3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In continuation of certain cablegrams, relating to the approaching visit of the American fleet, that I have already read to’ the House, I now have pleasure in reading the material ‘ parts oftwo others received and’ one sent by us in order that honorable members may be informed of the exact position at the present time. The first cablegram, dated 21st March, reads -
Fleet will leave San Francisco 6th July, and sail for Melbourne viâ Hawaii and Samoa, arriving about1st September. After stay of ten days fleet will proceed to Sydney, and stay ten days.
That was not made public before because, as I have stated, the proposed visit to Japan, and afterwards to New Zealand, was- mentioned after the receipt -of this message, and it appeared possible that these dates might be changed. It was undesirable to mention them until we were sure that no alteration would be made. A further cablegram has just been received from the Secretary of State for . the Colonies, stating that-
Arrival of United States Fleet in Australia will not be affected by visit to Japan. Armoured cruisers will not-cross Pacific, but entire battle fleet, consisting probably of sixteen battle-sbips, will visit Australia, probably divided into two squadrons of eight each.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– If my memory serves me rightly, we have not yet seen in these waters a battleship, strictly so-called, of any nation. In connexion with this matter I sent yesterday the following cablegram to the- Secretary of State for the Colonies -
Ministers will be glad if American Government can be informed that strong desires have been expressed by Governments of Western Australia, South ‘ Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland that Fleet should call at Fremantle, Adelaide, Hobart,and MoretonBay.
Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following papers’: -
United Stales of America Fleet- Cablegrams (dated21st and 31st March) from and to Secretary of State for the Colonies as. to period of visit and ports of call.
Secret Drugs, &c. - Correspondence relating to the appointment of Mr. O. C. Beale asa Royal Commission to inquire into the matter.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the return’ of the expedition to the Tooma site, and the likelihood of the Tariff being returned to us at an early date from another place, he will give the House an opportunity to consider the Seat of Government Bill as soon as the- Estimates have been disposed of?
– I replied yesterday to a similar question stating that, if business permitted we might reach the Bill next
– I should like to know what business the Prime Minister proposes to ask the House to consider before the Seat of Government Bill is dealt with, and whether he will not consider the advisablenessof dealing with that measure immediately after the Estimates are disposed of?
– That is exactly what I propose. When the Estimates are- disposed of by this House I propose to bring on the Bill.
Alleged Shortage of Supplies
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs in a position to say whether there is any truth in the report that, there is a shortage of supplies of canned meatin the United States of America, and, it so, whether an expansion of our export trade in that direction may be anticipated?
– The honorable member was good enough to give me notice of his question, the answer to which is as follows -
On reading the statement referred to, I immediately cabled to London for precise information, and received ‘ a reply stating that it was considered the report was exaggerated, and that the re-shipment of meats referred to stocks withdrawn by the Admiralty. I have since heard from a reliable source that the reshipment of the canned meats was caused by the British Government having resold surplus old stock at . a low price. The facts do not disclose any additional opening for Australian preserved meats.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether any arrangement has yet been made for. the acquisition of the site offered by the London County Council for Commonwealth offices in Lon- ‘ don?
– The London County Council’s offer was declined by this Government. Since then nothing further has transpired with regard to the site so offered.
– Has any other site been offered?
– Other sites have beensuggested, but not by the London County Council.
– Has anything been done?
– Nothing committing the House.
– Can the “Prime Minister say what site is offered to the Government, where it is situated, and how generally the position stands respecting the offer ?
– Several sites have been offered to this Government; and the last two, or, at any rate, the last one, is in the neighbourhood of Trafalgar Square. But in . each case particulars as to plans and other details have been asked for, and these are now on their way.
Naval Brigades’ Long Service Medals
– Some three years ago I suggested in this House that members of our partially-paid naval forces - the naval brigades - should receive long-service medals similar to those awarded to members of our partially-paid land forces. I should like the Minister of Defence to say whether the Department has yet dealt with the proposal, and whether it ever comes to a decision on any question?
– I can only say, in reply to the second part of the honorable member’s question, that there are many experts in the Department. Without expressing an opinion on the first part of his question, and with due reservations. I fail to see why long-service medals should not be given to members of our partially-paid naval forces. I shall look into the matter and give the honorable member some information later on.
Recognition of Secretaries of Service Unions. - Mail Service to Papua
– Has the PostmasterGeneral yet made any arrangement for the recognition of the secretaries of, unions or associations connected with the Post and Telegraph Department by the head of that Department and the Public Service Commissioner?
– The matter is one for the Public Service Commissioner, and is now under his consideration.
– Seeing that there is only a monthly mail service to Papua, and a weekly service as far as Cooktown, . which is only 380 miles from Port Moresby, does not the Postmaster-General consider it desirable, having regard to the development of the territory, to establish, say, a fortnightly service between Cooktown and Port Moresby ?
– If I may be permitted to answer that question, I should like to say that we have on several occasions communicated with the Post and Telegraph Department with regard to this service, but that it is maintained by the Department that the prospective returns from it would not warrant its consideration. We had formerly an intermittent service from Cooktown by a very small steamer, but the proprietors of that vessel did not tender again when tenders were last invited for the carriage of mails. Having regard to the interests of Papua and of Australia, as connected with those of Papua, 1 think that an extension of the service is. desirable. . If the House will be prepared to consider it, I, or whoever occupies my present position, may make some proposal in regard to it in connexion with next year’s Estimates.
– Does not the Merrie England go to Papua ?
– I think it would be a saving of public time if honorable members would consent to allow me’ to move, without notice, what is practically a formal motion carrying out the will of the House in regard to the powers, privileges, and immunities of Parliament. I “Rave shown the motion to as many members as possible.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister “have leave to submit this motion, without notice ?
Honorable Members : Hear, hear.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
Committee be Mr. Bamford, Mr. Fuller, Sir John Quick, and Mr. Wise; two tobe a. quorum.
.- Is it the intention of the Government to submit for the consideration by this proposed Select Committee charges which have already been made, one by Mr. Beale, and the other by the Sydney Bulletin against members of this House?
. -It is not proposed that this Committee shall . exercise judicial functions. The Committee will suggest sortie method of dealing with charges; and, . if the method suggested is appropriate in the cases mentioned, action can be taken.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Dugald Thomson) agreed to -
Return No.1, showing -
Return No. 2, showing the same in regard to’ telegraphic services.
Return No. 3, showing the same in regard to telephonic services.
The total expenditure and revenue of the three Returns to agree with the total Departmental expenditure and revenue for the year dealt with.
Telephones : Notice of Discontinuance : Essendon to Keilor Line - Allowances to Queensland Railway Stationmasters Acting as Postmasters.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon. notice -
– The answers to the . honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
This is really extending the privilege and not curtailing it.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and ‘answers will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Compensation to Bombardier Shergold - Cadet Encampment : Complaints re Food - Easter Encampment : Payments to Militia.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Re Bombardier Shergold: Has’ the Defence Department yet paid him his compensation for accident in. the Field Artillery manoeuvres?
– No recommendation has been made by the Commandant, and I was not aware that any claim had been received from Bombardier Shergold. I have obtained the papers from the Commandant’s Office, and will give instructions for the matter to receive further immediate consideration.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
– I noticed in the press two references to ‘ some complaint having been made, but I know nothing officially. When I saw the press references I asked the Commandant for a report, and his reply contains the information desired by the honorable member. It is as follows: -
There were, no complaints with respect to rations. *
The first meal was issued to the Cadets on arrival in camp on Monday night (23rd ultimo). The Cadet boys from various centres began to arrive at 6.30 p.m., the last into camp were from Horsham and Ballarat, and intervening towns. This body, consisting of about 300 cadets, arrived in camp at 11.30 p.m. All were provided with a meal before retiring. The lateness of this meal, and the fact that only four of the officers attending the camp had any previous experience of camp work, caused some -slight confusion, and consequent dissatisfaction, over the issue of breakfast on Tuesday morn ing.; this was immediately adjusted.
The daily scale of ration’s was - 1¼ lbs. of bread. ½ lb. meat, ¾ lb. mixed vegetables. 1/3 lb. potatoes. 3 ozs. sugar. ¼ oz. salt. ½ oz. tea. 1/8 lb. jam. 1/8 lb. treacle. ½ lb pudding. ¼ lb. rice or oatmeal.
Total weight of ration, 4lbs. 3¾oz. The total amount issued to members of the. Militia -Forces in camp is 4 lbs. 8 17-32 ozs. per day, and to members of the Permanent Forces in quarters 4 lbs. 5-6 oz. per head per diem. It will be seen, therefore, that the daily ration was very liberal for boys between the ages of twelve and fourteen years. The contract price was 8½d. per head per diem. This includes cooks, fuel, and transport. The contract price in the case of the Militia Forces is9d. per head per day. The Militia scale allows1½ lbs. of meat daily. It will be seen that the allowance of meat was ½ lb. per head daily. Instead of a heavy meat ration, which is unsuitable for boys, one meal daily, consisting partly of meat, was considered quite sufficient, the medical officer of the camp fully concurred in this. Breakfast consisted of porridge and treacle, bread and jam, and tea. Rice was substituted for porridge on alternate days. There was a plentiful supply of bread, the amount provided was( the same as that allowed to the adult forces, viz.,1¼ lbs. per day. The tea was good, and was always tested prior to issue. When any shortage occurred in the first issue of rations, additional quantities were immediately forthcoming. The officers supervised the meals of the Cadets under their own charge on all occasions. There was an entire absence of dissatisfaction in regard to the amount and quality of food supplied. The distribution of the rations was submitted to the Medical Officer daily. He expressed himself as being entirely satisfied with the quantity, quality, and variety. The apportionment of food to messes was supervised by a Staff Officer at every meal.
I visited the camp on Tuesday, the 24th instant., arriving . at 1.45 p.m. I at once assembled the Commanding Officers, Headquarters Staff and Medical Officer, and went carefully into the matter of food -supplies and sanitation generally, and directed an alteration in the daily allotment. I made further inquiries of Officers and Cadets - more than half the entire number - taken at haphazard from the various companies, and found that all were well satisfied with the food supplies. The’ health of the camp was excellent throughout.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow:
Mr. Beale’ s Report.
asked the Prime Minister,’ upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. No payments have been made to Mr. Beale for his services. The sum of£68 5s. 4d. was reimbursed to Mr. Beale on the submission by him of a voucher showing that he had paid that sum to Messrs. W. T. Baker and Company for making blocks for illustrations.
– The answer to the first question is very indefinite.
– I think the answer to the question is most definite; not a penny has been paid to Mr. Beale.
– For his services.
– Or for anything else. “The only payment made was a payment throughMr. Beale to Messrs. Baker and Company.
asked the Minister of Trades and Customs, upon notice -
– Full inquiries will be made into the matter.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the foregoing, will the Government request the Administrator of Papua to hold an inquiry into the allegations, and also into matters involving the Director of Mines and Agriculture - statements having been publicly made about him by a late Magistrate of the Territory to the following effect : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as fol- low : - 1, 2, 3. The papers laid on the table yester day answer these questions with full detail. Mr. Champion’s name nowhere appears in connexion with the syndicate.
It is known that application forms signed by Mr. Bloomfield were left with the Director of Agriculture, but it does not appear that any of these have been lodged.
asked the Prime Minis ter,upon notice -
Norfolk Island into the Commonwealth?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from.31st March, vide page 9891) :
Department of the Treasury.
Division 30 (The Treasury), £9,603
– In dealing with these Estimates of the Department of the Trea sury, I’ should like to draw attention to verv considerable increases of expenditure, both in these Estimates themselves and, incidentally, in the Estimates for the other Departments. I wish to deal with not merely the administration of the Department of the Treasury, but also the Treasurer’s administration of the finances of the Commonwealth. I am not going to make my statement a lengthy one, but I think I can show that there have been considerable increases of expenditure which seem to be committing us to extravagance, unless, of course, explanations by the Treasurer can show the contrary. I think that it would be unfortunate if, merely because so much of the financial year has elapsed, we were to accept these Estimates as being of little interest to the Committee, and not to submit them to the careful examination which other Estimates have received. Hitherto the Parliament of the Commonwealth has not deserved the accusation of extravagance that has been so freely made in connexion with it. . The members of this Chamber, and also the’ members of another place, have examined with a very proper care, and have criticised with a keen appreciation of the public interest, the accounts that have been submitted by various Treasurers. I am afraid, however, that on this occasion that criticism is considerably blunted, and that that examination is not in evidence. Possibly, the partial cause is that we have been passing Supply Bills month by month. The usual tendency of living by Supply Bills is to encourage excessive . expenditure in ‘Departments, and to make Parliament less eager and less careful to examine the Estimates, owing to the fact that the money has practically been all spent.
– Parliament has surrendered its effective power.
– Yes. It is a very dangerous system. Under it, Parliament surrenders its functions; and unless it has the strength of mind, when the Estimates do come before it, though its criticism may be of very little use as to the expenditure of the current year - unless then, I say, it has the strength of mind and the determination to see to it that the expenditure is not unduly increased - it means that the year that is neglected becomes a steppingstone to a higher level of expenditure in future years.
– The honorable member’s argument means that we should tackle the
Estimates immediately they are laid upon the table.
– We ought to tackle them - to use the honorable member’s word - at the earliest possible moment, and do with as few Supply Bills as can possibly be arranged.
– That is not possible if we are going to sit all the year round.
– We know that there are difficulties, created by the extension of the length of the session. Of course, the excuse this time is that we have been dealing with the Tariff. But,- nevertheless, I do, say that it is possible to bring in the Estimates earlier than they are usually brought in, and not to require the constant granting of supply for- unchecked expenditure.
– I cannot see that. We must have Supply Bills, because this House would not allow the Appropriation Bill to. become law long before Parliament rose.
– We can consider the Estimates at an early date in the session. What we do with- the Appropriation Bill is quite another thing.
– We must - pass Supply Bills if we sit all the year round.
– If we have considered the Estimates that does not matter. If Supply Bills are based upon Estimates which we have considered, there is not the same objection to them. What I am really objecting to is the passing, of Supply Bill after Supply Bill without having considered the Estimates,, or having approvedof them.
– Based on the old Estimates ?
– That would apply to the Works Estimates rather than to these Estimates, which consist mainly of salaries.
– I have taken some figures out of these Estimates, and in doing so I may state that . I am not merely dealing with the Treasurer’s administration of his own Department. That is a minor duty, so far as he is concerned. I am dealing with his administration of the finances generally. I find, from a rough examination of the Estimates - of course one has to go through a good many figures to obtain these particulars - that there has been an increase practically in all the Departments under the different headings to which I will refer. In salaries and temporary assistance, the total increase is ; £61,318. In postage and tele grams, the increase is £2,120, spread over all Departments. In printing, the increase is£2,331, spread over all Departments,: except one. In travelling expenses, the increase is£2,715, spread over all Departments except one. In office requisites, account books, and so on, the increase is £6,957, spread over all . Departments ex-, cept one. In incidental and petty cash expenditure, the increase is £398, spread’ over all Departments except one. These figures make,with the increase of , £61,318 in salaries, a total of £75,839.
– Since when?
– As compared with the appropriation of last year. A proportion of the increases in salaries are increases due to our Public Service Act. I quite recognise that, as the members of this Committee must recognise it.
– Do the honorable member’s figures relate to all Departments ?
– I am quoting these figures as evidence of the. administration of the finances of the Commonwealth.
– The figures are not confined to the Treasury?
– Oh, no. I Gan give them for the Departments separately.
– I have not control over the other Departments.
– I will mention the particulars for the Treasurer’s information ; but will’ first conclude what I have to say on this point. We all recognise that if not one additional employe were added to the Commonwealth service, there must be, under the provisions of our Public Service Act, increases of expenditure, by the movement of officers from grade to grade, and through increases within the classes. The increases must be earned, by merit and service, but, given these, . they come automatically. Consequently, if there were not an increase in the number of public servants in any- one ‘ year, there would still be an increase in the cost of the service, and this will continue to be the case -until the retirements balance the increases, an equilibrium which is not likely to be reached for many years. The increases to which . I have referred, ‘ ‘however are due largely to additions to the service. It must not be thought that I have tried to be too critical. I have not taken into account new Departments, or Departments which! have not been in existence for two years. I have not reckoned in the Metereological and Statistical Departments ; the increase in the Printing Office, which, being largely for material and wages, may be due to an increase of work j the increases in trie Defence Department, except so far as the central administration is concerned ; nor the large increases in the Postmaster-General’s Department in connexion with the climatic allowance of a.n additional 5 per cent, to certain officers in Western Australia and elsewhere, and certain allowances to postmasters. I have dealt only with the Departments and the routine work they have been doing for a number of years. In the Department of External Affairs the increases amount to £1,5857.
– I have no wish to prevent the criticism of my administration, but, as I fear that the honorable member’s remarks may lead to a second Budget debate, if he is permitted to discuss expenditure not coming under the Department of the Treasury, I ask whether he is in order ?
– My allusion to other Departments has been only incidental, and the elaboration which I was about to make- was asked for by the Minister. I am criticising his administration, not merely of the Treasury, but of the finances generally, and it is customary, in financial debates elsewhere, .to criticise the administration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or a State Treasurer, not only in regard to his own Department, but in regard to ‘the finances generally.
– It has been customary, in dealing’ with .Estimates, ito allow a general Departmental debate on the first item of each Department, and I understood the honorable member for North Sydney to refer only incidentally to the expenditure of other Departments, Therefore, he was riot out of order, but he must not deal, in detail, with the expenditure of any other Department than the Treasury. *
– I bow to your ruling, sir, and merely point out that the Minister asked for the figures which I was about’ to give, and then, when I proceeded to comply with his request, took the point of order.
– I merely asked whether the figures given by the honorable member referred to one Department or to all the Departments.
– There are large increases of expenditure in the Treasury.
– If the honorable member refers to page 36, he will see that the total increase is only £91.
– The total increase may be £91 ; but, in comparing the total expenditure. of a Department during two years, it must be remembered that some items in one year do not occur the next. For instance, last year we voted £46,000 extra for electoral expenditure, which we are not’ asked to vote this year, because no elections are to take place. In the Department of the Treasury . there is an increase of ,£5,143 in salaries and temporary assistance, of ,£270 in postage and telegrams, of £20 in, printing) of £225 in.- travelling expenses, of £235 in office requisites, and of- £”75 in incidental expenses and petty cash, making al total of .£5,968. The; greater part of these increases occur in connexion with the Auditor-General’s Department. The increases there of salaries come to nearly ^5,000, which is equal to almost 50 per cent, on the expenditure of last year. Sir William Lyne. - That is accounted for by the transfer of certain officials from the Department of Trade and ‘Customs.
– That may be a good answer, but I can show that, notwithstanding that transfer, there is a large increase- in the expenditure of the . Department of Trade and ‘ Customs. I do not see what good reason there .can be for these increases throughout all the Departments, in connexion with the items which I have enumerated. If we are not prepared, or have not an opportunity, to give to these Estimates the close scrutiny they require, in order that each of the items to which I have referred may be tested, we ought, at least, to indicate that in passing them we desire that they shall not be regarded as a proper basis. for future Estimates. ‘ They ought not to be accepted as a basis for further increases next year and thereafter.
– I have had a big fight in mv efforts to keep down expenditure.
– The honorable gentleman says that he has been sitting tightly on the Treasury chest, but judging by these items he is a lighter weight than I imagined. A careful examination of the Estimates should satisfy the Treasurer that there has been a remarkable increase in every Department.- I recognise that possibly the fact that he had charge of the Tariff in this House prevented him from giving to them the attention that they would otherwise have received from him.
– I could not have paid more attention to them.
– The Treasurer, at all events, ought to take care that, in the absence of good reason for so doing, future Estimates are not framed on the basis of those now before us. I have not -included in my figures the meteorological and statistical branches of the Department for Home Affairs. The items relating to those branches of the service are not quite new, but I have not endeavoured to take any advantage of the increases relating to them or in any new service. An examination discloses that items relating to the routine work of the-old Departments have increased to such an extent that, in passing these Estimates, we should indicate by motion our sense of the necessity for some reduction in future Estimates.
– And so pass a vote of censure on the Treasurer?
– I do not suggest that.. On one occasion we reduced the Estimates of the Department of , Defence . by £130,000.
– The Government themselves did that.
– But at the , request ofParliament. I. am quite willing, that the Minister should propose to reduce these Estimates, not by £130,000, but merely by £1, as an. indication of the feeling of the Committee as to what ought to be done. I for one am not prepared, without reason shown, to refrain from recording some protest against the allround increase in the cost of the routine work of the Departments, apart altogether from the Quarantine, Meteorological, and Statistical branches of the service.
– I hope that the honorable member will not move the amendment he has indicated until he has heard what I have to sav on the subject.
– I am perfectly willing that the Minister should speak before I submit my proposition. I cannot recall the exact -words used by him in submitting, during the financial year, various Supply Bills to the House ; but I understood him to say, on each occasion, that they provided for the services of the Commonwealth on the scale of last year’s Estimates.
– That was the statement.
– Quite so ; the honorable gentleman said that there was nothing in them to which special attention need be called.
– I had to use practically the whole of the Treasurer’s advance account to keep the Departments going, and I had no control over much of the. expenditure to which the honorable member refers.
– I am not endeavouring to lay the- blame on the shoulders of the Treasurer ; but having regard to the fact that, notwithstanding the assurance given to. the House that the Supply Bills provided for the carrying on of the services of the Commonwealth on the scale of last year’s Estimates, we now find that there has been a considerable increase, we must hold the Government responsible. I recognise that the Treasurer might have found himself compelled to meet unforeseen items ; but I do say that the cost of the ordinary routine working of the Departments should not have been increased under the Supply -Bills, unless Parliament was so informed.
– The honorable member would not include in his complaint of increased cost ‘ the cost of meeting inordinate public demands for telephones or other reproductive works.
– I am hot taking them into account; nor am I taking into account the cost of new Departments.
– If 20,000 additional; telephones are supplied, we must have a commensurate increase in the number of telephone attendants.
– I am not taking into account an increase of £87,000 in respect of the Post and Telegraph Department, nor an increase of £61,000 in connexion with the Department of Defence. But when we find that increases have occurred in the mere working expenses of every Department, . and that no explanation is offered-
– The answer given to me when I inquired about these increases was that - the Departments were undermanned.
– But the increases relate, not only to the cost of manning the service,- but to expenses ‘in respect of postage and telegrams, ‘ and; other working expenses.
– That is because of increased business.
– The only explanation I can offer for the increase in respect of postage and telegrams is, that the Departments have shown a tendency to make greater and greater use of . the telegraph wires where letters would have met the case.
– The money . paid in respect of telegrams goes into the general revenue. .
– That is what the officers think. In dealing with the cost of telegrams, they say, in effect, ‘After all it is only a book entry ; the cost to the Government is nothing.” As a matter of fact, the increased use of the telegraph wires by the various Departments of the Commonwealth means an increased demand on telegraph operators and telegraph wires, and often results, in general business being blocked. I should like to think that this increase in respect of telegrams was due to increased departmental activity. That would be a rather surprising development; but I am afraid that the true explanation is ‘that many officers consider that’ it is less troublesome to send a telegram than to write a letter. In these Estimates the cost of telegrams is not separated from the cost of postage, but there must have been a considerable increase in the telegraphic messages sent by the Departments, for the large increase shown under that heading would not be due only to additional postage. ‘ We have always devoted very serious attention to’ the expenditure of the several Governments’ that have been in power since the establishment of Federation. Honorable members on both sides of the House have been ready to consider any legitimate criticism of the Estimates, and even Government supporters have criticised any proposals that seemed to suggest Federal extravagance. I am afraid, however, that we are departing from that stand. Owing to circumstances which are rather extraordinary, we have allowed a series of Supply Bills to be passed with, I fear, the usual result. Expenditure has gone on increasing, and there has been no opportunity of criticising it. In some -cases, apparently, the expenditure has not been restricted. It Has simply been a case of “ Here is a demand to spend money, and we must spend it.”
– I can assure the honorable member that I have done all I can to avoid increased expenditure.
– I think that the figures that I have mentioned would justify the Minister in making a searching examination of the expenditure of the Departments. The Estimates of working expenses are composed of a number of small sums which, grouped together, represent large amounts, the total shows a great expansion, but, under the circumstances, we can do nothing effective. There may be a tendency, I am afraid, to accept, these Estimates as legitimate, and as fulfilling the desires of Parliament, and to make them the. basis of. the Estimates of next year, and an excuse for large increases then. In the Treasurer’s Department there is an increase of nearly 50 per cent, in the salaries - that is, in the AuditorGeneral’s branch. This may be perfectly explainable by the transfer of officers, it may be, from the Customs Department; but, at the same time, the expenditure has increased in the latter Department; also to the extent of £13,502.
– I do not think there has been much increase in the expenditure of the Customs Department since the start.
– I do not think there has, until this year.
– The Commerce Act is administered by the Customs Department.
– But I have allowed for the £12,000 on that account. If I have erred at all, I think I have erred on the side of. not being unduly critical ; but I must protest against an increase which is serious, and more marked than any increase in other Estimates, even after allowing for the additional expenditure caused by new legislation. Unless the Minister can show that this increase is justified, not merely in his, but in other Departments, or will otherwise satisfy me, I must enter a protest in the least offensive way, of indicating that Parliament does not accept these Estimates as the proper basis of future Estimates, but will require, in the future, evidence of the need for considerable increases in . the items to which I have referred.
– I desire to take the present opportunity to say a few words on’ ‘the criticism that has been offered by the honorable member for North Sydney. In the first place, I have to say. that, while I have been Treasurer, I have tried my best to keep down expenditure, especially in one or ‘two of the Departments. First of all, however, I was met with the objection that I had no right to interfere. I know what my rights are as Treasurer, and, though there might be some question raised as to interference inthe expenditure of money authorized by Parliament, I take it that I have a right to the fullest information when it is sought to have additional expenditure in any one of the Departments. Every proposal for additional expenditure has been criticised by me most keenly. That has been so, not only in regard to salaries, which are under the control of the Public Service Commissioner, but in cases where I have been requisitioned to supply the funds to enable the number of employes to be increased. These requests have in some cases almost frightened me, and I have done my best to keep the expansion within bounds. In some Departments I have refused any advance of money except on the certificate of the Public Service Commissioner, who I know has taken a very great interest in this matter. All along the line, however, it is urged upon me that the Departments have hitherto been undermanned, more especially in the case of the Department of Trade and Customs and the Post and Telegraph Department. I have interviewed both Ministers and heads of Departments, in order to ascertain whether it is really necessary to temporarily, at any rate, make the fresh appointments desired, and I conceive thatthis is the duty of a Treasurer who desires to keep the Estimateswithin reasonable limits. I fear that unless a firm grip is taken, we may, in a year or two, find ourselves in such a position that there will be an outcry for retrenchment. I am met with statements to the effect that certain Departments are earning much more than in the past, and that the expansion of business makes additional assistance necessary ; and, again - I am referring more particularly to the Department of Trade and Customs and the Post and Telegraph Departments - I was advised by one of the principal heads of the Customs Department that in Sydney the business could not becarried on unless more assistance was given - that everything was checked owing to undermanning.
– The widening of the duties may, of course, account for that in the Customs Department, butthe increases I refer to are in every Department.
– The statement to me is that every Department has been undermanned, and I have asked one member of the proposed Committee of the Cabinet to look into this very question, and see whether it is really necessary to make the additional appointments which have been asked for.
– The honorable gentleman is on a good wicket this time.
– I generally am; but I may say thatI have had to bear a great deal - I shall not say abuse - but of odium, because I would not grant the money asked for. I have no desire, of course, to curb reproductive expenditure, but only to check any undue expansion in the administrative Departments. I cannot go into the details now, but I hope to have the Additional Estimates on the table tomorrow or the next day, when honorable members will be able to judge how this expansion has progressed. I do not blame any one, and the expansion may be absolutely necessary and inevitable ; but I am not going any further until Parliament votes the money which has been asked for. This, in my opinion, is a very serious matter, and one for the House to deal with. . I hope, however, that there will be nothing in the shape of a vote of censure.
– There is no vote of censure contemplated.
– But if an adverse vote be given, I shall certainly think I am censured.
– If the Minister thinks this money ought not to be spent, he ought not to hesitate.
– I am told that in order to meet the public requirements, more officers ought to be appointed, and that, therefore, the money must be spent. I may say, however, that I have not gone to the length desired, because 1,570 new appointments were recommended, and I-
– The Minister’s position would have been very much strengthened if a general Committee of Inquiry, and not a Cabinet Committee,had been appointed.
– That is a matter for the Cabinet or the Prime Minister.
– In this matter, we are really supporting the Minister.
– I am very glad to hear the criticism, but I do not desire a vote which may be taken as one of censure.
That I should resist to the fullest’ extent, while welcoming criticism which bears me out in the position I have taken up. I have no doubt that the heads of the Departments will take notice, as I shall myself, of such speeches as that delivered by the honorable member for North Sydney. The carrying out of the works need not all be rushed into the one year, but should go on year by year. I have pointed out to the Public Service Commissioner, and to the heads of Departments, that the last year or two have been boom years, and that, therefore”, the time may come when we shall feei the pinch, and have to retrench. Personally, I have no desire to see a repetition of what occurred in the past in New South Wales ; and I have issued a warning accordingly. A Minister at the head of the Department of Trade and Customs or of the Post and Telegraph Department, must depend on his officers to a large extent - he can only govern totals, and not always these. The honorable member for North Sydney referred to the danger of Supply Bills, but was generous enough to say that this session their submission had been caused bv the consideration of the Tariff. Personally, I think Supply Bills are highly improper,’ and I have fought against them in the State Parliament ofNew South Wales.
– What else could we have done?
– I know of no other way, unless time is specially set apart early in the session for the consideration of the Estimates.
– Suppose the Treasurer did so?
– Then Parliament knows what it is voting.
– There is no objection to passing Supply Bills if we have considered the Estimates.
– The Estimates are laid upon the -table early in the session. The honorable member means, I suppose, that they should be passed up to the stage of introducing the Appropriation Bill?
– We always vote Supplyon the basis of the old Estimates.
– My point is that the expenditure has increased tremendously.
– I know that it has. The honorable member said that he thought in connexion with the expenditure on postage and various things of that kind that there was a more general use of the telegraphic service by the Departments than was formerly the case, and that that entailed the employment of additional hands and additional lines. I cannot speak from experience as to whether that is so.
– I only supposed so because of the increase of expenditure under that heading.
– I should hardly think that that is the explanation. I doubt whether there has been an increased use pf the telegraph service to any appreciable extent. It is only from the Departments which use the telegraph most that we can find that out. As to the increases in the Customs Department, I find from the Secretary of the Treasury that the increased expenditure is £1,498. In regard to the Auditor-General’s office, provision was. made for the transfer of officers who were previously in the Post Office and the Customs Department. Those officers have’ been transferred to the Auditor-General, and their salaries are now debited to his Department. The increase is due to the larger Customs revenue, and’ to the consequent increase of work. That is the answer given to me by the Secretary of my Department as to the- reason for the Auditor-General’s Department being increased. I knew it before, but I thought it advisable to get a statement from the Secretary to the Treasury.
– It does not necessarily follow that an increase of Customs revenue mean’s increased expenditure on the Customs Department.
– When I was Minister of Trade and Customs, I went to the Customs House in Sydney to look into some complaints as to there being a block, in the work. I found in one room - the invoice room, I think it was - that the space was insufficient. I had to have the room enlarged, and to appoint a number of fresh officers, because of the increase of work. Increased importations involve an increased amount of checking. When there is an enormous increase of business we must have additional officers to do it. I wanted the Postmaster-General to hear the remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney, because I know that he is doing his best to keep down expenditure in his Department in a reasonable way.’ It takes a man versed in administration to control the officers and the expenditure of a great Department.
– That Department must grow.
– It must grow, and as long as it does not grow inordinately I do not mind. But I am told that the Department has absolutely been undermanned. Later on I shall have to come down to the -House with additional Estimates to cover a number of items, the particulars concerning which will make the Committee thoroughly aware of the growth of the Department. Practically all the money voted on last year’s Estimates for the Department has gone in nine months, and I have had to make provision to carry on for the additional three months of the year. That is really the position.
– Has the money gone on expenditure on fresh works, or has it been spent departmentally ?
– On works, and departmentally also. But I do not wish to deal more fully with the subject now. I hope that honorable members opposite will recognise that I have tried for more reasons than one to control the expenditure of the Departments in such a way that it can never be said of me that I allowed an undue increase of expenditure while I was Treasurer. Where money is required I want to give the fullest amount that is necessary, but no more. I want to see the Departments increase as they should increase, proportionately with the work to be done. But I do not want to have the blame attached to me that I allowed Departments to grow unduly, or that I squandered money in any shape or form.
– The speech of the honorable member for North Sydnev must have been very refreshing to you. Mr. Chairman, in view of the interest which you always take in the criticism of the Estimates. I agree with the honorable member that by our system of passing Supply Bills we are giving up control over the Treasury, and the Departments. We have virtually surrendered our power as representative men, and all that we can do is to wait until next year’s Estimates come before us, and to say what we intend to do with regard to them. I appreciate the detailed statements which the honorable member for North Sydney has given us. Their preparation must have involved a large amount of research. The Treasurer himself admits that there has been increased expenditure, and says that he welcomes criticism though he fears a vote.
– I do not fear a vote, but I should take it as a vote of censure.
– I am not concerned about a vote, because I have sufficient parliamentary experience to know that a vote cast with regard to any. Minister would be ineffective. We should not expect a Minister to continue in his position in face of an adverse vote on his Estimates. I hope, however, that the Treasurer will not be thin-skinned in regard to this matter.
– I am getting that way.
– For many years the honorable gentleman’s skin has been rather tough. I should have classified him as belonging to the- rhinoceros order. I am well aware, through inspired paragraphs in the press, that for some time past the Treasurer has been trying to carry out the duties that properly belong to his office, by keeping a tight hand on! the public funds. The same inspired paragraphs have led us to . believe that there has been almost a riot in the Cabinet through other Ministers desiring to get more money for the purposes of their Departments.
– That is not true.
– It has been stated in the press that there was a real trial of strength between the Treasurer and the political heads of some other Departments who were not satisfied with the money allotted to them.
– I must say that those rumours are not true, and that the Ministers referred to have on all occasions treated me in the most generous way ; because I have been pretty severe.
– I am pleased to know that the rumours to which ‘ I refer were exaggerated, and that the Treasurer has had the generous, assistance of his colleagues in the Cabinet. He also admits that our method of passing frequent Supply Bills is not a good one, but I point out that the only voice raised against them on many occasions was my own. Time after time, some excuse was made for introducing such measures - either that the Government wanted to get on with some other business, or that the public servants were waiting to be paid, or that the Treasurer wanted for some other reason to get the Bill through. It is to be hoped that next session we shall be able to deal with the Estimates early in the year, so that our control over the expenditure will not be merely a myth. I should like to draw attention to the enormous growth of expenditure, bearing out what the Treasurer has admitted. He says that we are now enjoying fat years, but that we may have lean years to follow, and that some drastic retrenchment may be forced upon him if he does not take a stand at the present time. If honorable members look at the abstract of expenditure, they will find that increases in all Departments, special appropriations, ordinary votes, and expenditure on new works, amount to £980,691 for the year 1907-8. On a percentage basis, that is about a 25 per cent, increase over the total expenditure for the year 1906-7.
– What for?
– –The honorable member will find the details if he looks at the abstract.
– What have we got for it?
– I admit that special appropriations amount to £294,000, and that the Post and Telegraph Department accounts for an increase of £181,000. But, notwithstanding that, there is an increase of close upon £700,000 over and above the expenditure of 1906-7 for all the Departments. I know, however, that Parliamentis not inclined to pay much attention to these matters at the present time. Honorable members say that the money has all been spent, and the mere recital of the expenditure is not sufficient to attract the attention of the Committee. If the Treasurer desires to make his control over the finances effective, he is doing the right thing in inviting criticism. The criticism which he has received shows that honorable members appreciate the work that he is doing in keeping a tight grip over expenditure. In the early days of Federation, we had, as Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Sir George Turner, who made a name for himself in Victoria during her days of trouble by his careful control of the finances, which enabled him to pull his State out of the mud. Any Treasurer who follows in Sir George Turner’s footsteps, even if he errs on the side of parsimony, is a far more useful Treasurer to the Commonwealth thin would be a spendthrift or one who neglected his duty.
– I am no spendthrift, except with my own money
– The other day, I said that the Treasurer was a miser in regard to public expenditure. But, after all, it is the duty of a Treasurer to be careful with the public funds. I can quite under stand a Treasurer making a good excuse for increased expenditure, and saying that for every needful development of the Post and Telegraph Department and the Customs Department we get additional receipts. If we can, by spending £1, get an increased return of 25s., that is business. But when we see so large an increase of expenditure over that for the year 1906-7, it is only right that we should make our protest. The honorable member for North Sydney has shown the growth of the Departments in detail. If honorable members look at the Estimates, they will find that there have been increases in every Department. On the ordinary votes, the increase is practically £340,000 ; the increase for additional works is £347,000. Now we are told that in a .day or two the Treasurer intends to dump down on the table Additional Estimates that will stagger us. He fears that if we go on in this way there will, in -a few years, be a call for retrenchment. We do not want to live in a fool’s paradise. It is far better to keep a careful control over the finances now than to have to cut down expenditure a few years hence. My contention in resisting Supply Bills all along has been, not that the Government would not use wisely the money voted, but that Parliament was surrendering its control over public expenditure. In my view, it is the duty of a public, man to keep his finger upon the expenditure of the country, and to see that care is exercised in the administration of every Department. He tells the electors that he will do so when he offers himself as a candidate. One of his highest functions as a public man is to exercise control over the public- funds. If we are to surrender this right, why should we go through the farce of discussing Estimates? I understand the Treasurer’s dilemma. He says that it is all very well for honorable members to complain that he has not proper control” of the public expenditure, but he adds that he himself has cause for complaint, under the circumstances, in regard to their attitude towards the expenditure of the Postal- or some other Department. Honorable members advocate large expenditure in their own electorates, and yet find fault with him for not having proper control over the finances. An honorable member cannot properly urge economy on the Treasurer, and then ask for extravagant expenditure. His attitude , should be consistent in regard to all the Departments. The Treasurer has told us that he has been informed by other Ministers that their Departments are unworkable because undermanned. Of course, they rely upon the statements of their officials.. But are we to be content with such statements? Are we going to leave matters entirely to the officials ? . I support the criticism of the honorable member for North Sydney, and trust that in the f future he will strongly oppose the introduction of Supply Bills. I have suggested that, instead of having a prorogation, we should have a short adjournment very soon, so that we may do the financial work of next year at the proper time. The abstract on- page 5 of these Estimates shows that the yearly .expenditure of the Commonwealth is increasing tremendously. This year there is an increase of about 30 per cent, on the expenditure” of last year. The Commonwealth cannot stand increases like this. But, by voting money by passing Supply Bills, Parliament loses its- control of the purse. I hope that honorable members will feel that a close examination of the Estimates is necessary, and, to be effective, it should be the first work of the session. I have heard it said by many a Treasurer on the introduction of a Supply Bill that it is to be the last. I believe the Treasurer said that about the last Supply Bill. I hope, however, since there have been so many lasts, that;- it will be the final last.
– I regret that the Treasurer replied to the criticism of the honorable member for North Sydney before the other side of the case had been put. I give place to none in advocacy of economy ; but what is called economy is often merely sitting hard on. the Treasury chest, and refusing to make provision for needed and useful public works, sometimes with the result of bringing about increased expenditure in the future. The expenditure of the last few months disposes me to criticise adversely the . action of the Treasurer in starving the Departments.
– I dealt, not with the expenditure for general purposes, but with departmental expenditure.
– I have not looked very closely into the departmental expenditure, because I took it for granted that the parsimony which has characterized the Treasurer in regard to country works must have led to economy in departmental administration.
– I excluded increases on public works.
– My attention will be confined to the administration of the Treasurer during the past few month-; iri regard to necessary public works, which h is been so parsimonious as to reflect no credit on him. Calare is a country electoral division embracing a considerable area, where the population, although scattered among small centres, is increasing steadily, and consequently requires increased facilities in the way of mail service, post-office accommodation, and the extension of telegraph and telephone lines. The Department of the Postmaster-General’ has of laic years done yeoman service in. try ing to meet the growing needs of settlement, and in no way- can we better commend ourselves 10 the people than by providing them with facilities for communication. But during the past few months work has been practically stopped, because the Treasurer has refused to grant the necessary funds. As an instance of this, I may say that, when a few months ago I visited Molong, a very old township in the middle of a well -settled district in my electorate, I found that the mails were still being conveyed from the railway station to the post-office by the letter-carrier. At one time, he could do this easily, carrying the sack on his back, but of late he has had to provide a hand cart, and the work, has increased so much that the public are deprived of his services in other directions. I represented the matter to’ the authorities, with the result that tenders were called for the conveyance of mails between the railway station and the postoffice, and a suitable tender was accepted. But, on passing through the town the other day, I found the letter-carrier still engaged in the work, because the Treasurer has refused to provide the money necessary to pay the contractor. The people of that town also petitioned for a telephone bureau. They obtained the requisite number of subscribers, and complied with all the departmental rules, their applicationbeing finally approved. But, for want of means, nothing has yet been done by the Department. In another instance, after the retirement of a non-official postmaster, the people’ in the locality petitioned for the reestablishment of the office.. That was approved of, and another officer nominated, at a fixed salary. ‘ But the Department has since had to make it known that the appointment cannot be made until funds are available. I have received a communication from one of the leading residents of the district, and one of the chief movers in the matter, in which he tells me that the people there seriously think of subscribing, or -obtaining in’ some other way, money to carry out this service until the Department can supply the necessary funds. Similar occurrences are taking place in other parts of my electorate, and in other electorates, and no criticism by the press and politicians of . Sydney can do more to bring Federation into popular contempt than the parsimony of the Treasurer in regard to important and much-needed public works. We experience great difficulty in obtaining postal and telegraphic facilities that are urgently needed. It must be shown that a service asked for will pay practically from the start, and in some cases guarantees have to be given. The people cannot understand why, after all these preliminaries have been disposed of, such a big Department should have to explain that it has not available the funds necessarv to provide for such services, and that they must wait until the necessary provision has been made by the Treasury. This question may seem unimportant to some people, but it is of vital concern to those directly interested, and the continuance of the present state of affairs will do more to bring the Federation into disrepute than will any criticism hurled at it by the Sydney press orby the Governments of the States. The parsimony displayed by the Treasurer is not in the interests of the people whom we are here to serve, nor will it promote the interests of the Federation’. I have cited only a few of the causes for complaint against the Commonwealth which exist in New South Wales, and I daresay that the position is the same in the other States. Throughout the press of New South Wales complaints of the’ undermanning1 of the Post and Telegraph Department are made from time to time, and we are told of a condition of affairs that ought not to obtain under the regime of a Government which professes to be taking the lead in the humanitarian movement. Men in the Postmaster-General’s Department who produce doctors’ certificates showing that their health will be vitally affected by their remaining on duty are often compelled to stand by their posts because the Department has not a proper relieving staff. ‘ For the same reason the whole system of annual leave is practically at a dead stop. Honorable members will readily understand that men who have served for years in the heat of the back country need to be relieved when they get run ‘ down. Under present conditions, however, they are relieved only under themost extreme pressure. Those acquainted with the development of New South Wales know that its postal, telegraphic, and telephonic work, has increased by leaps and bounds during the last few years, and that there has not been a proportionate increase in the staff of the Department. “ The consequence is that we have men working at high pressure, and numerous complaints of sweating. When we proceed to investigate the matter, we are led first of all to suppose that the Deputy Postmaster-General and his staff are responsible. A brief inquiry is sufficient to show, however, that they have made years ago the necessary representations as to the need for meeting the growing demands on the service. Then ‘we are told that the Public Service Commissioner, with a desire for economy, has refused to indorse the recommendations of his responsible officers, but finally, as the result of questions put to Ministers in this House, we discover that the Commissioner has made recommendations for a large increase in the service, and that the stumbling block in the way of such an increase is to be found on the door-step of the Treasury. I understand that the Commissioner last year recommended something like 1,000 new appointments to the Public Service, and that although that recommendation was submitted to the Cabinet for consideration in connexion with the framing of these Estimates, no provision has been made to give effect to it. Such a state of affairs ought not to be tolerated. If any one ought to be familiar with the needs of the Post and Telegraph Department, it should be the Deputy- Postmaster-General in each of the States, and the Public Service Commissioner, . who has to look after the strength and efficiency of the service. If we are tc permit the Treasurer, in the name of economy - falsely so-called - to frustrate the efforts of those officers - to over -ride the recommendations of the responsible men in a Department - we might as well let him take sole control of the affairs of the Commonwealth, and run them at his own sweet will. Whilst he refuses to grant the supplies necessary to carry on urgent works, he practically controls the whole Federal machine, and denies to responsible . officers the opportunity to carry on the service on lines which experience leads them to believe are the soundest to adopt. The post-card craze has largely increased the work of the Post and Telegraph Department, and last Christmas /a great deal of friction and dissatisfaction was created in Sydney owing’ to its inability to deal with the great rush of work so caused. That inability was due, not to want of foresight on the part of the responsible officers, but to the refusal of the Treasurer to provide them with the means to avoid it. In order that there might be no block of business, the Deputy Postmaster- General was obliged to employ a number of temporary hands. In that way the pressure, was relieved, but these unfortunate men, who had served the Commonwealth well, were told when they should have received their wages that no money was available, and they had to go without any pay during the holiday season; After pressure had been brought to bear upon the Treasurer, the necessary funds were made available.
– I think that the honorable member is now going beyond a reasonable discussion of the Treasurer’s Estimates. He is entering too fully into details relating to the Department of the PostmasterGeneral.
– I am conscious that in directing this criticism to the Postmaster-General and his responsible officers, I shall not be hitting at those who should be rightly blamed for the trouble. It is for the purpose of addressing my remarks to the Minister primarily responsible that on these Estimates I have gone into details in connexion with the working of the Post and Telegraph Department. The Treasurer should not consider that the only charge against which he has to guard is one of wasteful expenditure. There is a true and a false economy, and in connexion with the matters to which I have referred, the honorable gentleman has indulged in a false economy which will tend to bring, not only his Government, but the whole Federal machine, into disrepute. I hope that the folly of the parsimony displayed by the Treasurer will be brought home to him so strongly that he will make provision for the proper equipment and efficiency of the Public Service. What becomes of every penny which, by this process of squeezing, is saved? It goes to enrich the State Treasuries, and yet members of the Parliament of New South Wales have complained to me of the parsimony of the Federal Government in failing to make provision for postal, telegraphic, and tele phonic facilities for small centres of population, as well as in the other directions which I have indicated. Such a condition of affairs is certainly unhealthy, and I trust that the Treasurer will recognise that bv being over-zealous in his desire to keep down expenditure, he is doing an injustice to himself, to the Postmaster-General’s Department, to the Commonwealth, and especially to the people primarily affected.
.- I hold in my hand the papers which the Prime Minister was kind enough to lay on the table this morning in connexion with Mr. Beale’s Commission. I must confess that the papers filled me with mystification more than any other feeling; and I am anxious that the Prime Minister should help us to understand the exact reason for the Government departing from its original promise or understanding in regard to the expense of this inquiry and the report.
– What has this to do with the Treasurer’s Estimates?
– I think that the payment of a sum of money by the Government in violation of a promise, or a misunderstanding, if the Prime Minister prefers the latter word, has a great deal to’ do with the Treasurer. I find, on referring to the papers, that a letter ..was written to the Prime Minister by Mr. Beale on the 19th July, 1905, in which the writer said -
I am willing, if your Government will give me an . authoritative Commission, to obtain, at my own expense, information on various matters.
To that Mr. Deakin replied on the 27th July-
It is, of course, understood that’ your investigations will not entail any cost on Commonwealth funds.
– Neither they ‘did - not a farthing ! .
– Mr. Beale replied, accepting the Commission to go abroad, and stating that ‘ ‘ the work would not entail any charge on the Commonwealth.”
– And it entailed no charge whatever - not- a penny.
– Yet to-day, in answer to a question, the Prime Minister stated .that there had been no payments to Mr. Beale for his services, but that various sums had been paid to that gentleman, one on .account of a voucher produced for certain work -done.
– That was only a sum paid through, and not to, Mr. Beale.
– I am glad the Prime Minister says that, because therein lies the whole cause of my mystification. Why should sums be paid through Mr. Beale? After all, Mr. Beale, however qualified by nature’s gifts, was an unauthorized person, and not a practitioner, and yet he went abroad to inquire into the most technical matters.
– Will the honorable member connect his remarks with the Estimates for the Department of the Treasury?
– This is a matter concerning the distribution of funds, against the express understanding between the Government and honorable members.
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the Estimates for the Department of the Treasurv.
– I take it that the’ Treasurer paid this money.
– That fact is not sufficient to establish a connexion. It must be remembered that we are not discussing the whole Budget’, and that, on the items before us, there cannot be a general financial discussion.
– I am bringing this matter up now solely as a matter of convenience.
– I have no objection, only the honorable member is labouring under a misunderstanding.
– I point out that, on the first, item of the Estimates of each Department, the whole administration of a Department -may be discussed.
– The honorable member will see that the matter he refers to is not within the administration of the Treasurer.
– I desire to know why the Treasurer paid this amount.
– I paid it as Treasurer, but it appears on the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs.
– That is my complaint. Why did the Treasurer pay this money to the ‘ Department of External Affairs? I am anxious to find out why the Treasurer has ignored the psomise which the Prime Minister made to the House.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to pursue this course. This is- not the right time to bring up the matter referred to - it has nothing to do with the Department of the Treasury.
– Do I understand, Mr. Chairman, that the amounts paid by the
Treasurer are not open to discussion on the first item of the Treasury Estimates?
– This matter could properly be discussed on the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs. The mere paying oyer of the money on behalf of another Department does not bring the transaction within the Treasury administration.
– May I speak on the point of order ? If the argument! of the honorable member for Wentworth were correct, every Department of the State and every operation of administration could be discussed on the Estimates for the Treasury, because ultimately everything comes- to the Treasury. Had I an Opportunity of replying to the honorable ‘ member, . I could satisfy him that this is not a wise time to bring this matter forward, because, owing to the fact that the papers have been in his possession only a short time, he does not realize that Mr. Beale made two arrangements, and received two authorities, conducting all inquiries entirely at his own expense. I can point out also-
– I do not think tihis discussion is in order.
– On the question of payment, now, in regard tp the Royal Commission Mr. Beale was paid nothing^ The Commonwealth undertook the expense of printing, and certain blocks were obtained, which were paid for through Mr. Beale.’ Mr. Beale . himself never received a farthing. The only expense was that to which I have referred. . It was after a RoyaF Commission was issued to him.
– On the point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– I mean the point of order which I raised when you prevented my continuing my speech, although the Prime Minister has verv cleverly contrived to reply to it.
– I gave a ruling.
– Then I should like your ruling as to whether, during the discussion of the Treasurer’s Estimates, ‘an honorable member is at liberty to question the act of the Treasurer in paying out funds contrary to an understanding between the Government and the House.
– The question referred to can be discussed only . in connexion with the Estimates for the Department with which it is immediately connected.
– The fact that the Treasurer paid the money confers, according to your ruling, no right whatever to raise the question on these Estimates?
– Not that fact alone.
– The honorable member will have another chance.
– I am afraid (hat I shall have to take the only chance open to honorable members, to-morrow.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 31 (Audit Office), £17,038
– I think not, unless the honorable member can show that there has been some irregularity.
– I desire to direct attention to the item of £25 for the audit of the accounts of the Northern Territory. I understand that Mr. Collins, of the Treasury, has gone to Adelaide in connexion with this matter, and there is no doubt that that gentleman is an able’ officer, of whom the Commonwealth ought to be proud. I have been told, however, that the South Australian Government, in order to make as large an account as possible against the Commonwealth, have charged”” cost price for different articles which are second-hand and in an almost obsolete condition, as if they were new material. That is a story which is current amongst a number of officials in the Northern Territory, and the matter is one which ought to be carefully looked into. Mr. Collins has done his work well, but, of course, he deals only with Treasury vouchers, and has no idea of the condition of the material when it is taken over. If there is any truth in the rumour, an opportunity is here presented for saving, perhaps, some thousands of pounds.
– It is a great pity that an honorable member should make so general and serious a statement without disclosing any foundation whatever for it. I do not believe that such a thing would be attempted by’ the South Australian Government - I am satisfied I can vouch that much. The honorable member for Corio ought to refer the matter back to his authority, and ask for some proof, or, as another honorable member did, admit that he has been entirely mistaken.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 32 (Government Printer), £14,916
– In the newspapers this morning there was a paragraph indicating that it is the intention of the Government to take the work of printing the electoral rolls from the State Government Printing Office in New South Wales and have it done at the central office in Melbourne, and some information on this point would be acceptable. I take it, judging from previous actions of the Government, that this is one’ of those unfounded rumours which are circulated for the purpose of discrediting the Commonwealth and Commonwealth administration.
.- The honorable member for Calare has referred to a matter to which I had intended myself to call attention. I think that the printing of the electoral rolls might well be continued in Sydney until the Federal Capital is established, when a desire to centralize such work could be well understood. I hope the rumour referred to is unfounded, though the action suggested is on all-fours with that which was advocated by some of the members of the Government in regard to having all the postage stamps printed in Melbourne. Do I understand that the Treasurer is still allowing the stamps to be printed in, the printing office, Sydney ? The Minister of Trade and Customs nods assent. I am glad that he does, because on the last occasion, when we discussed the matter, I think he was an advocate of the stamps being printed in Melbourne.
– That is not so.
– I must take the. Minister’s denial, and am glad that he is now as strong an advocate as I am of their being printed in Sydney.
-I -want them all to ‘ be printed on the . banks of the Snowy River.
– If it is . a fact that it is contemplated to print the ‘electoral rolls for New South Wales in Melbourne, I must say that - it will be a very expensive thing to do.
– Just as sensible as printing the rolls for South Australia in Sydney.
– It must be cheaper to print them where the electoral office for the State is. The process of revising the electoral rolls is constantly going on. The plates are stereotyped, and the rolls are altered from month to month. The elec- toral office in Sydney can control this work far more economically when the printing is done close to hand, than would be the case if the rolls were printed in Melbourne. It will be a great mistake to disturb the present arrangement until the Capital Site is established, and we have our own printing office.
– I have not heard any official statement to the effect that it is intended to print the electoral rolls for New South Wales elsewhere than in Sydney.
– A member of the New South Wales Parliament asked a question on the subject last night.
– It has not been before the Cabinet, and I have not heard it suggested. I do not think that the statement is true. In . regard to the stamps, it was considered necessary some time ago by the Post and Telegraph Department to appoint a Commission to inquire into the question of stamp printing, and into the class of printing that was required. But it will take two years before the recommendations made can be brought to a head. I believe that it has been stated in New South Wales that I said that the work of stamp printing was to be removed to Melbourne. I never said anything of the kind. I find, however, that Mr. Gullick. the New South Wales Government Printer, differs from other printers as to which is the better style of die to adopt. I have compared stamps printed from a steel die and those printed by the other process, which is considered to be cheaper. I must say the cheaper method is not to be compared with the other. But Mr. Gullick wants them to be printed in the old fashion. ‘ Personally, I should prefer the steel-die method, although it is more expensive. I am in favour of having the best class of stamp printing, because it must be remembered that stamps are saleable commodities. I believe that Sir John Forrest’s idea, while he was Treasurer, was that the ‘ stamps should be printed at. the head office, wherever it was. But it all depends upon whether there is to be a Government Printing Office or whether the work is to be done at a State Printing Office. Sir John Forrest held ‘ the opinion that all the stamps ought to be printed at one office, under the control of the Treasurer. That is a very proper idea, too. There is no question about that.
– Why not do it instead of talking about it?
– Because, for one thing, we shall not be ready to adopt the new method for at least two years. I wish to say also in reference to- the printing office that the State Printing Office, Melbourne, does most of our parliamentary work, and does it well. There has been a strong agitation for the establishment of a Commonwealth Printing Office. The only reason why I have not moved in that matter is that we are not yet established in our own capital. When we are, we shall have to have a printing office of our own. I think that an officer from South Australia is coming over to Victoria to undertake the printing, not of the whole of the stamps, but of some kinds. But that, does not apply to New South Wales.
– Will the Treasurer look into the matter about the printing of the electoral rolls?
– I have never heard a rumour to the effect that the electoral rolls for New South Wales’ were to be printed outside the State. I shall certainly make inquiries, but I feel sure . that the statement is an absolute myth. Some one has made it with the view of injuring the Commonwealth. I do not think that there is the slightest shadow of reason for any one to be apprehensive on the subject. In addition to that, as I told the Premier of New South Wales after he made his statement, no person has given the Government Printing Office, Sydney, more work to do than I have. Knowing it as well as I do, I am quite aware that printing can be done there perhaps more economically than’ anywhere else in Australia. It is a most up-to-date office, and I am not likely to take any work away from it.
– Are not other State Government Printing Offices up-to-date?
– Not so uptodate as is the New South Wales office. Considering that I had so much to do with the Government Printing Office, Sydney, myself, I am, of course, well aware that it is an up-to-date establishment. The rumour about the electoral rolls is mere nonsense. I can assure honorable members that so far as I knowthere is no intention to take the printing of the rolls away from Sydney.
.- This question of the printing of stamps seems to be a perennial source of trouble. It has been discussed for a good many years. I thought that we had at last reached finality. But still it crops up again. The fault that I have to find with the Government is that they have not arrived at a decision on the question one way or the other.
-i believe that an officer who is about the best expert in Australia has been recently appointed.
– I do not think that the appointment has actually been made. Probably the Minister is making a mistake. He knows that the officer in question had been recommended for appointment to another position, but was prevailed upon to relinquish it, and to take the position of Stamp Comptroller for the Commonwealth.
– Sir John Forrest dealt with the matter up to a certain point, and I think that I have the officer under my charge now.
– I do not think that the Treasurer has actually taken over the officer. I believe that he is still officially stamp printer in Adelaide, though the work of printing stamps over there has been abandoned. I have constantly protested against the parochial spirit shown in this matter. It seems to be an astonishingly small thing for the Premier and politicians of New South Wales to be troubling about. If New South Wales could have carried out the work of stamp printing as cheaply as it was being done in South Australia, probably she would have had the work to do. We hear a great deal about the unfederal spirit displayed by representatives of other States in relation to . the question of the Capital Site. But here . is a case where it is manifestly cheaper for certain work to be done in the Commonwealth Printing Office, and as soon as it is proposed to take that step, New South Wales, through her Premier, gets on her hind legs and howls till the air is blue.
– Sydney, not New South Wales, makes all the fuss.
– Mr. Wade is Premier, not of Svdney, but of New South Wales, and is the representative of the people of that State. Personally. I think that the people do not care a snap of the fingers about the stamp printing. It is ridiculous to suppose that they do.. But for political purposes, and to raise an outcry against the Federal authorities, poli- ticians over there - particularly the head of the present Government, and Mr. Carruthers, the head of the previous Government - have raised this question. But they have never had a leg to stand upon.
– The honorable member said just now that they got up on their “ hind legs.”
– Under . the circumstances, I withdraw the legs. We have had from the honorable member for North. Sydney quite a sermon in regard to the need for carefully criticising increases of expenditure, even where they may be necessary. But when an opportunity to save money occurred in connexion with the printing of stamps, every New South Wales representative sitting on the front Opposition bench complained about the proposed transference of work from the Sydney Printing. Office, and the Minister had to explain that, rather than that the susceptibilities of the “ Ma “ State in this matter should be wounded, it had been determined to allow the stamps required for. New South Wales to be produced by the ineffective and expensive method there in force. The antique method of New South Wales is to continue, and I believe that Queensland is also to be allowed to carry on its clumsy, and still more ancient, mode of stamp printing. The printing of the stamps required for the four other States, however, is to be done by the Commonwealth in Melbourne, and I hope that the Treasurer will soon complete all the necessary arrangements.
– That has been done.
– Is the . officer in Melbourne who has been appointed to control the printing?
– No ; but he is receiving instructions to come here as soon as he can.
– Some months ago, he sold his house under the impression that he was to go to Melbourne almost immediately; but he has had to stay in Adelaide ever since. The inquiries which have taken place occasioned delay, but need not have affected Mr. Cook’s engagement. .
– The New South Wales stamps are the best in the Commonwealth.
– That statement is unsupported by facts. In my opinion, there has been a miscalculation as to the extent to which persons in other parts of the world will buy our stamps if they are printed on better paper. We should have in view, not the demands of the Philatelic Society, but the requirements .of our own public, and, therefore, need not give consideration to the possibility of adopting later the more costly production.
– I am in favour of it.
– The stampcollecting craze may cease ‘at any time, and, indeed, the post-card craze has largely taken its place. Therefore, if we go to great expense for the sake of a fad, we may not get the results which are expected.
– We do not want our stamps to be the laughing-stock of the world.
– Has the honorable member compared Australian . stamps with those of other countries?
– I have compared South Australian with New South Wales stamps.
– I. could show the honorable member some very fine specimens of South Australian stamps.. I. doubt if any but an expert could detect any difference ‘in the .quality of printing, though there is a difference in the quality of the paper, and a vast difference in the cost of production. The honorable member may like stamps printed on good paper, but the ordinary commercial man does not put’ any additional value on such stamps. In my opinion, it will be a mistake to increase the cost of the Postal Department by printing our stamps on paper of better quality than is requisite.
– We must do what’ we can to minimise the risk of forgery.
– That is the strongest point.
– So far as forgery is concerned, it Is not more difficult with one paper than with another, everything turning upon the control. A strong reason for having all the printing of stamps done in Melbourne is that it can be kept under better control in one than in several offices. I ask the Minister to bring about finality in the matter to which I have referred. I understand that Mr. Cook is practically on his way here, and I feel certain, from my experience of him in South Australia, that his work will speedily commend itself to the Government, and will save the Commonwealth a great deal of money. Our chief duty, as custodians of the public purse, is to see that administration is efficient, and not unduly costly, and I hope that less parochial spirit will in the future be shown in these small matters by representatives of the most important State in the Commonwealth.
.- The honorable member for Boothby complains of the display of the parochial spirit by the representatives of what he ‘termed the “ Ma “ State; but even if we were fighting for the “ Ma” State, it may be said of him that all he is concerned about is “Pa” Cook. So long as “Pa” Cook gets his billet, the honorable member will be satisfied. He concluded his speech by saying that he hoped that “Pa” Cook would at once be brought over from Adelaide, and that the petty parochial spirit would not again be shown bv representatives of the “ Ma “ State. He objected to the stamps printed in New South Wales, on the ground that they are” antique ; but amongst the “ common or garden “ variety of persons with whom I mix, to apply the word “ antique “ to a work of art is to enhance its value.
– Would the honorable member call antique eggs artistic?
– If the honorable member had the artistic temperament, he would not ask the question. When we have a Commonwealth printing office in the Commonwealth Seat of Government, it will be parochial to ask that any printing which could be done there should be done in’ a State office. It was not the Premier of New South Wales, but an earnest and ardent Labourite representing Blayney, who brought up this matter in the State Parliament last night’. He complained that artisans in the Sydney Government Printing Office were losing their employment, and asked that they should not be. suddenly deprived of their means of earning a livelihood. But the honorable member for Boothby has gone back upon his fellow Labourite. So far as I am awa re not one of these men who earn their livelihood in the Government Printing Office of New South Wales resides in my electorate. The Treasurer says that it will take twelve months to put the new plant in position.
– More than that.
– I hope that when we go to the Federal Capital we shall take over not only “Pa” Cook but other printers, and I trust that my friendly relations with the honorable member for Boothby will not be disturbed by any difference of opinion as to the claims of “Pa” Cook and the “Ma”
State. I am glad that the Treasurer intends to have some of this work done in New South Wales.
– The honorable member for Boothby made some allusion to a sermon which I am alleged to have delivered, . and I think, as a compliment . to him, I should make some reference to his prayeron behalf ‘ of certain individuals engaged in printing stamps. He asserted that honorable members on the front Opposition bench had raised objections to the proceedings in connexion with the printing of stamps for the Commonwealth. I have never spoken on the subject.
– But the honorable member has thought a lot.
– I have only thought that the Commonwealth should deal with the question without favoring any State. If the Government fmd that the work which they require can be done, or the material they desire can be obtained more economically in one State than in another, they have a right to choose accordingly.
– That is all I have asked for.
– When I held office I acted upon that principle in dealing with my own State as well as with others. It is unfair that one State should be given a considerable advantage in respect of prices paid for work done for the Commonwealth ; but in dealing with such matters the responsible Minister should take care that the estimates in all cases are in respect of the same, article, and that such article ‘ is the best for the purpose. I wish now to refer to the reply made by the Treasurer -to the observations which I made earlier in the debate. There seems to be some misapprehension, especially on the part of the honorable member forCalare as to what my objections were. I in no way objected to the increased expenditure that is necessitated by new works, new enterprises, or the growth of business, nor did I make any reference to an increased expenditure of £826,000 in connexion . with new enterprises or developments for which the Estimates provide. We shall be able to deal with the items relating to that expenditure when we reach them. I merely touched uponi increases in respect of seven of the ordinary items of departmental expenditure, namely, salaries, temporary assistance, postage and telegrams, printing, travelling expenses, office requisites, and incidental and petty cash. I made no reference to the expenditure of the new Departments nor to the expenditure of about £12,000 in the administration of the Commerce Act.
– I would remind the honorable ‘ member that we are now dealing with an item relating only to printing.
– I had overlooked that fact. I did not object in any way to increased- expenditure due to increased work and an increased revenue, nor did I take into account increased expenditure in respect of printing. By way of illustration I would point out that when a Railway Department increases its revenue by £100,000, there must necessarily be a proportionate increase in its expenditure. As a rule, its expenditure is increased by 50 or 60 per cent. No one has ever objected to an increase in such circumstances, but a Parliament would very properly object to the increased revenue of that Department being completely swallowed by increased expenditure. That seems to be the position in relation to some of the items I have criticised. I had intended to move that these Estimates be reduced by £1 as an indication of the feel- ing of the Committee that they should not be made the basis of future expenditure, but after the remarks made by the Treasurer I shall not do so. The honorable gentleman has practically agreed with the tenor of my criticism, and ought’ really to come over to this side of the House. In moving such a motion, I Should not have been actuated by a desire to attribute to the Treasurer the responsibility for the increase. In the remarks which I offered I had no desire to reflect on the central office of the Treasury. The Treasury itself is free from the objection which I raised. My experience leads me to. believe that it is excellently managed. Had the Treasurer refused to take notice of the points that I wished to emphasize, I would have moved the reduction I have indicated ; but since he has said that he se’eks, and will seek, to prevent the mere swelling of expenditure without cause - such as, I infer, from the appearance of these Estimates, has been taking place - I shall not do so. It is highly desirable that whilst providing for new enterprises and developments, we should set our face sternly against that which has occurred in all Departments that have lacked thorough super- vision - the unnecessary growth of expenditure to the consequent injury of the community
, - I have to complain of the action of - the Treasurer in permitting the Government Printer to print a document which the House understood would not have to be printed at the public expense. I understand that on these Estimates I am not permitted to go into details, so that I shall not make- more than a general reference to the report in question. In order to substantiate my case, however, I shall refer briefly to the promise which the Government made to the House, and the arrangement arrived at between them and the party concerned. I refer to the agreement made with Mr. Beale that his Commission and his, report and everything concerned with it should entail no expense to the Government.
– I thought that the Prime Minister explained that matter.
– Unfortunately, he did not ; but perhaps the Treasurer will be able to do so. If honorable members will look., at the Beale papers laid upon the table to-day–
– Which item is the honorable member discussing?
– -I hope that the Minister will not try to shelter himself behind any narrow reading of the Standing Orders. If there is nothing to hide, he should be the first to court the fullest discussion; but if there is something to conceal, I hope that he will take a point of order in an open way, instead of whispering across the table to you, Mr. Chairman, a suggestion as .to the procedure that should be adopted.
– I rise to a point of order. The report to which the honorable member refers is not covered by these Estimates. It relates to the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs.-
– I have only to consider the item of printing which is now before us, and am ‘ not supposed to know whether the printing of the report in question relates to this or to some other item. I . must ask the honorable member for Wentworth, however, to withdraw the remark just made by him, which was a reflection upon myself.
– I intended no reflection, sir, upon the Chair, and should be the very last to make a reflection upon, you personally or upon your office. The promise to which I refer appears in these papers.
– I rise to a point of order. I . have informed you, Mr. Chairman, that the - report to which the honorable member refers, is not covered by these Estimates. I have. just asked the Under-Secretary to the Treasurer, and he says that the printing of it is provided for in the Department of External Affairs.
– I submit that the Treasurer is responsible for every farthing spent on Government printing. The Government Printer is under the control of the Treasurer, and in the Treasurer’s Department, and not a single penny can be spent on printing documents unless the printer receives specific directions from the Treasurer. It will be seen, therefore, that the question of printing this ‘ report is one for the Treasurer, and does not come within the administration of the Department of External Affairs. I submit that the honorable member for Wentworth is entirely in order since he is addressing himself to the only Minister who can, and does, control the printing of public documents.
– I have been asked to give a ruling, but, in the first place. I do- not know what the honorable member for Wentworth is going to say, and, in the second place, seeing that we are now dealing with the question of Government printing, I can come to no other conclusion except that all printing comes under that head, unless, of course, there is some specific item in which it can be included elsewhere. Honorable members will see that if I did not take that view, endless difficulty would arise in trying to’ decide as to which Department each item of printing was. connected with.
– If the Chairman turns to page 15 of the Estimates, he will see that there is an item for printing in the Department’ of External Affairs.
– Of course, if there is a special item under which this subject can be discussed, that is a different matter.
– At question time to-day, a reply was given by the Prime Minister to the effect that certain printing in connexion with this report was done in Sydney, and that £13 had to be paid in freight in order that the copies might be brought to Melbourne and distributed amongst .honorable members. It is that matter to which I now desire to address myself.
– How is this a question of printing ?
– I have just shown that the fact that these reports were printed in Sydney necessitated a large payment for freight, which might’ have been avoided. I find that the report prepared by Mr. Beale was printed in Sydney on the 8th August, 1907, and that the forwarding of the copies to Melbourne necessitated, as I have said, apayment of£13. Consequently I feel that, on the Estimates before us, I am entitled to ask why the Government authorized the printing of this document, in view of the promise of the Prime Minister, to which I must refer in order to prove my contention.
– I may inform the honorable member that this expenditure is. not provided for in these Estimates, but is provided for in the Additional Estimates of the Department of External Affairs. Those Additional Estimates’ will be submitted in a few days.
– The Minister will now see the difficultyto which I previously referred. In the first place, we were told that this particular matter was not dealt with in the Estimates for the Treasury, and now we are told that it is not in the Estimates at all. I think that, on the question of printing; the honorable member for Wentworth is in order provided he does not discuss the report itself.
– I do not propose to discuss the report itself, but merely to refer to it from the point of view of the promise of the Prime Minister that no expense would be incurred - a promise which I take to cover printing.
– I do not think it is fair for the honorable member to refer to any promises in the way he is doing. The honorable member is referring to two different matters at once.
– I can understand the desire of the Treasurer not to have this question debated, but I am sure that the Prime Minister will be the first to welcome a discussion. Mr. Beale, when he was seeking to be appointed a Royal Commission, wrote on the 19th July, 1905 -
I am willing if your Government will give me an authoritative commission, to obtain at my own expense - the subject-matter of this report. To that the reply was sent -
It is, of course, understood that your investigations will not entail any cost on Government funds.
– Neither did they.
– Then Mr. Beale replied as follows -
The work will not entail any cost on the Commonwealth.
The first knowledge the House had of the appointment of Mr. Beale as a Royal Commission was on the 29th August, 1905, when the honorable member for Hunter asked a question in reference to a. paragraph in the Melbourne Age, which stated that -
He (Mr. Beale) is proceeding to Europe at his own expense, and will fulfil his commission without cost to the Federal Government and Parliament. The Prime Minister has given Mr. Beale an official letter of introduction.
In answer to that question, the Prime Minister’ emphasized the fact -
He (Mr. Beale) has undertaken this very useful work without cost to the Commonwealth.
I venture to say that the appointment of Mr. Beale, however qualifiedthat gentleman may be–
– The honorable member cannot go into the question of the appointment of Mr. Beale, although he will be quite in order in referring to the cost of printing.
– Iquite agree with that view, and I was only incidentally making reference to the undoubted fact that, had it not been for the promise of the Prime Minister - a promise which covered the cost of printing - the House would not have indorsed the appointment of an unqualified Commissioner. After Mr. Beale returned to this country, we heard nothing of any proposal to reimburse any expenses in connexion with the Commission. We know now, f rom the papers, that the Commission was of an unusual nature, because the Prime Minister wrote -
It may be explained that it is not the practice of the Government to issue Commissions in a case of this kind.
– It appears to me that the honorable member is endeavouring to discuss the appointment of Mr. Beale as a Royal Commission. If the honorable member will confine his remarks to the cost of the printing, he will be in order, but, if he goes beyond that, he will be distinctly out of order.
– I should like to know whether it would not be permissible for the honorable member for Wentworth to refer to the appointment of this Commission as a pretext on the part of the Government for going to the expense of printing this report ?
– I have already ruled that the honorable member for Wentworth is in order in dealing with the cost ofthe printing of the report; but that, if he goes on to deal with the appointmentof Mr. Beale, he will be distinctly out of order.
– I quite agree with the Chairman on that point ; and I made the quotation merely in order to show that the appointment of the Royal Commission - an appointment which authorized the expenditure of money, including the cost of printing - was of an -unusual nature.
– Who were the members of the Royal Commission ?
– One man, Mr Beale, who was a very important political element in the community, in the person of the Chairman of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufacturers. However, that is by the way. The promise was made to this House that the Commission would entail no expense on the Commonwealth; and, in. view of that absolute statement, the House permitted the Commission to go on its way. I now ask the Treasurer how he can justify the payment of any sum of money in connexion with the expense pf printing the report. It strikes me, having regard to the answers given by the Prime Minister to-day, that this Commission may have been deliberately appointed in order to en-‘ able the expense incurred by Mr. Beale to be shouldered on to the Commonwealth. I can come to no other conclusion.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has been ruled out pf order by one Chairman, on attempting to discuss this question earlier to-day. Is it usual, or is it in order, for an honorable member so placed to introduce the same subject later, when another honorable member occupies the chair?
– It is the custom for the Chairman of’ Committees to uphold the ruling of the Deputy Chairman. But, so far as I can gather from the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth, he is showing cause why this report should not have been printed. I have stopped the honorable member from going beyond that subject, and I shall see that he does not deal with more than the question of the printing.
– I can quite understand the reluctance of some honorable members to receive any information on this subject. I point out, however, that.I have not pre viously addressed myself to that subject on the items before us, so that the point of order is scarcely valid. In reply to a question to-day, the Prime Minister’ said that no payment had been made to Mr. Beale for his services, and, of course, thatfact is obvious. But the Prime Minister went on to say that a sum of £68 odd was reimbursed to Mr. Beale on the submission by ‘.him of a voucher showing that he had paid that amount to Messrs. Baker and Company for making blocks for illustrations. We find, as I have already said, that the report was printed in Sydney, and a large cost incurred in conveying the copies to Melbourne’.
– Was that out of the Treasurer’s advance?
– I do not know; but, unfortunately, the method adopted has led us into somewhat unusual paths.
– This is the Neild business over again.
– Yes; it seems to me to be on all-fours with the Neild case. However, I am now asking for information : and I hope that the Government have no objectionable facts to conceal, however anxious they may appear now, by raising points of order, to prevent me pursuing my remarks. I ask the Treasurer whether this account with Messrs. Baker and Companywas incurred before or after Mr. Beale was made Commissioner?
– After; long after.
– Then I say that it is most extraordinary for the Commonwealth to delegate its arrangements for printing to any but its own officers. The moment the report of a Royal Commission is sent in, the Government may print it or not,, as they choose, with the permission pf the House; but they have no right to delegate the power to any one, however important a political entity he may be. To give Mr. Beale, or any one else, the right to incur expense on the part of the Commonwealth is a bad practice, which I hope I shall not see repeated. I think that I have submitted - with great difficultly owing to the constant interruptions - a case which requires a certain answer from the Government. I certainly think that it is “ up to them “ to explain why they have gone back on their promise to this House, and have done something which-the Treasurer only a few years ago in New South Wales turned a Government out of office for doing.
– There is no comparison between the two instances.
– The Treasurer says that there is no comparison between the case cited by the honorable member for Wentworth and this.
– There was no charge for collecting the information and. preparing the report in this case.
– There is a demand here for charges and out-of-pocket expenses incurred in getting blocks ; and that in spite of the fact that in the very printing office where the report was printed there is a fuller and better equipment for the purpose of producing’ blocks of the character contained in Mr. Beale’s report than can be found in- any office in either Sydney or Melbourne. The Government Printing Office in Sydney is about the best equipped establishment in Australia for the production of this kind of work.
– The charge is for obtaining advertising blocks that they do not keep in Sydney.
– It is a charge for making blocks for illustration purposes.
– The illustrations are facsimiles of advertisements.
– Is not Mr. Gullick, the Government Printer in Sydney, as well able to make- a block as Mr. Baker? Mr. Gullick will “ take on “ any kind of printing or illustration work that is required of him, and is able to illustrate any Commission’s report.
– He ‘has refused work only recently on account of being rushed.
– We are to understand, then, that that is the reason why this work was done for Mr. Beale . elsewhere? Can the Government state that?
– It was done in London.
– Then it was done before Mr. Beale was appointed a Royal Commissioner ?
– No. As T. have already told the Committee, the honorable member has quite confused two different years.
– I am afraid that the Prime Minister is trying to confuse me. I understand that Mr. Beale was appointed a special Commissioner after coming back from London.
– After one visit; and then he paid another, and went through America collecting information.
– When was this expense incurred?
– It was because the blocks could not’ be obtained elsewhere than in. London, and at anything like the figure for which they were obtained in London, that they were got there.
– That does not bring us nearer to the point.
– It does.
– I am on the point as to whether it was done before Mr. Beale was appointed Commissioner or after.
– Then he did go to London as Commissioner ?
– I did not understand that.
– There were two visits to London.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question. The question is not whether Mr. Beale went to London as Commissioner or not. If the honorable member intends to discuss the appointment of Mr. Beale as, Commissioner he will be out of order.
– Strictly speaking, perhaps you are right, Mr. Chairman, but may I put this point to’ you? The matter all depends upon this : whether this expenditure was incurred by Mr. Beale as Commissioner, or before his appointment as Commissioner. We had a definite statement from the Prime Minister that no expenditure would be incurred in the preparation and printing of ‘the report. Our contention is that, to get an excuse for incurring this expenditure in the preparation and printing of this report, Mr. Beale was appointed a Commissioner, and that the matter should have been’ re-submitted to this House. That is the point which I wish to get out.
– As long as the honorable member confines himself to that point, he will be in order; but if he is going to discuss the rights and wrongs of ‘ the appointment of Mr. Beale, he will be out of order.. , I must ask him not to follow that course. The task is quite difficult enough to deal . with the Estimates, and to confine honorable members to the matters under discussion. I can only do that with the assistance of the Committee themselves.
– The point which we wish to bring out is that the Government declared to this House that no. expenditure would be incurred by Mr. Beale in the preparation of the report.
– No; in the . preparation of “ a “ report. No expenditure was incurred in the preparation of the report to which reference was then made. AsI have said before, that report was never printed. This is another report, made after Mr. Beale . was appointed a Royal Commissioner. I have already explained that.
– Then we are to understand that Mr. Beale received two appointments from the Government - one under which no expenditure was to be incurred, and another under which the expenditure of a Royal Commissioner was to be incurred?
– No; no expenditure, except that which was incurred in connexion with the printing, and we paid for every penny of that ourselves. Except for this one account having been paid for, that purpose - and on our being satisfied that it was a proper expenditure to incur, it was paid by us - Mr. Beale . has never received a penny on account of his report.
– Will the Prime Minister state for the information of the Committee why these two different arrangements were made with Mr. Beale?
– The honorable member is out of order in discussing that point.
– Perhaps we had better wait until we get the Additional Estimates before us. We are getting the information in driblets. Later on, I hope, we shall get the whole of it.
– May I be allowed to say that we have just had an example of the privilege which every honorable member enjoys in connexion with the discussion of Supply; but that, in my opinion, the opportunity has been used mainly for mischievous purposes?
– Is that remark in order?
– I hope thai the Prime Minister will withdraw the remark.
– If you desire it, sir, certainly.
– It was absolutely unjustifiable.
– The manner in which the affair has been discussed, shows that it was lightly picked up for the time being to make some amusement in the Committee. But, if the honorable member for Parramatta really wishes more information
– Does the Prime Minister really believe what he has said?’
– After I had given the information twice, a demand . for it was made a third time, and I pointed to. the papers as containing the answer.
– The Prime Minister pointed to the papers, . but his reply does not satisfy me. I will give him my opinion as to the action of the Government in appointing Mr. Beale a Royal Commissioner.
– I do not mind the honorable member’s opinion, and am not attempting to satisfy him. I am satisfying the Committee, and am pointing out that, although all very well in its way, this kind of conduct can be pushed too far. The honorable member, having asked to be put right upon the facts of the case for the fourth or fifth time, I again directed attention to the papers themselves. A glance at them will show that Mr. Beale received a letter of introduction. It was clearly stated that there was to be no expenditure incurred in connexion with his first inquiries. No expenditure was incurred up to the date when he was appointed a Royal Commissioner.
– After he had collected the information ?
– On the second ‘ occasion Mr. Beale, who had visited the Continent of Europe, a number of cities in Great Britain, and the United States of America, where he placed himself in touch with the highest authorities on the question into which he was inquiring, prepared hrs matter. He included in his report no opinions of his own on any subject, but simply- collected and collated the opinions of all these authorities. The only expense incurred by us in this connexion is in relation to. the printing and publishing of the report. The whole amount is that paid to the printer in Sydney, the £13 for carriage, and the one account for certain blocks that, I think, could only be obtained in London. Mr. Beale paid two visits. That is the sum and substance of it all. I must say, also, that I do not know of any Royal Commission in any State, or in any part of Australia, that has been conducted in this economical fashion. I do not know any other Commissioner who, at his own cost, has travelled at an expense of hundreds of pounds, who has collected expert information, and paid the whole of his expenses out of his own pocket, and given all that to the Commonwealth, receiving not one penny himself. This is not -like the other case mentioned, where a Royal Commissioner received a sum of money for expenses in New South Wales. .
– Not at all.
– Was it expenditure out of pocket?
– No, certainly not. It was expenditure incurred for making translations.
– It will be out of order to go into a matter of that kind.
– I do not propose to dwell upon it further, except to say that no expenses of any kind have been charged by Mr. Beale. Any outlay there was he paid. As to -his qualifications and the value of his report, perhaps I should be out of order in discussing it.
– That is not in question now.
– We have in Mr. Beale’s report a document which had involved him in many months of travelling and many months of . labour.
– Surely this is out of order.
– If honorable members will allow me to hear what the Prime Minister is saying, I shall be able to express my opinion as to whether it is in order or not.
– Our only expense has been the printing. Not a penny has been paid for Mr. Beale’s labour, not a penny for his travelling expenses,, not a penny for the mass of typewritten evidence embodied in his report. Not a penny has been given to him directly or indirectly for anything that he has done. No money was by us spent in compiling the report, but only in printing it. That is the sum total of our expenditure.
– Yet we find that money has been spent.
– For the sixth time, I have pointed out that the statement that’ no expenditure was to be incurred was made as to the first arrangement, not as to the Royal Commission report. There was no statement as to whether that would cost anything. But no cost has been incurred in which Mr. Beale shares.
– That is the reason why Mr. Beale was appointed a Royal Commissioner, I presume?
– The interjection is out of order, and the Prime Minister will be out of order in discussing the point any further.
– I do not propose to discuss the matter any further. It is not worth while.
.- I should not have risen again but for the action of the Prime Minister in accusing me of speaking with a motive.
– “ Without a motive,” I should have said.
– The Prime Minister may think it fitting in one who occupies his high office to insult- a private member. I shall not deal with that aspect of the case.
– I ask the honorable member not to allude to a remark that has been withdrawn.
– I was alluding, sir, to the last insult of the Prime Minister, with which I do not intend to deal further. I do not think it is worth while. What the Prime Minister has suggested is that, although it was promised that the appointment of this man to do this work was going to entail no cost for printing or in any other way, the fact that on his return from one expedition he is appointed a Royal Commissioner to enter upon another,’ absolved the Government from its original promise. But the fact that that second expedition was going to entail cost upon the Commonwealth was not explained to . Parliament. . The understanding of honorable members .was, so far as the Commission was concerned, not ‘ as to whether one journey or another journey was entailed upon Mr. Beale. The question that concerned us was that there was to be no expense to the Commonwealth connected with Mr. Beale. The Prime Minister may think that ‘ he has at last succeeded in making his case absolutely plain, but he has not succeeded in’ satisfying me that the departure made in this case in the administration of the Department was a proper one, or that the course that has been followed is not an extremely dangerous precedent for similar cases in future.
.- Although the Prime Minister has explained that Mr. Beale went away on two different occasions, it must be remembered that both occasions related to the same subject. The Prime Minister’s statement as to no expense at all being incurred was calculated to lead honorable members to believe that the Commonwealth would be put to no expense whatever. Whether Mr. Beale went away on two trips or on one really makes no difference.
– Suppose that after Mr. Beale reported, the Prime Minister thought it was worth while to print the report. Was he to put it in a pigeon-hole and not print it?
– If the Prime Minister assured the House .that there would be no cost to the Commonwealth whatever, he had no right to order the report to be printed without a motion agreed to by this House.
– Why not, if it were a valuable document? Did not the House order it?
– If the House ordered it to be printed it would be a different matter j but if the Prime Minister assured the House that there would be no cost for printing or anything else, I say that he ought not to have had it printed under those circumstances without the order of the House. He ought not to have incurred a charge when he had assured the House that there would be no charge whatever of any kind.
– Did the Prime Minister say there would be no charge for printing ?
– His “assurance affected printing as well as everything else.
– There is no justication whatever for saving that.
– There is the fullest justification in the positive assurance of the Prime Minister. On the .29th August, 1905, the honorable member for Hunter drew attention to a statement in the Age to the effect that Mr. Beale was proceeding to Europe at his own expense, and would fulfil his commission without cost to the Commonwealth Government, and Parliament.
– So he did.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the printing of the report. He will- not be in order in discussing the appointment.
– I am discussing, not the appointment, but the printing of the report. And I will take this opportunity of saying that I attach, no blame to Mr. Beale in the matter, nor do I want to discuss his qualifications or the merits of his appointment in any way. I merely want to refer to the breach of faith on ‘the part of the Government. I wish to know who authorized this printing, and why it was done after the assurance of the Prime Minister that there would be no expense at all ? On the -30th August, 1907, when the honorable member for Dalley asked whether an amount was provided in the Supply Bill then before us for the report upon, patent medicines, drugs and foods, the Treasurer replied that lie did not know that anything had been paid in connexion with that report. When the honorable member for Dalley stated that it had been suggested that £500 had been paid, the Treasurer replied that the Secretary to the Department knew nothing about it. Of course, the money was not paid to Mr. Beale, but it was paid for the printing of the report. This . afternoon I was informed, in reply to a question upon notice, that no payment was made to Mr. Beale for his services, but that £68 5s. 4d. was reimbursed to him on the submission of a voucher showing that he had paid that sum for the making of blocks for illustrations. This case is similar to that referred to by the honorable member for Dalley. The gentleman who received payment in that case was not rewarded for his services, but was reimbursed expenditure.
– Personal expenditure.
– I understand not. The Government led honorable members to believe that this inquiry would cost the country nothing, but the printing of the report cost approximately £477 8s. Honorable members have been deceived by the assurances of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.
– The honorable member should be ashamed to suggest such a thing.
– -The. Treasurer told the honorable member for Dalley that he knew nothing about £500 having been paid, but, as a matter of fact, £477 Sshas been paid or is to be paid for printing, and, in addition, two other sums of £13 and £68 5s. 4d.
– How have I deceived honorable members? The statement that I have done so is monstrous and untrue:
– I ask that the Treasurer be requested to withdraw those words
– I ask the Treasurer to do so; but the honorable member for Lang must also withdraw the statement that the Treasurer has deceived honorable members.
– I withdraw the expression.
– I do not impute to the. Treasurer the intention to deceive honorable members ; but the- effect of the statements made by him and the Prime Minister was that honorable members were deceived.
– Did the honorable member think that Mr. Beale would be asked to pay the cost of printing the report?
– No ; but the Government assured the House that no expense would be incurred. Was the printing, authorized by him or by the Government ?
– ‘By the Government, I presume, though I do not know.
– Honorable members were led to believe that the country would be put to no expense in this matter, and we have therefore a right to protest against the expenditure which has been incurred in the teeth of such an assurance. The honorable member for Wentworth was justified in calling attention to this matter. No doubt, the statements of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer were at the time made in good faith; but, in spite of their assurances, an expenditure of over £500. has been incurred.
– This is a sequel to the piano duties debate.
– The interjection is worthy of the honorable member.
.- The question under discussion is, not whether the report on secret medicines, cures, and foods should or should not have been printed,- but whether it should have been printed without reference to honorable members. The distinct undertaking was given by Ministers that Mr. Beale’ s investigation should not cost the Commonwealth anything. The Prime Minister informed us that Mr. Beale’s first visit to the Old Country had not cost anything, and that it was only in regard to it that the undertaking was given. T doubt if honorable members knew enough about the matter to distinguish between the first and second visit, or were aware that Mr. Beale had on one occasion a letter of authority and on another a Royal Commission. We understood, however, that no expense was to be incurred by the Commonwealth. There were various opinions as to the advisability of sanctioning the inquiry, and had it been known that it would involve a large sum for printing, many honorable members would have had more to say about the matter. The printing of the report has cost over £500, and the honorable member for Wentworth was therefore justified in drawing attention to the promise that no expense would be incurred. That promise was given on two or three occasions, in reply to specific questions. ‘ As late as last- August, when a Supply Bill was before us, the Treasurer said that neither he nor the Secretary to the Treasury knew anything about a payment having been made to Mr. Beale. Strictly speaking, that was correct except in so far as a payment of £68 was made directly to Mr. Beale in respect of blocks purchased by him when in England for use in the printing of his report. The fact remains, however, that the House was told that this report would cost the Commonwealth nothing, whereas in respect of printing alone it has involved an expenditure of over £500. The Prime Minister, however, took it upon himself to have the report printed, and since he led the House to believe that no expense would be incurred, he must shoulder the responsibility for that outlay.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 33 (Governor-General’s Office) £2,200, division -34 (Unforeseen expendi- , ture) £700, and division 35 (Refunds of revenue) £120,000, agreed to.
Division 36 (Advance to the Treasurer) £200,000.
.- I should like the Treasurer to state whether or not the amount paid in respect of blocks for Mr Beale’s report was provided out of the Treasurer’s Advance Account.
.- The Treasurer has just been asked whether the amount paid to Mr. Beale in respect of expenses
– I shall not answer that question because it is not fairly put.
– I shall put it in any way the honorable member pleases provided he will give me the information.
– The honorable member says that the amount was paid to ‘ Mr. Beale.
– Paid to Mr. Beale for expenses incurred by him in the purchase of blocks for illustration purposes. The liability was incurred by Mr. Beale and discharged by him before he actually received the money from the Government. I wish to know if the Treasurer paid the amount out of the Treasurer’s Advance Account ?
– 1° answer to the honorable member for Nepean, who first put the question to me, I may say that I have just consulted the Secretary to the Treasury, who is unable at a moment’s notice to say that the money “was actually paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance Account. If it was paid during the period under review, it must have been paid out of that account, since there is no other vote out of which it could have been met.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs
Division 37 (Central Staff) £20,207
.- I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether there has been any hitch in connexion with the collection of the absolutely new duties recently imposed. As honorable members are aware, duties have been imposed in new ways. I understand, for instance, that in some cases duty is paid upon goods according to their weight ; goods of similar character but of varying weights are charged varying duties. Difficulty’ has been experienced by the officers of the Department in determining in some cases the correct duty to be collected, and I should like to know if arrangements that are likely to be satisfactory have vet been made.
– There is always a great deal of difficulty in administering a new Tariff, and especially one under which radical changes have been made. So far as 1 am aware, however, the officers of the Department have overcome, or are overcoming by degrees, the difficulties experienced in connexion with the Tariff, and everything is working smoothly. I shall be very pleased if any honorable member will point out where any friction is occurring, so that we may deal with it.
– Has the Minister had brought under his notice the overlapping of different items?
-I have, and we are endeavouring- to prevent overlapping. Our desire is to avoid any undue harshness, and, so far as I am aware, . our efforts in that direction are proving satisfactory.
– There are some cases of hardship.
– I shall be glad, if it is within my power, to remedy any case of hardship that may be brought under my notice.
.- Some time ago, in order that the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs might devote his attention wholly to certain Tariff duties, as well as to work in connexion with his visit to the Old Country, Mr. Lockyer, of New South Wales, was appointed Assistant Comptroller-General. I presume that, after the Tariff has been disposed of, Dr. Woollaston will be freer than he is at present to attend to the duties of Comptroller- General, which I understand are now ably discharged by Mr. Lockyer. Will the Government, in that case, still retain Mr. Lockyer as Assistant Comptroller-General, or willhe revert to his former position as senior Collector of Customs in New South Wales?
– It is a fact that the arrangement’ to which the honorable member for Wentworth has referred was made; but we have not yet decided what shall be done after the Tariff has been disposed of by Parliament. Some alteration will be necessary, but the changes to be made have not yet been definitely decided upon. I shall be glad to inform the honorable member and the House generally of any change that we determine to make.
.- There appears in this division the item “ Expenses incurred by British Consul, Chicago, advertising Australia, £150.” Can the Minister state whether the adver-. tising in question was attended with any success ?
– The departmental explanation is -
Nothing has been expended under this heading. Action was taken, but the proposals brought forward by the Prime Minister will probably absorb this item. It was intended to take advantage of the offer of the British Consul at Chicago (Mr. Alexander Finn) to have full information about Australia made available, to answer inquiries in regard to this country ; and to advertise by displaying maps, distributing pamphlets, and, if possible, showing samples of the produce and resources of this country.’ The British Consul, who has on several occasion* kindly placed his services at the disposal of this Department, has offered,, with his Vice-Consul. to manage the office, and the small expenditure proposed would be utilized to defray expenses for such items as rent, clerical assistance, stationery, &c. The amount was based on an esti-‘ mate made by the Consul.
– Can the Minister explain what is being done in regard to the experiments with Dr. Danysz’s rabbit virus?
– Those experiments were provided for in last year’s Estimates and there is no item relating to them in the Estimates now before us.
– Has the Government no expenditure in connexion with Dr. Danysz’s experiments?
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 38 (Patents), £13, 357 ; and division 39 (Trade Marks, Designs and
Copyrights), £3,838, agreed to.
Division 39A (Quarantine), £8,500.
– I do not know whether the Minister has yet decided upon any course of action as to the acquisition of quarantine buildings in the different States. It is surely undesirable to take over properties, the situation of which is unsuitable, or sites that are too valuable to be put to such a use. For instance, the quarantine property in Sydney - which happens to be in my electorate - is very valuable, and the transferred cost must be very large. The questions arise whether it is necessary to have property in that position, and whether the whole of the area is required? Values have greatly increased of late; and, in view of the interest on the transferred properties, the cost of quarantine will appear to be considerably increased on a comparison between Commonwealth and States. These matters require attention before the properties are transferred. Some of the stations are, I believe, unsuitable; and some arrangement for- exchange might be made, seeing that the. States have nothing to lose, but, on the contrary, might gain.
– I shall be glad to make a .note of what the honorable member for North Sydney has said, because, to a large extent, I am in accord with him. Before the issue of the proclamation, it is our intention to seek the advice and assistance of those in authority in the States. It would be most undesirable to take over properties which are too valuable for the purpose, or are in other respects unsuitable. However, the States Governments have been administering quarantine for many years, and their interests are our interests ; and, as the question will be approached from a commonsense stand-point, I anticipate no difficulty. What has been said in regard to the quarantine ground’ in Sydney is very true, and I shall be very glad to have the advice and assistance of the honorable member for North Sydney. Our only object is to make quarantine administration uniform for the benefit of the Commonwealth ; and I hope that, with the assistance and co-operation of the States, the transfer will be amicably accomplished.
– I had intended to ventilate quite a number of complaints, but the innocent, good-humoured face of the Minister quite disarms me. If the honorable gentleman will give me an assurance that any little troubles will be fixed up satisfactorily, I shall be prepared to accept his statement.
– I have much pleasure in giving the assurance.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Division 40 (New South Wales),
– I should like to know to what the item for border stations’ refers. I had an idea that, under Inter-State free-trade’, all such stations had been done away with.
– These stations are necessary owing to the bookkeeping section.
– If’ there has to be this arrangement under the bookkeeping section on some borders, one would think it would be necessary elsewhere, though that does not appear to. be the case.
– Bookkeeping has still to be observed on the borders, because there are certain transactions between State and State.
.- Although there are large amounts provided in the Estimates to pay the charges of border stations, between New South Wales and Victoria, I do not find that there is any similar expense incurred on the border line between Queensland and South Australia.
– There is no trade route there.
– But there is trade going on between New South Wales and Queensland, and I see no reference to any border stations there. It seems to me a pity that there should be ‘this expense after we have had Inter-State free-trade for over five years.
.- I think tha honorable member for Corio is’ quite right. If there are now no Inter-State duties it is hard to understand why there should be a staff of collectors and clerks on the border between New South Wales and Victoria. Altogether, it would appear that on the border there is an annual expenditure amounting practically to £2,000 ; and I desire to know whether that is really necessary. What do these collectors find to do?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN (Eden- Mona.ro - Minister of Trade and Customs) f7-5°]- - The money referred to is for the payment of Customs officers, owing to the fact that there is an Inter-State trade, of which an account has to be kept. I am assured by officers that the utmost economy is practised and the expenses kept downas low as possible. It is essential, however, in the interests of the Department, that those officers should be there.
– This expenditure arises because of the bookkeeping section?
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 41 (Victoria), £61,193
– I hardly care to refer to the question of promotion in the- Public Service, seeing that we have a Commissioner who sees to such matters. I desire to say, however, in connexion with the examining officers of the Customs Department that, although they are usually men who have been trained specially in the course of years for their work, they find that others, possibly officers from the clerical branch, with eight or nine years’ service, are promoted over the heads of men who have had 3 thirty years’ experience. Conditions such as these are very much calculated to make a man do no more than his bare duty, and, indeed, I have heard that opinion ex- pressed in the past by a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
– Do any of us do any more than our bare duty ?
– Certainly. The honorable member for Robertson knows verywell that there are ways and ways of doing our duty ; and, if there is discontent, it cannot be to the interests of the Department. As a protectionist, I desire to see the Department of Trade and Customs properly administered, and while there may have been different decisions-
– A discussion, such as that on which the honorable member is entering, ought to have taken place on the first item. We are now dealing with details.
– I was only endeavouring to ‘ show how detrimental it is’ to the interests of the service when promotions are made which are felt to be unjust. The complaints on this score have been’ very pronounced in connexion with the landing waiters. We cannot blame the Commissioner, because promotions are usually on the recommendation of a superior officer, who claims to be the best judge in a matter of this kind. There are ‘ many qualifications other than fitness that lead to an officer’s promotion. A man may be an irritable individual, and the officer above him may not like him. I know that in Victoria and New South .Wales there has been great discontent among the landing waiters because of the manner in which promotions are carried on. The Public Service Commissioner is placed in his position to see that justice is done. But still, he carries out, to a large extent, the recommendations of the heads of Departments. As a matter of fact, it has been known in the Customs Department, as well as in other Departments, that an officer has been placed over the head of a senior officer, and the first thing the superseded man has known of it has been when he has seen the notice in the Gazette. Then, perhaps, he inquires why the promotion has been made, and asserts his own fitness for the position. But he is told that it is unfortunate, but that the promotion has now been gazetted, and nothing can be done. If that sort of thing is continued it will mean good-bye to the efficiency of the public service, and will be another nail in the coffin of the present system of the government of the Service by a Commissioner who is simply a Czar. If an officer is tq gain nothing by applying himself to his work, and if he is to have another man placed over his head, it will simply mean that officers will continue to do their bare duty and no more. That will certainly not be in the interest of the Commonwealth.
– I am advised that the cases referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports have been referred to the Public Service Commissioner, and that he states that the officers promoted were senior, and as efficient as the officers who made complaints. Other things being equal the senior officer should receive promotion.
– In the Customs Department that has not been the rule.
– I myself have felt the force, of what the honorable member has said. An officer’s fitness for promotion is very frequently a matter of opinion. But I can say this from my knowledge of the Department of Trade and Customs - that I cannot put my finger on any one particular case where there has been the shadow of suspicion of favoritism. There are many instances of alleged favoritism, which I have endeavoured to probe to the bottom, but when inquired into I found that there was no ground for complaint. The statistics of the Department show that since the establishment of Federation the number of officers has been decreased and the average rate of salary has been considerably Increased. I quite recognise that there are a large number of deserving officers, especially in the lower grades whose salaries I should like to see increased. It would be a very good thing if we could increase them, but in the aggregate it would involve such a large sum that it would be very difficult for the Public Service Commissioner to recommend increases. Of course recommendations for promotion have to come from the heads of Departments. If the honorable member knows of any case where there is the slightest suspicion of anything in the nature of favoritism, I should be glad to know of it. It is well in the interest of the service that we should probe such cases. If an officer thinks that he has been unfairly passed over, and is dissatisfied, that is not good for the service to which he belongs. But it is of no use to deal with this matter in a general way. We must have reference made to the particular cases. In the instances mentioned by the honorable member, as I said before, the Public Service Commissioner has reported that the officers promoted were senior. I feel sure that the heads of Departments are themselves only too anxious tb see that no suspicion of favoritism creeps in. From my knowledge of the officers of the Department, I can say that they have to work very hard, and often very long hours, for very small pay. I can say of them that they do their duty well and seem anxious to do their best!. I believe that in the Department of Trade and Customs we have officers as good as are to be found in any private establishment in the world.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 42 (Queesland), £56,229
.- -In connexion with division 42, relating to the vote f6r Queensland officers of the Department of Trade and ‘ Customs, shall I be in order in discussing the payment of the sugar bounties ? It seems to me that as the Queensland Collector of Customs is the officer who advises the Government in this matter, this would be a convenient and proper time. If, however, you think Mr. Chairman, that the discussion should be deferred until we deal with the subdivision relating to travelling expanses and temporary assistance, I shall bring it up then.
– I point out to the honorable member that we are getting into a method of dealing with Estimates that is not appropriate to their consideration in Committee. When the Budget is introduced and is discussed on the first item of the Estimates, it ls quite reasonable for any honorable member to discuss any particular item or matter of policy, but if we are going to have a discussion on matters of policy on any division in the Estimates, we shall go beyond what is the proper practice. If that were to be allowed, the honorable member will see that it would be possible for every question that can be imagined to be discussed on the Estimates. I take it that the division with which we are now concerned deals purely with the administration of the Department, and not with the collection of the sugar Excise or the payment of bounties. We areconcerned purely with how the officers perform their duties.
– On the point of order, I submit that as the Collector of Customs ir» Brisbane is the official charged with the administration of the Department in Queensland, where the Excise duty is- being collected, I shall be in order in discussing the collection of that duty, and incidental matters, on this division. If we are to be narrowed down to discussing the manner in which an officer discharges his duties, it will be utterly impossible to discuss . intelligently nine-tenths of the items on the Estimates. It is impossible, when we are dealing with 15,000 or 16,000 officers, for honorable members to be acquainted with the manner in which any particular one discharges his duties. Therefore, unless we are permitted to discuss, not the general question, but the question of how the Excise duty is collected under the superintendence of this particular individual, I am afraid that our discussion and consideration of the Estimates will be a mere matter of form. If you rule against rae now, I submit that on a later subdivision of division 42, namely, that pro1
MarnI for temporary assistance, which undoubtedly must be an item dealing with the collection of the Excise in Queensland, I shall be. justified in discussing the particular matter to which I have referred.
-The honorable member will be quite in order if he thinks that the collection of the Excise duties is not being properly conducted, in discussing the matter. But he will not be in order in dealing- with the question of whether or not the duties ought to be collected. That is a question which has been decided by the House, by the passage of a Bill.
– As long as I am not narrowed down to the precise manner in which this officer discharges his duties I am perfectly content. I think that we ought not to proceed further with the Estimates of the Department of Trade and Customs until we know more about the collection of the Excise duties in Queensland, and more about the cost of collecting them and of distributing the bounty. I take it that the Government are largely influenced in regard to the estimates of revenue and as to the amount that will be paid away in bounties, by the information supplied by the Collector of Customs in Brisbane. In that case the Minister ought to favour the Committee with some information on that point before we go further. The present position of matters in relation to the sugar duties is, I submit, a menace to the taxpayers of Australia. The fact that out of a total revenue from sugar of £746,000, £580,000 is passing into the pockets of private individuals, is a serious matter.
– I point out to the honorable member that were I to allow him to deal with the matter which he is now discussing, the whole question of whether a bounty should be given, and as to whether Excise duty could be charged, could be debated. I think that the honorable member himself will see that he is going beyond the scope of these Estimates.
– I hardly think that, sir,’ because the question of the payment of bounties and the payment of Excise is fixed by law. Therefore it would be useless, if not irrelevant, for me to raise that question now. But I think that I may discuss incidentally the position of affairs, seeing that the policy of the Excise duties is involved in the expenditure we are now asked to vote.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing that matter.
– I hope, sir, that I make my meaning clear - that this officer being the one who advises the Government, this is the proper time to discuss the information and reports which he must have supplied to the Government in order to induce them to pursue the policy which theyare pursuing. I think that I can discuss that. If we are to be narrowed down to the manner in which an individual is discharging his duties, and whether he is properly rewarded by the salary set opposite his title or not, we should be turning our consideration of the Estimates into something approaching a farce.
– The honorable member must not discuss the ruling which I have given.
– I was saying “ if it were so;” I do not say positively that it is. I am putting a hypothetical case. I repeat that it is on the information of this officer that the Government act. Therefore we are entitled to protest against the position into which the matter has been permitted to drift. That, out pf such a large revenue-
– The honorable member is trying to evade my ruling, and I must ask him to obey it. If, merely because this officer is responsible for the collection of certain duties, and gives advice to the Government on the subject, I were to permit a discussion of policy, it would open up a general debate, and I could not prevent similar discussions on other items. I ask the honorable member not to refer to this matter more than incidentally.
– In regard to the position which the Committee has now reached-
– Does the honorable member rise to a point of order, or to disagree with my ruling?
– I wish to express my opinion in regard to the position. As the honorable member for Coolgardie did not rise, I . presume I have the right to be called on, and, should I digress, I shall be subject to your correction. In regard to this particular item, it seems to me that we are now in the position–
– I cannot allow my ruling to be discussed. . If the honorable member wishes to disagree with it, he must move to that effect.-
– It is surely competent for an honorable member to present a point of view which may not have occurred to yourself or the honorable member for Coolgardie. I submit that, when we are considering the salary of an officer such as this, it is competent to give reasons why he should or should not be paid the amount allotted to him. If the honorable member for Coolgardie can show that the Collector of Customs for the State of Queensland has been guilty of conduct which does not justify the payment to him of his full salary, the honorable member will be within his rights in doing so.
– The honorable member for Coolgardie was not called to order for that line of criticism.
– If . the honorable member can show that the administrative acts of this officer, or the conduct of those under his control, have not been satisfactory, he will be justified in presenting instances to the Committee.
– The honorable member led me to believe that he intended to discuss the item ; but he is now traversing my. ruling. I therefore ask him to move to disagree with it, or to confine himself to the item.
– I . am presenting -a phase-
– The honorable member is out- of order, and I ask him to discontinue his remarks.
– Of course, I obey your ruling, sir; but I presume that you will not rule me out of order for endeavouring to point out that,, if it is within the knowledge of the honorable member for Coolgardie that certain actions have been taken by members of the staff under the control of this officer which are not in the public interest, he is at liberty to demonstrate that to the Committee.
– When called to order, I was about to add that the cost of collecting the- Excise - for which this officer is primarily responsible - amounts this year to£7,328. Although I cannot furnish proof that he, or any one connected with the Department, has been guilty of neglect of duty, I submit that we are entitled to consider whether one who has led the country into such heavy expenditure should continue to” receive the salary allotted to his office. I do not wish to refer, except incidentally, to the enormous burden which these duties impose on the people of Australia, or to the excessive, proportion which passes, not into the public Treasury, but into the pockets of private individuals. We should have an opportunity, if not now, on another occasion, to discuss the effect of this policy. When I commenced, I asked your opinion as to whether it would be better to have the discussion on this item’, or on a later one, providing for the employment of temporary assistance, much ‘ of which, no doubt, is required in the collection of the Excise duty. I hope that before we get any further the Minister will inform us what amount of Excise is likely to be collected this year. The figures placed before us were compiled some time ago,, and the Government should now be in possession of later statistics concerning the cost of collection, and the total amount likely to be collected.
– I take it that the opportunity to discuss the administration of the Department generally was. afforded when the first item was before the Committee. I have risen to call attention to the item -
Deduct allowance to be made by Department of External Affairs for the services rendered in connexion with the Immigration Restriction Act,
Similar entries appear elsewhere. Why are these amounts deducted?
– When one Department performs, a service for another, a charge is made. This allowance is given to recoup the Department of Trade and Customs for services rendered in connexion with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, and is similar to the allowances paid by the Commonwealth to the States for the performance of postal and other duties by State officials.
– But where is there a credit for this and similar deductions? There should, I take it, be a credit in the accounts of the Department of External Affairs
– Wherever there is a debit, there will be a credit to balance it. In reply to the honorable member for Coolgardie, I may say that the total amount of bounty estimated to be paid for the present financial year is £573,000, while the excise collected in Queensland amounts to £108,000, though we cannot give exact figures until the end of the year.
– The Excise collections for nine months must aggregate more than that.
– I have given the figures supplied to me. The total collections for the Commonwealth are estimated at £746,000. As to the cost of collection, the Customs officers are, as far as possible, utilized to conduct the work attaching to the inspection of the sugar districts, the payment of bounty, and the collection of Excise. It is very diffi-‘ cult, except in the case of temporary officers, to divide salaries in accordance with ‘ the duties performed. No special statistics are available, but, although the work is so great, involving an expenditure in bounty amounting to £573,000 during the present financial year, the general expenditure of the State has been increased through the sugar work by only 13s. 4d. per £100 of revenue collected. Without the sugar work,- it would cost the Department £4 11s. 5d. to collect £100 of revenue, and with it the cost is £5 4s. 9d.
– I am glad to see evidence, Mr. McDonald, of your attention to the business of the Committee, in your endeavours to confine honorable members to the item before the Chair, although your personal desire and inclination, no doubt, would be to give them every opportunity to ventilate grievances. The general debate closed when the first item was disposed of. As a rule, criticism of the Estimates is hostile to the Minister; but I wish to acknowledge the good work done by the boarding officers, and to suggest the strengthening of this branch, particularlyin Queensland, but also in the other States. Last year, Parliament absolutely prohibited the importation of opium, and we require a stronger body of boarding inspectors and assistants to enforce that decision. Last year, provision was made for twenty boarding assistants in Queensland, but this year, notwithstanding that the work of these officers has been increased, only nineteen are provided for. We are suffering a loss of £60,000 per annum in respect of duty formerly collected on opium, yet we find that it is still being introduced into the Commonwealth. It is only reasonable to assume that the smuggling which is going” on is due t’o the want of more officers in the Department. I am glad that the Minister of Trade and Customs has endeavoured to cope with the trouble. I should be out of order in referring to the local production of opium, but I desire to point out that the Minister should not be hampered in his efforts to prevent it being smuggled into Australia by the want of a sufficient number of assistants. A boarding inspector or boarding inspector’s assistant to-day must have the capacity of a detective and the knowledge of a seaman. In order that’ he may be properly qualified to search avessel with a view of thwarting efforts to smuggle goods into the Commonwealth, he must have had a nautical training. The average landsman has no idea of the way in which goods can be secreted on board ship. We need men who have been before the mast to cope with the efforts of smugglers.
– In . other words, a ‘hoarding inspector cannot see unless he has been to sea.
– Exactly. This is a part of the service which is overlooked. The “position is the same in regard to examining officers. The more power we give the Minister to deal with commerce, the more assistants we need to give him. The other day, the honorable gentleman determined to issue a regulation prohibiting the importation of cornsacks above a certain size, and an increased staff will certainly be necessary to prevent the violation of that humane regulation. . I am glad that the Minister has determined to issue such a regulation; and I shall do all I can to strengthen his hands. If he had in his electorate, as I have, many men who earn only1s.1½d. per hour, he would recognise the necessity for appointing more examining officers to prevent the importation of cornsacks capable of holding more than 200 lbs. of corn. Then, again, as we have a high Tariff, the necessity for a full staff of officers is greater than ever.
– The honorable member’s remarks are not relevant to the question. He has professed a very high, appreciation of my desire to keep honorable members to the point, and I must ask him to confine his observations to the question immediately before the Chair.
– My desire is to point out that the Collector should have a full and efficient staff to protect the revenue. The higher the Tariff, the greater will be the inducement to smuggle, and the more pressing the need for a full staff of officers. In the past, too many Collectors have been in the habit of selecting the ordinary type of official . for the position of examining officer or boarding inspector. My own knowledge of seaports teaches me that men of nautical training are necessary for such positions, in order that smuggling may be put down. Valuable goods may be surreptitiously introduced into the Commonwealth in small quantities, and we need expert officers to cope with the evil.
.- The honorable member .for Robertson was rather hard on me just now when he insinuated that I did not know what I was talking about in -reference to the deduction of £200 in respect of the allowance made by the Department of External Affairs for service’s rendered under the Immigration Restriction “ Act. I told the honorable member that the amount had been debited to the Department of External Affairs, and was credited in this division. In support of my statement, I would draw his attention to division 16, item 2, of tha Estimates of the Department of External Affairs, in which £900 is provided for payment to the Customs Department in respect of services of officers under the Immigration Restriction Act. At page 61 of the Estimates of the Department of Trade and Customs, there is a deduction of £200 in respect of the allowance to be made by the Department of External Affairs for services so rendered in Queensland. At page 49, we have .£200 so deducted in respect of New South Wales; at page 55 a deduction of £200 in respect of Victoria; at page 65, a deduction of £50 in respect of South Australia; and, at page 69, a deduction of £256 in respect of Western Australia; making a total of £.900. That being so, it is simply a matter of cross entries. I am pleased to be able to help the Minister to explain the item.
.- In this division, we have an item of £144 in respect of an engine-driver, who must necessarily possess some technical knowledge, whilst provision is made for £330 in respect .of a watchman.
– The item of £330 relates really to three watchmen.
– It struck me that there was a very great difference in the rates of pay for two men performing duties so entirely dissimilar, and that really the emoluments ought to be reversed. But if three watchmen are concerned, of course the matter has a different complexion.
– In answer to the honorable member for tang, I would point out that provision is made for a salary of only £144 in respect of an engine-driver, as against a salary of £156 appropriated for that purpose last year.- The officer who received? the higher salary die.d a little while ago,: and his successor is to commence at the; lower rate. The item of £330 relatesreally to three watchmen, who are to -be appointed to enable oversea vessels to be searched and watched. Those appoint-: ments have not vet been made.
.- Under the heading of “ General Division, lr the item “ Coxswain-‘ (including arrears), £162 “ appears. I should like to ask the Minister why an officer of the Department has had arrears of pay.
– The reference! is to arrears of increment granted by the; Public Service Commissioner. - -
.- Why have the border stations been done away with on the Queensland and New South Wales border ? So far as we can judge . from the Estimates, border stations are still kept going between New South Wales and Victoria.
– There are border stations between Queensland and New South Wales wherever there are trade, routes.
– It certainly appears from the Estimates as if the border stations had been done away with between Queensland and New South Wales.
– The honorable member’ is quite right, I find on inquiry. There is onlyone officer employed as between Queensland and New South Wales, and, there fore, it has not been thought worth while to separate the items.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 43 (South Australia), £28,651.
– I desire to call attention to the fact that there is not a proper audit staff in South Australia; and I desire to know whether it is the intention to place South Australia on the same footing as the other States in this respect. . According to the Auditor -‘ General, things are far from satisfactory in the Customs Department in South Australia; and I very much desire to know; not only if an audit staff will be appointed, but when inspectors will be provided, lt is necessary that there should be some supervision, if only for the sake of uniformity. But there are great complaints on the part of the Customs agents. It is said that the present system, without benefiting the Department, is a great inconvenience to the agents. I do not know whether the method suggested by the agents would be safe or wise ; but, at any rate, they should not suffer any more inconvenience than is suffered elsewhere.
.- I indorse what the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said ; and I desire to call attention to similar weakness in connexion with the examining officers. We have read of the difficulties in connexion ‘ with Customs detection in South Australia; and I desire to know from the Minister whether he thinks this branch of the service is as strong as it might be, not only in that State, but throughout trie Commonwealth.
– The matter of the audit staff is being considered. There is no doubt that some alteration should be made, and I hope to be able shortly to intimate what has been done. In regard to the change of the system as affecting the Customs agents, I have had representations made to me previously by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, the honorable member for Angas, and others. In addition, representations have been made by merchants, and the endeavour of the Department is, as far as possible, to meet the convenience of all those concerned. We always invite suggestions, because we desire the business to run smoothly, while taking care that the revenue does not suffer. Some changes, made during the absence of the late Minister in London, are now on their trial ; and, only to-day, the matter was before me. Our only desire is to do the best we can in a business way, and secure uniformity as far as possible, though, of course,’ uniformity must not be pressed too far. The practice which may be good at one port may not be suitable to another ; and I think that the merchants and others are beginning to recognise that fact. I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that we should, as far as possible, strengthen our staff in view of the smuggling of opium and other commodities. Wherever there is a Customs House there will be smuggling; and the prohibition of opium makes the position very difficult when we remember the large numbers, especially those of one nationality, who will have it if possible. I quite agree that we must secure the men best fitted to perform duties which are all important ; at the same time, a ship may pass one port and be bailed up at another, with the result of the discovery of fraud.
– We must not forget that we are losing £60,000 per annum in opium duties.-
– Although it is a fact that we are losing £60,000 a year, I think it would be difficult to induce Parliament to reverse its decision in regard to the importation of opium. In my opinion, the greatest safeguard against fraud is the desire of the great bulk of merchants and traders to have honest dealings. They feel that, unless there is proper supervision and examination, they are in danger of competition at the hands of those who smuggle or obtain some undue advantage. Therefore, honest merchants and traders are always anxious to help the Customs authorities as far as possible. I shall have no hesitation in asking the Treasurer for advice .and assistance, in view of the fact that he has such a grip of the Customs Department, over which he so long presided. Every effort will be made in the directions indicated ; and we shall do our best to avoid any undue interference with the course of business, while, at the same time, conserving the public interest in the matter of revenue.
– I am convinced that the Minister is filled with good intentions, and will, therefore, be quite prepared to give us full information in regard to the item of £500 for law costs and the preparation of cases. I observe that last year while £20 was voted on this account, a sum of £4,359 was expended. The Minister of Trade and Customs is doing the best he can in the administration of the Department, and half the troubles are naturally not due to himself ; but, while he found his Department an Augean stable when he started, I am sure he will find its funds absolutely cleaned out, if he goes on to spend over £4,000 when only £20 has been voted. I should like to know what proportion of this expenditure was due to the preparation of cases, and how much was due to cases which were actually fried in Court. The honorable member for Hindmarsh raised this question! the other day on a motion for the adjournment of the House ; and I think the Government showed good cause for their action in that instance. But when there is such a discrepancy between the amount voted and the amounts spent, I think there is some justification for inquiry. How much of this money was due to the- preparation of cases which were not proceeded with?
– The discrepancy does look- rather extraordinary, but I have to inform honorable members that, when £20 was voted last year, we had no idea that great Customs frauds would call for investigation. Honorable members agree that when the frauds were discovered, my colleague was quite right in having them thoroughly investigated at whatever cost was necessary. However, we expect that a great deal of the law expenses incurred in South Australia will be recouped.
– In what way ?
– The cases are not settled yet.
– Are costs paid before cases are settled?
– Cases do not go very far before a little is wanted on account. But in some cases, where we succeed, we are recouped, though, in other cases; to win does not mean to get all the costs. The honorable member for Hindmarsh admitted the other day that had he previously heard the Ministerial explanation he would not have moved the adjournment of the House. This is a matter in which we cannot tell what money will be required ; frauds might be discovered tomorrow, necessitating further expenditure, which, of course, would subsequently have to be sanctioned by Parliament.
.- The Minister has not really answered my main question, which was as to how much of the expenditure had been incurred in preparing cases not subsequently proceeded with. That is the main concern with Parliament, because we are anxious to prevent frauds on the revenue. If the whole of this expenditure has been on cases in which the Courts were actually invoked, well and good ; but if a portion has been spent- in making general inquiries, which, for some reason or other, of which we know nothing, did not result in prosecutions, it is rather a serious state of affairs; and the Committee is entitled to some information. Here is an instance where we have a charge for law costs and the preparation of law cases, £4,000. I want to know what the costs were, and what the cost of preparation was ?
– I do not think it is quite fair for the honorable member to take the line that he has done with regard to this item. He has referred to cases being abandoned. It was clearly shown the other day that the cases were not given up by the Department. The parties against whom we were proceeding pleaded guilty. Honorable members watch these cases pretty closely, and they know that there is a good answer to be given in all these instances. While I have not all the figures here, I take it that very little of this expenditure has been incurred in cases that have been dropped by the Department.
– The - Department would have to prepare a case even if the parties afterwards pleaded guilty.
– Certainly. The preparation is done by our own officers, and does not involve a large expenditure.
– If the preparation is done by the Department’s officers, why is this expenditure charged?
– A very small amount of the money has relation to cases that have not been gone on with. But parties in many instances have pleaded guilty, and were prepared to pay the fines and costs rather than go into Court.
– What proportion of the money represents preparation of cases, and what proportion represents law costs?
– A very small amount of it is concerned with the preparation of cases that have not been gone on with.
– Then I understand that practically none of this expenditure has been incurred in the preparation of cases that have not been gone on with ?
– The honorable member must not put words into my mouth. I am advised that every penny of this money is for cases that have been proceeded with by the Department and taken as far as the Court, though some of it may relate to cases that have not actually gone into Court.
.- I understand that a change has been initiated in regard to Customs duties claimed from oversea ships. I should like to ask the Minister whether such a change hasbeen initiated, and, if so, what the exact effect of it is? Formerly, of course, every barber’s shop on a mail steamer had to have all its odds and ends counted, and then duty had to be paid on what was taken out before the ship left . Australia again. I am informed that a slight change has been made in the method of collecting duties, and that now the’ only things for which the Department looks for duty are those of a highly dutiable character, such as scents. I wish to know what the change is, as the- matter is of some importance.
– I shall be happy to inquire whether a change has been made, and give the information to the honorable member.
– It is only reasonable to suggest to the Minister that we are entitled to know what changes have been made in the. administration of the Department. This is a matter that does not affect the mere policy of any particular officer, but is a change that I suppose has been made as the result of an alteration of Ministerial policy. The Minister ought to be able to tell us what has been done. I am not asking for more information than the Committee is entitled to have.
– I am afraid that the honorable member again wishes to put into my mouth something which I did not say. I know of no change in the policy of the Government in this respect. The honorable member assumes that there has been a change.
– I did not say so. I said that I was informed that there was a change.
– The honorable member referred to the collection of duties on particular articles. I am advised that there has been no change whatever, so that it is impossible for me to give the honorable member any information.
.- The Minister quite misunderstands me. I have not tried to put words into his mouth. That would be the last place in which I should try to place anything. .What I am concerned about is this : I believe that there has been a certain change in the policy of the Department in regard to the collection of duties from oversea mail steamers. I think that a change of that nature involves a change of Ministerial policy. The Minister may not regard it as such. It may have been clone without Ministerial sanction.
– I can assure Ihe honorable member that if -any change has been made it is without Ministerial sanction or Ministerial knowledge. As the honorable member appears to be so positive, it will give me great pleasure to make inquiries as to whether a change has been made. If so, it will be a departure from the policy that has been hitherto pursued.
.- I notice under the heading of contingencies that last )ear the appropriation for stores, fuel, and light was £75, whilst, the expenditure was £131. This year the amount set down opposite that item is £430. What is the reason for this inordinate increase?
– The increase is principally to pay for a supply of beam scales that are necessary for the work of the Department. Their use will greatly facilitate the delivery of goods.
.- Some of the items under the heading of contingencies have grown very largely. Last year the total vote was £3,730. This year it is £4,910. This is only one instance of the growth of expenditure under the heading of contingencies. It is going on throughout the service, and is quite distinct from an increase in salaries, which proceeds by the .ordinary method prescribed by. the Public Service Act. The expenditure is largely on account of office requisites. Every Department seems to have made a greater demand for these purposes, and seems to have spent a great deal more money than was asked for. In view of the fact “that we have ahead of us considerable expenditure on Defence and railway construction between State and State, the transfer of the Northern Territory, and increased postal facilities, I think that we might be more careful in watching the outflow of the pence. Here we have for instance an increased expenditure on postage and telegrams. I should not be in order in referring back to divisions with which we have dealt, but I may remark that the expenditure under this heading has largely increased in all the Departments. There must be an end to this sort of thing. This is not a case of increasing expenditure through the employment of more .officers. It is a .case of increasing expenditure through the embossing of. letter paper and envelopes, and a number of things like that. I do not think the Department ought to be extravagant in this direction. Care should be taken to economize in these respects if the affairs of the Commonwealth are to be managed in a reasonable manner.
– I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth that every care must be exercised. But he must recollect that our revenue has been largely , increased. We are dealing with a considerable increase of business, and therefore we must expect to incur more expenditure on postage and telegrams. There is an increase of £50 under that heading in this instance. Every care is taken to see that there is no extravagance.
.- I am surprised at the explanation offered by the Minister. He says that increased business means increased postage and telegrams. But we find that last year the expenditure for these purposes in South Australia was £432, whilst the estimate for the present year is £400 - a decrease of £32. Evidently the Minister believes that business is not going to increase. I hope that he will not be pessimistic, but at the same time he should see to it that economy is rigidly enforced in these details of Departmental expenditure. Anything you like can be spent on embossing letters and envelopes. The Minister is usually optimistic in his views. I am therefore astonished at his saying, as he does in these Estimates, that since not so much money will be required in South Australia for postage and telegrams this year, as was required last year, there is, inferentially, to be a decrease of business ! I sincerely hope, however, v that the Minister will harden his heart, and see that the most rigid economy” is practised in regard to these details.
– The honorable member for Wentworth is hardly so logical as he usually is, nor is he justified in suggesting that the explanation which I gave was not a good one. If he had been following the discussion on the schedule closely - as he ‘ generally does - he would know that the Treasurer does not anticipate such a large amount of revenue next year as was received during the past year: When the honorable member becomes a better protectionist, he will know that one of the effects of a good Tariff is not to increase business in the way of importations. That is the reason why we have not asked for so large an amount cf money for postage and telegrams as was spent last year. It may please the honorable member to bait me about these details, but it does not look well in- cold print to have him charging me with not showing honesty of purpose because I do not put down £500 or £600 for postage and telegrams when I am advised by my responsible officers that £400 will be sufficient.
– I am compelled to continue to endeavour to elicit information from the Minister. Now his attitude is this : A good Tariff, he assures us, decreases business ; and he was referring to business in connexion with postage and telegrams. This is evidence that the Tariff recently passed is superlatively bad, because the estimated expenditure of the Department on this item last year was £350 and the actual expenditure £432. This is his own admission. I only hope that he meant what he said.
.- In this, as in other Departments, attention must be directed to the largeness of the increases. I do not know whether it is the practice of this Department, as I have reason to believe it to be the practice in other Departments - to use the telegraph unnecessarily, merely to save the trouble of letter writing. If officers leave to-day’s work over until to-morrow because they can then use the telegraph, the expense of administration must be increased. Generally speaking, the heads of the Customs Department cannot be charged with extravagance. On the contrary, considering the efficiency of their officers and the amount of the revenue, if any charge lies against them, it is that of cheese-paring. The Minister has admitted that in the near future we must expect a large decrease in the revenue from Customs duties. If that comes about, the reduction in trade will require a reduction in the staff of the Department and in its cost. The amount asked for contingencies this year is £4,910. Last year only £3,730 was voted, though the actual expenditure was larger. Only ,£20 was voted for law costs and the preparation of cases, but the actual expenditure was £4,359, and if similar law costs have to be incurred this vear, the expenditure on contingencies will not be less than £10,000. However, as Supply for only two months of the financial year remains unvoted, we cannot do much more than protest against unnecessary increases, in the hope that the expenditure for the forthcoming year will be reduced.
.- As subdivision No. 3 deals with the Northern Territory, I wish to know if the Minister is aware that there is now a large exportation of brood mares from Australia, mostly to Japan and the East, with a. view to forming cavalry there. Horses are now bred in the Northern Territory, and might be bred there in greater numbers to the immense advantage of the Commonwealth and of the Empire. Has the Minister considered the exportation I speak of in connexion with the defence proposals of the Government? I merely wish to point out the need for checking it in some way, unless it is intended to leave unhorsed many of the mounted regiments which it is proposed to incorporate in our Defence Forces.
– What is the annual exportation ?
– I cannot tell the honorable member, though the figures could be easily obtained. I am informed by persons who take an interest in breeding that this is a serious matter.
– The honorable member’s remarks would apply better to the Defence Estimates, though if he can connect them with any officer whose salary is provided for in this subdivision, I shall permit him to continue.
– If an Excise were imposed on the exportation of horses, it would be one of the important functions of the officers of the Department to supervise the exportation of brood mares. The honorable member for Corio makes a study of military questions, and I should like his support for my suggestion that the Government should consider the advisability of imposing an Excise duty on the exportation of brood mares suitable for breeding cavalry horses.
– I submit that the honorable member’s remarks are out of order, as there is no reference in the subdivision to brood mares ; and that he should take your hint, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the matter could be better discussed under the Defence Estimates.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Lang must permit the Chair to decide whether the honorable member for Wentworth is getting away from the question.
– I am glad that a proper rebuke has been administered to . the honorable member. If such a duty as I propose were imposed, the exportation of horses and mares would have to be regulated with regard to our local requirements, and the countries to which it was proposed To export. If action were taken in this direction, Australia would largely benefit. The sort of horses required for cavalry purposes can, perhaps, well be bred in the limestone country north of the Macdonnell Ranges, to supply not only the requirements of the Australian Defence Forces, but of the King’s Forces throughout the Empire. Every military nation in Europe nowadays breeds horses on a large scale under Government supervision, and carefully regulates the export of stock and the importation of new blood. If we in Australia are to have a large defence force, we must do the same, and might very well work in conjunction with the Imperial Government. Land in large areas can probably be obtained more cheaply in the Northern Territory than elsewhere, and would certainly be available if the control of the Territory were- transferred to the Commonwealth. I ask the Minister to take into his consideration the exportation of brood mares to which I have referred and the suggestions which I have made, so that if the Ministry bring in their ill-matured defence proposals, they may not be lacking in the one essential of a mobile mounted force - horses. The Minister should note the seriousness of this export to Japan and the East.
– I have a question of some importance to put to the Minister, and have no doubt that his attention has been directed to it on more than one occasion. I refer to the steps taken to secure identity of decision in the different States in regard to the classification of imports. There were complaints that imports were classified in one State under a certain heading, whilst in another State they were classified under a different heading. I recognise the difficulty of securing identical and rapid decisions over so large an area as the Commonwealth comprises ; but I understood, when a: complaint was previouslymade, that steps were to be taken to remove the trouble. I have heard it stated that the Government intend to appoint an Inspector-General ; but I do not know whether that proposal has any relation to an attempt to secure identity and rapidity of classification in the different States. The question is highly important. I should like to know whether the difficulties caused by these varying determinations have been to any extent overcome, and whether there is any proposal to still further facilitate the giving of prompt and identical decisions ?
– So far as possible, we have endeavoured to cope with the difficulties to which the honorable member has referred. One can readily understand that troubles of this kind are likely to arise when one remembers the number of decisions that have to be given. The decisions already given under the new Tariff probably amount to over10,000, and further steps are necessary to bring about the desirable reform which the honorable member has mentioned. It is proposed to make an effort to seecure it by the appointment of three inspectors, who will be able to visit every Customs port in Australia at least once in twelve months; but their visits to the more important ports will be far more frequent. After the Tariff has been disposed of by Parliament, the Comptroller General, who is an officer of wide experience and great ability, will be able to visit the chief centres, with the object of bringing the various decisions into uniformity, and promoting rapidity of decision. The question of the appointment of three inspectors is under the consideration of the Public Service Commissioner. We hope to secure for this work young, bright, energetic men, well versed in Customs procedure, and trust that their efforts, coupled with those of the Comptroller-General, will bring about the desired change.
.- This seems to be the only division in which the expenditure under the heading of “ Contingencies ‘ ‘ during the year has been bulked. It will be found that the money expended is not detailed, as it is in every other division. That seems to indicate that the central office is not keeping a check on departmental expenditure in the Northern Territory, but I hope that there is some other explanation.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro - Minister of Trade and Customs) [9-31 - We expect to obtain the detailed information from the Northern Territory. The expenditure is made up at the end of the year–
– And the total amount expended is simply telegraphed to the central office?
– That is so.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that owners of coastal steamers trading between Perth, Wyndham, and Singapore, are differentiating between portsand between traders at various places. Some time ago, persons on the north-west coast were being served with produce by traders at Geraldton, but the steamship companies trading from Fremantle along the coast actually refused to take cargo . from Geraldton. I brought the matter under the attention of the Postmaster-General, who obtained from the Crown Solicitor an opinion that, under the mail contract, the owners of these vessels are not compelled to carry goods from port to port. I desire that the Minister shall direct the attention of the Collector of Customs to the practice, in order that steps may be taken for its abolition. The Post and Telegraph Department, under the mail contract, has no power to compel these vessels to take goods from one port to another; it can simply direct ‘that if passengers or goods’ are carried, not more than certain rates shall be charged. The position is rendered the more serious by the fact that these steamers afford the only means of transit along the coast. They enjoy an absolute monopoly. I am not sure what power the Minister possesses in this regard, but he ought to be able to devise a scheme to prevent steam-ship companies from boycotting the traders of any port. The opinion of the Crown Solicitor reads as follows -
The contract is for a mail service, but . . . does not, in my opinion,’ compel the contractor to take all the goods offered for Geraldton or any other port. Sometimes it may be impossible to carry all that is offered at all the ports for all the ports in a vessel the size of the vessels employed in this service, and the contractor must exercise his discretion in selecting what he. will take or leave.
The contract, in my opinion, allows the con-‘ tractor to decide what cargo he will take for any port, so long as he carries such cargo as he reasonably can carry for any port, and he is only limited to the amount to be charged for the cargo he does carry.
I am therefore of opinion the facts mentioned, admitting they are true, do not show that any breach of the contract has been committed by the contractor ; and I do not think any contractor would undertake to carry on every trip all the cargo offered at all the ports for all the ports. The laws as to overloading would sometimes prevent him carrying out the contract if he did so.
I read that opinion only to show that the Post and Telegraph Department cannot come to the assistance of the people of the north-west, who are now relying upon the Minister of Trade and Customs to help them. It is intolerable that these vessels, having an absolute monopoly, should differentiate between one port and another. No one could defend such a policy. If they had no available space, the position would be different; but on the up journey from Fremantle to the north-west, they rarely carry a. full cargo. The opinion of the people concerned is that these tactics have been resorted to because of a. desire on the part of the steam-ship owners to transfer the trade from Geraldton to Fremantle. The Minister should have power to compel their vessels to take cargo at any port of call for any other port at which they touch, provided, of course, that they have space for it, and that the consignees are prepared to pay the ordinary rates. The ship-owners concerned would benefit by the transfer of the trade of Geraldton to Fremantle, since the latter is practically a day’s further sail from Broome. Geraldton is the natural port, or, at any rate, the trading centre for the north-west, and it ought not to be deprived of its geographical advantages by the tactics of any shipping company. I make the recital of the facts as brief as possible, feeling sure that it is only necessary to state them to win the sympathy of the Minister and the Committee for the people who are being penalized.
– Owing to representations made by the honorable member, we have made inquiries in this matter; but they are not complete yet, and we are doubtful whether there has been any infringement of the law, and also as to our powers to deal with a question of the kind. The statement that has been made shows the seriousness of the position, which necessitates the closest inquiry. Immediately there is any result from the inquiries, I shall be glad to acquaint honorable members with what action it is proposed to take.
– What about the common carrier law?
– Th”f might apply but, if the facts are as stated, and I have no reason to doubt that they are, some intervention is required. The matter shall have my closest attention.
– I should like to ask what has been done in’ Western Australia in connexion with the goods traffic to Geraldton for transhipment by sea to Fremantle. I understand that a few years ago the Western Australian Government charged less freight on goods which were carried over Government lines and intended for shipment on the Government steamers, than was charged on goods which were intended to be shipped on vessels belonging to some competing line. This question was brought before the House as a;constitutional point some years ago, and 1 desire to know whether the practice is continued.
– I am not aware of the facts, but I shall make inquiries.
.- The honorable member’s’ recollection of the facts is somewhat topsy-turvy. A private ‘ railway company has a line between Midland Junction and Walkaway, and they ‘ charged excessive prices to the people of the Murchison gold-fields for the carriage of goods from Perth to Cue. After repeated and vain efforts to induce the railway company to reduce their rates’ to reasonable limits, the Government put on a’ steamer, I think the Julia Percy, and ran goods from Fremantle to Geraldton, and thence on the Government line to Cue. These are the facts so far as I remember.
.- That is what I intended to convey. I mean that the Western Australian Government were charging a lesser freight on goods carried over their own lines, and intended to be shipped in a Government steamer, than they were charging for the carriage of goods intended to’ be conveyed in some other vessel.
– I know nothing about that.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 45 (Tasmania), £8,376, agreed. to.
Department of Defence.
Division 46 (Central Administration), £25,316.’
.- At this late hour it is hardly fair, I think, to ask honorable members to discuss the farreaching Defence policy of the Government.
– All this money has already been voted.
– -But the consideration of the first item of the Department affords us the only opportunity for an inquiry into the Government policy.
– The honorable member is not talking of the new defence policy?
– I am speaking of the Government defence policy generally. We are now asked to vote large sums of money for a defence force which is on what may be broadly called the militia principle, although we know nothing definite as to whether the Government intend to maintain or supersede that principle.
– We can do nothing without a Bill.
– But we are asked to vote this money for the upkeep of a certain system, when we are not certain whether that system is to be continued.
– The system must continue for two months.
– Owing, to the uncertainty which exists right through the Department as to the continuance of the system, a great deal of harm is being done to the Defence Forces of Australia ; and the sooner we know definitely the intentions of the Government the better. I have read_the Prime Minister’s celebrated speech with the pleasure which that gentleman’s speeches always afford, but I cannot find out from that speech what the Government intentions are in regard to the militia system. In the first part of the speech, for instance, I saw that the militia system is to be abolished.
-Not abolished, but absorbed.
– Absorbed, much in the sense, I suppose, that the honorable member for Lang was nearly absorbed by the crocodile - that is, a kind of absorption that is practically destruction. Then in another part of the speech we are told that the Prime Minister’s intention is to . elevate the status of the militia, and we have a right to know what he is going to do - absorb or elevate? Is the elevation to be by means, of a bomb, or by some more gentle process?
– Whatever the process, nothing can be done under these Estimates.
– But this is the only opportunity we have of ascertaining the intentions of the Government.
– Before any alteration is made of the kind suggested, the House will have the fullest opportunity of considering it, and subsequently a Bill will be introduced.
– But in the meanwhile I think the forces have a right to expect some sort of declaration from the Government.’ We know that the Prime Minister does not now propose to go ahead with the scheme in toto, but . that the intention now is to run the militia system side by side with the new national guard system.
– That is a matter to be dealt with on the next Estimates.
– Of course, I know that it is more comfortable to put off trouble, We shall not have the next Estimates until next year.
– And I promise that no: thing shall be done in the meantime.
– I am delighted to hear that the Ministry propose to do nothing ! They have been doing that for the last five or six years in connexion with the Defence Forces.
– DoI understand that no Bill will be brought in during the next twelve months?
– What I said was that nothing will be done to alter the status of the Defence . Department without the approval of the House.
– That does not get us any “ forrader.” A Bill may be introduced at the fag end of the session, or a measure of glorious proportions and somewhat uncertain details may be brought down just when we are in the midst of the enthusiasm incidental to the visit of the American fleet. I am as full of martial enthusiasm as is even the honorable member for Corio, but these are matters I prefer to deal with in cold blood ; and, therefore, I suggest that it would be better to report progress now. Personally, I have no desire to impede the passage of the Estimates, nor do I think such a desire is shared by honorable members on this side. It is only courteous, however, to the House in a matter of such importance, to give an opportunity for a rational discussion.
– It is only 10 o’clock. Let us go on for another hour.
.- What would be the use of honorable members coming prepared to discuss these Estimates when, as a matter of fact, all the money has practically been expended. This is only another instance of the evil’ of Supply Bills. Here, in Estimates involving large sums of money, we have no power of revision, inspection, or suggestion. Ten months of the financial year have already expired, and we have no power whatever over this expenditure of some £700,000 odd. We can, however, obtain from the Minister some definite statement as to the time when we may expect the Defence Bill to be introduced. I did hope, after the elaborate speech of the Prime Minister a few months ago, that this session would not be allowed to close without our having dealt with this matter. The Prime Minister placed before honorable members a novel idea as to policy, not of his own, but of the Cabinet, and based on expert advice. When I made some inquiry as to the cost, the honorable gentleman informed me that the calculations were not his, but were those of officers of the Defence Department. From that day until now we have noticed the Minister of Defence taking his part, and the Prime Minister taking more than his part, in the affairs of the Department. I desire to know when we are likely to have the Defence Bill introduced, and whether it will be laid before us contemporaneously with the Estimates next year? An intimation such as I desire would simplify the position, and, I am sure, facilitate business. I draw attention to the fact that upon these Estimates there is an increase for 1907-8 over 1906-7 of £89,000. I should like the Minister to explain upon what lines that increase is warranted. It may not be a good thing to remind him of past promises, but one of the strongest arguments for Federation placed before the people seven or eight years ago was that by the abolition of the six separate systems of defence that existed in pre-Federal days, the expenditure would be greatly reduced. But the fact is that the expenditure to-day is much larger than it ever was before. I am not here to argue that there is no warrant for this increase. But certainly there is no evidence of an inclination to carry out the promise that was made to the people that we should have a more efficient defence service at a reduced cost. We necessarily have to rely to a great extent upon our expert officers as to the necessity for the amounts which we are asked to vote. We are not in a position to know whether the expenditure is warranted or not. The civil authority cannot say whether the sums required are extravagant. Even the political head of the Department is very little more versed in these matters than ordinary members are. However good the information which he supplies to us may be, and however laudable his intentions may be, the military heads of the Department are the only persons who can give us satisfactory assurances with regard to ninetynine items out of a hundred in connexion with the Defence Department. Indeed, the only true test of whether our defences are efficient in the test of war. Australia has never yet been plunged into war, and I hope she never will be. But without that test we have to take things on trust. We cannot discuss these Estimates without having regard to the new defence policy of the Government. When is that policy to be dealt with by the House? We were told by the Prime Minister in his defence speech that the present political head of the Department was an enthusiast of the warmest kind, and that no man who had been at the head of the Defence Department had the details at his ‘fingers’ ends to such a degree as the present Minister has.
– He never said that.
– The Prime Minister spoke of the honorable gentleman in even more eulogistic terms than I can do. Personally I regret that the Minister of Defence surrendered his responsibilities in allowing the Prime Minister to declare the defence policy of the Government. Although the speech was most eloquently delivered, it ought to have come from the Minister himself.
– It was big enough as a statement of policy to come from the Prime Minister.
– I was surprised that such a stickler for propriety as the Minister did not insist upon delivering the speech outlining the policy of the Government. Here, however, we have an increase °f £89>°°°> and the least that the Minister can do is to explain why it is necessary. It cannot be said that this is a party question. It can be approached without the slightest idea of party feeling. If anything concerns the people of Australia as a whole, it is the defence of their country. Whatever criticisms are presented are not hostile to the Minister personally. We merely seek for information as to these large increases. It is a matter of surprise to me, too, that the naval are out of all proportion to the military Estimates. For the purposes of a sea-bound continent like ours, the provision for naval defence ought to be larger proportionately to that made for military defence. I should like to see the Government pay more attention to the naval side of the question, and less to the military side. The naval expenditure this year is ,£60,000 - and that for a continent with a coast-line of 8,000 miles and with an enormous volume of commerce, which is growing out of .’proportion to that of any other country in the world. Our coastal trade is also very large. If there is to be efficient defence at all, or if there is any danger of invasion, it does not seem to me that our naval provision is sufficient. The military expenditure is £614,000, whilst we propose to spend only £60,000 on naval defence.
– There is also £250,000 for naval purposes, as the honorable member will find on page 72.
– That is part of the new defence provision of the Government. But we cannot discuss that now. I am talking of the Estimates for the year. The proportion of naval expenditure to military is as one to ten.
– Cook. - I think the Minister might tell us what steps have been taken by the Government to carry out their new scheme-
– I am hopeful of extracting some information as to when the Defence Bill will be brought forward, and whether we shall have an opportunity of discussing it this session.
– Do the Government even know the cost of their scheme ?
– If the approximate cost is given to us it will be sufficient. The’ Prime Minister in his speech. tried to make us believe that all these new plans would be carried out for practically the same money as has hitherto been expended. When I asked him whether the figures were his own, he said “ God forbid; they are not.” I certainly was not satisfied that the new scheme could be carried out for the same expenditure as in 1906-7. I do not blame the experts for asking for increased expenditure. There is no science that is so little exact in regard to its estimates as is military science. The estimates are always more or less speculative. The Minister does not know whether they are or are not sufficient. He may be told by his officers that we have, for example, for its size, the best equipped transport service in the world ; but we know that if suburban butchers, bakers, and grocers could not convey supplies to our encampments, the result would be disastrous. We have certainly not an efficient transport service. However, it. is fatuous to suggest any improvements on the present system. The only thing I can hope for is to elicit information from the Minister. The honorable member for Wentworth made a good point when he said that the Ministry would probably be astute enough to. take advantage of the enthusiasm caused by the visit of the American fleet to launch their defence scheme. A man with a cork eye, as they say in Queensland, could see that they could not, in their own interest, take a better occasion. We do not wish the matter to be pushed through in that way, however, though I should be glad if whatever enthusiasm results has the effect of increasing our naval expenditure. Many interesting subjects could be dealt with on these Estimates; but they are better reserved for another occasion. We have to find out what arm of the Defence Force is weakest, and most requires attention, and how we can get most return for our expenditure. The true test of an army’s efficiency is warfare. To render our forces efficient in war, I would gladly vote any reasonable sum.
– What would the honorable member call a reasonable sum ?
– That depends on circumstances. No amount would be unreasonable during the progress of a war. For vear. the Labour Party has preached the most rigid economy in regard to military expenditure.
– Only in certain direc-tions.
– If a lest proved that our military service had been starved, the Labour Party would be the first to find fault. According to some honorable members, there is no need for a Defence Force ; but I am conservative enough to take the opposite view. I do not regard the whole world as my brother, and in time of trouble I should like to see the British peoples predominate. I do not cavil at the administration of the honorable member for Richmond, who, perhaps, has done better than his predecessors, though, very likely, the same thing will be said of the man who follows him. The political head of the Defence Department who wishes to introduce new ideas has a sorry time, because he has to rely so completely on his expert advisers. Probably, however, a shrewd man. like the present Minister, can distinguish true experts from those who are only advertised as such. I do not see why the properly trained Australian soldier should not be as good as any in the world. Australians excel in law, medicine, and many other walks of life, and I do nor see why, if properly trained, the activebrained Australian should not excel in the art of war. I am not one of those who think that we can get good officers only by importing them. It would be a good thine: to obtain from Great Britain a general officer who had had actual experience in war. We might very well, say to the Old Country : “ We are part of the Empire, and wish to make our defences as good as they can be. If you Will send as the most capable officer you can spare, we will entrust to him the funds necessary to put our defence in perfect order, according “to his lights.” If we accept the services of such a man, we must rely wholly on him. The strong mind must dominate, and I cannot think it possible that satisfaction can be obtained under a system which makes a master mind inferior to a board or council. I would rather have the blunders of such a man together with his excellencies than the inefficiency of a council.
– As the honorable member for Dalley has pointed out, supply has already been voted for ten months of the current financial year, and therefore these Estimates are not of much importance. Expenditure incidental to the new defence scheme cannot receive consideration until that scheme has obtained Parliamentary approval. It is a matter for the future, though it will be dealt with as early as the state of public business will permit. While at times we may quarrel bitterly, and- may profess to think very little of each other politically, in the back of every man’s brain there is the desire to do the best for the country, and I am sure that honorable members will not allow their political leanings to operate to the detriment of her welfare. I have been in Opposition, and know J:he tendency to believe that everything a Government does is wrong ; but the defence of a country is too serious for any honorable member to trifle with. I have been long enough at the head of the Defence Department to justly appreciate the present position. .Were I not constrained by my sense of obligation to the country, I would not face the labour, vexation, and worry which the introduction of a . new defence scheme must entail. The task taxes to the utmost one’s physical and mental vigor, but it is worth doing, and, although personally I should be glad to leave office to-morrow, I hope to remain there long enough to do something towards placing our defence in a sounder and more wholesome condition. No man could see what I have seen without being obsessed bv the need for reform, and appealing to every party to forget party obligations in considering the question. The honorable member for Dalley has stated that the £65,000 expended on local naval defence is inadequate. Under the new defence proposals of the Government, the expenditure in the first year after theapproval of the scheme will be £350,000, in the next year £414,000, and in the year following that £471,000, while on the land forces the expenditure will be in the respective years £789,000, £796,000, and £819,000, an increase of approximately £100,000 on the present Estimates.’ The vote for the instructional staff this year is £2,000 more than was expended last year. Every one ‘will agree that our forces require more instruction. The increased personnel in the Permanent Forces is to provide the necessary staff to instruct the Citizen Forces and to properly look after rifle ranges, stores, and equipment. The Estimates also provide for an increase of £4,451 in connexion with the Militia Forces, the object being to complete the existing units and to provide the requisite men for the field and machine guns already in the Commonwealth. It is. obvious that if we have machine guns we must have competent men to look after them. There is an increase of £431- in respect of the Volunteer Forces, and an increase of £6,160 in respect of camps and schools of instruction. This increase is to provide for the largely-increased number of men attending camp, and I am sure that honorable members general lv are desirous of our camps of training being more largely availed of. In respect of the maintenance of existing arms and equipment there is an increase of £4,898, and an increase 01 £2’336 in the item relating to artillery ammunition. We have a magnificent arm in the i8i-pounder, and it is imperative that our men should receive more training in its handling.
– Does the honorable member think that field artillery can be efficiently worked by a citizen soldiery?
– That is a question that might well be asked. The modern18½ pounder is a very fine weapon. Generally speaking, experts; if questioned on the subject, declare that it takes years to make a gunner. Whether that is so or not I am satisfied that our gunners need more opportunities for training than they have had. The honorable member for Corio, like myself, has doubtless known members of the militia to excel our permanent men in field practice.
– There are no permanent men in the Australian field forces.
– I have in mind what took place in an artillery contest in the old days in New South Wales.
– The honorable gentleman says that there must be increased training; is that why he is providing for less than we have had?
– The honorable member is now speaking of the new scheme. The Prime Minister has already stated that more than three weeks’ training must be provided for the special arms of the service.
– The Prime Minister’s speech was only the millinery in the shop window. We want to know what the Government have on the shelves.
– If a man, instead of making a good display in his front window, keeps all his goods in a cellar, he is not likely to do much trade. To return again to the review of the Estimates, it will be found that there is a decrease of £19 in respect of small arm ammunition, whilst there is an increase of £1,310 in regard to general contingencies, that increase being necessary to provide for expansion of forces. The items relating to railway and steamer fares and freight show an increase of £1,205, to provide for increased personnel and a greater number of inspections, as well as for additional training. Then, again, it will be noted that there is an increase of £20,055 under the heading of Cadet Corps. The Prime Minister has already stated that for the next three years an additional sum of £20,000 will be spent upon the Cadet Forces.
– How many days’ increased training is it proposed to give the field artillery?
– At present sixteen days are allowed.
– Representations were made that the field artillery, if the opportunity offered, would certainly put in a few more days’ training, and the Government readily agreed to provide the additional ammunition necessary.
– It will require more than sixteen days to make men efficient for that arm.
– Certainly. My own opinion is that six weeks per annum would be a limited time to allow, for such training.
– In Switzerland eightyfour days are allowed.
– My reading leads me to believe - and we laymen arrive at our conclusions by reading the views of experts on these questions - that the two great factors in modern warfare will be artillery and infantry. Such a belief may be somewhat opposed to Australian ideas on the subject, but Ian Hamilton, in dealing with the great Russo-Japanese campaign, appears to so regard it.
Mr.Crouch. - He is an artilleryman, and other experts doubt his conclusions.
– That may be. It cannot be denied that the modern18½-pounders are good guns, but our expenditure upon them is comparatively useless unless we have good men behind them.
– That was proved during the war to which the honorable member has referred.
– Absolutely. There must be longer training for the artillery. In Australia people generally have much regard for the mounted infantry. The horse, however, is valuable only as a means of rapidly transferring the infantry from one point to another. Ian Hamilton declares that the cavalry in the Russo-Japanese war - I am not referring to mounted infantry - were valuable frequently- because they got to a given point before ‘the infantry, and were able to prepare meals for them.
– But the cavalry in that war were not mounted infantry. The strategical conditions of Australia, where the country is flat and adaptable to the use of horses, are slightly different from those of Manchuria.
– Quite so, and after Mukden had been passed the cavalry, apparently, began to do better work.
– The British Intelligence Department thought that mounted men would be useless in South Africa, but they made a mistake.
– I have endeavoured to ascertain why the British War Office authorities made such a singular mistake as to refuse in the first instance the offer of Australian mounted infantry, but have been unable to obtain any satisfactory information on the point. The artillery will play an important part in future wars, and unless we have first-class men behind our guns, we might almost as well be without them. The next necessity is a considerable augumentation of our infantry.
-How are the Government going to obtain more infantry? . .
– By every man accepting the responsibility of doing something for the defence of his country. If a country is good enough to live in it ought to be good enough to protect.
– Judging from the reports of experts, what is quite as essential as infantry and artillery is the equipment necessary to make the army a fighting machine.
Mr. EWING__ Unquestionably. The Government has taken very definite action in regard not only to obtaining equipment, butin providing forits local production, as well as for the local manufacture of cordite. Our policy is to establish a rifle factory and also a cordite factoryin Australia, and, having regard to our. remoteness from the great producing countries of the old world, the establishment of such factories here is eminently desirable. I do not know that it is necessary for me to offer any further, observations at the present stage. These Estimates are really Dead Sea fruit, since the financial’ year to which they relate has almost expired. Before any change is proposed bythe Government honorable members will have so ample an opportunity of discussing it that I am sure they will be satisfied that the Ministry has dealt fairly with them. In these circumstances,’ I had hoped that the Estimates of the Department would be passed to-night.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 April 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080401_reps_3_45/>.