious, and that something ought certainly to be done. I agreed with the right honorable gentleman when he referred to the misrepresentation of Australia. It is most regretable to hear an Australian decrying his own country. But at the same time the Federal Parliament, by passing such a measure as ‘ the Immigration Restriction Act, has done more to disparage the Commonwealth than anything that any individual has said. It is very unfortunate that we have placed upon our statute-book a measure calculated to occasion such incidents as those of the six potters, the six hatters, and the blind gentleman who landed at Hobart a few weeks ago. Since then there has been the case of the groom who secured for himself a ticket-of-leave to make sure that he would be allowed to land at Sydney with his horses.
– That is another “ Tozer “ statement.
– No, Sir Horace Tozer had nothing to do with that incident.
– What about Lady Tozer’s “ slavey “?
– The taking out of an exemption certificate in the case of Lady Tozer’s maid was simply a precaution on the part of Lady Tozer that there would be no difficulty in landing when she came out.
– What made Sir Horace Tozer say that the maid was a prohibited immigrant ?
– I think that, as a matter of fact, the lady has become a permanent resident of Australia, because on the voyage she became attached to a young man on board the steamer, married, and settled here.
– Sir Horace Tozer told me that he would not alter the Act as far as concerns men.
– I have nothing to do with Sir Horace Tozer, but it is certain that such restrictive legislation has not raised Australia in the estimation of any civilized nation. Indeed, we have become the laughing-stock of (he whole world. About two years ago, I visited some eastern countries, and, through the kindness of the Japanese Consul at Townsville, I was given a few letters of introduction to public men in Japan, such as mayors of various cities, members of the Japanese Parliament, and one or two Ministers of the Crown. These gentlemen were exceedingly kind to me, and we became very friendly. At Tokio one day, when I was speaking to a Minister of the Crown, he said, “Mr. Edwards, you do not want Japanese in Australia.” I replied that we should like to have some Japanese; that we considered them to be a very good class of people. “ No,” he said, “ you do not want any Japanese in Australia.” “ Well,” 1 said, “ your country is small, and you have a very large population, something like 45,000,000., Australia as a large country - as large in area as the United States of America - but our population is small, being about 4,000,000. We should not like you to send 5,000,000 or 10,000,000 Japanese to our country and to swamp us out of Australia.” “Still,” he said, “ you do not want Japanese in Australia, but you do not want your own country’s people either. What about the six hatters?” In Japan I found that they were quite familiar with the legislation of the Commonwealth Parliament. I discovered that the same was the case in China and in Hong Kong. How can we expect emigrants to come here under those conditions? Is it likely that we can increase our numbers whilst we retain such legislation? What country would believe that Australia is sincere in her desire to increase her population while such measures remain on our statute-book ? It is just as well that honorable members should thoroughly understand that we have become ridiculous in the eyes of the world. It is just as well, that we , should know what other countries think of our legislation. In Great Britain people are under the impression that no one is allowed to land in Australia without submitting to an education test, and writing a sentence of fifty words, perhaps in a language of which the immigrant cannot possibly be expected to know anything. I admit that that is an error; But it is an impression which prevails in the old country, and trie sooner we correct that impression by doing away with the contract sections of our Immigration Restriction Act the better it will be. I wish to read a letter in which an educated Japanese gives his views of Australia. He says -
You Australians make great efforts to trade. Your Parliaments borrow large sums of money for the purpose of dredging harbors, building docks, wharfs, breakwaters, lighthouses, . &c. You appoint commercial agents to the East, and then you pass legislation which deliberately insults the very people with whom you are making these efforts to trade. You give your children pennies to put into the Sunday-school missionary boxes for the purpose of converting the heathen (and you class” all the coloured races under that category) ; but, even after they have been converted, you regard their presence as a degradation and a menace, and their creation as a blunder. All Christendom torday prays “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven !” Prophets (many of them coloured men) have spoken of and looked forward to the time when the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.” There is not a professing Christian anywherebut must admit the inclusion of the heathen of every tribe and nation in the Gospel plan of salvation, which brings us to the remarkable position that the alien may enter Heaven, but may not enter Australia. Truly, the logic of the wonderful “ White Australia” business leads us to some strange conclusions. Good enough to dwell for all eternity in Paradise with God Almighty, the Archangels, the Cherubim and Seraphim, the spirits of just men made perfect, the glorious company of the apostles and prophets, the noble army of martyrs; but - not good enough to dwell on the same Continent with Mr. J. C. Watson and the Australian Labour Party !
Perhaps the letter is a little extravagantly written, but it contains a good deal of truth. It shows what educated persons in the East think of the legislation of which some honorable members apparently are very proud.
– The honorable member does not pretend that that is true?
– It is perfectly true. If the honorable member knew the Japanese, he would not question the accuracy of the letter for a moment. I have no doubt that he and others think that the Japanese are an uncivilized race ; but-, as a matter of fact, they were civilised before there were any Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, or Welshmen. They trace their Emperors as far back as the time of our Saviour. So far as civilization, refinement, and. education go, we cannot boast that we are superior to the Japanese. We can come very much nearer home. A very interesting article was published in the Age on Saturday last; in fact, it was one of the best articles’ which have been published in that newspaper. It contains a volume of sound common sense, and protests against Australia being fenced in, and a notice posted against persons coming into the territory. I shall content myself by reading the principal portions of the article -
The Australian Commonwealth is larger than the combined areas of Germany, Austria’, France,
Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Scandinavia, and the British Islands. A mere sprinkling of people, numbering fewer than 5,000,000-
I think that it should have been under 4,000,000 - have marked off for their exclusive use this vast territory, claiming more of the earth’s surface than has served the needs of all the white races of Europe, except the Russians; and their main endeavour has been to stock its luxuriant native pastures with cattle and sheep. They have posted up the legend “ a White Australia” on the boundaries of a rich continent, and they seem to expect the teeming populations of the yellow races to respect the notices. It may be taken as certain, however, that the surplus population of the 800,000,000 of the crowded East will need more than mere notices to keep them out of an empty Continent lying at their doors. This Continent is empty and adjacent to the swarming East, and any attempt to retain a monopoly of the country by simply fencing it in and running, sheep and cattle upon it must ultimately end in . failure. The policy of a “ White Australia” can only be made successful byfillingthe country with a large population of white men.
Experience has conclusively proved that such a population cannot be obtained without an effort. The undesirable races will come without being asked,, but it is different with Europeans, especially with those . classes of Europeans who are most needed for the development of new countries. That stream ofagricultural population which for more than a generation has been flowing into the United -States, and which is now being partly diverted into Canada, has been promoted and maintained by strenuous and sustained efforts on the part of these countries. The forces which impel the surplus population of the old countries to emigrate are natural, but the destination of the immigrant is determined by artificial conditions; and the history of emigration shows that the agricultural settler especially goes to those countries which press upon him the most tempting inducements. The emigrating agriculturist with large or small capital does not explore the world in search of hidden land in unknown countries, but before he leaves home he knows where he is going, and he has been convinced by agencies maintainedfor the purpose that he is likely to better his condition.
That is a very sensible article, . and some steps should be taken to bring out persons to occupy the immense areas of vacant land that we.have. If the tropical and fertile lands of Queensland and South Australia are allowed to remain unoccupied for a number of years, is it not possible to imagine that they may be taken possession of by hordes of persons from some of the Eastern countries? Ten, aye, twenty million persons could easily be brought down from China and Japan, i believe that if they ever take possession of the northern lands of; Australia they will make a very good thing out of them. We ought to
– The contract was made by the late Ministry.
– The present Government took over the responsibilities of their predecessors. We cannot call the late Government to account for anything they did, and we are justified in falling back upon the present Government. If -Ministers found out that their predecessors did not do what was right to any State it was their duty to rectify the mistake. I hope that some step in that direction will yet be taken. This is not a mail contract entirely. It is just as much a service for the carrying of produce as it is a mail service, for provision was made in the form of tender that the steamers should provide refrigerating chambers, and make a fixed charge for carrying cargo. Had it been a mail service which ended at Adelaide. I dp not- think that Queensland could have offered any objection. It is a cargo service as much as it is a mail service; and, on that ground, I maintain that Brisbane should have been included as a port of call when tenders were invited. In myopinion, it was a mistake to call for alternative tenders, and I cannot understand how it was that Brisbane was not included in the first instance. Honorable members will have observed’ that since then the Premier of Queensland has been able to make arrangements with the Orient Company to run their boats to Brisbane once a fortnight, in return for an annual payment of , £26,000.
– What Queensland wants is a Torres Straits service-
– I wish that the Premier of Queensland, instead of offering a subsidy of£26,000, had offered to pay £40,000 or , £50,000 for a direct service from Brisbane, along the northern coast to Java, and across the Indian Ocean, such as there was some years ago. For double the amount which Queensland has now to
House adjourned at11. 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 September 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050906_reps_2_26/>.