House of Representatives
17 November 1908

3rd Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Assent reported.

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Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP

– I haveto announce that on Wednesday last, the11th instant, I waited on His Excellency the Governor-General, who informed me that the Deakin Administration had resigned, and asked me to form a new Ministry. I accepted the commission, and have been successful in forming an Administration, which was gazetted on the 13th instant ; the list of Ministers and their offices being -

The Hon. Andrew Fisher. - Prime Minister and Treasurer;

The Hon. William Morris Hughes. - Attorney-General ;

The Hon. Egerton Lee Batchelor. - Minister of State for External Affairs;

The Hon. Hugh Mahon. - Minister of State for Home Affairs ;

The Hon. Josiah Thomas. - PostmasterGeneral ;

Senator the Hon. George Foster Pearce. Minister of State for Defence ;

The Hon. Frank G wynne Tudor. - Minister of State for Trade and Customs;

Senator the Hon. Gregor McGregor. Vice President of the Executive Council ;

James Hutchison, Esquire, Honorary Minister

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Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 25th November, at 3 o’clock p. m.

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MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -

Commonwealth Offices in London - Papers repurchase of Proposed Site.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at Flinders, Victoria, for Postal purposes.

The Clerk laid upon the table

Motor Cars Imported, and Duty Paid - Return to an Order of the House dated 8th October, 1908.

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Defence Works, Queenscliff - Immigration Restriction. - Site for Commonwealth Offices in London. - Questions concerning Defence Department.

Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP

– I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

When we meet again on Wednesday week, I intend to make a Ministerial statement which will give honorable members the opportunity, if they choose to avail them selve of it, to deal fully with the present political situation.


.- I should not rise on this occasion, were it not for the urgency of the matter to which I desire to call attention. I have received the following copy of a letter written by the Queenscliff Town Clerk to the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs - 1 am directed by my Council to state that they have received an intimation from the contractors, Messrs. Wilson and Sly, thatthey are about to commence some works in one of our reserves - Queenscliff - in connexion with the Defences. My Council are entirely in ignorance of what these works arc, or what portion or what extent of land it is proposed to take, and, although they do not pretend for a moment that they can prevent the Government resuming possession of land urgently required for the proper protection of the State - they do maintain that in common courtesy they should be considered in the matter, and informed as to the proposed curtailment of their reserves.

The land in question was permanentlyreserved for recreation purposes many years ago, and the Borough Council are trustees of the same, and have spent a considerable amount of money in fencing, &c, from time to time, to make these available for the public; and if any portion of them is to be resumed by the Government, my Council are of opinion they should have a voice on the matter, so that the interests of the public they represent may be safeguarded.

The letter is dated 16th November. The present Minister of Home Affairs pro- bably knows nothing of this matter; but it is a very high-handed action for the officers of his Department to take possession of a reserve vested in a municipality without informing the council. In this case, the first notice received was from the contractors authorized by the Department. This reserve is held by the council as trustees for the public. It has planted trees and effected other improvements, and, in ordinary courtesy, councillors should have been notified by the Department of the intended action. I trust that the Minister will look into the matter, and give the assurance that such a thing will not happen again.


.- Urgency must also be my plea for bringing a matter under the notice of the House, and of the Minister of External Affairs. I received to-day, on my return from Seymour, a letter written by a man now on board a steamer which has just left, or is about to leave, Melbourne for Sydney. It is as follows : -

S.S. Bremen, Adelaide, 13th November, 1908.

Dear Sir, - I beg your assistance on the following matter. I am an Englishman, born in England ; father an Englishman, mother born in Jamaica (also an English Colony). I have been prevented from landing in any Australian port under the White Australia law, and have been locked in a cabin, and threatened to be put in irons if I offered further resistance, although I gave my word that I would not leave the ship. I am a third-class passenger, bound for New Zealand. The s.s. Bremen, North German Lloyd, will arrive in Melbourne on the 15th inst. ; kindly let me have advice, and oblige,

Yours obediently,

H. Massey.

I do not know if the writer is a man I knew in former years, but I ask the Minister of External Affairs to see whether any one of British blood has been unfairly treated.

Mr Batchelor:

– I shall do so.

Minister of Home Affairs · Coolgardie · ALP

– The honorable and learned member for Corio was quite right in saying that I have no knowledge of the matter to which he referred, though I judge from statements contained in the letter which he read that some mistake has been made as to the action which the Department is alleged to have taken. However, I shalltake the first opportunity to inquire into the complaint, and shall inform the honorable member andthe House of the result.


.- The honorable member for Ballarat last week spoke of the urgency for a parliamentary decision in connexion with the acquisition of a site for Commonwealth offices near Trafalgar Square, London. Has the Prime Minister taken the steps requisite to give Parliament an opportunity to consider the offer of that site ?

Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP

– The Minister of External Affairs has laid on the table a synopsis of the papers in this matter.

Mr Kelly:

– Will the offer remain open until the House meets again?


– Yes. The term of acceptance has been extended to the end of the month. If further information is sought by honorable members it will be freely given. I wish to intimate that questions relating to the administration of theDepartment of Defence, of which Senator Pearce has charge, will be answered in this House by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, the honorary Minister.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 3.11 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 November 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.