House of Representatives
8 December 1908

3rd Parliament · 3rd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 2843

VALUATION OF TRANSFERRED PROPERTIES

Mr MATHEWS:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA

-I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if he has any information to give to the House as to the valuation of transferred properties.

Mr MAHON:
Minister for Home Affairs · COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The honorable member having been good enough to give me notice of his intention to ask this question, I am in a position to give the necessary information. The valuation of the transferred properties has just been completed, and the total is £9,648,449.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Does that include the value of stores?

Mr MAHON:

– It includes everything.

Mr Groom:

– Defence material, and everything ?

Mr MAHON:

– Yes. The following table summarizes the information -

Mr Mauger:

– How much of that is for the Department of the Postmaster-General ?

Mr MAHON:

– I am happilyable to answer that question also. The properties under the control of the Postmaster- General are valued at £6,253,888. The sum of £2,721,666 is the value of the property held by the Department of Defence, £661,150 in the case of the Department of Trade and Customs, and £11,735inthe case of the Department of Home Affairs.

Mr Bowden:

– That would not include quarantine?

Mr MAHON:

– I do not think so. If I may be allowed, I should like to give a comparison of the actual amounts of the valuations arrived at for each State with the distribution of the total of the valuations on the basis of population as at 31st March; 1901. It is as follows -

Mr GROOM:

– Does the Minister know how this amount compares with the indebtedness of the States for money borrowed ?

Mr MAHON:

– We have not so far compared the values with the debts of the States. There is other information, which I will submit later in reply to any questions that’ may be asked. I hope to receive, during the day, a full statement giving the basis of the valuation and other details, which will be laid upon the table.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The Minister having read a table showing the effect of crediting the value of transferred properties per capita, I ask if that is to be taken as an indication of an intention to credit the States per capita instead of on the actual value of the property transferred to the Commonwealth in each case.

Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That would be contrary to the Constitution.

Mr MAHON:

– Not yet having carefully read the report of the valuers, I am unable to offer an opinion. Later in the day, I shall lay on the table of the House all the information available.

Mr GLYNN:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– Is not the statement which has been read a comparison of the value in 1901 of the property transferred by each State to the Commonwealth with theobligation of that State to contribute per head of population to the Commonwealth’s liabilities? Are not the amounts showing the distribution of values on the basis of population those with which each’ State would be debited in proportion to population with respect to the liability of £9,000,000 for the transferred properties ? If that is so, I should like the Minister to say whether he does not think that the policy put forward by Sir George Turner, as Treasurer in 1901, by which he simply proposed to account for differences was not on the whole the soundest one.

Mr MAHON:

– I may perhaps, remove misapprehension by pointing out that if a distribution were made on the basis of the population on 31st March, 1901, and £9,648,449 were being divided - in other words if the whole of the assets were being liquidated - the dividend to each Statewould be the amount given in the second column of the return that I have read. As; to what a previous Treasurer may havesuggested, or what the Government may: propose to do later on, I am not in a position to make any announcement.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I should liketo ask the Minister whether the statement as to the actual valuation does not represent the valuation of the property as taken from each of the different States, and if it were distributed on a population basis, would it not have this effect that one State would be paid the value of property taken from another State.

Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is not suggested.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:

– It seems to be suggested by the contrast.

Mr MAHON:

– The figures givenhave been submitted merely for the information of the House. The deductions to be drawn from them can be considered later.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Can the honorablemember say what was the idea of introducing the per capita estimate in the table ?

Mr MAHON:

– It was given only byway of comparison.

Mr Crouch:

– It would seem as if the honorable gentleman had incorporated Sir: George Turner’s proposals.

Mr MAHON:

– It is not in any sense a proposal for a per capita distribution. The table was compiled solely for the information of honorable members, and was designed to show what would have been the position if the valuation had actually taken place on the 31st March, 1901, and the distribution had been made on that date upon a per capita basis.

Mr Bruce Smith:

– It shows the extent to which each State has kept up its properties in proportion to its population.

Valuation of [8 Dec, 1908.] Transferred Properties. 2845

Mr MAHON:
ALP

– I venture to think not; because the valuation hasbeen made on the value of the properties, not at the present time, but when taken over at the inception of Federation.

Mr WATKINS:
NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he will lay on the table all the papers relating to the transferred properties valuation, and have them printed for the information of honorable members?

Mr MAHON:

– It was my intention to do so during the afternoon, as soon as the papers became available. The papers will contain a full report, showing the principles on which the valuation has been made, and the resolutions of the Conference of the representatives of the States and the Conmmon wealth.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The report does not represent the way in which the cost is to be credited.

Mr MAHON:

– No; I presume that is a matter of Government policy.

Mr GLYNN:

– Have the valuations been made under the Property Acquisition Acts of 1901 or 1906, so as to be statutory valuations, and, therefore, obligatory on the States; and, further, by whom have the valuations been made? If my memory serves me right, there is a discrepancy of £600,000 between the valuation in 1901 of the South Australian properties, and the valuation, as on. this date, of the same properties.

Mr MAHON:

– The honorable member has not said by whom the valuation of the South Australian properties was made in 1901.

Mr Glynn:

– A Committee was appointed.

Mr MAHON:

– By whom was the Committee appointed?

Mr Groom:

– By the South Australian Government.

Mr MAHON:

– We are not committed to valuations by State officials. The first valuation of which 1 have heard is the one of which I have previously spoken; and it has been made by Commonwealth officers in conjunction with officers of the States.

Mr Crouch:

– Who have come to an agreement.

Mr MAHON:

– The basis and the principles of the valuation were mutually agreed on.

Mr Groom:

– And are to be applied throughout the Commonwealth.

Mr MAHON:

– Certainly.

Mr Glynn:

– If so, it is all right.

Mr MAHON:

– I do not know that we are in a position to say that there is any discrepancy between the valuations spoken of. At any rate, the principles on which the later valuation has been made will have common application, and, of course, will include South Australia.

page 2845

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH ADVERTISING IN ENGLAND

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I should like to ask the Minister of External Affairs a question without notice, which I put yesterday to the Prime Minister, who was unable, in the absence of the honorable gentleman, to furnish an answer. The question has reference to the sending Home of Mr. Drakard. The statements in the newspapers are to the effect that he has been sent to England as an agent of the Commonwealth for immigration purposes; that he is going to lecture throughout the United Kingdom, and incidentally to publish and distribute 50,000 or 60,000 copies of a newspaper. All this is to be done for£250. The statement, on the face of it, appears to be ridiculous, and I ask the Minister whether he can inform the House exactly what has been done in the matter.

Mr BATCHELOR:
Minister for External Affairs · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The statement, as given by the honorable member, is certainly incorrect. Mr. Drakard is not an immigration agent, and he has not been sent Home, nor do I know that he is going to lecture there. He has not been engaged to give lectures in the Old Country on behalf of the Commonwealth, but he is going to England on his own responsibility. He made an offer to the Commonwealth Government to prepare, publish, and distribute throughout the rural districts of Great Britain a 1 2 -page newspaper, accurately describing the products and potentialities of Australia.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– And also according to the newspapers, the social and political conditions of Australia.

Mr BATCHELOR:

– I know nothing of that. The cost of advertising Australia in this way is to be £250. The newspaper will be published in Great Britain, and will be submitted to Captain Collins before it is distributed.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Why should it not be prepared here?

Mr BATCHELOR:

– I do not know that it could be prepared here for ^250. From the point of view of the Commonwealth, it is_an exceedingly good bargain. I understand that Mr. Drakard intends to publish in this newspaper some English advertisements, which obviously he could mot obtain here.

Mr Wilks:

– Then the Commonwealth is only a side line?

Mr BATCHELOR:

– That is not correct. The whole of this 12-page newspaper will be devoted to a description of the produce and possibilities of Australia. I do not know to what extent Mr. D rakard in- . tends to go in the matter of advertisements. The arrangement was made by my prede- cessor

Mr Deakin:

– Hear, hear.

Mr BATCHELOR:

– Beyond interviewing Mr. Drakard and ascertaining from him, as far as I could, what his proposals were, I had nothing to do with the arrangement,’ although I must say that I think it is an exceedingly good bargain for the Commonwealth.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether it is not a fact that Mr. Drakard has already spent some years in England as an immigration agent, and that he was strongly recommended by the Government of Western Australia as having proved an exceptionally useful agent for that State? Is it not also true that the Government of Western Australia stated that his connexion with them ceased because of alterations and reductions in the Department, and not “because of any fault being found with him ? Is the Minister aware that Mr. Drakard has made, from time to time, a complete study of what he believes to be the best means of reaching the rural population of England ; and is he aware that in his Department are probably to be found a large number of papers, in which Mr. Drakard has definitely explained his scheme? If so, will the honorable gentleman give honorable members an opportunity to read those papers, and to satisfy themselves that this is a practical and -original proposal, for the success of which ‘ Mr. Drakard makes himself wholly responsible ?

Mr BATCHELOR:

Mr. Drakard made to me many of the statements to which the honorable member for Ballarat has just referred, and I have no doubt as to their accuracy.

page 2846

QUESTION

POST AND TELEGRAPH DEPARTMENT

Mail Branch : Overtime - Sydney Letter Delivery - Sorting of Mails on Trains - Bowral Telephone Exchange - Answers to Questions - Error in Telegram.

Mr ROBERTS:
ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

How many hours per week must General Division officers in the Mail Branch work Before they are entitled to payment for overtime?

Mr THOMAS:
Postmaster-General · BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following reply : -

Letter carriers and others are required to work q6 hours per fortnight before they are entitled to overtime; Sorters on day duty, 93 hours, and on night work, 83 hours per fortnight.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

What is the latest hour at which the first morning letter delivery is completed in suburbs within seven miles of the General Post Office, Sydney, containing a population of 3,000 or over ?

Mr THOMAS:

– I hope to be able to supply the honorable member with this information to-morrow. I am advised it is leaving Sydney by to-night’s mail, being somewhat too voluminous to be telegraphed. I desire now to give an answer to a question which was asked on 2nd December by the honorable member for Cowper -

  1. What is the amount of expenditure incurred in carrying out the sorting of the mails on board trains from Melbourne to Sydney?
  2. How is amount made up?
  3. What is the saving of time derived by such arrangement?

The Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, has furnished the following information : -

  1. The total expenditure incurred is approximately, ^3,051 per annum.
  2. That amount is made up thus -

As regards item Railway Fares (£1,404) per annum, arrangements are being made to reduce this amount by about £800 per annum by purchasing six season tickets and also sleeping berths tickets in bundles of twelve.

  1. The saving of time effected by such arrangement is that correspondence for places on the main railway line between Albury and Bowral and of branch lines is delivered from91/2 to 48 hours earlier than previously. Correspondence for the city is disposed of by the first delivery by reason of direct bags being made up on the train of 50 suburban offices; correspondence for suburban offices is disposed of by the first delivery after the arrival of the train, instead of only a portion by first delivery and the balance by the next delivery.

I have also to answer the following question, which was asked by the honorable member for Illawarra on 3rd December: - 1.Is it a fact that long since more than the number of subscribers warranting the establishment of a Telephone Exchange at Bowral gave in their names to the Department?

  1. Is it also a fact that subscriptions towards the expense and poles for the wires in the surrounding districts have been promised to the Department by the residents?
  2. If so, what is the reason why this work has not been carried out?
  3. Will he, in justice to the residents, have this matter dealt with as speedily as possible?

The answer is as follows : -

  1. Yes, on certain conditions as to cost.
  2. The service has not been established pending the provision of the necessary funds.
  3. When funds are available the service will be established as speedily as possible on the conditions referred to in answer No. 1.
Mr FULLER:
ILLAWARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Are the answers just read the result of the present PostmasterGeneral’s own investigation through his officers, or are they the answers left by his predecessor ?

Mr THOMAS:

– They are certainly not the answers of my predecessor ; they are the answers of the Department.

Mr FULLER:

– In view of the sameness of the answers given day after day by the Postmaster-General regarding his Department, will he, in order to save the time of the House and expense to the country, have them stereotyped and distributed amongst honorable members?

Mr BOWDEN:

– A short time ago I asked the Postmaster-General the following question -

  1. Was any mistake made in the despatch of a telegram from Mr. R. L. Moore, of Lithgow, to Mr. J. Hackett, Randwick, on 17th October last?
  2. Who was responsible for that mistake?
  3. Was any loss sustained by Mr. Moore through the error?
  4. Does the Department propose to compensate Mr. Moore for any loss sustained?

The honorable gentleman then promised” to inquire into the matter, and I should like to know whether he is yet able to give the House any information on the subject ?

Mr THOMAS:

– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, has furnished the following information -

  1. Yes; a mistake was made in the transmission of a telegram from R. L. Moore, Lithgow, to J. Hackett, Randwick racecourse, on 17th October last. The last text word “ five “ was omitted.
  2. This office and also the telegraphist at the Randwick racecourse are at fault for allowing, the message to pass short-worded.
  3. Yes, owing to the error only one pound was invested on “ Maranui “ instead of£5, in consequence of which it is stated that a loss of £24 was sustained by Mr. Moore.
  4. The Post and Telegraph Act 1901 provides that “ an action or other proceeding shall not be maintainable against the King or the PostmasterGeneral in connexion with any loss through a telegram sent or received.” The regulations also provide that no responsibility shall be undertaken nor any claim for compensation entertained for any errors or mistakes in transmission from whatever cause such errors or mistakes may arise.

page 2847

QUESTION

ELECTORAL ROLLS

Mr JOHN THOMSON:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I should like to know whether the Minister of Home Affairs has any information as to when the compilation of the rolls will be completed; and when they are likely to be laid on the table ?

Mr MAHON:
ALP

– I am not in a positional the moment to answer the question ; but I shall ascertain during the day, and, perhaps, to-morrow will be able to furnish the honorable member with a complete reply.

page 2847

REPRESENTATION BILL

Colonel FOXTON.- During the debate on the motion that Government business should take precedence during the rest of the session, I asked the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the fact that the motion would supersede amongst other privvate measures, the Representation Bill, which is down for second reading, and which is of great importance to at least two of the States, he would embody in the amending Electoral Bill, now before the Chamber, the provisions of that Bill. The Prime Minister promised on that occasion to look into the matter, and give me an answer later on.

Mr FISHER:
Prime Minister · WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– The matter has had some consideration, but I am not in a position to say that the Government are prepared to embody in the Amending Electoral Bill theprovisions of the measure referred to by the honorable member. Further, I regret to say that the possibility of the Amending Electoral Bill itself being undertaken successfully this session is not very bright.

page 2848

QUESTION

CLOSE OF THE SESSION

Dr LIDDELL:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES

– In view of the fact that many honorable members have to make arrangements to reach their homes before Christmas, will the Prime Minister state whether he is still sanguine that Parliament will rise on Friday next?

Mr FISHER:
ALP

– I am very sanguine that the House will rise on Friday next, if honorable members will apply themselves to business without regard to any other considerations. I hope it will be possible to complete the work by that day, and I shall be happy to co-operate with leaders and honorable members generally to that end. Of course, if further time is necessary to conclude our deliberations, the Government will cheerfully obey the will of Parliament.

page 2848

QUESTION

IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION ACT

Chinese Stowaways

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

– On the question of Chinese stowaways, I should like to draw the attention of the Minister of External Affairs to the fact that in the Courts of Hong Kong the Chinese Navigation Company, in an endeavour to prevent fraud in the introduction of Chinese into Australia, commenced an action against a Chinese merchant there. A file of 150 forged certificates and naturalization papers was discovered, and at the conclusion of the case counsel representing the company asked that these should be confiscated. The Judge injudiciously refused to confiscate these papers.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Is the honorable member asking a question?

Dr MALONEY:

– I desire to make the question plain. Would the Minister make inquiries through the Government of Hong Kong as to whether the magistrates could be induced to order the confiscation of any forged certificates or forged naturalization papers which come before them ?

Mr BATCHELOR:
ALP

– I shall make inquiries and see what can be done.

page 2848

QUESTION

SYDNEY CADETS’ CAMP

Mr HENRY WILLIS:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

Whether it is a fact that the Cadets attached to the public schools of Sydney are to be taken into Camp during the Christmas Holidays, and, if such be the case, are they to be charged One pound five shillings each upon going into Camp?

Mr HUTCHISON:
Minister (without portfolio) · HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– A Senior Cadets’ Camp is being held as stated, but the Minister is not aware that Cadets are being charged anything. Inquiries are being made and I shall probably be able to give the honorable member a definite reply tomorrow.

page 2848

QUESTION

PUBLIC SERVICE

Temporary Employment

Mr CROUCH:

asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -

Will he ask the Public Service Commissioner to report -

  1. As to whether all appointments, clerical and non-clerical, of a temporary nature are made by him ?
  2. Are these, without exception, made in order of his registration for such service, and, if not, why not?
  3. If not made by the Commissioner, what appointments are not made by him; and in what Departments, and by whose authority ?
  4. Are not appointments frequently made by heads of Departments who then send such names to him for appointment?
  5. Does he then make such appointment, in some cases, in priority to the persons registered on his list?
Mr MAHON:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Applicants for temporary employment register their names at the State Offices of the Public Service Inspectors, but under the Public Service Act and Regulations the selection of temporary hands is vested exclusively in the Department requiring them.
  2. The law authorizes the Permanent Head or Chief Officer of a Department to employ temporary hands without strict regard to the order of their registration, and neither the Commissioner nor his Inspectors have power to direct otherwise.
  3. No appointments are made by the Commissioner. The Permanent Head or the Chief Officer selects from the list the person considered best qualified for the duty to be performed, and the name of the person selected is reported to the Commissioner.
  4. and (e) As explained above, the selection is made by the Permanent Head or Chief Officer of the Department, who then furnishes the name of the selected person to the Commissioner. No temporary appointments are made by the Public Service Commissioner.

Papers. [8 Dec, 1908.] Estimate. 2849

As a matter of fact, what happens is that many persons register with the Public Service Commissioner on the off chance of work, but fail to keep in touch with his office or the Departments, and it is not known whether they have obtained other employment or left the State. To write round to each one would be a slow business, and it comes down to this : That the officer making the selection chooses those he hears or knows are available and suitable, bearing in mind priority of registration where the qualifications are equal.

page 2849

PAPERS

MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -

Defence Acts - Military Forces - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -

No. 6 (10A) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 122.

No. 74 (b), (c), (d)- Statutory Rules 1908, No. 121.

No. 121A - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 123.

Lands Acquisition Act - Lands leased at Barnawartha, Victoria, to Mr. W. D. Ryan ; and at Cargo, New South Wales, to Mr. W. M. Collins.

page 2849

QUESTION

ESTIMATES

In Committee of Supply (Considera tion resumed from 7 th December, vide page 2794).

Department of Defence

Division 46(Central Administration),

£33,458.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

.- There will not be the same necessity to debate the Defence Estimates at length this year, because of the discussion that has taken place on the Defence Bill, but there are one or two matters that I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister. I desire to call his attention to the fact that, in spite of an apparent desire to reduce the Estimates of the Department, he still retains positions for Deputy Assistant QuartermastersGeneral, when it has beendeclared by officials of his own Department that the money paid for those positions is to a great extent being wasted. In the Head-quarters Departments of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, salaries of £500 - increased this year in two cases to £525 - are being paid to Deputy Assistant Quartermasters-General. Yet InspectorGeneral Hoad in his report for 1907 stated -

Some months ago I recommended that the posts of Deputy-Assistant QuarterMastersGeneral in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland be held by officers of the Citizen

Forces, whose duties would be mainly in connexion with Camps of Training, and that the routine work now carried out by the DeputyAssistant Quarter-Masters-General’s Departments be distributed among the remaining Departments of the District Head-Quarters - the Senior Ordnance Officer and the District Paymaster. The three officers of the Administrative and Instructional Staff now holding appointments as Deputy-Assistant QuarterMastersGeneral in these Districts could then give the whole of their time to instructional work, which would include forming and conducting Classes of Instruction to prepare Officers and Noncommissioned Officers for examination for promotion. I consider that the time of these three permanent officers is to a great extent being wasted.

He has called attention to that matter for two years, and yet these three salaries, ranging from £500 to £550,are repeated this year. Does the Minister intend to take any steps in the matter? Is he satisfied that £1,500 a year is being wasted on an Inspector-General, or that over £1,500 a year is being spent in paying men whose time, according to the InspectorGeneral, is to a great extent being wasted? I wish to draw attention also to the following paragraph which appeared in the Age of yesterday : -

An important addition has been made to the defence regulations, affecting the admission of militia officers to the permanent forces. A new regulation reading as follows has been approved by the Governor-General and the Minister : - “ Officers of the citizen forces may be transferred to the permanent forces subject to such conditions as may be approved by the GovernorGeneral, being certified by a medical board to be physically fit, and to passing the examination for the rank in the permanent forces to which they are to be transferred. Provided that the authorized examination for the ranks of colonel and lieutenant-colonel shall include those for lieutenant-colonel and major.”

That is strange, when there have been at the head of the Department Ministers who are presumed to be democratic. I know that the honorary Minister who represents the Minister of Defence in this Chamber really wants men who have been in the ranks to have a chance to rise. That has been the principle adopted by this Parliament for years, but now we are to have a series of transfers. I know that this is all worked with one idea, and for one man. The permanent ranker has no chance of becoming a militia officer. Yet themilitia officer is to have the right to a permanent position, and to retain his rank should he pass certain examinations. So long as this regulation has effect, the permanent men who are rankers will have no chance of rising.

Mr Hutchison:

– The regulation contains a condition ; an examination must l)e passed.

Mr CROUCH:

– That condition applies to permanent men, too. If a militia officer passes the examination, he can obtain an appointment in the permanent force. At the present time there are nine applicants for positions on the Victorian Instructional and Administrative Staff, of whom five are not officers. If there were four vacancies, the four militia officers who are applicants, having passed an examination, would have a preferential right under this new regulation to transfer. I doubt whether the regulation is good. It seems to me contrary to the provision of the Act that a man who has served three years in the ranks shall obtain a preference. As I am sure that the Minister does not under.stand the effect of the regulation I ask him to consider these remarks.

Mr Roberts:

– Does the honorable member wish to debar militia officers from entering the Permanent Forces?

Mr CROUCH:

– No.

Mr Hutchison:

– It is not provided that such officers shall have preference.

Mr CROUCH:

– They are on an, equal footing now, and may be transferred as a matter of course; but if an extension of the age limit is allowed in respect to militia officers, a similar concession should lx; given to rankers. A ranker should not be Mocked from promotion by reason of his age, when a militia officer is not so blocked. Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is this : Certain military tradesmen get extra allowances - for instance, tailors, blacksmiths, and collar-makers get 3s. a day - while other tradesmen, such as permanent carpenters, do not receive similar treatment. The Department has promised to consider the matter,., and I asked that a sergeant-wheeler should be appointed to the Victorian Royal Australian Artillery, and be included in the list of those getting allowances. On the 2nd November last I directed attention to abuses which had occurred in connexion with the Ordnance Department, giving the initials of officers who had had private work done at the public expense. The Department was in a state of demoralization.

Mr Hutchison:

– There is no complaint about it now.

Mr CROUCH:

– I understand that the practices complained of have been ‘stopped.

I gave certain instances of abuse, and a return presented last week, in response to questions by the honorable member for Brisbane, snowed that my information was absolutely correct. Yet, subsequent to my speech, the ex-Minister of Defence, to whom I had made previous private, complaint, said that he had heard of these things happening, but, on making inquiries, was “ definitely informed that the statements were untrue.” However, the honorable members for Dalley and Brisbane insisted on a further inquiry.

Colonel Foxton. - I did not make a statement as to the facts; I merely commented upon the allegations.

Mr CROUCH:

– A further inquiry having been made, my statements were confirmed. The first case which I brought under notice was the effecting of repairs to an automatic gun. I find from the return presented that a man was engaged on the work for 76 hours, the cost of his time being £5 14s., without having regard to the value of material. Then, 100 hours were taken up in the making of candlesticks, at a cost of £6 17s. 6d. for time. The making of a trolley for private use took 29 hours, and forty-four hours, costing ^3 os. 6d., were occupied in the construction of a bookcase and the repairing of a vyce. This instrument originally cost about 5s., and the time used to repair it was worth about 30s. Then 124 hours were taken up in making inkstands, at a cost of £8 10s. 6d. for time. I am glad that, since January last, only fourteen hours have been used for private work, and that in future the practice of allowing private work to be done by the Department is to be entirely discontinued. But, in view of the accuracy of my statements, I have a right to complain that the Minister was told that they were untrue. I am certain that the honorable member for Richmond would not have said that he was definitely informed that they were untrue if that was not the case. The present Minister ought to ascertain who is responsible for having misled his predecessor. On a second inquiry being directed, Colonel Stanley, the Victorian Commandant, reported, without giving the list of cases which has now been forced from him, that full inquiry had been made, and it had been found that the statements were “to a certain extent correct.” There was an evident desire that the Minister should not know the details.

Estimates. [8 Dec, 1908.] Estimates. 2851

Mr CROUCH:

-They were given later, when the facts were forced from the Commandant. I am referring to a report made on the nth November. Next day the Acting Secretary to the Department wrote to Colonel Stanley -

Please state to what extent the statement is correct.

The information subsequently given shows the statement to have been absolutely correct, and the officer concerned should be called upon for an explanation. It will be found that he has previously misled the Minister and the House on two occasions.

Mr Fowler:

– That is a serious charge, which should be investigated.

Mr Hutchison:

– The papers show that the matter has been thoroughly investigated by the present Minister.

Mr Fowler:

– What is the use of investigating, if the matter is not followed up? Has the officer concerned been punished for misleading the Minister?

Mr CROUCH:

– That is the position which should be faced, and the two attempts to deceive should be investigated. I am certain that the honorable member for Richmond would not have said that he had been definitely informed that my statements were untrue if he had not been so informed.

Colonel Foxton. - Colonel Stanley did not say that they were untrue.

Mr CROUCH:

– He reported on the nth November that, “ to a certain extent “ they were correct, whereas they were absolutely correct, as the return subsequently furnished shows.

Colonel Foxton. - That does not justify the statement that they were all untrue.

Mr CROUCH:

– He had already obtained some information, and I desire to know from whom it came.

Colonel Foxton. - One might infer from the honorable member’s remarks that it came from Colonel Stanley.

Mr CROUCH:

– No such inference can be drawn from any statement that I have made. I come now to the proposal of the Minister of Defence to simplify the uniforms of officers. I certainly hope that the agitation now going on in the press in regard to this reform will be profitable to officers who cannot afford to spend much money on their uniforms, and I would appeal to the Minister of Defence to make the proposed alterations apply to new uniforms and not to those at present being worn. Very often changes made with a view of effecting economies have the opposite effect so far as the officers themselves are concerned. For instance, after the South African war it was determined that the stars or crowns and stars showing the rank of an officer should be worn no longer on the shoulder, but on the arm. As the result of that decision new tunics in many cases had to be obtained. Later on it was determined that these badges, when worn on the arm, were not sufficiently conspicuous, and it was ordered that they should once more be worn on the shoulder. At that time khaki of the exact colour required to patch the sleeve of a tunic from which the badges had been removed was not available, and in many cases new tunics had once more to be obtained. In other cases an expenditure of 21s. 6d. was incurred in securing new adornments and in repairing the sleeves of tunics from which the old ones had been removed.

Mr Fowler:

– And the men who order these things are the men whom we trust to defend the country!

Mr CROUCH:

– Such men will be swept aside when the time comes to defend Australia. As Major-General Hoad has admitted, it will be the Militia Officers who will have to lead the armies of the Commonwealth and not officers who devote their attention to matters of personal adornment. The Minister has promised to look into this question, and I hope that his representative in this House will impress upon him the desirableness of making the proposed alteration apply to future uniforms and not to those at present in use. An attempt to simplify the dress of our officers and so to effect economies often means in reality additional expense.

Dr LIDDELL:
Hunter

.- After the dressing up and the dressing down to which the Minister has been subjected by the honorable member for Corio, he will be glad to learn that I have not much with which to trouble him. It may be remembered that I recently asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether it was intended to appoint permanent Adjutants to the Militia and Volunteer regiments for whom provision was made in the Estimates of 1907-8, and who up to the present had not been appointed. In reply to that question, I was informed that no provision for such appointments had been made on these Estimates because the reorganization of the Forces was in contemplation. It is somewhat to be regretted that our defence system is in such a state of chaos that an important matter of this kind cannot receive attention. I am fortified in the belief that it is absolutely necessary to appoint permanent Adjutants to the’ Militia and Volunteer Forces because of a decision recently arrived at at a meeting of officers which was attended by the District Commandant, Staff Officers, Brigadiers, Commanding . Officers, and Militia and Volunteer Adjutants. The meeting discussed the following questions, amongst others : - The appointment of supernumeraries, the restoration of command pay, increase in the number of days for annual training, free ammunition for effectives, a bonus for effectives, increased horse allowance for mounted officers, and last, but not least, the appointment of permanent Adjutants. It was unanimously agreed that all these proposals should be carried out for the benefit of the Forces, and the Commandant stated that he would again bring them forward and ask for their favorable consideration. The Militia and Volunteer Adjutants at present arranged for cannot afford the time for the important work which they are expected to do at the very small remuneration of 5s. per day. Consequently, they do not travel, as might be expected of them, to give necessary lectures ; they do not inspect recruits before they are passed into the ranks, nor do they inspect the squadron books or attend to several other matters which ought to receive their attention. If permanent Adjutants were appointed the Staff Inspectors would have more time to secure recruits ; they would have less of the present organization work to do ; they could live at squadron headquarters, and, therefore, effect economies in the matter of travelling expenses, and the permanent Adjutants would have charge of and be responsible for all moneys, with the result that there would be a saving of expenditure. They would also have a good knowledge of organization, which, in the event of our adopting the system of compulsory service, would be of the greatest benefit to the Forces. These are a few of the arguments in support! of my request, and T; hope ‘that they will receive the attention of the Minister. I represent an electorate in which there are a number of able-bodied young men who own their own horses and are ac- customed to work in the open air. I have repeatedly received from them requests for the creation of squadrons of Light Horse in their districts, but when I have put their representations ‘before the Minister I have invariably received the reply that there are no vacancies in the existing squadrons, and that there is not room for more. If we should encourage anything in a country like this it is the willingness of our young men to give their services, as. light horsemen, in the Defence Forces of Australia. I would urge upon the Minister the desirableness of encouraging as far as possible not only the training of our infantry, but the recruiting and organization of mounted forces. Our experience in the Boer war teaches us that mounted men are the class of soldiers on whom we shall have, to a large extent, to depend in the event of war.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

.-! do not propose to debate the Defence Estimates, since I consider that at this stage of the session a discussion of the question of policy would not be opportune ; but there are one or two matters to which I should like to direct the attention of the Minister. We have now in the Defence Department a new broom, and I trust that it will be energetic in the interests of the Defence Forces, as well as in the interests of the party to which it belongs. The main fault in the state of efficiency of the forces at present lies in the absolute want of equipment. I refer not to such trifles as straps and buckles, but to the essential equipments for war. Take, for instance, the field artillery ammunition waggons. I cannot obtain reliable authority, because information is never given to this House, but I believe I am right in saying that if we were organized for war, as any European or Japanese divisions would be, we should have for our existing 20,000 troops some 180 or 190 ammunition waggons. Such waggons cannot be hired or procured in a hurry. The shell of to-day requires a waggon with a special wickerinterior, which cannot be provided in a day, and which demands great care in construction. I am unable to ascertain how many ammunition waggons we have, but I believe that we have a small number on order.

Mr Hutchison:

– There is no money on the Estimates for them.

Mr KELLY:

– Not one cent, and there is not a whisper of the seriousness of this shortage of equipment. It is the first line of equipment for artillery in the field;

*Estitnates.* [8 Dec, 1908.] *Estimates.* 2853 without it they could not remain in the field during action. Owing to this want of equipment our supposed field forces in Australia to-day could not take the field under some months of idle waiting. It would take months to provide ammunition waggons, and the whole of our operations would be brought to a standstill for want of them. And yet the Defence Department has not been in a position to take Parliament into its confidence in regard to its wants. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The late Treasurer always said that there was no money available. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- Exactly ! But Parliament ought to be told at once by the Minister of Defence that the defences of the country are absolutely in danger, so that this House, responsible to the people of Australia, may have an opportunity to honour its trust. I have risen not so much to make a speech upon this subject - I am afraid that the state of my health to-day would not permit me to do so - as to ask the Minister to regard the dignity of the House a little more than his predecessor has done in the way of giving the fullest information he can. The House cannot vote money in an intelligent way, unless we know what the money is for. I have given only one instance, but it is one which shows the absolute rottenness of our existing Forces. I have no authority - the figures are always gainsaid by the Department - but, speaking from memory,I think an English division has something like 186 ammunition waggons, whereas I believe in. Australia, if there is one, that is all, while in an English division there are some 19,000 men, as compared with about 20,000 in all Australia. Our field artillery is partly armed with magnificent guns, but without ammunition waggons the guns cannot be used in any prolonged action ; and the consequence is that our so-called field force no more represents a field force than do the guns at the Heads. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- The whole thing is chaos ! {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- It is, but we ought to be in a position to remedy the evil at the earliest opportunity. We were told, not directly but indirectly, by means of a study of the new defence scheme, that the existing head-quarters administration was to be more or less the same for some years to come ; but almost immediately the headquarters staff was increased by the addition of an officer. I hope the Honorary Minister is in a position to explain why it is thought necessary to make this appoint ment, and what the changes in the redistribution of the duties of the Board really amount to. I hope the time has come when it is recognised that we want brains to control the Forces, and equipment to make them mobile, as well as numbers to give them paper strength. {: #subdebate-10-0-s4 .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON:
Honorary Minister · Hindmarsh · ALP -- It may curtail discussion, if I inform honorable members what the position of the defences is under the Estimates. It is quite true, as the honorable member for Wentworth has said, that nothing like proper provision has been made in the shape of ammunition waggons. This year, for special defence material, only £39,656 has been provided, as compared with £104,050 last year; in fact, only enough money has been setdown on the Estimates, as they stand, to cover the liabilities incurred last year, and not a single penny piece is set downfor equipment, such as ammunitio waggons. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- Has the Honorary Minister discovered that the whole of the Defence Forces are in chaos? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- I should not 'ike to say that ; but the Minister of Defence discovered that, if the sum on the Estimates was all that he could haveat his disposal, he could not maintain the present staff, nor appoint the number of men necessary, and, therefore, he has been compelled to ask for a larger amount from the Treasurer. The Department asked originally for £79,000, but in the present state of the finances, such an expenditure was impossible; the present Treasurer, however, has agreed to add a sum of £11,000. There is no doubt that we could put a very fair force in the field, well equipped, but we could not put there that force we should approve. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- Could a battery of artillery fully equipped, be put in the field? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- I doubt whether that could be done ; but that is not the point. The Government understand' that their duty is to find the money before they bring m any large scheme for the expansion of the Department, and it will be for us, later on. when we come to consider the thorough organization of the Forces, to ask the House for sufficient funds. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Have the Forces to be reorganized again? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- I am afraid the Forces have never been reorganized since Federation. The defences, generally, are not to the liking of honorable members, or of the Minister ; but this is a difficult Department to deal with, especially when it is in a state of transition, as it has been, practically, since it was taken over. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- These are terrible admissions ! {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- Is it not best to admit the true position of affairs, and set out to remedy them ? In the present Minister will be found, not only an energetic, but a capable man, who will ask the Parliament to assist him in putting the Forces on a proper footing. Some two years ago I called attention to the fact that we had a valuable equipment lying in the Stores Department in South Australia, and that, apparently, it was !he duty of no one to keep it in a. proper state of repair. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- The honorable member is wrong there, I think. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- Last year a person was appointed to perform this duty ; but provision for his salary was left off the Estimates by accident, and it is only by means of an extra grant that the necessary money will be found. I believe that this case is only a sample of what obtains throughout the Commonwealth. We have not enough instructors, and so forth ; but the present Minister is doing everything he can to bring the Department to a state of efficiency. {: #subdebate-10-0-s5 .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS:
Adelaide .- I congratulate the honorable member for Hindmarsh on having charge of these Estimates, and I assure him that, if he continues to speak with such vigour and decision, the votes of this Department will be put through much more rapidly than those of other Departments. We may be, to some extent, at a disadvantage, owing to the Minister of Defence being in another place, because replies given here can only be of a tentative character, or, at any rate, of a mild sort, indicating that inquiries will be made of the real political head of the Department. I do not use these words with any disrespect to the Honorary Minister, because it is only to be expected that some Department must be so represented in this Chamber, and, for the time being, it is the Department of Defence that must suffer, if there is any agreement as to the meaning of the word "suffer" in this relation. I have no desire to enter into details, as did the honorable member for Corio, who is alarmed at the amount of time which was occupied in considering the question of uniforms, only to have the decision arrived at altered almost immediately. With every slight change at head-quarters, some little newidea in the way of uniforms and accompanying paraphernalia may be looked' for ; and the changes, though apparently slight, may cost a good deal of money. This, however, seems inseparable from the clothing of any force, even the police and. the Public Service, where uniforms of any description are used. But one alarming feature of the Defence Estimates is the increase in the cost of Defence, without any corresponding increase in efficiency. The Honorary Minister took an active interest in matters military for some years ; and, if he could explain to me that, during the' past two or three years there has been, or that there will be during the current financial year, consequent on the proposed expenditure, any reasonable improvement in equipment and efficiency, there will be ner necessity for further remarks. But if we may judge from the past - to which only we can appeal - we shall have, with each succeeding Minister, new-broom-like promises; and the Estimates will continue toincrease, particularly in the cost of administration, without, as I say, any corresponding increase in the efficiency of the variousforces. I understand that the Honorary Minister holds his present position largely on account of his practical knowledge of military matters ; and he should be prepared to make a clear statement as to what improvements we may expect during the next seven months. The Estimates for this year show a proposed increase of ^64,000 over the expenditure .of last year. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- There is an increaseof only ,£10,734 over the appropriation forlast year. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- The honorable member must not attempt to mislead me in that, way, as is apparently the object of the compilation prepared by the Minister of Defence, and put into our hands a few minutes after we began to discuss the Estimates of the Department. The Honorary Minister has not looked into the subject with that care which usually characterizes, all that he does in matters political. The increase he refers to is merely the increaseon last year's appropriation, which is very different from the increase on last year's . expenditure. For some reason, which has . not been, and probably never will be, ex- plained, the amount appropriated last year was not expended. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- Because a lot of the -contracts were not completed. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- Does the Minister suppose that tenders are called for the . supply only of material to be delivered in any one particular year? A contract may -extend over several years. Surely we are not asked to provide on the Estimates for one year sufficient money to pay for material that may not be required till two or three years hence? I have not had time to look carefully into the memorandum clr- culated by the Minister, but if it is any guide to what will happen during the next few months, I take it that there will be no improvement. It may be something entirely new with respect to the Estimates, and something which seemingly is not provided by the other Departments, but there was a strong probability of the Defence Estimates coming before the Committee several days ago, and if that had happened this paper would not have been before us. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- It is dated Melbourne, 18th November. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- That may be the pre- cise date on which the Minister approved -of it, but it has probably had to go through various routine channels, and arrives here, so to speak, just when the enemy has beaten us. Colonel Foxton. - Did it go to the caucus ? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- I assure the honorable member that it did not. If it had been presented to the caucus, as the honorable member terms it, requests would have been made that the memorandum should be less misleading. To my mind, it is distinctly deceptive to the outside public The increase of £10,734 shown is merely an increase over last year's appropriation. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- Part of the sum provided this year will probably not bc spent. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- Then the Minister should be able to tell the Committee in which directions savings are to be made. Do the Government propose to refrain from making new appointments, or will -they curtail the expenditure on camps this year, as was attempted to be done last year? I should be prepared to assist in voting more money if we had any guarantee that it would improve the efficiency of the Forces, or place us in a better position from a defensive point of view. But I look with some doubt upon the gradual increase of expenditure under the heading of " Central Administration," from which we are not likely to receive any commensurate benefit. Out of a total increased expenditure of £64,000 on defence purposes for the whole of Australia, there is, this year, an increase of practically £6,600 for the Central Administration alone. It is explained in the memorandum that there is an increase of £2,026 under the heading of " Pay," due to the appointment of two additional members to the Military Board - a Board which was entirely ignored by the late Government in the preparation of the Defence Bill - provision for the Inspector of Ordnance Machinery and his clerk, salary of an Imperial officer, who is detailed for duty in a new position of Director of Training and Operations, in the Department of the Chief of Intelligence, and the appointment of two additional clerks. The Minister, in his reply, might tell the Committee what justification exists for the increase of £6,600 for the Central Administration. Why was the strength of the Military Board increased,, and what benefit is likely to result from, its additional strength? What work are they now doing that was not done before by officers in the Forces, or by those who were members of the Board, and to what extent were the members of the Board overworked? The Military Board exists for administrative purposes, and yet, when the late Government introduced a Defence Bill, the whole of which was a matter of administrj.ci.in, as the word " prescribed " appeared in it thirty or forty times, everything being left to regulations, the Board were entirely ignored and overlooked. Now their lumbers are to be increased by two. Colonel Foxton. - The Board never saw the Bill. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- I think the AdjutantGeneral, who is a member of the Board, was asked in some other capacity - not as a member of the Board - in a cursory manner, "What do you think of this, old chap?" So far as I can gather, that was all that any member of the Military Board was asked to do in regard to the drafting of a Defence Bill for the whole of the Commonwealth. Colonel Foxton. - Has the honorable member any opportunity of knowing what the Adjutant-General's opinion of the .Rill was? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- No, I have had no conversation with him ; and, if I had, I doubt whether he would be so indiscreet as to give me information which I could make public as to his opinion on the Bill. If it had devolved upon me to address the House upon the Defence Bill, I should have liked to have the opinion of a few of the senior officers who were cruelly and specifically ignored by the ex-Minister of Defence - officers whose experience and standing justified their being consulted on so important a question. The Board appears to have been increased by at least one member to suit the particular political fancies of the last Minister. In some moment, guarded or unguarded, the Deakin Government decided to introduce a Bill dealing with what they termed universal training. They immediately looked around, perhaps not knowing overmuch on the subject themselves, for somebody to guide them. As it failed to find among the senior and responsible officers any who would father the scheme, it looked further afield, and found a junior officer who, with a laudable desire to be brought prominently before the political and military world, and to obtain rapid promotion, gave the assurance that he shared the sentiments of Ministers right down to the ground. Thereupon he was dragged from his junior obscurity, and given temporary promotion, carrying with it increased pay, and, at the same time, he was made a member of the Military Board. This action of the Government increased the expense of the central administration" ky .£600 per annum. I do not say that that sum is too much to pay to a member of such a body as the Military Board ; I complain that a position on the Board was made for this officer. He proceeded to draft a Defence Bill, which was such an abject failure that Ministers did not dare to proceed with it. We have npt had an opportunity to discuss the proposal ot the late Government. I am sure that Ministers would have met their Waterloo had they asked the House to divide on it. The late Minister of Defence told us, on one occasion, that if he could find a Napoleon he would make him Commander-in-Chief, and abolish the Military Board. He was not able to .find a Napoleon ; but, at any rate, he made great efforts to obtain for one officer the reputation of that great soldier. In my opinion, his action tended to the subversion of the discipline and the proper working of the Military Force.*. For a *dilettanti* Minister of Defence, who> had given no indication of the possession of knowledge of military matters, and less of a desire to learn anything on the subject, to pick out a junior officer, and place him oni a level with seniors who, for many years, had done yeoman service, so that hemight draft a Bill to provide for compulsory universal training, was an action which Parliament should unmistakably resent, sothat nothing of the kind may -occur in the future. This officer was promoted, and I find, from looking through the papers, -and1 by reading the newspapers, that he has. been deferred to on every occasion, and his opinion asked on every subject. Had' the late Minister had his way, our army would have become, before long, all "Legge." Whatever may be this officer's ability, it is not reasonable to suppose that he is an expert on every conceivable subject, and it is unfair that, having been appointed merely as a whim of the late Minister, (he should be pushed, forward to the disadvantage of the Forces; because it must be expected that senior officers will resent his promotion. I do not know whether the present Ministry is ready to reduce the strength of the Military Board, and to thus curtail the cost of the Central Administration. {: .speaker-L17} ##### Mr Wilks: -- Does the honorable member believe in having a Military Board ? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- I am not now discussing that question; but I may say that the Board, as constituted, is not likely to give the best results. In saying that, I have no wish to reflect upon any of its members. A little while ago, I asked what are the special duties of the officer to whom I have referred, and was informed that he fills the entirely new position of MilitarySecretary to the Board. Previous to hispromotion, the secretarial work of the Board had been done by the Chief Clerk. I cannot say whether the Chief Clerk was overworked, but there was no complaint in military circles about the manner in which he performed his duties. His salary is only .£580 ; but the new Military Secretary, who is not also called upon to act as Chief Clerk to the Department, anc! has a secretary at ^350 to assist him, gets ^600. The late Minister enumerated his duties under thirteen distinct heads, of which the first was the control of the arrangemente in connexion with the introduction of a system of universal training." It seems to me that that would be sufficient for any expert, but the scheme of the late Ministry having di's- appeared, the occupation of the MilitarySecretary must be considered to have gone with it, and the present Minister may well consider the advisability of reducing the Board to its previous strength. The Military Secretary's second duty was the " promulgation of regulations, standing orders, and military orders." That cannot occupy much of his time, because the work is really done by the Printing Office, from which the regulations are issued. An outsider might regard this officer as overworked and underpaid, but the duty just named is so slight that it might well have been left unnoticed, had it not been for the desire of the late Minister to make excuses for the appointment. This officer has also to deal with " miscellaneous legal questions not involving discipline." I do not know whether he is by training a member of the legal fraternity. In any case, he is confined to the giving of advice on questions which do not involve discipline, the AdjutantGeneral naturally resenting interference with what comes within his province. The Military Secretary is also called upon to consider "patterns of dress and equipment," and to prepare " dress and equipment regulations," though, prior to his advent, this work was being done reasonably well by other officers. He is supposed to concern himself with the " table of equipment," the " scales of clothing and equipment to be held by. troops," " scales and issue of food, forage, fuel, light, and water." Once a scale is determined on, it will do service for all time, and careful ordnance officers have the scales which are in force hung in their offices for reference at any moment. The Military Secretary has also to do with the " appropriation and occupation of military buildings and offices," and with " barrack services," whatever that may mean. He controls, too, the " mobilization of material and horses," the mobilization of men being left to another officer, so that, while the Forces may be moved in time from one position to another, the material which should accompany them may be put on the train too early or_too late, or may not arrive at all. The Military Secretary has also to do with " transport, including technical instruction and duties of the Army Service Corps and Veterinary Department." He seems to be an expert on every subject. The " arrangements in connexion with moves and routes" are in his hands ; I do not know if he had to do with "the recent Ministerial move. Finally, he is concerned with " postal services." The late Minister was at almost infinite pains to furnish this list of duties for an officer who was appointed to a certain position really for a particular purpose which is now among the things of the past In the circumstances, I think that the Ministry might consider whether - unless new duties are opening up - they cannot reduce the Military Board by at least one member. When I said just now that the constitution of the Military Board is not such as to give the best result to the Forces, I had in mind the fact that there are on the Board two or three militia officers who are still acting as Commanding Officers. I may at least refer to one, who is the officer commanding the 10th Infantry Regiment. He is the officer commanding the South Australian Brigade, and is also a member of the Military Board. He thus occupies three positions. I have not a word to say against the officer himself ; but it seems to me that it is impossible for him to do justice to all three positions. When subjects arise out of his command as officer in charge of an infantry regiment, and later on have to be dealt with by the Board, he enjoys a distinct advantage over officers occupying similar regimental positions, but who have neither a voice nor a vote on the Board. I do not think that the honorable member for Brisbane is a member of the Military Board ; but he is certainly an officer in command of the Field Forces in Queensland. We have an officer holding a precisely similar position in South Australia, and to that extent they are on the same, footing. But there come times when subjects in connexion with their brigades have to go before the Military Board. At that point, my honorable friend has no more to do with them ; but the officer in South Australia, as a member of the Military Board, can state his own case before it, and vote upon it. We can see at once the inequality and the unfairness of allowing an officer commanding a Field Force in one State to have such an advantage over an officer occupying a similar position in another State, p'rom my point of view, it is neither correct nor fair. Civilian officers in active command ought not to be on the Military Board, since membership of it gives them a most unfair influence over the States Commandants. The permanent officers *ir.* each State are dependent upon their positions for an actual living ; a civilian officer is not. With him military matters are almost a hobby. He takes them up in an entirely different sense from the way in which they are taken up by a permanent officer, and he has an influence and power over that of the State Commandant, who is really appointed to have charge of him. We have, as a matter of fact, the position of a junior being able to take his case over the State Commandant's head and to decide it ; and, in addition to that, we have a junior officer, so to speak, deciding the case of the State Commandant on very important matters. In such circumstances, it is only natural to suppose that permanent officers, having to depend on their position for a living, will at times defer to the militia officer who has a vote on the Military Board, whereas, if they were untrammelled, they might differ very materially from the stand taken by him. I hope that the Ministry will see fit to alter the constitution of the Board. I am not asking them at present to attempt any drastic changes ; but I appeal to them to remove some of the present anomalies, so that the efficiency of the Forces may be improved. Particularly would I ask the Ministry to look more carefully than has been done in the past into the regular increase in the cost of our Defence Forces without, so far as any Minister has been able to show, any corresponding increase in the efficiency of the Forces, or in the provision of material essential to their work. Colonel Foxton. - Is the ° honorable member going to test the feeling of the Committee as to the increase in the number of members on the Board? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- So far as the Secretary of the Military Board is concerned, I am ; the other matters to which I referred are scarcely to be tested on the passing of the Estimates. I hope that the appointment of Secretary to the Board will be annulled, and at no loss to the officer concerned, who will merely return to the duties that he was previously performing in New South Wales. I have no doubt that he was discharging those duties with credit to himself and all concerned; but he is not required in his present position, and he would be there, I think, under circumstances that are likely to interfere with the working and discipline of our forces. There is one other point to which I wish to refer. Quite recently I asked for information concerning the balances of corps funds held in hand bv the various regiments of infantry, artillery and light horse. Whilst I knew that a fair amount of money was so held, I was astonished to find that these several regiments had in hand over ,£27,000 - all money that has been voted to them by different Parliaments, and which has not been expended in the direction intended by Parliament. Colonel Foxton. - I think that that is capable of explanation. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- I am not referring to any particular regiment. So far as the artillery are concerned, I notice that the battery funds are reasonably low, and I presume, therefore, that they are able to find means of expending these amounts. Colonel Foxton. - Indeed they are. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- I think that the honorable member is an artillery officer. Colonel Foxton. - I am. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- I should be prepared to vote a. little extra to the artillery, because they are few in number and have much to do with these grants, and a little less to some of the regiments of light horse and infantry, because, according to information given to me, some of them have a difficulty in finding a means of expending the money voted to them. We vote each year to the light horse, the infantry, and the artillery £2 per head, not of their strength, but of their establishment. On 30th June last, for instance, the establishment' of the militia was 17,77 7, but their actual strength was 16,154 men, or, roughly, 1,500 less than the establishment. Yet we voted to them £2 per head of their establishment, so that, even had they expended *£2* per head of their actual strength, they would have had some ,£3,000 to spare. In scarcely one case is the strength of a regiment up to its establishment. I should not offer any complaint if, notwithstanding that fact, the regiments were able to expend the money so voted to them ; but when we find that the 3rd Australian Infantry Regiment, for instance, has in hand no less than .£2,680 - I do not know what its actual strength is - we must be satisfied that an accumulation of funds has been going on for years. If I am correctly informed, some regiments actual lv have public moneys invested for given periods. Colonel Foxton. - Where is the 3rd Regiment stationed? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- In New South Wales. Then we find that the Western Australian Light Horse have £1,133 in hand; the 1 st Infantry Regiment, New South Wales, £1,160; the 4th Infantry Regiment, New South Wales, .£1,914; the Australian Rifle Regiment, ,£1,400; the Derwent Infantry Regiment, Tasmania, £[1,327 ; the Tasmanian Rangers ,£1,462 ; and the New Estimates. [8 Dec, 1908.] Estimates. 2859 South Wales Brigade, Australian Field Artillery £973.I am pleased to say that the brigade with which the honorable member for Brisbane has something to do had only £48in hand at the date at which this information wassupplied to me. I am not quite sure of the strength of the honorable member's brigade. Colonel Foxton. - We have only two batteries. {: #subdebate-10-0-s6 .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- The brigade in New South Wales has six batteries ; but the different batteries have moneys in hand in addition to the amounts held by the brigades themselves. Colonel Foxton. - That is not the position in Queensland. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- We find that these regiments of light: horse and infantry in particular have in hand large sums of money that ought to have been expended for a particular purpose. One of two things follows : either we are voting too much money, or the officers controlling these funds are not expending them in the way Parliament believes that they ought to be expended. Colonel Foxton. - There is another alternative. Large regiments, for instance, incur a considerable expenditure in the matter of clothing, and they may be saving up for the next equipment. I have had to do that myself. A commanding officer will not accept personal liability. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- I thank the honorable member for his explanation. It is possible that some of the officers may be saving up these funds for the purpose of providing their regiments with a new clothing outfit, but that does not touch the point that Parliament, every year, votes for a specific purpose or purposes, £2 per head of their establishment to these regiments ; that all the money so voted has not been expended, and that if this saving up is for a purpose other than what was intended- Colonel Foxton. - No {: #subdebate-10-0-s7 .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- Does the honorable member say that the annual vote is not sufficient ? Colonel Foxton. - No {: #subdebate-10-0-s8 .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- Take the case of the 3rd Australian Infantry Regiment, which has in hand £2,680. That must be the accumulation of years. **Colonel Foxton.** - It may take the allowances of two or three years to pay for a full equipment of uniforms. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- We have other regiments with a saving of £1,000; which can not have been made in one year. If it has, the regiments, themselves must have been starved ; they cannot have been kept up to the point that they ought to have been. The Inspector - and I believe the InspectorGeneral is paid £1,500 a year - has not been doing his duty unless there is in his report a very specific paragraph dealing with this matter. I am credibly informed that some of these regiments have money out at fixed deposit earning interest; and this seems to me absurd. This money has been voted time after time by Parliament on the basis of £2 a head ; and it has been saved until, in one case, a regiment has £2,680 out at fixed deposit. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr Johnson: -- What is the object? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- I cannot say ; the information could only be obtained from the officers in command. Unless there is some alteration, there will some day come into office a Minister with sufficient moral courage - if he has the power - to confiscate this money, and return it to the Treasury, or ask Parliament to refrain from voting any further grants for a couple of years. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- The Defence Act makes all funds of corps the property of the Commonwealth Government. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- At the present time, Federal finance is in such a condition that I would not be surprised to see a Treasurer lay his hands on this £27,000 or £28,000. I do not draw attention to these facts, with any idea of taking one penny away from the regiments, but merely to intimate too them clearly that, in the opinion of, at all events, some honorable members, this money ought to be expended in the direction in which it was voted. It will be somewhat strange if Parliament' continues to allow public revenue to be handled by particular persons, and put out at fixed deposit, when, as a matter of fact, it would be better for the community if the money were in the hands of the Treasurer. **Colonel FOXTON** (Brisbane) [4.44].-I have listened with a great deal of interest, and, if I may say so, much approval to much of what has fallen from the honorable member for Adelaide, who has given a great deal of attention to this question, and has placed his views before us most clearly, lucidly, and forcibly, with a. distinct knowledge and common-sense view of his subject. I do not know whether the honorable member has ever commanded a corps, and had control of a corps' funds ; but I can assure him that it is very often a difficult position. A given sum is allowed per annum *per capita;* and the annual expenditure in a given year may be, perhaps, three times the amount allowed for that year, lt is, therefore, necessary, so to speak, either to incur liabilities, and wipe these out by means of future annual allowances, or to practically starve the corps until there are funds to pay in cash. In either case, it will be seen that it is sometimes absolutely necessary for a commanding officer to accumulate a considerable sum of money, and, whichever course is adopted, he will find himself, during some given year, immediately prior to reequipping the regiment, in possession of very considerable funds. The honorable member for Adelaide quoted some figures in regard to the brigade which I lately commanded, and showed that that brigade had only £48. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- I admitted that, so far as the artillery is concerned, the position is entirely different. **Colonel FOXTON.** - And I can show how that is so. The Field Artillery is a popular arm of the service, and, when other arms are considerably depleted from one cause or another, the former keep up to their full establishment, or, at any rate, something "like 90 per cent, of it. This fact has a distinct bearing on what the honorable member for Adelaide said in reference to the method of making capitation allowances. A corps which is constantly up to its full strength must necessarily be come worse off financially than one which is only up to half its strength, and has, therefore, *£4.* per head or twice the amount of the *per capita* allowance to spend. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr Fowler: -- The present system is a premium on keeping a corps below its strength. Colonel FOXTON.- But it must be remembered that the commanding officers have no personal interest in keeping a corps below its strength; on the other hand, they would much prefer to be at the head of a full corps, than to have money in the bank. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- It could easily be ascertained whether large funds were held year after year. Colonel FOXTON.- There is another reason why the Field Artillery should receive a larger allowance than that given to the infantry. The artillery has a large amount of equipment to look after; and, indeed, it is sometimes necessary for a commanding officer to contribute his private funds to that end. This should not be the case, considering that, taking all in all, artillery Commanding Officers are probably the hardest worked men in the service. I am surprised to learn that any regiment has such a sum as *£2,600* to its credit, and the matter is certainly worth looking into. It seems to me that the particular corps referred to must either have been, to a certain extent, starved - even making all allowance for what I have said - or it must be, or have been, at a very low ebb in regard to numbers. I was a member of a Committee which, two or three years ago, I think, recommended that the system of giving allowances on the basis of establishment, rather than on the actual numbers in the corps, should be abandoned. In my own judgment, it would be far better to adopt the plan formerly carried out in Queensland, under which each man cost the Government only *£1* 2s. 6d., and found his own uniform, and kept it in repair; but this idea does not seem to find favour amongst those who have never actually seen it tried. I followed the honorable member for Corio iti regard to the charges against the management of the Ordnance Branch, in regard te private work done for certain officers. Although there was a certain amount of work done in that way years ago, still it was very much less than we were led to expect. Most of the work seems to have been of a *quasi* public character, such as the mending of arms, trophies, and so forth, brought from South Africa. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- It was a gun which had been taken to South Africa, and used in the war ! {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Work of that kind would not be permitted .for one moment at the Woolwich Arsenal. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- But what about umbrella stands and musical boxes? **Colonel FOXTON.** - I am glad to learn that the practice has been entirely stopped and that the offences, if they may be so described, were of a very trifling nature. Turning to another matter, I have been told that a published article, for which the Military Secretary, a member of the Board, is responsible, has appeared regarding the intention of the Government, as to drastic and immediate changes in uniform. The Government if they take my advice will do very little to-' wards changing uniforms, so long as they do not change the whole system of military organization. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The Minister is obtaining all the evidence before he comes to a decision. **Colonel FOXTON.-** There was some justification for the proposal for a drastic simplification of uniforms, so long as there was before Parliament a proposition foi universal compulsory service. But that has ceased to be before Parliament as a practical proposition. Until it is adopted we must rely upon voluntary enlistment. If every man in the country is compelled to serve in the Defence Force, an absolutely free hand can be exercised in the direction of extreme simplicity of the uniform which he shall wear, because he is bound to serve and to wear the uniform that is given to him. But when voluntary enlistment is depended upon, there must be taken into consideration the feeling of pride which a man has in the uniform which he proposes to wear. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Does the honorable member think the uniform makes the soldier? **Colonel FOXTON.** - I do not, but it has a great deal to do with inducing him to join. I do not know the circumstances under which the honorable member enlisted. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I took the "bob." **Colonel FOXTON.** - I am sure that the uniform of the artillery corps into which the honorable member was going had something to do with his decision. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- No; I only. wanted to be a soldier. Colonel FOXTON.- Underlying that was the feeling that he would like to wear the Queen's uniform. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr Fowler: -- It is not a question of uniform. It is a question of plain as against fancy uniforms. Colonel FOXTON. - Every time there has been a change it has meant further expense to those already in the service. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr Fowler: -- I agree that we may make too much fuss even about the simplification of uniforms. **Colonel FOXTON.** - The honorable member for Adelaide has probably seen the amount of balance lying to the credit of the Moreton regiment. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- If that is the 9th regiment, they have £529. **Colonel FOXTON.** - The fact that they have a balance might be accounted for in other ways, but it is a fact that, after the change from the red full-dress uniform that they used to wear in the old Queensland days to plain khaki, the regi ment fell away considerably. The commandant complained constantly in his annual reports that the regiment was not up to anything like its strength. I do not think it was up to even half its strength. The red uniform was restored, and the regiment went up to its full strength once more. I do not say that the increase was entirely due to the reversion to the old uniform, but the facts are significant. If any change is contemplated, I hope it will not put men who have already spent considerable amounts, and given many years of good service to the Forces, to further expense in providing new uniforms. A sensible idea on this point would be to form local Boards, somewhat on the principle of those recently formed of militia officers to consider the best means of reducing clerical work in the Militia Force. Those local Boards met in each State, composed as they were of men who were deeply interested in the reduction of clerical work in the militia, and who had' had practical experience of what was required of them in the way of returns, and the keeping of unnecessary books and forms. Their reports and copies of the evidence taken by them were sent to Commonwealth head-quarters, and a central Board, of which I was a member, sat recently to co-ordinate the information thus received. A great amount of reform will be introduced - or I sincerely hope it will - in consequence. Similarly, a sensible way to arrive at what ought to be done regarding changes in .uniform would be some such process. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I know two young men, really good soldiers, in Brisbane who had to refuse1 commissions on account of the expense of getting uniforms. **Colonel FOXTON.** - I have never come across such cases. I know young men who have had very little cash to spare, but who have accepted commissions, and bought the necessary uniforms out of their pay from year to year. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I do not think it is fair to ask them to do it. Colonel FOXTON.- There are' plenty willing to do it. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr Fowler: -- Many good men are prevented from taking commissions because of the expensive uniforms. **Colonel FOXTON.-** It may be so, but that is not my experience. They have not told me so. Some statement should be made by the Honorary Minister showing 2862 *Estimates.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Estimates.* in what respects the expenditure fell short of the appropriation for last year. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The Estimates were passed so late, that it was not possible to make many of the appointments provided for. Consequently, the money could not be spent. The appropriation will be too late for some purposes this year. **Colonel FOXTON.-** When we know, as I happen to know, that it would have been desirable to spend considerably more on camps, for instance, one is apt to inquire how it is that a considerable proportion of the sum voted was not spent. It has been alleged that we have been in a state of transition ever since Federation. If so, it is a reproach to the Governments that have been in power and to the Federal Parliament, for allowing Governments to remain in office which did not definitely and finally deal with that great question. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- The Forces are not as efficient as a fighting force as they were before Federation. **Colonel FOXTON.** - I do not agree with the honorable member. They are much more effective in many ways. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- How many men, properly equipped, could be put into the field as a fighting force to-morrow? Colonel FOXTON. - Scarcely any would be properly equipped, except, perhaps, the infantry. None would be properly equipped in every sense. Still, we are better off than we were before Federation. For instance, we have one central command instead of six different commands. That is an enormous advantage. The whole of the Forces have been assimilated, and they have one organization. It may be good or bad, but the organization is there. It was on the question of equipment that the plea was put forward that we have always been in a state of transition. Thirty thousand is a very moderate estimate of those whom we could put into the field as trained men in a case of emergency. I am speaking, not only of those who are at present with the colours, but also of those who have served their three years, and would flock in in thousands, and of others who have recently gone through their training. It would cost no less than £300,000 to provide that force of 30,000 men with their first-line transport alone. That means practically the waggons required to carry the ammunition necessary for that force. It does not include provision for stores and baggage or anything of that sort. It means waggons to be with the troops, and to enable them to carry on warfare by having their ammunition with them. What is the use of talking about compulsory military service, and about giving us 200,000 fighting men, when it would cost us £300,000 to give the first-line transport little more than the number of men that we have on the books at the present time? It is easy to calculate what it wouldcost to equip 200,000 men. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- In place of that, we have **Sir Thomas** Ewing and the Military Secretary. Colonel FOXTON. - Does not that fact bring home to honorable members the shocking miscalculation as to the cost of compulsory military service? I trust that the Minister of Defence will not do anything to undermine efficiency, or to greatly alter the present organization, until he can put in its place a scheme which will bear scrutiny, as to both efficiency and cost. Until he has such a scheme, let him devote his energies, and the money givento him, to the proper equipment of the Forces, so that we may have, not only 20,000 or 30,000 men constituting as good material as is to be found in any other part of the world, but men as well equipped as they should be. Without proper equipment, our Forces are useless. {: #subdebate-10-0-s9 .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER:
Perth .- I have sat in this Parliament since the inception of Federation, with a growing feeling of disappointment at the unpractical and inept methods of parliamentary procedure and party Government. Amongst the many illustrations of this state of affairs, obvious to any one who has given the matter consideration, the most lamentable and striking is the condition of the Defence Department. During the past seven years, as many sets of Estimates have been introduced, framed on orthodox lines, and the usual grumbling and criticism has taken place in connexion with them, with the result that the Defence Department is in a state of chaos, things being little better now than when we first entered upon our work. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr Johnson: -- They are much worse. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- Iam content with a moderate statement of the case. One of the most urgent reasons for Federation, and the centralization of certain Departments of administration, was the need for more effective national defence. That need was emphasized by the advocates of Federation, whose statements were echoed in the breasts of many of the people of Australia, who realized that there should be united action in this matter. Yet, today, those who have investigated the subject complain of chaos, lack of system, absence of equipment, and almost complete inability of the Forces to do the work expected of them. This is the position of affairs at a time when the Empire i§, not so much drifting into a. waT which I believe will be a world-wide disaster, but is marching steadily towards it, recognising it as inevitable. We, in Australia, know that this great, rich, undeveloped continent will be considered a prize worth a special effort to obtain, yet our attitude resembles that of the Roman Emperor who amused himself by fiddling in his palace while his city was burning. Another striking commentary upon our methods of government is the thin attendance of honorable members. How many ex-Ministers of Defence are now present? {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- The ex-Minister is very ill. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- I am sorry to hear that, though I am afraid that neither Ministers nor members take the earnest interest in this matter which the situation demands, and that the time is not far distant when condemnation will be heaped on our heads for having played with this great question. How is it that revelations of ineffectiveness are always made by private members, not by responsible Ministers? A member has told us to-day that the Field Artillery is practically useless for active service, because of the want of ammunition waggons. I have no doubt that that is only one of many instances of serious lack in equipment; but I do not remember that any Minister has taken it upon himself to make a thorough and drastic inquiry as to our defects in this respect, and after doing so, has told Parliament what was required, stating his readiness,, as a means of calling the attention of the country to the situation, to resign if the sum needed was not voted. We -continue on the old lines, and I am afraid that little will be changed until something like disaster overtakes us. I do not wish to accuse the present Minister of lacking energy or earnestness. He has not yet had an opportunity to show what he is as an administrator. I ask him not to trouble :so much about the fripperies of costume -as to give earnest attention to important matters of efficiency. I have denounced military millinery ; but, though a great deal of mischief has been done by what has already been approved of, more may be done in undoing what I regard as a mistake. If we had a Minister strong enough to put aside precedent and formality, and, with a stroke of his pen, abolish the mere fripperies of uniform without interfering with proper military appearance and distinction, I should say let it be done; but, as any change must mean the issue of another set of elaborate regulations and the incurring of considerable expense, I say, " Go on with things which are more important." The Minister's first duty is to ascertain what is needed to make our Forces efficient for the field. He should obtain a fearless report on the subject, and let us know how we stand. Under the present system of collective Ministerial responsibility, we do not know what happens in Cabinet in regard to the financing of the Departments. The Minister who is representing the Minister of Defence tells us, when confronted with the serious imperfections which exist, that money for necessary equipment cannot be obtained. Would it not be better if each Minister told us what amount he needed, leaving the Treasurer to reply, so that Parliament could decide exactly how the revenue of the Commonwealth should be expended? Under the present system, the Estimates go backward and forwards between Ministers and the Treasurer, until some compromise is arrived at, and the Government faces Parliament with the tacit understanding that not too much is to be made known as to how settlements were effected. In my opinion, each Minister should take Parliament into his confidence, and place on it the responsibility of saying what sum is needed for the administration of his Department. {: .speaker-KXP} ##### Mr Palmer: -- And should not Ministers be in their places to hear the views of members ? {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- Undoubtedly they should, though the matter which I am discussing is of more importance. We shall never have a business-like conduct of affairs until we displace the system of collective Cabinet responsibility with that of individual Ministerial responsibility. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- That sounds well, but I do not think that it would act in practice. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- If we could have, as Minister of Defence, one with the earnestness, enthusiasm, and grit of the honorable member - I cast no imputation or aspersion 2864 *Estimates.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Estimates.* on the present Minister - many of the difficulties of which we have been complaining would be in a fair way to disappear. The system of individual Ministerial responsibility has gone beyond the realms of theory, its adoption in Switzerland having been attended with the best results. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- At any rate, we have an elective Ministry now. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- I am not quarrelling with the system which brought this Ministry into power; but the election should be on the floor of the House, before the eyes of the electors, like the election of the Speaker and Chairman of Committees. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- In any case, arrangements would be made which would work out badly. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- If each member were made responsible to the electors in this matter, our affairs would be much better conducted. We should obtain a more thorough superintendence of the operations of the Departments; Ministers would have a truer sense of responsibility, and their responsibility would be shared by every member of the House. There is only one other question to which I desire to refer. I notice that provision is made for a vote of *£10,000* towards the establishment of a small arms factory; and for *£10,000* for the manufacture of cordite. i would remind the Honorary Minister that there is another matter in which the Minister of Defence interested himself to very good account before he took office, and which, I trust, he will not allow to drop - I refer to the local manufacture of cartridge blanks. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- He is looking into that matter. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- The Minister of Defence, before he accepted office, showed very conclusively that the late Government rather muddled this matter when they went into it. Two excellent officers in the Perth Mint - I know both personally - showed that it would be not only possible, but highly advantageous for the Mint authorities to manufacture the only part of a cartridge that we have been unable hitherto to produce locally. I refer to the cartridge blanks. It was shown that these blanks could be easily manufactured in one of our Mints if slight additions were made to the ordinary machinery. The Government obtained the advice of experts, who proved to be interested in the continuance of the contract for the manufacture of cartridges by a private firm. Their advice was, of course, contrary to the proposal that a Mint should be utilized for the production of cartridge blanks. **Senator Pearce** obtained the papers, and proved conclusively that the Government were entirely wrong in taking the advice of these experts. Any one who has gone into the matter will realize that this is a reform which can be carried out with great advantage. We may as well produce our own cartridges and our own cordite and small arms. I see no indication in these Estimates, however, that the Minister of Defence is going on with this matter. I merely mention it in a friendly way, in the hope that he has not lost sight of a reform that was proposed by himself, and that he will take an early opportunity to carry it into effect. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- I have had a long conversation with him on the subject. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- In conclusion, I can only express the hope that drastic action will be taken in regard to the equipment of the existing Defence Forces, and that we shall know at the earliest possible moment what is required to put them on an effective footing for actual service. When we have that information, I am sure that no honorable member will shirk the grave responsibility of finding the money for such an urgent necessity. {: #subdebate-10-0-s10 .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I have listened with interest to the views of some honorable members, whose personal experience should render valuable their opinions on these questions. Unfortunately, although the personal experience of honorable members hasbeen brought to bear previously on the Defence question, we find the Defence Department to-day in practically the same unsatisfactory position that it has hithertooccupied. Recently we had before us a proposal that meant a considerable enlargement of our Forces, and a material increase of our expenditure on Defence. I am satisfied that the actual outlay would be much larger than was estimated, and I think that we might reasonably be expected, before launching such a scheme, to show that we can effectively manage the comparatively small force that we now have, and that we can economise in the expenditure of the smaller, yet considerable-, sum for which provision is made on these Estimates. Apparently we are spending on Defence a large sum for which we secure no value. Our Defence expenditure is certainly very considerable, more especi- *Estimates.* [8 Dec, 1908.] *Estimates.* 2865 ally when we remember the number of men for which it provides. Ministers have hitherto failed to show that it is really effective, and that we are obtaining what we ought to get for the money. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- We are spending more money every year, whilst the efficiency of the Forces is being reduced. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I wish to support the views expressed by the honorable member for Adelaide regarding the increased expenditure on the Administrative Staff, without any corresponding increase in the strength of our Forces. The official memorandum circulated - and, unfortunately, it comes too late - shows that the Administrative and Instructional Staff, including the Cadet Staff, is increased from 307 to 349, and that it is now proposed to increase the strength of theMilitary Forces from 22,626to25,312, and that of the Cadets from 29,844 to 43,057. Proposals to increase the strength of our Forces are constantly being brought before us, but we find year after year that, whilst the estimated increase in the strength and cost of the Administrative Staff is always realized, we do not secure the promised increase of Cadets and of the Military Forces generally. In 1907-8 an appropriation of *£27,029* was proposed for the Central Administration., and *£26,857* was actually expended ; but when we examine the general military expenditure, we find that whereas it was estimated that for the year 1907-8 it would amount to *£512,712,* only *£475,819,* was actually expended. Then, again, an appropriation of *£49,506* was made in respect of the Cadet. Forces, but only *£43,402* was expended. We may, therefore, be sure, from our experience, that the estimated increased expenditure of *£8,000* on the Administrative Staff will take place this year, and that the estimated increase of expenditure on the rest of the Forces is not Iikely to occur. Although, for example, it is proposed that there shall be an increase of 2,700 in the Military Forces, we know that similar proposals made in previous years have not been carried out. Then, again, it is proposed to increase the actual strength of the cadets which on the 31st August last was 29,000, to 43,000. As a matter of fact, the Estimates for 1907-8 provided for increasing the strength of the cadets to 36,000, but their numbers were increased, as I have shown, to only 29,000. The additional 7,000 for which provision was made were not enrolled. What does that mean? It means that the proposed increase in the strength of the Military and Cadet Forces, which was given as a reason for adding to the Administrative Staff and increasing its cost, has not taken place to anything like the extent estimated. That is a serious matter, and ought to receive the attention of the Ministry of the day. When we are asked to sanction an increase in the Administrative Staff, we expect that the corresponding increase in the strength of the Forces generally which justifies that addition shall take place. The responsible Minister, instead of coming before Parliament year after year and admitting that the position is altogether unsatisfactory, should have submitted his proposals for remedying this state of affairs, and should have been strong enough to say to the Legislature, " If you do not adopt what I recommend, then you must look for a new Minister." Unless some such stand is taken this unsatisfactory state of affairs will con tinue. The honorable member for Adelaide was quite justified in calling attention to what is one of the evils of the service - the fact that whilst we make liberal provision for the Administrative Staff, it does not do its duty, since the increase in the strength of the Forces for which we provide - and which was the justification for enlarging that Staff - is not actually made. I am not against reform and improvement, so long as we can show that what is proposed is necessary and the expenditure justified. But the first step should be to show that we can manage our comparatively small Forces effectively - that we have not only efficient men, but efficient equipment. Then some plan might be proposed which would be acceptable to the House for still further increasing the numbers and improving the equipment, so that we might be ready for any emergency. I do not take the pessimistic view that we are in an altogether indefensible state. In my opinion, our people would show that they could defend themselves, even though their preparation had not been all that could be desired. But, after all these years and expenditure, we ought to show that, to the extent of our Forces and equipment, we are in a state of preparation to defend the country. Minister after Minister has admitted that there is no satisfactory return for the money we spend on the defences. I quite admit that the system of changing the Minister of Defence almost every twelve months is in part responsible for some of the defects of the system. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The present Minister is prepared to stay there five years. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- All I know is that, in. the past, Ministers of the Defence Department have made it their principal object to seek some other office. That might not be of very great importance, if we knew that there was thorough' efficiency in the Forces. But the evidence of the past Ministers themselves is to the effect that the administration has not been, and is not now, satisfactory. When is it to be satisfactory? If it is not satisfactory now, with our comparatively small force and comparatively small expenditure, is it likely to be satisfactory if we enter upon a large scheme under the same administration ? I hope that some effort will be made to obtain better results, and that those efforts will be more earnest and continuous than in the past, because nothing can justify the poor lesults, considering the length of time the Defence Forces have been under the control of the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-10-0-s11 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa .- When I first entered this Parliament I made the Defence Forces my special duty. Honorable members in all parts of the House - many of them old parliamentarians - told me that I would turn from the subject with disgust; and I have very nearly arrived at that stage. Every succeeding Minister and Ministry since the inception of Federation has promised reorganization ; and now the latest Minister, of only a few weeks, informs us that we are to have a scheme. God help the defences of this country if every Ministry is to start on a reorganization scheme ! {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- We .are going in for reformation. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- The only effective reformation would be to wipe out the whole of the Defence Estimates and start afresh. That might cause some demoralization in certain quarters; but I really think it is the only satisfactory means of placing the defences on an altogether new basis. A few years ago the honorable member for Ballarat told us that there had been two or three stages of defence reorganization during his time in Federal politics, but that the Government with which he was connected would place the defences on a basis satisfactory, not only to the Government, but to the House and the country. However, the Defence Forces are as chaotic, if not more chaotic, than they were when the Department was taken over. {: .speaker-KTT} ##### Mr Bruce Smith: -- *The regime* of the honorable member for Ballarat covers the whole of the eight years, except, perhaps, eleven months, of the Commonwealth Parliament. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- That is so. For muddle and jealousy I never came across such a lot in my life as those who control the Defence Forces ! All they think about are long feathers, extra uniform, and higher rank. It is a pity that some of them are not in China, where they could be advanced in the Order of the Peacock, and have their rank made evident by the number and length of the feathers they wear. It sickens me to see them so jealous of their particular rank, instead of devoting their whole energies to the service of their country - it is selfishness on their part from beginning to end. The present Government say that they are going to reorganize the. Defence Forces. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- That is what we are going to do. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- If so, it will be the "Waterloo" of the Government. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- Surely the honorablemember does not advocate leading things asthey are? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I do not. But, judging, from the caustic remarks that the Honorary Minister made as a private member, I shall expect something better in the administrative branch than we have seen hitherto. The honorable member for North Sydney, the honorable member for Adelaide, and' the honorable member for Brisbane, havedealt with the general question of the Military Forces in a manner in which that question has seldom been dealt with in thi& House. We have this afternoon, in my opinion, had some of the best speeches, ever delivered here on the matters that are now before us. It is most peculiar that, if there is any saving, it is alwayson the Forces; and not on the administrative branch. This, I take it, is simply because those in the administrative branch look after themselves - they are nearest the Minister, and are feathering their littlenests. If we are to have value for our money, let us have a Defence Force which, if small, is efficient. The honorable member for Brisbane tells us that, although we havetroops, we have no means of serving themwith ammunition, and under the circumstances we might as well, as the right honorable member for Swan said on one occasion, arm them with picks and" pitchforks.. If that is the idea of the defence of Australia, the sooner we disband our Forces and trust to the Mother Country the better. At present, we are practically throwing away £[1,000,000 annually; indeed, the whole situation reminds me of that old nursery rhyme - >The mighty Duke of York, > >He had ten thousand men, > >He marched them up a great high hill, > >And marched them down again. We see marching and counter-marching ; and, in the hopeless muddles, it is surprising that they all come out scatheless. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- We shall have the Commanders under umbrellas yet ! {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- At the celebrated battle of Albert Park, I saw an officer in uniform who, I was told, belonged to tnt medical corps, carrying a white parasol - like the honorable member for Dalley, that officer knew when to put up an umbrella. The expenditure has increased every year; and I ask the simple question whether the efficiency has increased with that expenditure ? This year, .£64,000 extra is asked for, most of it for the Central Administration. And, at the last moment, just before the Defence Estimates are submitted, a memorandum, dated 18th November, is put into our hands. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- Honorable members do not usually get a memorandum at all. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Oh, yes we do; and also a. report from the Inspector- General. But I suppose we cannot look for the latter, seeing that that gentleman is in the Old Country on military duty. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Was he discreetly sent awn during the preparation of the Defence Bill? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I must admit that the position looks very peculiar. MajorGeneral Hoad was in Queensland, and, so far as I could gather when I was speaking to him, he had no knowledge that he was to go Home. But, when at Rockhampton or Roma, he was suddenlyordered on the trip, for what reason I do not know. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- Captain Col lins was also sent away {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I intend to deal with Captain Collins a little later on. As to the memorandum, the least the Government could have done was to place it in the hands of honorable members a week ago. Honorable members have a right to every particle of information that the Government can furnish, so that they may know what they are doing when they vote money. You, **Mr. Chairman,** may be quicker than I am at taking a document in at a glance, but I do not think that even you could understand this memorandum, with all its figures and conundrums, in the few minutes that we have had to study it. I cannot understand why the Government issued it at the eleventh hour. It would have been better not to issue it at all, than to issue it so late. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The memorandum might have- shown the number of the Forces in previous years. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Yes ; only their present strength is given. Every year I have asked for information in regard to military maps, and have always received evasive answers. Until eighteen months ago, there were no military maps of the Commonwealth in the possession of the Defence Department. That is a nice state of affairs. Before the Intelligence Branch was formed, there was no military map of any one of the States, to say nothing of Australia, available. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr Johnson: -- I guarantee that the Germans and Japanese have them. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- The Germans beat the French simply because they knew more about France than the French did themselves. I ask the Minister now if the Department is yet in possession of military maps of the different States? This is one of the most vital points of. our defence system. We might as well send out a fleet of torpedo boats or submersibles without knowing the soundings of our own harbors. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The maps are being prepared,, but they are not yet complete. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- That is the sort of answer I have always got. The present state of things is so criminal that some one ought to be prosecuted. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The Government will see that the maps are prepared. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Only a few months ago, the different States were asked for survey maps showing the positions of telegraph and telephone wires above and under ground. They could not furnish them, yet the military should be in possession of all that knowledge, so as to know where to tap the wires. These omissions are criminal, and somebody ought to be brought to book for them. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- A sum of £[608 is provided for the Intelligence Branch. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I believe the new Intelligence Branch is a step in the right direction, and is doing good and effective work. A number of professional men are giving their time and brains to the service of the Commonwealth in that regard. With reference to making our own cartridges, honorable members know the trouble we had to get ammunition and small-arms factories established. We were told that it could not be done effectively, and that it would cost too much. We were supposed to be a young and growing nation, and yet we were not in a position to straighten a bent rifle-barrel. Honorable members from every part of the House asked, times out of number, that the Government should start a factory of some description, so as to make a start, but nothing was done "until last year the ex-Minister of Defence tabled a motion in favour of beginning those two factories, and the result was a unanimous vote from all sides of the House. I firmly believe that every honorable member would be only too glad to vote the necessary money if he thought we should get an effective force by means of it. The honorable member for Brisbane mentioned the trouble that we should have in taking ammunition to the front. A force without ammunition would be better out of the firing line altogether. At Majuba Hill, the only reason the Boers drove us off was that our ammunition was spent, and there was no more to take its place. I saw some of the Highlanders throwing the canteens off their backs at the Boers. The only way that we can prove whether our Forces are efficient or not is to mobilize them, and see what is in them, and in the officers. That should be done, even if it costs ,£20,000 or ,£30,000. The defects of the Defence Forces of different countries are found out in that way. They are discovered either in actual or in sham warfare, when the troops go through service conditions. If they have defects, those defects are shown even in a small line of march. If I were Minister of Defence, that would be one of my first acts. I would show either our strength or our weakness. We should see at once by that means whether we had an effete force or a fighting force. Captain Collins appears in the administrative division at a salary of £900 a year. I intend to try to transfer that item to the External Affairs Department. We should not have a Secretary in name only. I propose to move that the item be left out. {: .speaker-KRN} ##### Mr Sinclair: -- The Estimates for the External Affairs Department have been> dealt with. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Then let the Government provide for Captain Collins' salary by Supplementary Estimates, or in some other way. The salary of the Director of Stores comes under the same category. Why should the Defence Department be debited with those two salaries when the officers are in England ? If they are doing administrative work for the External Affairs Department, let that Department, and not the Defence Department, carry the baby. We are asked to vote their salaries as if they were here and doing their work, whereas other officers are doing their work for them, and shouldbe paid for it. I wish to ask the Minister what has been done with regard to the eligibility of members of the Naval and Military Forces for appointment to positions in the Public Service. Why these men should be tabooed from appointments to positions* that they are the most competent to fill I do not know. In one case the position of senior boatman for the Trade and Customs Department was advertised. Some of the _ men at the Naval Depot at Williamstown applied. One of them runs the launch for the Naval Depot.. That shows his competency, and yet the Public Service Commissioner said' he could not take into account the fact that he had served the Commonwealth, and theState before the Commonwealth, faithfully for years. An outsider, who had not thesame knowledge; or ability to manage theboat, was appointed. The other man was tabooed simply because he was a naval'! man. That is simply monstrous, and nohonorable member would sanction it for five minutes once it was known. On another occasion an officer in Brisbane, who had served in the Queensland Defence- Forcefor a number of years, and who, I think, had been to South Africa, was doing certainwork in the ordnance store faithfully and': well. Knowing the duties, he applied for the position as soon as it was advertised, but because he was in the Military Forces he was passed over, and an outsider whodid not know anything about the business was given the appointment. The soonerthat state of affairs is altered, the better. The Acting Secretary for Defence tells methat the Public Service Commissioner says that he cannot do anything in the matter until the Public Service Act has been, amended. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr Johnson: -- The position is shameful. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Yes; and I am sure that all parties would agree to the passing of a measure to do justice to these men. {: #subdebate-10-0-s12 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- As to put now the amendment the honorable member has indicated would limit the general debate on the Department, I ask him to move it later. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I shall do so. {: #subdebate-10-0-s13 .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON:
Honorary Minister · Hindmarsh · ALP -- The Government has much sympathy with the officers referred to by the honorable member for Maranoa, but nothing can be done for them until the Public Service Act has been amended. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Then why not introduce a Bill of one clause to amend it? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- An amending Bill would be a very serious measure to bring forward at this stage of the session. I do not think that honorable members are willing to consider, prior to the prorogation, more measures than are now on the business-paper. If we had a guarantee that they would remain here to pass a Bill to amend the Public Service Act, we would take the matter in hand, but we cannot do what is impossible. However, the subject will not be lost sight of, and will be dealt with at the earliest moment. With regard to the matters raised by the honorable and learned member for Corio, it is not intended that militia officers, in being appointed to the permanent force, shall have preference over the permanent men. The regulation to which he has . referred was introduced because of the motion carried at the instance of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who considered it unjust to militia officers not to give them the opportunity to be transferred to the permanent force, and unwise for the country to deprive itself of the services of men who might do valuable work on the permanent staff. I am satisfied that the present Minister of Defence has done all that is possible, in the few* days in which he has been in office, to set his Department in order; but serious attention will be given to the honorable member's complaints. The honorable member for Adelaide made a very powerful speech. His statements will be carefully noted, and the valuable advice which he gave will be utilized. He asked for information as to the probable savings of the Department. Savings will be effected on a number of items appearing here and there throughout the Estimates. The officer in charge of the cordite factory is a State official, who is not likely to be relieved of his present duties until about July. Again, it is not likely that the naval officers for Western Australia and Tasmania, for whose salaries provision is made, will be appointed during the present year, and, in connexion with other proposals for expenditure, it will not be possible, owing to the advanced period of the year in which the Appropriation Act will become law, that the sums appropriated will be spent. It is estimated that savings of something like £[20,000 will be effected. As to the Military Secretary, if the Minister finds that his full time cannot be occupied usefully with work connected with the Central Administration, the strength of the Military Board will be reduced ; but if he is a useful officer, doing work hitherto not efficiently performed, he will be retained in his present position. There have not been two new appointments to the Military Board- 1 agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that the cost of the Central Administration should not be increased without an increase in the efficiency of the Department generally, and should be required only by an increase in the number of men to be controlled. It is the intention of the Minister that the Central Administrative staff shall not be added to unnecessarily. The honorable member for Maranoa may rest assured that the Intelligence Corps - a new arm for the establishment of which the late Minister deserves credit - will do all that can be done in the preparation of accurate maps. Colonel McCay, who is at the head of the corps, will be assisted by the Minister as much aa possible. But the Forces cannot be made efficient unless the money necessary to make them so is appropriated by Parliament. It is my duty to acquaint honorable members with the % true position. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr Bamford: -- Has the Minister done so? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- I have tried to do so. I have said that sufficient money is not provided on these Estimates to increase the efficiency of the Forces. Unfortunately, past Ministers have not always been as frank as they should have been, and Parliament has taken the view that savings can properly be effected bv reducing the Military Estimates. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- While money is voted and not expended so far as the Forces generally are concerned, every penny voted for the Central Administration is spent. 2870 *Estimates.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Estimates.* {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- We shall spend every penny that it is needful to spend, providing we get the opportunity. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- The Appropriation Act always comes into law at an advanced period of the year. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- This Government is not responsible for that. If an improvement can be made in future, it will be made. I hope that the honorable member for Maranoa will not move the amendment of which he has given notice, because the officer in question cannot be- immediately transferred to the Department of External Affairs. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Could he not be provided for on the Supplementary Estimates ? The honorable member for Ballarat promised last year that the change would be made. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- I have objected to the Defence Department being charged with his salary, and if the present Government frame the next Estimates, it will not again be so charged. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr Atkinson: -- Does the Minister say that we cannot get greater efficiency for our present expenditure? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- I think that we can ; but, as the Minister of Defence has been in office only a week or two, he has not yet had an opportunity to say in what direction improvements can be effected. He will carry out all the reforms that suggest themselves to him. {: #subdebate-10-0-s14 .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER:
Capricornia .- It seems to me that the stronger the light thrown on the condition of the Defence Department, the more serious the position seems. It was pleasant to hear the Minister representing the Minister of Defence say that the duty of a Minister is to inform Parliament as to the state of affairs in his Department. In the past, Ministers have been inclined to do this as little as possible, and to cover up trouble as much as possible. Whenever there has been jealousy and disaffection or friction, Ministers have shown a disposition to leave matters alone, their one idea being to avoid trouble. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- Not a bad policy. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- Perhaps not a bad policy for Ministers themselves, but not a good one for the country, because it tends to continue and increasemal-administration and ineffectiveness. The Minister has this afternoon stated facts known to exist, but hitherto not honestly faced. He has spoken of the inefficiency of our defences, not having a single effective battery, our want of munitions and material and the lack of an Intelligence Corps. I am pleased to hear that the last-named need has now been supplied. Those who have travelled throughout Australia know how disastrous it would be to attempt to move large bodies of men away from the railways without a thorough knowledge of the roads, tracks, water-holes, and other features of the country to be traversed. Such a knowledge will, I think, be more needed in Australia than it was in South Africa during the last campaign there. Without such a knowledge, men and stock would be left everywhere to perish. I do not know what steps the newly-formed Intelligence Corps is taking to obtain information; but a great deal could be got through local officers, such as the captains of Rifle Clubs, who are usually very keen men. They would supply an immense amount of information from personal experience. Shire council clerks would also contribute largely to the knowledge of the Department. Is information being gathered in this way? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- I presume so. It is the duty of the Intelligence Corps to obtain all the information available. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- This is the only way in which full details can be gained. A gentleman who takes a great interest in defence matters, and is closely associated with engineering, has spoken to me of the need for more military engineers capable of supervising the construction of earthworks, &c. At the present time we lack a sufficient number of efficient engineers. If lines of defence had to be thrown out in remote districts - say, along the coast to the north of Brisbane, or in the central districts of Queensland - it would be difficult to obtain an efficient body of engineer officers or of men accustomed to do such work. In various mining centres, such as Mount Morgan, many young engineers are employed on the mines, and an exceedingly efficient corps of engineers could be got together there. These young men are fresh fromtheir universities, and with the practical training acquired by them on the mines they would form a very useful body in times of emergency. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- Why do they not organize? It is open for them to do so. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- The defence authorities should seize upon these opportunities, and take the first step towards organization. We cannot expect individuals scattered over a wide area of country to take up, on their own responsibility, the work of organization. We could not, for instance, expect the gentleman who first mentioned this matter to me, Captain Richard, manager of the Mount Morgan mine, to initiate the movement. It is distinctly a matter for the Defence Department to take in hand. From what we have heard, especially during this debate, it is ' clear, to my mind, that the time has not arrived to embark on the extensive scheme of universal training proposed by the late Government. {: .speaker-L1N} ##### Dr Wilson: -- And the founder of which was really the Attorney-General in the present Administration. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- That honorable gentleman made it his special hobby, and did great work in fostering the movement throughout the country. I have no quarrel with him on that account, for I consider that anything that will induce the people to realize the necessity for an adequate defence system is good work done for Australia. But what has been said during this debate lends force to the argument of those who, while not opposed to universal training, when it is necessary, object to its institution at the present time, when we are not prepared for it. The organization of our present Defence Force, which is a comparatively small one, is admittedly inefficient, and it would bo absolutely useless to endeavour, as was proposed, to extend it into a system of universal training during the next year or two. The men to ' be trained would be but partially trained, and unfit. Our first duty is to so organize, and use our present means of defence as to make efficient the force we already possess. It has always seemed to me that our crying want - and I speak with some diffidence on this subject, as I am new to the matter - is the appointment of one permanent head to control our Forces. The best man obtainable should be secured for the position. At present we have too much control by Boards. I have nothing to say against the Inspector-General ; I believe that he is a thoroughly good man, and I know that he is keenly interested in his work, but he has not the necessary authority. What we need is one thoroughly efficient man at the head of our Forces - a man who has had the experience necessary to enable him to grasp every detail of our service, and to deal with -it. He should be given power through the Minister or through Parliament to do po. I do not approve of the system under which we have, controlling our Forces, various Boards, consisting of half-a-dozen men, either falling out with one another, anxious to placate each other, or it may be having amongst their number one strong man who is able to carry the rest with him. No one has heard of a business concern which was absolutely successful unless it was controlled, not by a Board, but by one strong and able man. *Sitting suspended from 6.30 to /.45 p.m.* {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- When we adjourned for dinner, I was urging that those who had gone into the matter must recognise that, having regard to the condition of our existing Forces, we do not seem to be prepared to launch upon an extensive scheme of universal training. I am sure that the late Ministry were sincere in their advocacy of the system ; but I do not believe that the country is yet ready to indorse it. We ought not at present to do more than extend the principle to our Cadet Force's, to compulsory Cadet training - -and that is the one direction in which the scheme of the late Government fell short. They did not propose to apply the system thoroughly in a direction from which the very best results could be obtained, and which must be the basis of our defence. That, however, is a matter with which I shall be able to deal when the Defence Bill is again under consideration. I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether the 36,126 Cadets, to whom reference is made in Appendix C, is the number that was actually enrolled during 1907-8? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- No ; we expected to enrol that number ; but, as a matter of fact, only 29,844 are on the papers. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- That was the number for the whole Commonwealth on 31st August last? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- Yes. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- That strongly supports my contention that the training of our Cadets deserves more serious consideration, since the number at present enrolled is far short of the number that should be in training in connexion with our schools. I shall, however, refrain from further discussing the question, since I presume that when the Defence Bill is again under consideration, we shall have an opportunity to deal with the whole system of defence. {: #subdebate-10-0-s15 .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER:
Kalgoorlie .- In view of the fact that a Bill to more definitely define the area proposed to be acquired for the Seat of Government is likely to become law at an early date, I think that we may we.ll review the decision of the late Government to establish a cordite factory in Victoria, and a small arms factory in New South Wales. Whilst such factories may be an urgent necessity, it seems to me that they ought to be established within Federal territory. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- The Federal City might be blown up by an explosion of cordite. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- It might be necessary to have both factories within the Federal territory, in order that their manufactures could be used to prevent its being blown up. The proposal of the late Government Ls utterly foreign to what I believe to be the view of most honorable members, that these factories should be established within Federal territory. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- There is no ground for supposing that one penny will be spent this year in either direction. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- On the contrary, I believe that either the whole amount voted will be spent, or the Government will be involved in negotiations from which they will be unable to withdraw, except with considerable loss to the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, I believe that a site for the cordite factory has already been secured in Victoria. The decision of the late Government that the two factories should be established in different States is an extraordinary one. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- No. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- We should endeavour, as far as possible, to keep both of them within a reasonable area. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- We could not have them together. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- Why ? Does the honorable member mean to say that the cordite factory will be, so to speak, quarantined - that no other building will be allowed to be erected within some distance of it. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Certainly ; everything will depend on the size of the factory. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- Just as magazines for the storage of explosives are isolated, so a factory for the manufacture of cordite would not be surrounded by dwellings. But it is to be assumed that reasonable care will be exercised in working both these factories, whether they are established in State or in Federal territory, and that con sequently a very large area will not have to be set apart for them. We may consider ourselves within reasonable distance of the establishment of a Federal city within Federal Territory ; and the proper place for a factory of this description is within that territory. As to the small arms establishment at Lithgow, a most serious state of affairs is possible, though such an observation might lead to the accusation that the State of New South Wales is viewed as foreign and unfriendly. We never know, however, what may arise -in the future, and the attitude of certain State legislators at present might lead one to suppose that under certain circumstances, there might be direct opposition to the policy or proposals of the Federal authority. Any student of history, particularly of the history of the United States, knows that the bitterest opposition to the Central Government came from within the borders of the Union. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- Remember that Washington was three times raided by the opposing States. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- That makes all the more reasonable the proposal that the small arms factory should be within Federal Territory. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- Whether the factory be within State Territory or Federal Territory, it is equally liable to seizure by a superior force. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- But naturally the home of the Federal Government would have to be defended. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The United States ammunition factories are not in Washington. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- *I* am not prepared to contradict, that statement; but I have no doubt that it would be infinitely more satisfactory to the people of the United States if they had control of their own ammunition and small arms factory. {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr Henry Willis: -- The Commonwealth has to defend the whole of Australia. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- The case that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is putting is that of a citizen of the Commonwealth fighting himself as a citizen of a State. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- A conflict between a State and the Commonwealth is possible, though not probable. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The States have no power to raise a fort. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- It is quite possible that a State might have such a feeling of grievance against the Federal authorities as to lead to extreme steps being taken. We have already had a stupid exhibition of what a State Premier may do when he believes he has a grievance. {: .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr Storrer: -- Would the honorable member have all the military in Federal Territory ? {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- That is quite beside the question with which I am dealing. If necessity arose, of course, no doubt a considerable portion of the military would be within the Federal Territory. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr Johnson: -- Then it would merely be the police of a State against the Commonwealth Forces. . {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- Supposing the people of New South Wales felt they had a grievance against the Commonwealth, and their feelings became inflamed to a dangerous degree, would not the possession of the Commonwealth ammunition factory be of considerable advantage to them? {: .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr Knox: -- Does the honorable member propose that all cordite and other explosives and ammunition should be stored in Federal Territory ? {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- The manufacture of all such defence materiel should be within Federal control. Honorable members seem to regard such conditions as I am suggesting as inconceivable; but it must not be forgotten that every great revolution in the history of the world, up to the time it occurred, was " inconceivable." We do not know what attitude the people of any State might take under circumstances now unforeseen. For instance, we know that we must have the consent of the States to use the railways in order to carry our ammunition. {: .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr Knox: -- But in time of war the Commonwealth has power to take the railways. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- But by what means? Does the honorable member suppose that, in the event of any serious disagreement between a State and the Commonwealth, the' forcible taking of the railways would tend to a peaceable settlement of the difficulty ? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- What is there wrong about the factory being at Lithgow? {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- I have a serious objection to the factory being outside Commonwealth Territory. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- Then we must go to Norfolk Island, or somewhere outside, for, otherwise, the factory must be within a State. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- There is absolutely no justification for such an absurd statement, because, if my suggestion is carried out, the factory will be within Federal Territory. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- But, in case of war, the factory would be reachable by a State; we cannot fortify the territory all round. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- Of course ; but there is an advantage in having to defend only one place, instead of, perhaps, a cordite factory in Victoria, and an_ ammunition factory at Lithgow, in addition to the Capital. As to an invading force, how long would it take such a force, if it once reached the Federal Capital, to find its way to Lithgow ? {: .speaker-KI9} ##### Mr Livingston: -- Would it not be a. good thing to have some ammunition factory to fall back on, if the Federal Territory were taken. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- That suggestion does not appeal to me. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Does the honorable member desire, to postpone the establishment of a factory until we have a Federal Territory ? {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- I say that, in all probability, we have reached a stage which means that, in the near future, we shall have a clearlv-defined Federal Territory accepted by Parliament. {: .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr Storrer: -- We are a long way off that vet ! {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- The wish may be father to the thought on the part of the honorable member. In my opinion, the selection of a site, up to the present, is a wrong one, and will, in all probability, be reversed. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! I ask the honorable member not to discuss that question. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr FRAZER: -- The establishment of a factory has been held over for seven or eight years, and a few months more, in view of the probable final selection of a Federal Territory, will cause no unreasonable delay. I hope the Government will take notice of the -decision of their predecessors, and see the advisability of concentrating all Commonwealth functions within the area we are about to acquire in New South Wales. 2874 *Estimates.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Estimates.* {: #subdebate-10-0-s16 .speaker-KXP} ##### Mr PALMER:
Echuca -- I entirely disagree with the views expressed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. To say that all industries established under the control of the Federal Government must be located in the Federal Territory, is to take an extremely narrow and irrational view. If we establish large factories, employing great numbers of people within the Federal Territory, the question of how those people are to be represented in the Federal Parliament will have to be considered. The whole force of the honorable member's argument appears to be that if we manufacture our cordite and arms in the Federal Territory, we shall retain them there. But if we intend to properly arm Australia and defend it from attack, we must distribute the arms and ammunition to various parts of the Commonwealth. Nothing should be said in this Chamber that is calculated to provoke feelings of antagonism, but the speech to which we have just listened is calculated to create those feelings in the States. It is not our intention to improve the Defence Forces with a view to arm ourselves for civil war. Our object is the protection of Australia as a whole against foreign aggression. It is altogether a misconception of the true position to assert that we should arm ourselves in order to maintain our status and power as a Federal authority against any State that may be provoked by our actions. In any case, before there could be any possible belligerent action by the Commonwealth against the States, or by a State against the Commonwealth, there would of necessity be lengthy negotiations, and, during that time, if there was the slightest possibility of a resort to civil war, the Federal Government of the time would be astute enough to see that arms and ammunition were placed in the most suitable positions. It is most unfortunate that at this early stage of our history it should be suggested, even as a possibility, that the Federal Government should put itself in a defensive attitude against the States. We are here, to a great extent, as the servants of the States, and certainly as the servants of the people who reside in the States. Whatever we do in the way of defence is in the interests of the people as a whole, and not of any particular section who may live in the Federal Territory. I hope the views of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie will find very little encouragement in this Chamber, and will not excite feeling in the States. I trust that subsequent speeches will convince the States that, so far from our being antagonistic towards them, we desire to work amicably with them in regard, not only to our financial relations, but also to the development of Australia. In that respect we can work in unison with the States in the interests of the people, instead of inciting feelings of antagonism which can do nothing but harm to this young nation. {: #subdebate-10-0-s17 .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr KNOX:
Kooyong -- I concur in the view of the honorable member for Echuca, that what fell from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was undesirable, but I cannot imagine that it will excite in the States the feeling of antagonism to which the honorable member for Echuca referred. I do not believe that it will receive so much attention. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie showed that he was really fighting a shadow. It would be necessary for the protection of Australia that munitions of war manufactured in the Capital city of the Commonwealth should be distributed throughout the States, but even then they would be practically in Federal Territory for the time being, because they would be kept in buildings belonging to the Commonwealth, and be under the control of Commonwealth employes. {: .speaker-JX9} ##### Mr Frazer: -- I was not fighting anything. I was simply quoting history to show that there were the same possibilities in the distant future in Australia as happened in America. {: .speaker-KYT} ##### Mr KNOX: -- I hope the conditions in Australia are better, and that such an eventuality is impossible. The Honorary Minister has stated that it is intended, as far as possible, to curtail the expenditure of the Defence Department, but I earnestly hope that there will be no curtailment in connexion with the cadets or therifle clubs. Whatever system of defence we may ultimately adopt, those must be at the very basis of it. It is gratifying to find from the statement circulated by the Minister of Defence that, whereas the cadets numbered 23,719 in 1906-7, they had increased to 36,126 in 1907-8, and that provision is made on the Estimates for 43.057 in 1908-9. The cadet movement deserves at the hands of the Department the fullest sympathy and support, and there should be no curtailment of expenditure upon it. There should rather be an increase in every possible way. In *Estimates.* [8 Dec, 1908.] *Estimates.* 2875 1907 the rifle club members totalled 42,899, while provision is made in these Estimates for 50,375 members. Whatever scheme may be put forward for a citizen soldiery, the rifle clubs must, with the cadets, be one of its primary basic principles. There should be no reduction in the vote for them. As one who has always taken a strong lead in connexion with this movement, I am glad to see that Victoria has 21,775rifleclub members, as against 12,640 in New South Wales. The latter State has during the last few years developed this part of her Defence Force, but it is capable of a very much larger increase. I urge upon the attention of the Minister of Defence the consideration that the cadets and the rifle clubs should receive the fullest assistance and support. Amendment (by **Mr. Roberts)** proposed - >That the item, " Military Secretary, *£600,"* be left out. {: #subdebate-10-0-s18 .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON:
Honorary Minister · Hindmarsh · ALP -- I hope the honorable member for Adelaide will not persist in the amendment. I have already stated that, if the Minister finds that there is no useful work for the Military Secretary to do, I have no doubt that the Military Board will be reorganized. If, on the other hand, there is work for him to do, I am sure the Committee would be sorry afterwardsif it had prevented him from doing it. {: #subdebate-10-0-s19 .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS:
Adelaide .- The Honorary Minister evidently knows no reason why this officer should remain where he is. It is impossible for the Minister of Defence to say why he has been appointed. The late Minister of Defence supplied, in answer to a question, a statement of the officer's duties, which I read this afternoon. No man who has even a small knowleage of military matters will assert that there is any necessity for him to remain in this position now that the universal training scheme has gone by the board. We. know, from the practical experience of many years, what a Minister's promise to look into a matter amounts to. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- Where did this officer come from ? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- From New South Wales. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- He was a junior officer whom the ex- Minister of Defence promoted temporarily to the rank of LieutenantColonel, and, having created the position of Military Secretary, placed him in it, at an increase of salary, the excuse being that his services were needed to make arrangements for the introduction of a system of compulsory universal training. Presumably, he was doing useful work in his former position, but that cannot be said of him now. A list of his duties, as enumerated by the ex- Minister, is to be found on page 1826 of *Hansard,* and I have already detailed them again this afternoon. His primary duty, that of making arrangements for a system of compulsory military training, has come to an end, since the Bill for bringing about the scheme of the late Government has practically been dropped. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- No doubt, his former position has now been filled. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- Yes ; by promotion in the ordinary course. Butwe should not be expected to indorse an unjustifiable appointment, and the officer who succeeded him can go back to his former position. Attention has now been drawn to the fact that our military expenditure increases yearly, the most notable increase being in connexion with the Central Administration. Almost every penny voted for the Central Administration is spent, although large sums appropriated for the Forces gene- . rally remain unexpended. The increase in the cost of the Central Administration has not resulted in an increase in the efficiency of the Forces. While, a few years ago, a certain number of officers were able to handle our troops, we now require more, although the Forces have not been increased, except in respect to cadets and the rifle clubs. I do not know whether the Minister intends to oppose the striking out of this item. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- I think that the Minister of Defence should be given a chance to see whether this officer is doing necessary work. So far as I know, he is doing valuable work. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- The Minister admits, by implication, that a mistake has been made, and asks that his colleague may be given an opportunity to find other employment for this officer. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- That is not so. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- That is the reasonable deduction from the interjection. I feel strongly in regard to the continual increase in administrative expenditure. The late Minister of Defence was unable to discover a senior officer whose views in regard to universal training agreed with his own. However, that scheme has now gone. {: .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr Storrer: -- What authority has the honorable member for saying so? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- The Ministry which introduced it has gone, and the Bill has practically gone with it. I have to learn that any other Ministry will father a similar scheme. {: .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr Storrer: -- The honorable member seems to have no confidence in the Ministry which he supports. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- If it were to adopt a similar scheme, I should oppose it to the best of my ability, and I hope that the opposition would be successful. The penalties provided in the Bill were so ludicrous as to make it obvious that the measure was not put forward with any sincerity. For instance, it was proposed that youths of eighteen should be told that, unless they submitted to military training, they could not obtain old-age pensions when they attained the age of sixty-five. A youth of eighteen who is looking for an old-age pension is not fitted for the army, navy, or any other service. The other penalties were equally absurd. The duties enumerated by the late Minister as attaching to the office of Military Secretary must overlap those of other officers, who, so far as we know, are not overworked. {: #subdebate-10-0-s20 .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr STORRER:
Bass .- It is unfortunate that we should have to deal with the Estimates in the absence, through illness, of the late Minister. I have sufficient confidence in the honorable gentleman to feel sure that he did not make the appointment of Military Secretary as an act of favoritism ; he promoted this officer because he considered him a smart man, capable of doing useful and necessary work. In the past, it has been too much the custom to promote old officers. I said on a former occasion that it would be more profitable if we pensioned off some of the older men, to give an opportunity to energetic juniors. In my opinion, the present Minister, like his predecessor, will do what he considers right in the interests of Australia, and he should be given an opportunity to deal with this matter after he has made himself fully acquainted with the facts of the case. {: #subdebate-10-0-s21 .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I have taken exception to the increase in the cost of the Administrative Staff without a corresponding increase in the Forces, and consequently am prepared to support an amendment to reduce the amount. But, as I am unable to speak as to the capacity of individual officers, and know nothing of their duties, I feel that it would be unfair to cut out or reduce any particular salary. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- *I* have not questioned the ability of the officer about whom I spoke. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- He is recognised as a very able man. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I cannot vote for the reduction of any particular salary; but I am prepared to vote for the reduction of the total vote by even a larger amount than has been proposed,, leaving it to the Minister to determine how the reduction shall be effected. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. {: #subdebate-10-0-s22 .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON:
Wilmot .- It seems to me that we spend a lot of money on defence for which we get no equivalent return. {: #subdebate-10-0-s23 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr CHAIRMAN: -- Does the honorable member wish to speak on the Department, generally ? {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- Yes. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr CHAIRMAN: -- An amendment: having been moved, it is not competent for him to do so. {: #subdebate-10-0-s24 .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN:
Angas .- I do not know whether we are still on the item relating to the Military Secretary, but, if weare, I should like to make a suggestion tothe Minister. I do not know what Colonel; Legge's capacity is; I believe that he hasbeen responsible, to a large extent, for thenew military scheme proposed by the lateGovernment, and that he has devoted three or four years of a very zealous life to the study and exposition of the principles of the Swiss system. If he is a very strong advocate of that system, and is capable of. inspiring a Minister, I would ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defenceto request him to extend his studies to theworking of the territorial army and other schemes at Home. We were told recently, by the ex-Minister of Defence that theterritorial army scheme was a failure. So far as my reading goes, it is not. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I must ask thehonorable member not to enter upon a general discussion of the question, although he will be in order in dealing with theitem relating to the Military Secretary. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- It is alleged that this, officer has inspired one Minister, and I askthat he may be requested to study the real working of the new scheme now in force- at Home. The files of English newspapers, for the last three or four weeks, show that **Mr. .Haldane's** scheme has proved fairly successful, and that the fact that the number of men who enrolled under it did not come up to expectations was partly because the drills took place at the wrong time, and partly because only firstclass men were enlisted, those physically unfit to render good service being rejected. I do not wish to do more than ask that if this officer does, to any extent, inspire the Minister, he may be directed to see that the correct and more recent information regarding **Mr. Haldane's** scheme is supplied to the present Ministerial head of the Department. {: #subdebate-10-0-s25 .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I must confess that I am not entirely satisfied with regard to the new appointment which we are asked to sanction. I have listened to what the honorable member for Adelaide has said with respect to the proposed Military Secretary, and, on looking into the matter, find that the Committee is asked, for the first time, to sanction the creation of a new office with which it has had nothing to do. I know nothing whatever of the officer personally, nor of the functions that he is to discharge, except that which has been stated by the Minister of Defence in the late Government. I find, on turning to *Hansard,* page 1826, that the leading function which he is to perform, according to that honorable gentleman, is that of making "arrangements in connexion with the introduction of a system of universal training." Before the Government ask the Committee to sanction the creation of a new office, the main purpose of which is to make arrangements in connexion with the introduction of a system of compulsory universal training, they should at least give us some indication as to whether or not they intend to proceed with the system which renders such an appointment necessary. The Committee is being treated in a. rather cavalier way in being asked to add to the already rapidlyincreasing expenditure of the Central Administration by the appointment of a new officer at a salary of *£600* a year, without being informed whether the functions to be performed by that officer will be consistent with the policy of the Government. I agree with what has been said by the honorable member for Adelaide and the honorable member for North Sydney as to the way in which the expenditure of the Central Administration has been increased; the Estimates show that, in the matter of pay alone, there is an addition of considerably over ^2,000 per annum. TheMinister will recognise that we are entitled to have a definite statement as to whether the Government really intends to proceed with the scheme for which the appointment of this officer was stated by. the late Government to be necessary. {: #subdebate-10-0-s26 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I regret that these Estimates arebeing considered in circumstances that I am afraid preclude to some extent that consideration which ought to be given toso momentous a subject. I have listened this afternoon to statements concerning our Defence Forces, which I venture tosay would shock the people of Australia if they could hear them, and, hearing, them, realize their true significance. I refer more particularly to the statement made by the Minister concerning the: equipment of our batteries. We are told, by him that notwithstanding the' expensive administration and the many reforms of the last eight years, we have not a battery that is fully equipped. If there is one fact standing out more than any other in the teachings of modern warfareit is the tremendous importance of theartillery arm. I believe that the teachings of the late wars have all been gathered, and1 that although they differ on many points they all show that the artillery arm is going to play more and more in future warfare a supremely important part. And yet in that armalone we are vitally crippled. It is today of little use to us,' we are told by the Minister, owing to its want of equipment. Governments before to-da.y havebeen hurled from office for a great deal less than this. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- **Colonel McCay** made the same statement in this House a few years ago in regard to the field artillery, and' yet nothing seems to have been done. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Since then we have had a multitude of reforms in connexion with the Department, and yet we are told to-day that we have not one battery properly equipped and manned. The sooner drastic action is taken to remedy these defects the better. It is useless to equip the artillery arm of the service tothe extent of nine-tenths of its requirements, and to leave the remaining one tenth - -the vitally important part - untouched. 2878 *Estimates.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Estimates.* {: .speaker-KI9} ##### Mr Livingston: -- Is the honorable member going to move for the appointment of a Royal Commission? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -I have saidfor a long time that if the Post and Telegraph Department needs investigation the Defence Department is in still greater need of it. It is the one outstanding Department that shows inefficiency from top to bottom. We have now the further statement that the cost of the Central Administration is constantly increasing, that we have a steady, gradual, but certain increase in the cost of the central staff, and a corresponding diminution in the amount which is spent on the general equipment and organization of the Forces. This points to some important screw being loose. But for the peculiar circumstances in which we meet at present, I should consider it my duty to take very serious notice of the statement made by the Minister. As it is, I merely emphasize it now in the hope that steps will be speedily taken to remove this reproach from our military system, and, I will add, this urgent and menacing danger to Australia. We cannot realize to the full the seriousness of the statement. Our batteries might as well be out of use as be insufficiently equipped and manned. I hope sincerely that serious notice will be taken of the matter, and that in view of what the Minister has said to-day, the House may soon be reassured. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The same statement has been made year after year in regard to the artillery. {: #subdebate-10-0-s27 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I have never heard it stated in the bald way in which it was put to-day by the honorable gentleman. I have heard reports and rumours that certain arms of the service were deficient in respect of certain ammunition required for practice purposes, but I have never heard it said that any one of our batteries is insufficiently equipped and manned. It would seem that the most important arm of the service is practically useless. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- The batteries are not fully equipped with waggons, but they are far from being useless. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It is a very serious state of affairs, and the sooner it is remedied the better for Australia. Unless something is done to put an end to the anomaly of an increasing staff, and a more inefficient army under it, the time must soon come to take serious notice of the question of defence, and to put it in its proper relation of supreme national importance. {: #subdebate-10-0-s28 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP .- I agree with the leader of the Opposition, that this is not a fit occasion for a general discussion on the question of national defence. At such a period in the session no good result could follow a half hearted and incomplete debate. {: .speaker-KRN} ##### Mr Sinclair: -- Will the honorable gentleman tell us what he intends to do? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- I shall. No Department needs greater attention and examination than does the Department of Defence. It will be the business of the Government, if they continue to hold office, to give an early opportunity next session for Parliament to thoroughly discuss the administration of this Department. That, in my opinion, is an obvious duty, devolving on any Government who wish the question to be fully and straightforwardly threshed out. I do not accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Flinders that the duties of this office will be circumscribed by providing for military training. The honorable member for Flinders was evidently quoting a statement of the late Minister of Defence, but there is no statement to that effect in the Estimates or any official document. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- That appears to be the main purpose of the appointment. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- The Government thought the title a proper one to give to this new officer, but he will have other duties; and, from my own personal experience, I think him excellent in any kind of military work, and a credit to the country and to the service. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I have not said anything to the contrary. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- Then all parties are agreed on that point, and it would be a great pity if the duties of this officer were limited to any particular sphere. My idea is that this gentleman will best serve his country by performing duties assigned to him from time to time. Amendment (by **Mr. Roberts)** proposed - >That the proposed vote be reduced by£600. {: #subdebate-10-0-s29 .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON:
Honorary Minister · Hindmarsh · ALP -- I hope that the honorable member for Adelaide will not persist in his amendment. Complaint has been made from all sides that the Defence Department is not in that state of efficiency in which it ought to be, and I think the new Minister ought to be given a chance, with the staff with which the ex-Minister failed, in order to see whether better use may not be made of the material. If the present Minister is not able to improve upon his predecessor, it will then be time enough to submit an amendment of the kind. {: #subdebate-10-0-s30 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I was unaware that such a proposal was in contemplation, and I should like to hear from the Minister why this new appointment has been made. We are asked to give the new Minister of Defence a chance. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- That is not the question. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The plea made is, I believe, an admirable one at the moment, but may I remind the Honorary Minister that the new Minister of Defence supported the late Government for very many years, and deprecated criticism every time the Estimates were under consideration ? I do not think that the new Minister can absolve himself entirely from responsibility in this very important matter. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Certainly not in connexion with the creation of a new office not sanctioned by Parliament. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Instead of improvement, there has been a steady weakening in the efficient control of our Forces. I am inclined to vote for the proposed reduction, not with any desire to punish any particular officer, but as a protest against the marked anomaly shown in the fact that, with a constantly increasing -Central Staff, there is a deficiency in the numbers and equipment of the general forces. I should have preferred to support a reduction of PAL I. than £600 in my opinion the object of the honorable member for Adelaide would be equally met by an amendment to reduce the vote by *£x.* {: #subdebate-10-0-s31 .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON:
Honorary Minister · Hindmarsh · ALP -- There is no doubt that the intention in proposing to reduce this vote by *£600* is to instruct the Government that the Military Secretary is not required. **Mr. - JOSEPH** Cook. - No. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- There is no doubt that what I say is a fact, because, when the honorable member for Adelaide made the suggestion, the honorable member for North Sydney stood up and said he would not support an amendment which would mean a refusal to provide the salary of any particular officer. The honorable member for Flinders desires to know what the duties of this officer are, and why he was appointed. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Who is appointed?' {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- Colonel Legge, of New South Wales. He was appointed by the late Minister of Defence, in the first place to do special work, and the appointment was made on account of his special' a bi 11 tv and knowledge, which, it was felt, would be valuable in the defence scheme that was contemplated. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- What nonsense ! What indication did Colonel Legge give of any special ability? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- Colonel Legge is a very excellent organizer, and it has beenfound advisable to retain his services. {: #subdebate-10-0-s32 .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST:
Swan .- I find myself in a difficulty, because, as honorable members are aware, I am not ii* favour of the compulsory training scheme as proposed by the late Government; and if I vote for the retention of this office it may be said that I am stultifying myself. If I am not in favour of the scheme of compulsory training as proposed, I can scarcely be in favour of a Military Secretary, who is to be appointed for the purpose of carrying out that scheme. I have no doubt Colonel Legge' s services can be availed of in the Department under some other title ; and I should be sorry to vote so as to injure him, or run the risk of losing his services. The Government are not, I think, *treating* the House quite frankly when they do not say whether they are or are not in favour of the compulsory training scheme as proposed by the late Government. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Colonel Legge will be used for general purposes. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- But the Government in no way commit themselves to the compulsory training scheme of the late Government. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Not the scheme announced. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- If the Government have definite views on the subject they might as well tell Parliament what those views are. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- The right honorable member, when in office, did not express his opinion till the proper time. 2880 *Estimates.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Estimates.* {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- This is the proper time for the Government, on taking office, to declare itself on all important points. We appear to be adopting a new procedure. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- And a good one, too ! {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I think it is a very bad procedure, because, in my opinion, there should be no lack of confidence as between Ministers and members of the Legislature. I should not like to do anything which would infer that I favour now what I had already disapproved of. I have no objection to this officer himself being provided for in the service ; but at the same time I object to his being called Military Secretary, and his being specially engaged in connexion with the exMinister's scheme for compulsory training. {: #subdebate-10-0-s33 .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON:
Wilmot .- I have a certain amount of sympathy with the Minister in that he had, in a sense, to take over the Estimates of his predecessor, who, no doubt, appointed Colonel Legge to this position. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr Liddell: -- But the members of the present Government supported the late Minister of Defence all the time. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- Quite so. But the members of the Labour Party may not have been cognizant of a special appointment such as this. However much I may sympathize with the Government, I still think it my duty to support the amendment as a protest against the increase in the number of the members of the Central Administration. We have heard much lately about the inefficiency of the land forces; and, in fact, it is not so much compulsory training that is needed as a proper training and equipment of the force we already have. The expenses of the Central Administration will soon be out of all proportion to the expenditure in other branches of the Defence Department. I shall not vote for the amendment on the same grounds as, I understand the right honorable member for Swan will vote, but really as a protest against the increased expenditure on the Central Staff, while the other forces are, as admitted plainly by the Minister, inadequately provided for. {: #subdebate-10-0-s34 .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS:
Robertson -- This discussion leads to the belief that the officer willbe dispensed with if the amendment be carried. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- No. {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- That seems to be an impression on the part of some honorable members; and, personally, I should prefer to see a proposal to reduce the vote by £1, according to usual custom, because such a step would be equally effective as a protest. I decline, as I have intimated, to be a party to any vote which will have the effect of cashiering this officer. {: .speaker-L1N} ##### Dr Wilson: -- He would simply go back to his old position. {: .speaker-L1D} ##### Mr HENRY WILLIS: -- Honorable members seem to have a very strong feeling that this officer should not be removed from the service in consequence of any vote which may be given ; and if there is no effect of the kind indicated, I think it matters little whether we vote for a reduction of *£1* or of *£600.* {: #subdebate-10-0-s35 .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- If the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Wilmot had been present when this matter was first broached, they would know that the gravamen of the charge made by the honorable member for Adelaide was directed, not against the increased expenditure, but against the appointment of a particular individual. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- My charge is as to the increase in the cost of the Central Administration. I referred to this as a specific instance within my own knowledge. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I am sorry I misunderstood the honorable member. I was misled by the amount of prominence which he gave in his speech to this individual. The attack now becomes one against the whole administration, and particularly against the increased cost of the Department, without reference to the question of whether greater efficiency is, or is not, secured. That is quite a different matter. **Colonel FOXTON** (Brisbane) [9.11].- I have nothing whatever to say against the personal attainments of Colonel Legge, who is, undoubtedly, an excellent officer. The question is : " Why was he put upon the Military Board ?" The extracts read by the honorable member for Adelaide indicate clearly that he was put there in order that, with the added prestige that a position on the Board would give him, he might formulate a scheme for compulsory training and service. Unless the Minister is prepared to say that the Government intend to go on with that scheme, the occasion for the presence of Colonel Legge upon the Board has been largely removed. I should like to be assured as to that before I vote. If I have an assurance from the Government that they have not abandoned the scheme, I feel inclined to let the matter go, because that would be their justification for retaining Colonel Legge upon the Board. If they say it is part of their policy, as it was the policy of the last Ministry, to go on with the universal compulsory service scheme, there may be something to be said for the presence upon the Board of that officer, who is an ardent advocate, and, I believe, practically the author, of the scheme. Otherwise, I do not see what he is there for. How many officers of the permanent and instructional staff were passed over in order that he might be put upon the Board? {: .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr Storrer: -- The question is whether he is a good man or not. **Colonel FOXTON.-** There are a number of other good men. Whenever it is desired to pitchfork a favorite into a position to which he is not entitled by seniority, one has only to say : " In my opinion he is the best man." Able man as Colonel Legge probably is, I have yet to learn that he has any special qualifications for membership of the Board, except the formulation of the universal service scheme, which he has evidently made a special study of his own. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It is contended that Colonel Legge's appointment is not under consideration in connexion with the proposed reduction. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The creation of the new office is. **Colonel FOXTON.-** The creation of the new office is clearly under consideration. I am debating the necessity for the presence on the Board of any additional officer at a salary of ,£600 a year, whereby the expenses of the central establishment are increased. If the office is to be continued, but the policy of compulsory service is not to be proceeded with, there may be good reasons why some thoroughly competent officer, who is senior to Colonel Legge, should occupy the position. He holds the full rank of major, and is only a temporary lieutenant-colonel. This indicates that he was put on the Board for a special purpose, and that, when his services in connexion with it were at an end, he would revert to his original rank of major and his former position. Unless the Government assure the Committee that they intend to go on with the compulsory service scheme, and that Colonel Legge is equally as necessary to them on the Board as he was to the late Minister of Defence, the object and purpose for which he was put there disappear. {: #subdebate-10-0-s36 .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL:
Hunter .- I am indebted to the honorable member for Adelaide for putting his case so clearly and well. If the office was created for a special purpose which no longer exists, do the Government propose to retain this officer in it? What is he there for? As for sympathizing with this Administration, they do not possess my sympathy. If they choose to take on the responsibilities of' office, and to accept practically the same programme as they have supported all along, how can the Minister ask us to give him a chance? It is all very fine to say, " Let us see how he gets on, poor fellow." He knew all about the chances, and has taken them. Now he must stand by them. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- I thought the question was the reduction of the vote. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- I am discussing, not the officer, but the office. The honorable member is in an honorable office, but whether he is an honorable officer to fill it is a different question. I do not see how I can vote otherwise than in support of the amendment. I regret very much that, by taking that course, I may deprive an estimable individual of a salary which he hopes to enjoy. I think that Colonel Legge is down for further emoluments to the extent of £100 somewhere, in these Estimates. Is that a reward for the work he has done in writing up this wonderful scheme ? {: #subdebate-10-0-s37 .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS:
Adelaide .- As some honorable members were not present when I went more fully into the question earlier in the afternoon, I may be permitted to say a little more about it, particularly after the plausible attempts of the Honorary Minister and the Prime Minister to make it a personal affair. The Prime Minister referred almost in detail to the excellent qualities of a particular officer; but I had in no way challenged them. So far as my information goes, he is a smart officer up to the rank that he held prior to this appointment. But there have been no opportunities of judging him in the rank he now holds. It is difficult for me to understand how the Prime Minister has been able to ascertain in three or four days that Colonel Legge has such special qualities that his removal is out of the question, and that duties will be found for him. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- Then it is the officer to whom the honorable member objects? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- No; I am speaking of the office. The officer has not held his higher rank for sufficient time to enable anybody to discuss his ability in that direction. But the Ministry, probably with a view of influencing honorable members to their way of thinking, have turned the matter into a personal affair. They have clearly inferred, also, that if there is not sufficient work for this gentleman to do, work different from that enumerated in *Hansard* by the previous Minister will be found for him. In no circumstances would I attack the officer's ability, nor have I sought to deprive him of his occupation. The gravamen of my complaint was that the cost of the Central Administration is gradually and surely increasing, that the appropriation for it each year is spent to within a few pounds, and that we do not receive a commensurate benefit, so far as the whole of the Forces are concerned. The efficiency of the Forces does not improve in proportion to the increase in the cost of the Central Administration. Rather, the Central Administration is guilty of not spending on the general Forces the whole of the money voted by Parliament. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- If you do not have the number of men, you cannot spend the money. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- Can the Minister state why Ave have not the number of men ? Who is responsible for the various corps not being up to their establishment? The money is voted for the purpose, and is there to be spent. If the Forces are kept below their full strength, the fault must lie somewhere; but, so far, no Minister has attempted to locate it. The position of Military Secretary was created simply because the late Minister wanted a position for an officer whom he had chosen to do a particular work. Honorable members who have followed the Defence Bill carefully, will have noted that the questions. I put all led in the direction of securing information to assist me in speaking on the Bill. On ist October, I put to the late Minister of Defence a question, which had relation to the procedure in the preparation of the Defence Bill, and to which the Minister replied - >The Government determined upon and announced a policy of universal training. All members of the Forces were asked to express their opinion on the Government's proposal, and their views were duly tabulated and considered. Lt.-Col. Legge was chosen by the Minister to prepare, under Ministerial direction, a drift Bill. I believe that less than 100 officers and men ventured to express an opinion. I do not know why a junior was chosen to draft the measure, the Inspector- General, and other officers, of high rank, in both the Permanent and Civilian Forces, being ignored. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- Is seniority the only thing that counts? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- No. If seniority counted, the honorable member would be better than I am. The work of bringing into existence a system of compulsory universal military training would have been sufficient to tax the ability of whatever officer might have been appointed. But the purpose of the appointment has gone, the Defence Bill being dropped on the defeat of the late Ministry. We have reason to believe that this position on the Central Administration Staff, carrying with it a salary of £600, was created merely to provide for the preparation of the scheme which has been dropped, and Ministers are not able to assure us that its retention is necessary. Far be it from me to cast any reflection on the officer who fills it. But unless there is an emphatic protest against the continuation of the office, and the unceasing growth of the Central Administration, matters will go on as they are. If the office of Military Secretary be abolished, the officer who fills it will return to the work which he was formerly doing. I am afraid that, if I proposed the reduction of the total vote by *£,5°* or £100 the result would be that some unfortunate messenger would be dispensed with, or have his salary reduced, not through the fault of the Minister, but oh the recommendation of officers who take care to spend every £1 appropriated for the Central Administration'. {: .speaker-K5J} ##### Mr Coon: -- Does the honorable member suggest that the Minister whom he supports would do such a thing? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- The Minister is not made aware of every small change, and I have known similar occurrences to happen in the past. It is certain that the salary, of the Inspector-General would not be reduced, or his travelling expenses cut down. My amendment has not been moved out of hostility to any officer, but to direct atten- *Estimates.* [8 Dec, 1908.] *Estimates.* 2883 tion to the increasing expenditure of the Central Administration. {: #subdebate-10-0-s38 .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member for Adelaide commenced by making an attack on a particular officer. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- I did not attack the officer personally. {: #subdebate-10-0-s39 .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member now asks the Committee to abolish the position to which this officer was appointed. The increase in the cost of the Central Administration for the presentyear is according to a statement prepared by the Ministry, *£7,537,* and the total increase on the Defence Estimates of last year, *£10,734.* {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- The proposed expenditure this year is *£64,000* in excess of the actual expenditure of last year. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The Committee is entitled to know the reason for the proposed increases ; but it is unfortunate that attention has been drawn to the matter by means of an amendment to abolish the position of a particular officer. I am not satisfied that the office is unnecessary, and I know its occupant to be a very capable and able man. If the office is necessary, no other man in the service could fit it better. I am not prepared to vote for what seems to me a covert attack, if not on this officer, upon his position in connexion with the Central Administration. The late Government, in creating the position, proved that they considered it a necessary one, and it has not been shown that the conditions are so changed as to require its abolition. I am not prepared to support the amendment, though I am ready to consider whether the large increase in these Estimates, particularly in regard to the Central Administration, is justifiable. {: #subdebate-10-0-s40 .speaker-K5J} ##### Mr COON:
Batman .- The position of Military Secretary was created by the late Ministry with a view to giving effect to a policy of compulsory universal military training. We are entitled to know, in connexion with this proposal, whether the present Government intends to follow its predecessors in that policy. If so, we must vote against the amendment. The Prime Minister can settle the matter at once by telling us what his position is in the matter. {: #subdebate-10-0-s41 .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN:
Angas .- I could understand the appointment of a British general to advise upon a system of reorganization, but I discountenance the creation of offices in the Central Administration to give assistance to a Ministry in the making of a policy. Even if the present Ministry said that they adopted the principle of compulsory training, I do not think that they would have any right to create an office in connexion with it until it had been approved by Parliament. If they had they could transfer officers from one place to another in connexion with a scheme that might subsequently be rejected. At the beginning of this year there appeared in the Sydney *Daily Telegraph* a series of articles in which it was stated that it was the ambition of the late Minister of Defence to carry out the proposal of his leader, and that **Major Gordon** Legge, of New South Wales - a very capable officer, I believe - had made the Swiss system his study for many years. It was said, however, that that system was disapproved by the Military Board and the Council of Defence, and that Major-General Hoad, according to an interview with a military officer, which was published in the *Argus,* was astounded at the proposal made by the then Prime Minister. Notwithstanding all these dissents from the proposed new system, an officer seems to have been appointed in connexion with a policy that has been rejected by. the House. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- Not rejected. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- I thank the honorable member for his correction. Some honorable members, at all events, seem to think that the scheme is dead. That opinion may be premature, but, at any rate, the scheme is not now before Parliament, and even if it were the policy of the present Ministry I should object to officers having their promotion determined by the measure of assistance they might give a Minister in inspiring a new policy. If that system is to go on we do not know what competition may exist amongst officers, and to what extent the policies with which they seek to inspire Ministers may be the result of selfinterest. Question - That the proposed vote be reduced by £600 (Mr. Roberts' amendment) - put. The Committee divided. AYES: 20 NOES: 26 Majority ... ...... 6 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. {: #subdebate-10-0-s42 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I think that the question with which we have just dealt was decided under some misapprehension on the part of several honorable members. Throughout the debate there was manifested a feeling that in some way or other the amendment was an attack upon a particular officer. It is most unfortunate that the name of that officer was introduced. I believe Colonel Legge to be one of the very best officers in the whole service, and that he is certainly worth more than£600 per annum. I therefore think it unfortunate that the proposed reduction should have been the exact amount of that officer's salary. We should deal with this question apart from any consideration as to the principle of compulsory service or of Colonel Legge and his promotion. The sole question is whether the cost of the Central Administration is not on an increasing ratio year by year, while the amount expended on the rank and file is decreasing. We find that every penny voted in connexion with the Central Administration is expended, but that in con nexion with the various arms of the service there was last year an unexpended balance of about£50,000. With a decreasing expenditure upon the arms of the service and year by year an increase in the cost of the Central Staff there must be something radically wrong. In order that the Committee may have a proper opportunity to express its opinion upon these anomalies, I move - >That the proposed vote be reduced by *£50.* {: #subdebate-10-0-s43 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- It will be the duty of the Government, whatever may be the result of the division on the amendment,to take into consideration to the best of its ability the reorganization of the Central Staff. No direction from the Parliament is necessary. I assume - and I think that there is some reason to assume - that the late Minister of Defence, as well as the present occupant of the office, have given most serious attention to these matters, and have not seen fit in the meantime to recommend a reduction. On these grounds the Committee would do well to leave the Estimates as they are, knowing, as the honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out, that we shall have more time, at a later date, to give full consideration to the whole question. Question - That the proposed vote be reduced by£50 - put. The Committee divided. AYES: 21 NOES: 25 Majority ... ... 4 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Proposed vote agreed to. Division 46 a *(Australian Intelligence* *Corps ),* £[608 ; division 47 *( Grants to Cadets),* £1,000 ; agreed to. Naval. - Divisions 48 and 49 (New South *Wales),* £6,470; divisions 50 to 52 *(Victoria),* £29,568; divisions 53 to 55 *(Queensland),* £17, 773; divisions 56 to 58 *(South Australia),* ,£9,270; division 59 *(Western Australia),* £300; division 60 *(Tasmania),* .£150 ; agreed to. Divisions 61 to 69 *(Thursday Island), £J5>572 >* Divisions 70 to 76 *(King George's Sound),* ,£2,995 ; agreed to. Military. - Divisions 77 to 96 (New South *Wales),* £[204,197, agreed to. Military. - Divisions 97 to 115 (Victoria), £[190,408 {: #subdebate-10-0-s44 .speaker-KXP} ##### Mr PALMER:
Echuca .- I desire to call the attention of the Minister to a little matter in connexion with the 7th Regiment of the Australian Light Horse. In Victoria there is what is known as the right 'wing of this particular regiment, which is stationed at Ballarat, and the left wing, stationed at Bendigo. I asked the gate Minister of Defence several questions in regard to this matter; because the left wing, which is drawn from some portions of my electorate, feel that they have been unfairly dealt with, the centralizing principle apparently being developed in Ballarat. Several officers in the left wing, who, by reason of seniority or otherwise, are entitled to commissions are not receiving what they conceive to be their due; and there is a feeling of unrest. In matters military, a great essential is that every man should feel he is being rewarded and promoted according to his merits; and I should like some assurance from the Minister that whatever is done in regard to this particular regiment, shall be done in the interests, not only of those members of the force situated in Ballarat, but also in the interests of those who are in the left wing. {: #subdebate-10-0-s45 .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON:
Honorary. Minister · Hindmarsh · ALP -- It is not proposed to retain the " wing " system, which does not apply to any regiment other than that mentioned by the honorable member for Echuca. I may say, however, that in the case of the 7th Regiment, it has been further decided to appoint an orderlyroom clerk and an assistant adjutant ; and I think this arrangement will be found very satisfactory. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- Will the Minister of Defence make two regiments in this case? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON: -- No; there is to be no " wing " system in any part of Australia for the future. Bendigo and Ballarat are the only places where the system was adopted, and the whole question has been gone into by the Minister of Defence. {: #subdebate-10-0-s46 .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS:
Adelaide .- Is this the only regiment that is to have an orderly-room clerk and an assistant adjutant? Although I do not understand the term " wing," this is not the only regiment in the Commonwealth similarly situated - that is, with one portion in one part of a town or State, and another portion in another ; and it follows that there may be further requests for orderly-room clerks and assistant adjutants, though I never before heard of such an officer as the latter. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- I have heard that there is no other regiment situated as is the 7th. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr ROBERTS: -- The word "wing" may not be used; but there is no doubt that one portion of a regiment may be situated at Quorn and another at Balaclava in South Australia. We have in that State the 16th and 17th Regiments of Light Horse, one in the metropolitan area, and the other embracing the whole State, with hundreds of miles between the various squadrons. While the officer commanding a regiment may live in the south or north, the Adjutant is in Adelaide or some other central position, and they meet when they can. If the Minister intends to permit the appointment of an assistant adjutant and orderly room clerk for this particular regiment, which will entail a certain amount of expense, solely because, according to his statement, portions of the regiment are separated by considerable distances, he will have similar demands from every regiment in Australia similarly situated. Can the Minister state the peculiar circumstances in connexion with this regiment to warrant its special treatment ? {: #subdebate-10-0-s47 .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr SAMPSON:
Wimmera .- I should like some further information from the Minister. In common with the honorable member for Echuca and the honorable member for Bendigo, I had to wait upon the ex-Minister of Defence regarding this matter. There is a full regiment at Bendigo and Ballarat combined. Until recently the officers commanding each wing were of equal rank, but the Ballarat officer has now been given a higher rank, with the result that the whole of the correspondence has to go through him. The ambition of those two great centres is to form separate regiments, to enrol their squadrons in the outlying districts, and to have their respective commanding officers communicating direct with Head-Quarters. I understand that this will cause a little expense, but either these mounted infantry regiments are worthy of being maintained in each centre, or they should be abolished altogether. According to communications I have received, there will be no difficulty in obtaining the necessary number of men to form regiments at both Bendigo and Ballarat. I hope the Minister will look into that phase of the question, and give the Committee more detailed information. {: #subdebate-10-0-s48 .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON:
Honorary Minister · Hindmarsh · ALP -- The orderly room clerk and assistant adjutant will be appointed from the left wing, and stationed at Bendigo. {: #subdebate-10-0-s49 .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I notice an item of £71 for a gratuity to the widow of the late Company Sergeant-Major R. H. Hamilton. Is there any fixed system under which these gratuities are paid, or is the Minister considering a proposal for a general scheme covering both pensions and gratuities? I have received a communication from Sydney covering a scheme which the military authorities there have had under consideration. It is as follows - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. That for the provision of pensions and retiring allowances and relief to widows and children of the warrant, non-commissioned and petty officers and men of the Permanent Forces there shall be established a fund -consisting of - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. 2½ per cent. of the amount of his pay of each such officer or man ; 1. an annual subsidy equal to 2½ per cent. of the pay of such officer or man out of the Consolidated Revenue; 2. all discharge fees, fines, and penalties under the Defence Act or the regulations thereunder ; 3. all other moneys paid into the fund, including all accumulations of interest on moneys belongingthereto. 1. The fund shall be administered by a Board of five members, three of whom shall be appointed by the Governor-General in Council and two elected by the contributors. It is time that a substantial scheme was formulated to replace the present haphazard method of granting gratuities. The scheme I have just submitted is well worthy of consideration. Under the existing system it is difficult to determine what is a just measure of payment, and very often the most deserving cases are overlooked or are not fairly dealt with. I hope the Government will give the matter attention. {: #subdebate-10-0-s50 .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH:
Corio .- I am glad the honorable member for Calare has brought this matter forward, more especially as a deputation, attended by the honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable member for Fawkner, myself, and several other honorable members, waited on the late Minister to submit a similar scheme. He promised to give it favorable consideration. He thought it was a good scheme, and one that should be adopted. I believe he would have gone even further than the 2½ per cent. contribution proposed, but I understand that the men who drew it up were satisfied with it as a start, in order to ascertain how it would work financially. I trust that the new Minister of Defence will give it favorable consideration. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- He will give it every consideration. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- It is a proper way of' dealing with a matter that is difficult to handle, except on the Basis of a uniform and just scheme. {: #subdebate-10-0-s51 .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr SAMPSON:
Wimmera .- I desire, briefly, to put in a plea for the rifle clubs and associations, which are amongst the most valuable parts of the defence system. The men voluntarily give up their time to make themselves good marksmen, and the best authorities agree-' that a nation of straight shooters is a nation of efficient defenders. If any branch of the Forces should have liberal treatment extended to it, it is this. I can see in it the germ of a very ample defence force of the future. These clubs and associations might be extended largely to take the place of the adult defence force which it has been proposed to develop by compulsory training. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- Larger provision is made this year for rifle clubs. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr SAMPSON: -- I know from experience in my electorate, which is the largest in Victoria, the great inconvenience that the riflemen experience in grouping themselves and arranging competitions in given centres. I am satisfied that the money voted for this purpose is the best expended on the Estimates. I hope the Minister of Defence will not only give the rifle clubs much more liberal treatment financially, and by means of free ammunition, but will arrange for more frequent visits by officers of the Department to encourage the clubs, and give instruction, if necessary, and also form a few more centres, where a larger number of targets might be erected. Those centres become the scene of competitions between all the neighbouring towns. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- They are being extended now. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr SAMPSON: -- A .large number of rifle ranges that have been partially approved of have been hung up in some instances for two or three years, with the result that all the stimulus has gone out of the riflemen of the district. I hope the Minister will pay special attention to the claims put forward by various centres for ranges. {: #subdebate-10-0-s52 .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN:
Nepean .- I was glad to hear the assent given by the Honorary Minister and the Prime Minister to the suggestions of the honorable member for Wimmera. I wish to mention a direction in which more liberal assistance might be given to the rifle associations. Every year a team is sent to the Bisley rifle competition and, inasmuch as those who compete are chosen from all branches of the service, including the rifle clubs, I do not think that the National Rifle Association should be com (Tei led to bear the expense. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- This year £1,000 has been granted. {: .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN: -- I understand that the cost of sending the team Home amounts to £2,000. The association should not have to go cap in hand to its supporters to make up the balance. The competition serves a good purpose in encouraging rifle shooting and the Government should bear the expense. {: #subdebate-10-0-s53 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa .- I am . glad that the honorable member for Nepean has called attention to this matter. The Minister has promised so much, that I am beginning to regard him as too accommodating. I strongly object to granting public money for pot-hunting. Until two years ago there was no vote for the Bisley meeting. Parliament early set its face against expenditure for sending a team to Bisley, and I am opposed to reviving the proposal, though I should have no objection to the expenditure of another .£1,000 for the encouragement of rifle shooting in Australia. As it appears that we have already passed the item, I shall take another opportunity to refer to the matter. Proposed vote agreed to. Military : Divisions 116 to 134 *(Queensland),* £[91,194. Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [10.32].- The late Minister of Defence promised to largely increase the period of training for the field artillery, but he does not seem to have given effect to that promise in the preparation of the Estimates. It is generally acknowledged by all concerned that sixteen days' training is not enough. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- If the honorable member will turn to page 156, he will find that extra pay is provided to allow a longer period for field artillery drill, the expenditure upon that arm of the service in Queensland being increased from £"1,350 to £[1,660. Colonel FOXTON.- The late Minister promised a good deal more. He was going to nearly double the period of training. I should like some information as to why it is proposed to reduce the expenditure on ammunition to £2,615. Last year £5,023 was voted and £5,022 expended. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- If the honorable member turns to division 128, subdivision 1, he will find that £1,100 is provided for militia artillery ammunition, the expenditure last year being £[999* **Colonel FOXTON.** - I am speaking of the expenditure on ammunition generally. I find that this year only £[899 is to be paid to the small arms ammunition account, whereas last year £3,315 was paid to it. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- That is tlie proportion of ammunition ordered. It will be found in the small arms ammunition statement. The amount goes to the Trust Fund, and is all that is necessary at the present time. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- The explanation is that the war stock is complete, and that this amount will be sufficient to cover the expenditure on ammunition for the year. **Colonel FOXTON.** - I desire now to obtain some information as to what has been done to secure a range and manoeuvring ground for the field artillery in Queensland. The late Minister of Defence informed me that a proposal had been made to acquire a site in the neighbourhood of Mount Walker or Mount Flinders. I happen to know, however, that the whole of the land there is very valuable, and almost wholly alienated. The land right up to the summit of Mount Walker is private property, and owned by a gentleman whom I know. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I am informed that nothing further has been done in regard to that matter. **Colonel FOXTON.** - But is it proposed to obtain an artillery range? For two, if not three, years the artillery were unable .to fire a shell because of the want of a range. A site has been reserved from selection by the State Government of Queensland, but they cannot be expected to reserve it for all time if the Commonwealth Government are unable to make up their minds as to what they really desire. The area so reserved has been approved by commandants and other officers, but no definite step has been taken bv the Department to actually acquire it. We are now informed that a better site can be obtained, but that report has apparently been made without due regard to the cost of acquiring it. I -have grave doubts as to whether a site could be obtained at Mount Flinders, otherwise known as the Peak Mountain, without a large expenditure on the .resumption of private land. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Does the honorable member refer to the Beerburrum site? Colonel FOXTON.- No, that is the site which I approve. It has been reserved from selection by the State Government, but the ex-Minister informed me some time ago that it was reported that a better range could be obtained somewhere in the neighbourhood of Peak Mountain, where the land is extremely valuable. {: #subdebate-10-0-s54 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I know the districts to which the honorable member has referred, and jam aware that in the one case "the land is inferior, whilst in the other it is very valuable. I ask him to accept mv assurance that the matter will be brought before the Minister of Defence, and that I shall also bring to bear my own local knowledge *in* an effort to. secure a settlement of tHe question. {: #subdebate-10-0-s55 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert .- I cannot refrain from making a few observations with regard to the items relating lo rifle clubs and rifle ranges. it is generally conceded that the rifle clubs are one of the most valuable arms of the Defence Force; but those in my electorate are unfortunate in that they are far removed from head -quarters. Some of the clubs up there are in very sparsely-settled districts, and although there is an amplitude of Crown lands that might be selected for the purposes of rifle ranges they seem to experience great difficulty in obtaining one. That is not due to any obstacle being placed in the way of a selection by the State Government ; by whom the delay is occasioned I cannot say. I am constantly receiving letters and telegrams from secretaries of clubs asking me to expedite the arrangements for gazetting them, and granting them ranges. I must say that when I bring such requests before the Department every attention is given to them. But I should like to know why it is necessary for the secretaries of these clubs to have to invoke my assistance in their efforts to expedite these arrangements. In one case something like two years was spent in an effort to form a club, and to have it1 gazetted. Difficulty was experienced in obtaining the requisite information. When I brought the matter under the notice of the Department I was immediately supplied1 with copies of the rules and regulations applying to the formation of rifle clubs, and soon after I forwarded them to the secretary the club was gazetted. The point that I wish to make is that the information I obtained at the headquarters, Melbourne, should have been supplied from the State head-quarters. Requests to be gazetted should be granted immediately, for undoubtedly a great deal of enthusiasm is displayed in the rifle club movement by men in outlying parts of the Commonwealth. In some places rifle practice is their only recreation, and they indulge in practice and in competitions on days that are not usually devoted to such work in other parts of the Commonwealth. The whole matter deserves the consideration of the Minister, and I trust that it will receive his attention. Applications of the kind to which I have referred ought to meet with the greatest encouragement at head-quarters. {: #subdebate-10-0-s56 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa -- I wishto know what provision has been made for the inspection of corps in the outlying parts of my electorate? It would appear that there is as much frill in connexion with the Queensland branch of the Forces as there is in connexion with "the Forces in other States. A few weeks ago an inspecting officer visited Roma, to put the Light Horse through their facings. The officer commanding the cadets there requested him to inspect them, but he replied that he could not do so. It would seem that the rule is that a special officer shall be sent from Brisbane to inspect the lads, and see what progress they are making. The inspecting officer, although on the spot, was afraid to comply with the request of the cadet officer because he feared that by doing so he would trench upon the work of another branch of the Department. The State Commandant was appealed to, but he said he did not think that the inspection of cadets came within the pale of the officer. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Dr Carty Salmon: -- Tha1 means a wilful waste of public money. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Most certainly it does. The cadet officer finding that he had exhausted all other means of securing an inspection of his corps by the visiting inspecting officer communicated with me, and when I brought the matter before the Minister, he promised that the grievance should be remedied. I ask the Minister to say that when an inspecting officer visits a district - the officer to whom I have referred inspects the Light Horse at Roma and Dalby every four months - he shall be instructed to inspect the whole of the forces there, including the cadets. In another case, an inspecting officer was sent from Rockhampton to inspect the rifle clubs in the western towns, and to see that they were engaging in the necessary military drills. He was also asked to put the cadets there through their facings, but he could not do so because he had not been so instructed. If such a system does not lead to a wilful waste of funds, I do not know what does. Colonel Foxton. - The honorable member must not blame the officer. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I do not, because I know that he must obey instructions. But let us do away with this red-tape system, and say that an inspecting officer on visiting a district, shall inspect all the troops as well as the cadet corps there. Let us do away with red tape, and adopt business principles. The Colonel commanding my battery used to tell us when we were in South Africa that if he saw one of his men walking with an infantry man in the streets of Pietermaritzburg, it would be a case of " heaven help the man " if he were brought before him. I do not wish to see that spirit en- gendered among the forces in Australia, although I certainly consider that the Rova Horse Artillery is the pride of the British Army, and if I were a young man, would once more enlist in it. A soldier is a soldier wherever he is, and I hope that common sense will prevail in these matters. I would remind the Minister that Queensland is a country of magnificent distances. Very often one township is separated from another by a distance of from 50 to 100 miles. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- The honorable member means that in some districts even houses are so separated. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- When I was travelling through my electorate, I sometimes met with no one for three days. I trust that the Minister will agree to my request. **Colonel FOXTON** (Brisbane) [10.55]. - The honorable member for Maranoa is perfectly right in suggesting what is a business-like method. But I point out that these inspections are made by staff officers, and that there is, for instance, a staff officer for Cadets. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · FT; ALP from 1903 -- We have never seen him ' vet ! Colonel FOXTON. - Honorable members, however, will understand that the Cadets are reported on by the staff officer responsible for them in the particular State or district, as it is called. But there is no reason, so far as I can see, why the Cadets should not be inspected by the staff officer for, say, the Light Horse, though, at the same time, the staff officer for Cadets should also inspect ; because, otherwise, he would not be able to report on them. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Dr Carty Salmon: -- Better be inspected bv any staff officer than not be inspected at all. Colonel FOXTON. - Undoubtedly ; if the proper officer cannot visit a place, the duty should be delegated. {: #subdebate-10-0-s57 .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr HUTCHISON:
Honorary Minister · Hindmarsh · ALP -- A number of similar complaints have been made, and I have discussed the matter with the Minister of Defence, who does not see any difficulty in having inspections made as suggested, and will see if the idea can be carried out. {: #subdebate-10-0-s58 .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN:
Nepean .- In reference to the reduction in the vote for small arms ammunition, particularly in the State of Queensland, I find the following in the memorandum supplied by the Minister of Defence - >Nearly fourteen million rounds of small arms ball ammunition have been provided for in 1908-9 to maintainthe war reserve of thirty five million rounds. In part provision, a sum of £15,000 is included under the Special Defence Material vote.. Division 8/1, thus reducing the provision on the main Estimates by that amount. I desire some information as to why the provision for ammunition is taken from the Estimates and placed in a special vote. The ammunition which is used in target practice ought certainly to be provided for out of the ordinary vote. Apparently, according to the memorandum, there is a decrease in the provision of £11,546, while there is a special provision of £15,000, which really means an extra provision of £3,500 for ammunition. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- Whenever what is supposed to be war reserve gets below a certain standard, it must be brought up again. Mr.BOWDEN . - I understand that; but is this £11,546 a decrease on the amount expended last year for ordinary ammunition? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- There is a large amount for new rifles, in addition to the ammunition required for war stores. {: #subdebate-10-0-s59 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa -- Under general contingencies, on page 163, I find £1,250 for railway fares and freight. £500 for steamer and coach fares and freight, and £1,250 for "other travelling expenses." On turning to page 165,I find, under "contingencies," £1,150 for railway fares and freight, £50 for steamer and coach fares and freight, and £150 for " other travelling expenses." The lastmentioned item is most peculiar. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The first three items quoted are the expenses for one branch of the Forces, while the other three are for the expenses of Rifle Clubs and associations. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- What does "other travelling expenses" mean ? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- The actual words used by the officers are " personal expenses of officers and men." {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Then, in the first three items, the personal expenses come to as much as the fares and freight. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- One set of expenses is for transport of goods and so forth, and the other is the travelling expenses and the cost of carrying officers and men. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Does "other travelling expense " mean the incidental expenses of officers and men when travelling? {: #subdebate-10-0-s60 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP . -" Other travelling expenses " are really the expenses of officers, some of whom receive 15s. a day, in addition to their fares. The reason why the amounts are about the same is that the fare from Brisbane to Gympie would amount to about 15s., whilst 15s. would also be spent on travelling expenses. Unfortunately I have not a detailed list. I have always approved of details being made available in connexion with all expenses paid, so that honorable members may be furnished with information if they ask for it. {: #subdebate-10-0-s61 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa -- I am pleased to hear the Prime Minister's explanation. I also wish to inquire why the inspecting officer in Queensland adopts such erratic methods. He goes first from Brisbane to Gympie, and then to Maryborough. Then he returns to Brisbane, and goes from Brisbane to Bundaberg and Rockhampton. He returns to Brisbane again, catches the night train, and leaves by the *Bingera* for Charters Towers. He returns to Brisbane once more, and after staying there leaves again for Thursday Island. Why is not the inspection made by going from Brisbane right up to Thursday Island, calling at the various places in their proper order ? It must necessarily involve a needless expenditure for the officer to return to Brisbane so frequently. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- The Minister will make a memorandum, and inquire why the practice described by the honorable member is followed. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I shall be satisfied if the Minister will make an inquiry, and will order that the inspection shall take place according to some reasonable plan. {: #subdebate-10-0-s62 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert -- I notice a vote of £75 for a grant to the District United Service Institute. I should like to know what the Institute is, and where it is situated ? {: #subdebate-10-0-s63 .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr STORRER:
Bass .- Regarding the inquiry made by the honorable member for Maranoa, I wish to know whether the inspecting officer in question has an annual ticket, which enables him to travel over all railway lines, or whether additional travelling expenses are incurred for each journey ? If the officer has an annual ticket, it makes no difference to the Commonwealth how often he returns to Brisbane. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- I cannot furnish the information asked for by the honorable member for Bass without inquiry of the Minister, but I will find out to-morrow. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- The £75 for the District "United Service Institute is, I am informed, a vote for a library and reading-room for all brainjcb.es of the defence service in Brisbane. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Dr Carty Salmon: -- It is a very good place, too. Proposed vote agreed to. Military - Divisions 135 to 152 *(South* *Australia),* £43,536; divisions 153 to 169 *(Western Australia),* £40,704; and divisions 170 to 188 *(Tasmania),* £35,340, agreed to. Postmaster-General's Department. Division 189 *(Central Staff),* £11,437. {: #subdebate-10-0-s64 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa -- I have a few statements to make with regard to country mail routes. Every session complaints are made with respect to mails in different parts of the country electorates. My experience is that the Department makes use of every chance to work the confidence trick on my electors living in the back parts of Queensland. The Department calls for applications from persons willing to undertake the running of mails. If the amount of a tender is over and above what the Department think is fair, it calls upon the residents living on the route to make up' the deficiency or be deprived of their mail service. In many parts of my constituency, and that of the honorable member for Kennedy, there are fortnightly services. The only means bv which people living in the back blocks can know how the world is going on outside their particular sphere is through the instrumentality of the fortnightly mail. But, instead of the Department helping those people, and encouraging others to go on the land, thev put every obstacle in the way of their enjoying mail facilities. I have been asked to mention one case in particular. I refer to the mail service from Muckadilla to WemmlesI wish to enlist the sympathy of the whole of the representatives of country districts. Do honorable members think it fair, just, or reasonable that people who pioneer the country should be deprived of their weekly or fortnightly mail services when residents of Melbourne have three deliveries a day, and howl if they are not up to time? Only to-day the honorable member for North Sydney asked how many deliveries there were per day within a certain radius of Sydney. I did not notice the answer, but I know they have more than two. In those circumstances surely the representatives of metropolitan districts will not deprive us of a fortnightly service. In many towns in my constituency and in many districts along the routes, the arrival of the coach is a red-letter day for the whole district. If the policy of this Government is to deprive the people in country districts of their mail services, the sooner I see them out of office the better I shall be pleased. We have had a succession of Ministries that do not care a jot about country districts. They are all alike, They think that the whole of the Commonwealth is centred round the particular localities which are fortunate enough to have a large population. But for these people going into the back-blocks and pioneering the country, there would be no need for three deliveries a day in the cities. In fact there would be no big cities. Those people pay the same postage as every one else does, and yet the Department put a further tax on them, as has happened on the particular mail route that *I* have indicated. The following appeared in the *Western Star,* published at Roma on Wednesday, 25th November last - >A meeting of the subscribers to the MuckadillaThe Wemmles mail service was held at " Blairmack," the residence of **Mr. J.** Grieve, on Thursday evening last, to protest against the demand of a subsidy of *£11* for the carriage of mail matter once a week between the places mentioned. **Mr. P.** Hoskin was elected chairman, and **Mr. A.** Walker was appointed secretary, on the motion of Messrs. R. Grieve, senior, and John Grieve. It was announced that the lowest tender for the service was £37 per annum, of which the Government would pay *£26,* and the subscribers were notified that, unless they were prepared to pay the balance of *£11* foi the coming year it would be discontinued. The burden falls on the shoulders of Messrs. _ P. Hoskin, O'Sullivan Bros., W. Munro, senior, W. Munro, junior, J. Grieve, R. Grieve, senior, and Adam Grieve, who, for their own convenience and that of their employes, last year had to pay a similar amount. This novel method of levying further taxation on settlers who have already a fair amount to meet, what with income tax, Divisional Board, Marsupial Board, and other rates, was considered grossly unjust, and it was pointed out that if the Commonwealth Government can afford to spend thousands of pounds on entertaining the American Fleet and distinguished visitors, it would surely not begrudge, on the principle that "Charity begins at home," a paltry " tenner " for the convenience of a class of people it professes to be most anxious to serve. On the motion of Messrs. J. Grieve and R. Grieve, the secretary was requested to write to the Deputy Postmaster-General, through **Mr. J,'.** Page, M.H.R., and to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, through **Mr. J.** M. Hunter, M.L.A., asking that the demand for further subscriptions towards the carriage of the mail in question be cancelled, and pointing out that, if inquiries are made, it will be found that the amount of subscriptions is nearly, if not altogther, made up by the large increase in mail matter which has come into existence since the arrangement was entered into last year. On the motion of Messrs. Hoskin and R. Grieve any further correspondence on the matter was to be left in the hands of Messrs. J. Grieve and A. Walker. Before I take any further action I shall wait to hear the Minister's explanation of the policy of the Department in regard to these services in Western Queensland. The ex-Minister and the present Minister promised me that existing mail services should not be cut down or cut out, but lines in Queensland that have been in existence from 25 to 30 years along some of the main stock routes, going down through South Australia to Oodnadatta, have been cut out. The consequence is that drovers are cut off from civilization for some weeks, until they reach Oodnadatta. Yet those two Ministers promised me that none of the services which have been in existence for any length of time will be discontinued. That brings me to the question of new services. The following official letter from the Secretary shows what the Department says about new services - > **Sir,** > >With reference to the letter presented by you from **Mr. W.** J. Allnutt, manager of the Groongal Pastoral Co. Ltd., Keeroongooloo Station, Adavale, Queensland, relative to the desired establishment of a mail service from the Cliffs or Adavale to Mount Howitt, *vid* Keeroongooloo, Poolpirrie, and Marama, in lieu of the present service from the Cliffs to Eromanga, *via* Keeroongooloo and other places, and to my communication of the 17th ult., with which was forwarded copy of a report submitted by the Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, in regard to the matter, I have the honour to inform you a letter was recently received from **Mr. Edmund** Jowett, 128 William-street, Melbourne, relative to the desired establishment of a mail service from Keeroongooloo to Poolpirrie, Marama, and Mount Howitt, and returning to Keeroongooloo, and the Deputy Postmaster-General, to whom the matter was referred, states that he has nothing to add to his report above referred to. **Mr. Jowett** is being furnished with a copy of that report. > >I may add that it is regretted there is no money available for the establishment of new mail services in Queensland. The **Mr. Jowett,** of Melbourne, mentioned there, owns a lot of property in the constituencies of the honorable member for Kennedy and myself. Although we are told that money is not available to give a weekly or fortnightly mail service to districts out back, we have voted increases of £100 ayear to public servants already in receipt of high salaries. The Department sticks at a miserable " tenner," and com pels persons to ride 70 or 80 miles to get their mail matter. Should the PostmasterGeneral not give me some satisfaction, I shall move to reduce the salary of the Secretary by so that country members may have an opportunity to express their resentment of this treatment. Dozens of these cases have been brought under my notice. A few days ago, the Charleville Progress Association informed me that it had heard casually that it was intended to discontinue the mail service to Oakwood,and asked that inquiry should be made as to the truth of the report. As the Melbourne office knew nothing about the matter, I telegraphed to the Deputy Postmaster-General at Brisbane, who sent me the following reply - >Referring to your wire of the 25th ult., relative to a complaint made by the Charleville Progress Association in regard to the discontinuance of the direct mail service between Charleville and Oakwood, I have the honour to inform you that this service follows the main coach route (to Adavale) as far as Glengarry. From its establishment in 1893 until the end of 1905 it was run from Glengarry as a branch line to Oakwood, but tenders for the term 1906-7-8 were more reasonable from Charleville than from Glengarry. > >Fresh tenders were called this year in the usual way, but an offer of £55 per annum has been received for running from Glengarry as against *£70* for the service from Charleville. The lower offer has been accepted, but there will be no inconvenience in the matter of postal facilities, as the branch line will connect with the main service at Glengarry as it did formerly. Why should this service be curtailed for the sake of a few pounds? Unless the Adavale coach is caught on both journeys, the mail will be missed, which means that all the letters brought by the branch coach will have to wait a week to be forwarded on the main line. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Does the coach run through black soil country? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- All the country is black soil, except for a little mulga. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Then it will often be difficult for the coaches to travel. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Yes. Stress of weather, or circumstances over which the drivers have no control, may often keep the branch coach from catching the main coach. All these services are needed. For twenty-five years there was a service from Morven to Babbiloora. It used to cost £80, but as last year the tender was £72, and the Department thought that the service was not worth more than £50, it was discontinued altogether. As a consequence, some of my constituents have to ride 140 miles to get their letters. The Postmaster-General is one of the chief advocates of penny postage. Will he let it go out to the world that Australia is in favour of penny postage to other countries, while she nominally charges twopence per letter on her internal correspondence, with an actual further tax, equivalent to 4d. or 6d. a letter, on much of the correspondence sent to country districts? Is that to be the policy of this Government? The action which I shall take will depend on the Minister's reply. {: #subdebate-10-0-s65 .speaker-JSK} ##### Mr TILLEY BROWN:
INDI, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC -- The other night I handed the Postmaster General two letters containing complaints about the administration of his Department. In one instance, a public meeting was held protesting against the action <of the Department in detaining citizens' money for twelve months. A guarantee in support of an application for telephone ex-c tension was demanded by the Department, but when the money had been subscribed, nothing was done. I ask the Minister how he. proposes to remedy the present state of things. He cannot ask the people of the country to continue to submit tamely to the present 'inconvenience. The Department should at least carry out its contracts. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth lias an income of something like £15,000,000 per annum, it is very difficult for an honorable member to convince* his constituents that sufficient funds are not available to enable a paltry £5 or £10 to be expended upon absolutely necessary works. I ask the Postmaster-General whether provision will be made at an early date to overcome the disabilities from which rural residents suffer ? {: #subdebate-10-0-s66 .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER:
Illawarra .- Owing to the support which it accorded to the late Government and to other Administrations, the party to which the present Postmaster-General belongs will have to bear the whole of the responsibility for the chaotic condition into which the Post and Telegraph Department has been allowed to drift. That party has permitted the vast services controlled by the Department to be administered in a most scandalous fashion. It is notorious that the first PostmasterGeneral, who hailed from Queensland, and Avas quite new to the administration of a large Department, attempted to foist upon the Commonwealth the system which had been in vogue in that State. He was quite unable to grasp the requirements of the great service which he had to administer. Right up till the retirement of the ex- Postmaster-General the Department has been administered in a scandalous manner. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Dr Carty Salmon: -- Does the honorable member include in his indictment the Postmaster-General in the Government which he and I supported? {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- I hope that the honorable member was not one of those who brought about the termination of the alliance which had existed in connexion with that Government. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Dr Carty Salmon: -- Does the honorable member include the PostmasterGeneral of that Administration in his scathing denunciation? {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- If the honorable member is going to interrupt me he will probably catch it. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Dr Carty Salmon: -- I am standing up for the Postmaster-General in the Government which the honorable member supported. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- I am quite prepared to defend the Administration of **Mr. Sydney** Smith. We all recognise that he Tendered magnificent service to the Commonwealth. Indeed he was the only occupant of the office of Postmaster-General who rose to the requirements of the position. {: .speaker-L0K} ##### Dr Carty Salmon: -- I have had the pleasure of obtaining that information. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- If the honorable member intends to subject me to constant interruption I think that he should be asked to occupy his proper seat in this Chamber. But I rose chiefly for the purpose of drawing attention to the scandalous administration of the Postal Department. In this connexion I desire to quote one or two instances in my own electorate which may be regarded as typical cases. The first has reference to the construction of' a trunk telephone line from Sydney to Wollongong. The Postmaster- General has already been questioned by me in regard to this matter. His predecessor in office gave direct instructions that the erection of the line should be proceeded with. At his dictation I addressed a telegram to the centre of my constituency in connexion with the work, and he actually despatched a wire directing his officers in Sydney to proceed with the undertaking, which concerns one of the largest industrial centres in Australia. Honorable members will recognise this when I tell them that in that -portion of mv constituency sixteen coal mines are in full work, as well as hundreds, if not thousands, of coke ovens; that at Port Kembla some of the largest ships in the world are being loaded with coal, and that electrolytic works are in course of erection. Yet this centre, which is only 60 miles distant from Sydney, is severely handicapped owing to its lack of telephonic communication. It is all very well to say that it enjoys telegraphic communication, and that the condenser system is in operation there. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr Liddell: -- Is not Newcastle equally handicapped ? {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- No. Newcastle has enjoyed the advantage of direct telephone communication with Sydney for years. Under the State *regime,* Wollongong would have long since been connected with Sydney by telephone. That large industrial centre is still in want of such communication, although it was authorized by the late Postmaster-General, and provision was made for it on last year's Estimates. The direct instructions given by the PostmasterGeneral to have this work carried out have not been obeyed. It is found now that a sum of a few hundred pounds is necessary to make up the full amount required for the work, but no provision is made for it on these Estimates. Somebody must be responsible for this state of affairs. As a member of the State Parliament prior to Federation, I often had occasion to interview officers in the Post and Telegraph Department of that State, and met there men of large experience, capable of rendering brilliant service. They are as capable as ever, but what is the present position? In the old days, when I interviewed the Deputy Postmaster-General, or the Chief Electrician, they greeted me with a cheery smile, and were glad to see me in regard to any work that might be needed in my electorate. Now, however, they greet me with a look of blank despair. They are working under a system of administration under which, since the inception of Federation, they have been made mere machines and tools for Ministerial delay. The officers of the Department are made a means of deceiving, not only honorable members, but all their constituents. They are made instruments of procrastination and delay. Surely a system of administration which brings about such a state of affairs amongst men who have rendered brilliant service, and are prepared to do so again, is absolutely rotten. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- I suppose that the plea is that they have no money to spend? {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- Why did the last PostmasterGeneral give a direct instruction that the work to which I refer should be carried out? Why was provision made for it on the last Estimates? Mr.Mauger. - The item appeared, not on the Estimates, but on the schedule which was submitted with them., and on the strength of that schedule I issued instructions for the work to be proceeded with. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- And yet nothing has been done. If my electorate were singular in this respect - if my experience in regard to this and a dozen other necessary works in my constituency were exceptional - I should say that it was due to an attempt on the part of the late Government to bring about the defeat of one who has always sat in direct opposition to them. But I am not going to suggest anything of the kind. I find that every representative of a country constituency is in the same position. There is another important work in my electorate that has been hung up. Some time ago, the names of thirty-six persons who were prepared to become subscribers to a telephone exchange in the important town of Bowral, which is a popular tourists' resort, were forwarded to the Department. The people in the outlying districts guaranteed to find the poles necessary to carry a telephone line into that part of my constituency; but, although that offer was made, and the promised subscribers were fifteen in excess of the number required for a night-and-day service, nothing has been done. In one part of my constituency, a telephone exchange was provided, although the names of only sixteen subscribers were sent in. I wish now to refer to the provision of a mail service between Mittagong and Tallowena. There was some dispute in regard to the route that it should take, and, at my request, an inspector was instructed to make a full inquiry. Evidence was taken in Bowral, Mittagong, and the other districts interested, and, on the report of Inspector Hay, it was decided to have a mail service carried through Mittagong to Tallowena. That decision was approved by the PostmasterGeneral, but, so far, nothing has been done to give effect to it, the plea being raised that there are no funds available. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- When did this occur? {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- So long ago thatI have almost become tired of bringing it before the Department. We are told, day after day, that such services will be supplied " as soon as the financial arrangements will permit." I advised the Minister to-day to have that reply stereotyped. CiO not blame him personally, but I wish to nave his assurance that he will do his best to see that services which have been approved for some time - some of which the responsible Minister has directly ordered to be carried out, and for which provision has been made on the Estimates - shall be supplied without delay. I refer more particularly to the requirements of country districts. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- I shall certainly do my best. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- But is the honorable gentleman prepared to ask his colleagues to provide the funds necessary to have these works carried out? We are now on the eve of a recess, during which the Government will be free from the criticism -of the House, and it is all very well for the honorable member, in the circumstances. to say that he will " do his best." {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Could I do more? {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- The Government must do something more, otherwise they will bring upon themselves, in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department, the discredit which rested upon the late Government, and,, to a certain extent, upon the Labour Party, for keeping them in power. We hear a great deal about immigration and the desirableness of settling the people on the land, but the honorable member for Cowper will bear out my statement that many of the postal facilities which the rural districts of New South Wales enjoyed in bygone days have /gradually been filched from them, and that the people are not nearly so well served as they were in pre-Federation days. In my own constituency, daily services have been reduced to bi-weekly or triweekly services, and weekly services have been done away with altogether. If people art to go upon the land and develop the resources of the Commonwealth, they must be given some of the facilities which are -enjoyed by those who reside in the large centres of population. Instead of reducing the facilities they now enjoy, we should make an effort to increase them. People who go into the back blocks of the Commonwealth, and put up with all the difficulties of pioneering are entitled to some consideration. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- That is the least they can expect in return for the taxation which they pay to the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- -The honorable member for Gwydir is a member of a Commission that was specially appointed in order to whitewash the late Government. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- No; we have no whitewash' on that Commission. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- There is nothing for the Commission to whitewash. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- The Commission was appointed with a member of the late Government as Chairman to whitewash the late Administration. It is not needed now, since the Administration has been turned out of office, and it does not matter whether it is whitewashed or not. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- The Commission will render useful service if it can bring up a report showing the Department how to find the money required to extend its services. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- The point I wish to make is that promises of increased facilities have been made, I suppose to every constituency in Australia. I have gone through my constituency, and I have met in Sydney the representatives of big collieries and other business undertakings in the Illawarra district, and on the strength of assurances given to me, I have said that certain works would be carried out by this Department. The people cannot carry on their businesses without up-to-date facilities. They are handicapped if they have not the facilities enjoyed by their competitors. When I remember the promises made to me by the late Postmaster-General, and find that the people have been disappointed, it is a matter of surprise to me that in Wollongong, Bowral, and such districts, indignation meetings have not been called to discuss the non-fulfilment of these promises. It may be out of consideration for me that they have not been called, but if I were the president of one of the shire councils *cy* the mayor of one of the important towns in my district, I should have called indignation meetings long ago to protest against the way in which the people have been disappointed. I realize the importance of the office occupied by the Postmaster-General, and I hope that for the sake of his own reputation and that of the Government of which he is a member, he will rise to the occasion, and that under him, 'instead of being a by-word and a source of grievance, the administration of this great Department will be such as will make for the progress of the people of Australia. {: #subdebate-10-0-s67 .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I recognise that at this hour, and at this period of the session, no member of the Committee can do justice to this Department, which so vitally affects the interests of the whole community. I do not charge the present Postmaster-General, or his predecessor, with being responsible for *thi',* causes which have given rise to so many complaints in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department. I recognise that to discover the sources of those complaints we must go back to the beginning of Federation, and even to the administration of the Department under State control. I am free to admit also that whilst the public have just cause of complaint, they have received many concessions. They have been given increased postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities, and have had the advantage of reductions in the charges made for the services rendered. If a comparison be made between the condition of things in this Department under State control, and the conditions under Federal control, it must be admitted that much has been accomplished since the establishment of Federation. But while admitting that, t believe that a great deal more might have been done. The demand throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth is that more should be done. If I were asked to put my finger on the principal source of weakness in the administration of this Department. I should point to the fact that there is too much centralization. Under the system adopted, details with which they should never have been troubled have been dealt with bv those in charge of the Central Office. Again, the reports plainly show that there has been friction between this Department and the Department of the Public Service Commissioner. That friction has arisen almost entirely because of the centralization in the administration. If the present PostmasterGeneral wishes to secure greater efficiency in his Department, and to give greater satisfaction to the public in its administration, he must look for reform in the direction of decentralization. I make that suggestion as one well worthy of his consideration. There is a further number of grievances from which rural communities suffer, and which the Postmaster-General cannot meet unless Parliament is prepared to vote the necessary funds. The question mentioned by the honorable member for Maranoa is one in respect of which all country members feel that they have a grievance to some extent. Whatever may be the losing part of the Department's operations, it certainly looks to it that the country districts shan not contribute very largely to that side of the ledger. So every application for an extension of postal or telegraphic facilities is carefully scrutinized, and it is laid down as a principle that, unless it can show a reasonable paying margin, it shall not be granted, or, if granted, then on the condition that the people who receive the direct benefit shall contribute to the deficiency incurred. Whilst it is very desirable that the Department should, as far as possible, be made a paying one, some consideration should be given to these outposts of our advancing civilization. Something should be done to help them by bringing them into closer touch with the great centres of administration. If the 'paying basis is to be insisted upon, then the first area which should be brought within its scope should be the larger centres. I gather from the Postmaster-General's statement that it is the other way about, that the big losses of the Department are not to be accounted for in the outlying districts; but are to be found in the larger centres, and primarily in connexion with telephonic operations. Whilst the telephone extensions in country districts are fairly meeting the interest on capital outlay and working expenses, that does not hold good with respect to large cities, and a very big loss is incurred by the Department in connexion! with city operations. If that be true, the remedy seems to lie in the direction of making the cities contribute a larger share towards the benefits which they receive. That might be brought into operation by speedily abolishing the flat-rate system, and substituting the toll-rate system, under which the user pays in proportion to the service rendered. It has been stated that even under the toll-rate system, the charges, are not sufficiently high to cover the expenses. If that be true, the only alternative is to increase the charges; but I should be very loth to do so, unless it could be reasonably shown that it was necessary, in order to balance the accounts* Whilst the Department insists upon country districts paying for services which they receive, it ought equally to insist upon, city interests doing likewise. I do not wish to go into any details of grievances that obtain in country districts. But I should like to bring under the Minister's notice the fact that in country towns, on account of the large extent to which the telephone has become popularized, the offices have become so congested that it isimpossible for the officers to do the work properly and satisfactorily without increasing the accommodation, particularly that which is assigned to telephonic purposes. I have forwarded to the Minister a newspaper extract pointing out the conditions which obtain at Parkes, and how impossible it is to conduct the ordinary business in a satisfactory manner. The telephone exchange is alongside the telegraph office, and both are within the hearing of the public. The noise created is of such a character that it is impossible to properly conduct the business. The office accommodation is so congested that the officers cannot do justice to their work. The whole system has got into a chaotic state, despite the best efforts of those in charge of the administration. That applies not only there, but practically to every postoffice in my electorate. Either the telephonic exchange is in the telegraph and sorting department, or, failing that, the business has greatly out-grown, as in the case of Forbes, the allotted accommodation, ;and the officers are required to conduct their work under conditions which are no -credit to a Government Department. I have written to the Department until I am tired of writing. I have received the stereotyped reply " The matter will be considered when funds are available." I want -the new Postmaster-General and his leader to see that whilst other parts of the governmental machine are not allowed to run dry, particularly in view of the fact that they can find a large increase for the Defence Department, they will also think about pro- viding some funds to enable the Postal and Telegraphic parts of the Government machine to run smoothly. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- In my statement, I said that every penny which can be saved will go to the Post and Telegraph Department. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The Esti- mates for the Department are most inadequate. Recently, we passed an estimate for telephonic equipment. Last year we -expended £83,176 in that connexion, and still there was an outcry for more; the demands were not nearly met. But this year we are appropriating only £49,101, that is £34,075 less than we actually expended last year. That shows that the operations of this Department are going to be curtailed to an enormous extent. If the Prime Minister intends to provide any money, how is it to be made available? Are Additional Estimates to be brought down, or will the money be provided out of the Treasurer's Advance Account? No provision is made in these Estimates. On the contrary, they have been cut down by about one-half. The question of telephonic circuits has been raised, because it is found that the lines have become so congested that they cannot be operated with satisfaction. The line between Manildra and .Orange is conducted on the condenser system, and, when complaints were made, I communicated with the Department, and the following is an extract from the report of the Deputy Postmaster-General - >The telephone service between Manildra and Orange is on the condenser system, and at times conversations are considerably interfered with by induction from railway circuits; this trouble can be overcome only by the erection of a metallic circuit trunk telephone line. > >The whole matter of the working of this circuit has been gone into previously, and on the 21st September last the Postmaster-General approved of the erection of a metallic circuit trunk line between Cudal and Manildra as a means of improving the service when circumstances permit. The work has been noted for the 1909-10 Estimates. This is only a small work, involving a connexion of 8 or 10 miles at the outside. Still, we find that, although last year, on this kind of work, there was an expenditure of £5,708, it is proposed to expend this year only £2,000, although there are many claims for additional facilities. The stereotyped reply is that, although the work is deemed to be necessary, the PostmasterGeneral must await the provision of funds. Another matter to which I desire to refer has relation to the transmission of press telegrams. The congestion of the lines has led to a regulation that public telegrams shall take precedence qf press telegrams between 9 in the morning and 6 in the evening ; and this places country newspapers at a great disadvantage. Up to 9 in the morning country newspapers can receive what is practically only the previous evening's news, and it must not be forgotten that even the great city dailies now bring out evening editions, which find their way into the country districts, and involve great competition with country publishers. I suggest that the PostmasterGeneral make some arrangement by which country press telegrams may be transmitted, say, between 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock. Such a concession would be very much to the interests of the country press. The present arrangement is wholly in the interests of the great city dailies, and I think that a concession of one hour in the afternoon is not too much, because the country newspapers ought not to be placed at a disadvantage or made secondary to the city newspapers. I should now like to direct attention to the matter of the rental of officers' typewriters in the head office at Sydney. Telegraph operators were led to expect that they would receive some consideration in this connexion; and the allowance of rental is a practice which obtains in every other State. I find that some thirty-two machines were provided by the Department five to eight years ago. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- It is the policy of the Department to allow operators to use their own machines. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- But I ask the Postmaster-General whether that policy has been carried out? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Every operator who comes with his own machine is. paid so much for the use of that machine. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Is that done in Sydney ? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Yes. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The late Postmaster-General informed me that such was the case, but subsequently said that no provision had been made on the Estimates to give effect to the concession during the present financial year. If the PostmasterGeneral informs me that in this connexion officers in the Sydney Post Office are to receive treatment the same as that given to officers in other Departments, I am satisfied. I should say that about £348 per annum would cover the whole cost at the Sydney Post Office. The departmental machines are, as I say, about thirty in number, and six of them, I am informed, are completely useless, most of them having been kept working for the twenty-four hours of the day. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Every effort is being made to induce officers to use their own machines. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Some thirty machines are being used. These officers have purchased their own machines on the understanding that they should receive payment from the Department. But when they made application for payment they were told it could not be granted because money had not been provided. The Department insists upon a knowledge of typewriting on the part of its officers, who, nevertheless, have to find machines at their own cost. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- They are not expected to do that. Any officer who has provided a machine is being paid for it. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- If the Minister gives an assurance that the officers are being paid for their machines I am satisfied, but if after inquiry I find that I have to make another complaint on the subject. I can promise the Minister that he will receive criticisms that he has escaped on the present occasion. {: #subdebate-10-0-s68 .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES:
Fremantle -- The honorable members for Calare, Maranoa, and Illawarra have set forth the conditions prevailing in the Post and Telegraph Department in their own electorates. I feel satisfied that the treatment meted' out by the Department in all parts of Australia since the present Minister has been in charge is more satisfactory than it was previously. The honorable gentleman has done more than any other Minister who has been at the head of the Department since I have been a member of this House. I give him credit for that. But I wish to show him where there is room for improvement, and for the exercise of a little more energy. I think that it ought to be unnecessary for honorable members to be continually pointing out the requirements of" their electorates. There should be inspectors travelling from one State to another, whose duty it should be to inquire into the requirements of the various localities. They should, for instance, see that the telegraph forms used in each State are uniform. Within the past twelve months I, as a member of Parliament accustomed to sending telegrams, have had to be told how to fill up a telegraph form in a certain State. It is a startling fact that our telegraph forms have not yet been made uniform. I doubt whether we shall get better management in the Department, or whether the public will receive better treatment until a permanent Commission of Management is appointed with a proper staff of expert inspectors. All the big concerns, such as banks, are managed on that plan. We hear of no troubles of administration in connexion with such institutions. They seem to be worked without friction. They have their Boards of Directors and their inspectors continually travelling round 'to see that the policy of the management is being effectively carried out according to a uniform system. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr Liddell: -- But the clerks in banks do not have their representatives on the Boards of Directors. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- If we had a Commission of responsible officers there would not be so many complaints in Parliament. Let me show the chaos that prevails in the Department, by means of a statement which has been issued giving details of receipts and expenditure and other particulars relative to the post offices in the different States for the year 1906. The very fact that this statement has been issued shows the honesty of the Postmaster-General. HadI been in his position I think I should have got my Estimates through before I allowed this information to see the light of day. If this is a sample of what the Department can produce it is a disgrace, and would discredit any large institution. A number of different headings are given, but they are different for each State. Particulars are given in regard to one State, which are left out in regard to another. I was simply astonished when I saw the document. Any business man will recognise at once that for information of this kind to be valuable the particulars given in each case must be on a uniform basis. When the balance-sheet is made out for a company the headings are the same year after year, so that those interested can make comparisons of one year with another. But in this case the particulars for Queensland are different from those of South Australia or Victoria. The information is worth nothing. The cost of mails is included in regard to one State, but is left out in another. I have picked out a few samples. Take the town of Invermay, in Tasmania. The first column shows that the letters posted locally numbered 16,082; the letters received from other sources, 11,410. The number of mails was 636 ; the proportionate cost of mails, £142 ; the total revenue received, £161 ; the expenditure, £204. Then turn to Brighton, in South Australia. Here the number of letters posted locally was 26,172; letters received from other sources, 40,782. No information is given in this case as to how many mails were made up. The column for that information is left blank. But whereas 27,000 letters were handled at Invermay, Tasmania, and 66,000 were handled at Brighton, South Australia, £20 is set down as the proportionate cost of mails at Brighton, and £142 as the cost atInvermay. The revenue received at the place where the greater quantity of business was done was £228, and the expenditure was £160, whereas the expenditure at the place where the smaller amount of work was done was £204. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- As a matter of fact, the whole bookkeeping system will have to be altered. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I quite agree with the Prime Minister. Take Burnside, near Adelaide. There 16,266 letters were posted locally, and 35,082 were received from other sources. The number of mails is not given in this instance. Only £15 is charged for the proportionate cost of the mails in that case. The revenue is £142, and the expenditure £402. At Brighton, South Australia, where 5,000 more letters are received from other sources, the expenditure is only £160. Something surely wants explaining. There is quite enough difference to prove that neither of those statements is right. The returns are haphazard affairs, and apparently made up in a hurry. In New South Wales, at Fernmount. 11,175 letters were posted, and 12,873 received, the proportionate cost of mails was £53, the revenue £203, arid expenditure £330. In Queensland, at Englesberg, 16,314 letter's were posted, and 16,806 received from other sources. The proportionate cost of the mails is not given in that case. The revenue was £252, and the expenditure £255. It is carefully mentioned that that is exclusive of the cost of the mail service. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- The honorable member is trying to compare different things. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I have selected similar cases. In Victoria the number of letters posted at Kangaroo Flat is given at 34,285. But, to show what a muddle the returns are in, there is no heading in the Victorian returns for letters received from other sources. The proportionate cost of mails for Kangaroo Flat is given at *£476,* although in a South Australian case the proportionate cost of the mails was set down at only £15. The total revenue received at Kangaroo Flat was £197, and the expenditure came to £606. That again shows that the returns are muddled. In each of the reports there is a different system of showing whether the post-office is departmental or private. In Western Australia I have tried for two years to get a post-office at Victoria Park, where the letters postedlocally amounted to 25,516, and those received from othersources 48.123. There were 619 mails made up, and, although Victoria Park is much nearer to Perth than Burnside is to Adelaide, no less than £69 was charged for the proportion of the mail service. The revenue is stated at £208. and the expenditure at £207. That is for a population of 2,500 people. Yet at Kangaroo Flat, in Victoria, with a population of 1,000, the expenditure was £606. These reports are simply chaos, and are worth nothing to honorable members. In some cases the cost is over-stated, in others under-stated. If the Postmaster-General will provide for the adoption of a uniform system of compiling these reports, it will be one step towards Federation. If a. big Department like this cannot federate its work, how can we consider that we are federated at all? The fact that the calculations are made on a different basis explains how one man can get a concession where another cannot, because the Deputy Postmaster-General in each State has a different system, and probably in some cases the reports look better on paper than in others. According to the cases I have read, the Department is getting more work done at one place for £[160 than -at another for *jf.606.* It is little wonder that complaints are made. I wish to impress upon the Postmaster-General the necessity of establishing a uniform system. It is of no use for him to accept statements from his officers. He should tell them that the change must be made. Let him move the first man who objects. This should be an object lesson for the Postmaster-General, who should demand a new system, to be conducted in the best manner possible. {: #subdebate-10-0-s69 .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL:
Hunter -- The honorable member for Fremantle has asked what have been the results of Federation so far as the Post and Telegraph Department is concerned? They have been the creation of widespread dissatisfaction and disgust. Government has succeeded Government, and the administration, instead of improving, has got worse, until now we have a state of chaos. The services have been starved in a manner which is disgraceful ; the only reply to those who are asking for conveniences to relieve the monotony of their isolation being, " There are not sufficient funds available." These people have to pay through the nose for everything they buy. Our protective system taxes them heavily, and they should get some return for their expenditure. Not only are the services insufficient, and the postal premises inadequate for the requirements of the public, but the people in the country suffer greatly when they desire medical aid for themselves, their wives, or their children, and are unable to telephone for it. In my opinion, the maladministration which is so greatly complained of is due largely to the fact that the chief officers of the Department are too old, and that each Deputy Postmaster-General lives in his office like a hermit crab, knowing nothing of the needs of the country, and wholly dependent on his inspectors for information. That is not the position of those who control the affairs of the banks and of the big trading companies. Their directors travel about, and make themselves acquainted with the conditions with which they have to deal. We should bring younger men to the front. A system of cadetship is needed which will enable us to send young ment to Germany, America, England, and other parts of the world, to see what takes place there. The Postal Department is the most important Department of Government. It comes most intimately into contact with the public. According to figures presented by. the ex-Treasurer, not only are its services made to pay, but it is required to find money for the carrying on of other Departments. The postal revenue of the Department for the year 1907-8 was- £3,297,000, and its expenditure £[2,917,847, showing a profit of *£379>*53-* {: .speaker-KW8} ##### Mr JOHN THOMSON:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Do those figurestake account of interest on capital in connexion with the transferred properties? {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- No; and they do not include the cost of new works and buildings. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- This year, we shalt spend £100,000 more on the Department! than we shall get from it. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- We cannot continueto pay for new works and buildings out of revenue. No private business conducts itsaffairs in that way. Posterity will have the use of these buildings, and ought to bear part of their cost. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Many of them will not last very long. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- In any case, the revenue should not be called upon to meet the cost of all new works. We cannot givesatisfaction to the public by following thepresent system. According to the statement of the ex-Treasurer, the charges made by the States for the carriage of mails havebeen greatly increased. In March, 1901we were paying £[225,546 for the carriageof our mails, and now we are paying; £270,000. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- There had been no adjustment for sixteen years, and then the Railways Commissioners asked for a new agreement. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- Are we to be dictated to by the Railways Commissioners of the States ? {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- Their demand was equitable. Our mails are carried more cheaply than mails are carried by railways in any Other part of the world. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- We have the evidence of officers that an expenditure of £2,300,000 is needed to put the Department on a proper footing. Is not that evidence of maladministration? The state of the Defence Department is bad enough, but it is not nearly so bad as that of the Postal- Department. In West Maitland, which is one of the chief towns in my electorate, the postal business has doubled during the last twelve years. When the ex-Postmaster-General visited the electorate, he was cordially entertained, and expressed himself greatly pleased with its progress, and with the energy of its people. In return for his reception, he made most specious promises. Mark the result ! During the past twelve years, the business of the West Maitland Post-office has actually doubled, yet the office is conducted with practically the same staff. I ask the Postmaster-General to note that. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- There might have been too many officials employed previously. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- There was not. One poor lad is obliged to sit upon a gin case, with a mail bag thrown over it, for eight hours each day. During the past twelve years, the staff has been increased to the extent of only one letter carrier. Twelve years ago, the stock of postal' notes in the office represented £25, to-day it represents £1,000; the stamp supply was valued at *£150,* to-day it is worth ^,"650; and the Excise stamps represented £250, whereas to-day they are valued at £600. The ex- Postmaster-General knows how that district is progressing. During his visit to it., he saw the magnificent coal mines which had been opened, and noticed evidences of progress on every hand. With the commencement of a new railway line, 1,600 working men have been introduced into the district. As they are in the habit of forwarding postal notes to their wives their requirements need to be catered for. At least one additional fitter, another counter hand, and a mail officer should be appointed to the West Maitland Post-, office. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- I should be glad if the honorable member would send a letter to that effect. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- I am tired of sending letters to which I receive stereotyped replies which invariably begin - >In answer to your letter of some time ago, we will endeavour to do so and so when funds are available. In the district of which I speak there is a telephone exchange which has 150 subscribers, but to attend to their wants there is only one lineman. As a result, if a telephone gets out of order, days elapse before it can be put into repair. The services of a fitter are absolutely required. Further, the residents of Maitland badly need a trunk telephone line to Newcastle. Only the other day, I asked the PostmasterGeneral if it was not a fact that they were supplied with ancient instruments. He cunningly replied that during the past two years they had been supplied with up-to-date instruments. But, as a matter of fact, prior to that period, old instruments had been dumped down there. A few days ago, a very influential deputation waited on **Mr. Hesketh,** who arrived in the city of Maitland to inquire into these complaints. In speaking of his visit, the local newspaper of 4th December said - >As the outcome of the representations made to the late Postmaster-General, **Mr. Mauger,** when on a visit to the district some months ago- It will thus be seen thai the Minister's promises that these complaints would be inquired into, and attended to, have not been fulfilled. In that respect, they resemble the promises made by the exTreasurer - they were . never intended to be fulfilled. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- Oh, go to Hong Kong! {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- I am here to go to the fount of justice. As the result of requests for the betterment of the telephone system, **Mr. Hesketh,** Chief Electrical Engineer for the Commonwealth, paid a visit te Maitland to inquire into the various matters which were brought under the notice of the Department. Over and over again. I have made applications in reference te those complaints, until I am absolutely ashamed to face mv constituents. I am sorry that I shall have to return to them at the end of the current .week. I am becoming discredited as the result of the parsimonious treatment which the Department extends to them. The newspaper report continues - >With the object of obtaining the fullest possible information, **Mr. Hesketh,** who was accompanied by the local postmaster, met a number of representative citizens. I can vouch that they were representative citizens. The report continues - >One gentleman, who does a very extensive business there, went straight to the root of the matter by saying what they particularly wanted was a second telephone line to Newcastle. **Mr. Hesketh** had no idea of the trouble and inconvenience to which subscribers were subjected. Sometimes a line was quite useless owing to the long waits which they had to put up with. Yet, when I asked the Postmaster-General the other day whether it was not true that subscribers at West Maitland had to submit to long waits, he replied that practically they were subjected to very little waiting - >The second telephone line to Newcastle was urgently required owing to the long waits they had to put up with. It was quite a usual thing to find six subscribers waiting for the use of tlie line. Another gentleman, who is a wellknown business man, said that, the PostmasterGeneral had informed **Dr. Liddell** recently that the matter would be attended to when funds were available. We find the same old phrase cropping up, not only in our correspondence, but in replies made to the requests of deputations. A business man of long standing in West Maitland, in the course of the interview, supported the statement which I made in a question that I put recently to the PostmasterGeneral, but which he denied - >The condition of the telephone system in Maitland also required looking into by the Department. Most of the instruments had been in use for a considerable time, and appeared to be an old and primitive type, and not at all effective, and were continually getting out of order. Then the mayor of East Maitland, speaking with regard to the necessity for an additional trunk telephone line with Newcastle, said that - >He did not think the present volume of business could be taken as a correct gu de, because a good deal of business was lost through subscribers being unable to get into communication, consequent the long waits. The failure of the Department to supply reasonable facilities to subscribers is thus resulting in an absolute loss of revenue - >He believed that the present trunk line had paid handsomely, and he had every reason to believe that the erection of another wire would pay even still better. The telephone system in Maitland was only in its infancy. Tt had increased wonderfully, and with better facilities lie believed it would increase still more rapidly. > >Touching upon the toll system, he said he did not think it was fair for a person using the trunk line and paying is. 10d. to have that call included amongst the local calls. I think that that is an injustice, and the sooner such a system ceases, the better. East Maitland is a most important Government town, in which a number of subscribers connected with the West Maitland telephone exchange, 2 miles away, reside. It is in need of a local exchange, but a request for its establishment was curtly refused by the Department. The mayor of East Maitland, referring to the position* of that town, said that - >They applied recently for the establishment of an exchange there, but failed to get it, it being pointed out that the subscribers were receiving the same advantages as at West Maitland. They expected that they would, but explained that anybody outside the two-mile radius from West Maitland was charged for the additional distance. ... If they could be placed in the same position as subscribers at West Maitland they would receive a good many more subscribers. This gentleman also pointed out that the Department was losing money, because of the absence of an up-to-date system. I come now to .the wants of a town that was visited bv the ex-Postmaster-General, and where he made a memorable statement. I refer to Cessnock, the residents of which have actually subscribed the amount necessary for the establishment of a local exchange, whereas their request that one should be provided has been refused. The Department has actually endeavoured to return to the would-be subscribers the money thus raised. Some of them, I understand, have refused to have a refund made. Here is a letter that I have received from the Central Office, dated 30th November, 1908 - > **Sir, -** With reference to your communication of the 19th instant, relative to the desired establishment of a telephone exchange at Cessnock, New South Wales, &c, I have the honour to inform you that, as intimated in my letter to you of the 10th idem, inquiry was made as to whether this work could not be put in hand, but it was found to be impossible to do so unless special provision were made for it. Steps were, however, taken in order to obtain such special provision. On the 7th December, 1908, I received from **Mr. Scott,** the Secretary to .the Central Administration, the following letter, and this correspondence will serve to show the delay that goes on in connexion with the Department - > **Sir, -** With reference to your letter of the 2nd instant, relative to the desired establishment of a public telephone at Cessnock, New South > >Wales, I have the honour to inform you there is no information on the subject in this office, and the matter is, therefore, being ' referred to the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, for inquiry and report. > >You will be further advised in due course. Could anything be more disgusting than this treatment of honorable members who are doing their best for their constituents. Although the Postmaster-General himself had been interviewed by a deputation in regard to this matter, the Secretary writes me this letter, in which he states that the Department knows nothing about the matter. At the deputation, to which I have already referred, **Mr. Waddy** brought under notice the requirements 'of the outlying coal districts, Cessnock in particular - >He was intimately acquainted with the Cessnock district, inasmuch as they had a branch there, and business between that two branches was important, but in view of the condenser system which was in operation they had difficulty in making themselves heard, so much sp that he had discarded the use of the telephone and preferred the telegraph instead. The business people of Cessnock were promised an exchange, provided that there was a certain number of subscribers and that they paid for their instruments. The required number of subscribers was obtained, and the money paid some months ago, but nothing further has been done. A communication had since been received from the Secretary of the General Post Office, stating that they were not in a position to proceed with the establishment of the exchange and trunk line, because no money was available. The same old story - >And vouchers were sent back for the storekeepers to sign and recall their money, but they declined to do so - And they very properly declined - >The matter had been placed in the hands of **Dr. Liddell,** and there it rested. The blame was thrust upon me. I give another example of the way in which people are treated by this Department. One would think that when a young lad is taken into the service of such a Department, an effort would be made to find employment for him in the neighbourhood of his home. I can mention the case of a lad who is the son of a widow residing in East Maitland. He has been taken into the service of the Department, and has been sent to Deniliquin, nearly 700 miles away from his home and his mother. I got a letter from the mother, asking" me to use my influence with the Department to have the lad appointed to an office nearer his home. I made a representation in con nexion with the matter, and this is the reply I received - >I have the honour to inform you that inquiry has been made into the matter, and the Deputy^ Postmaster-General, Sydney, has submitted a report to. the effect that there are at present no vacancies at Maitland or Newcastle to which **Mr. Gardiner** could be transferred, but that the latter's name has been noted for consideration in the event of a vacancy arising. I hope the Postmaster- General will give some attention to this matter. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- I know that efforts are made to find employment for these boys near their home where that is possible. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- The honorable gentlemen will, I am sure, admit that it is rather hard that a young lad should be sent so far from home. A friend of mine at one time tried' to build a motor car. He was very successful, but when he had finished it he found he could not get it out of the door of the building in which he had constructed it. I am sorry to say that he is at present in a lunatic asylum. This story has its parallel in the administration of the Postal Department. An application was made from Toronto, a small town on Lake Macquarie, for a silence telephone cabinet. After a long delay it arrived, and it was found that it could not be got in through the door of the post-office. In connexion with this matter, I received a notification from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, to this effect - > *Re* Toronto cabinet, Postmaster, Newcastle, wired on the ist October that the cabinet was in position inside the office and would be inspected by his supervisor as soon as possible. In a further wire on the Sth October, the Postmaster, Newcastle, advised he was arranging to remove the instrument into the cabinet the following day. The cabinet remained outside the office for some days prior to the ist October, awaiting acceptance of the contractor's offer to re-erect it within the office. Owing to an error in the letter of instructions the cabinet was not delivered in sections, and had to be altered before it could be placed in the building. The cabinet has been in use since the 9th October. , I come now to a very serious matter indeed. It will be remembered that at the beginning of the session attention was called to the fact that the PostmasterGeneral intended to reduce the postal services in the country districts. That naturally gave rise to considerable alarm. A circular letter was sent to various municipal councils in connexion with the matter, and a letter was addressed to me by the secretary of the Settlers and Farmers' Association, at a place called Underbank. I remind honorable members that the exTreasurer, in his Budget statement, said that the fear expressed by the honorable member for Riverina that it was intended to drastically cut down the rural mail services was quite unfounded. Here is the reply which I received from **Mr. Scott** to the letter from the secretary to the Underbank Settlers and Farmers' Association, which I had sent on to him - >With reference to the letter recently forwarded by you from **Mr. James** R. Fulton, honorary secretary to the Farmers and Settlers' Association, Underbank, New South Wales, protesting against any reduction of the mail services in country districts, I have the honour, by direction, lo inform you the circular on the subject which appears to have been sent by **Mr. John** Fitzpatrick, "Erin Vale," Junee, to shire councils, *&c,* has been issued under an entire misapprehension of the facts. The Po'stmaster-General has no intention of generally limiting or reducing the inland mail services, especially those already established, but, on the contrary, is fully seized of the importance of such services in country districts, and is disposed to grant all the facilities that the money placed at his disposal will permit. > >The return called for by the Royal Commission on Postal services to show the full particulars of paying and non-paying services has evidently led to the misconception in connexion with the matter {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- For country mails alone we provided this year £16,000 more than was provided last year. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Dr LIDDELL: -- When the Department shows a profit of over £300,000, much more consideration should be shown for the country districts. The following letter will show that efforts are being made to do away with postal facilities - >I have the honour to intimate that **Mr. S.** H. Davey, mail porter, Branch River to Booral mail line, has applied for an increase in his allowance, from £15 12s. to ^22 per annum. The increase desired, together with the extra expense involved in converting the Receiving Office at the Branch into a non-official post-office (to which it is entitled), would result in a loss of about *£12* per annum. In view of this, the increase desired by the mail porter cannot be granted, and if no arrangements can be made for the continuation of the service after the 31st prox. (when the present conditions cease) it may Be necessary to temporarily suspend the service and close the receiving office. You know, sir, what an awful thing it is in a country place for persons to be suddenly deprived of postal facilities to which they have been accustomed. Here is an example of the Department doing away gradually with postal facilities. It shows that information to this effect was entirely correct, and that the reply which the exTreasurer made in his speech was entirely wrong. In my electorate, there is a town called Kurri Kurri, which is inhabited by some of the finest of our citizens - coalminers. The ex- Postmaster- General told mc that he was particularly struck with the class of buildings he saw there, and that he was certain that the- residents must be a superior class. They are particularly anxious to be supplied with a telephone exchange; but although I understand that one has been promised, still they are being treated in the same way as are the people at Cessnock. The post-office is altogether inadequate to the wants of the district. When persons go to get their mail, they have to crush and crowd for an hour or more at a time before they can get into the office. They particularly wish that they may be supplied with a second letter delivery, because they believe that the present delivery is altogether inadequate. In order to show the class of letter that breaks one's heart, I have preserved one of a number yhich I have received from the Secretary of the Department. It reads as follows - >With reference to previous correspondence, relative to the desired establishment of telephonic communication with Girvan, New South Wales, in connexion with which you presented letters from Messrs. H. and W. Flannery, Heatherdean, Booral, I have the honour, by direction, to inform you inquiry has been made into the matter, and the Postmaster-General has approved of the work in question being carried out - Imagine, sir, the delight of these people when they received a letter to the effect that the Minister had approved of the work. They were perfectly satisfied when the Postmaster-General said that it would be carried out; but he added, the words " when circumstances will permit." The same old tale is- told day after day. There is another place in my district to which I wish to call attention. It is absolutely necessary that letters should be quoted here, because I am tired of writing to the Department. I desire to call the attention of the Postmaster-General, whom 1 am glad to see in his place at the table again, to the absolute necessity that exists for some kind of telephonic communication in connexion with the Allynbrook and Eccleston districts. When his predecessor was in Maitland, he very courteously received a deputation of representative men who had travelled a considerable distance - I suppose about 40 or 50 miles bv road - to see him. He said: "I shall look into the matter. It will be all right " ; and they went away satisfied. These per- sons produce a large quantity of milk and butter, and it is very necessary that they should have some means of carrying on their business. They also feel acutely the fact that they are cut off from getting medical assistance in times of sickness. During the lifetime of this Parliament, the people of Lostock, Nicholson, and Allynbrook, thriving districts, have been asking *i'os* telephonic facilities. They have offered to supply the poles, and to keep the lines in repair. They have done all they could to meet the Department half way, and yet they are constantly met with the same old tale - that the work cannot be undertaken because no funds are available. I am sorry that the demands of nature obliged the Postmaster-General to leave the Chamber to get some supper, because I should have liked him to hear a great deal which I am afraid he will not become aware of. From the Secretary of the Progress Association at Ai lynbrook I have received the following letter - >I have been instructed by my association to write to you regarding the practice of the Federal Government in connexion with the establishment of country telephone^. The Eccleston residents asked for telephone communication with Allynbrook. In common with the rest of Australia's citizens they bear their share of taxation - Why should not these pioneers who bear their share of the taxation get their share of postal facilities? But whilst residents in towns can get this convenience with a minimum of trouble the people here, who have a great deal more need -of it, are asked practically to construct *it* out of their own pockets. The same applies to the Lostock proposed line. The association trusted you would see the injustice of such a practice and utilize every opportunity to condemn it. In Eccleston's case, rather than do without the line, the residents have offered to find all poles. And yet the Postmaster-General turns a deaf ear to these people. The ex- PostmasterGeneral recognised the necessity to which I have drawn attention ; but nothing has been done. Here is another letter from **Mr. Scott,** the Secretary to the Post and Telegraph Department - >With reference to your letter of the 22nd ultimo, further respecting the desire of the Allynbrook District Progress Association, Allynbrook, New South Wales, for the establishment of telephonic communication between Allynbrook and Lostock, I have the honour to inform you it is regretted that existing conditions will not permit of the construction of the desired line being undertaken during this "financial year. The residents, however, can take steps to erect the line themselves, if they so desire, under the provisions of Part XVIII. of the telephone regulations (copy attached). This is a matter which concerns, not only my own electorate, but the electorates of other honorable members in the neighbourhood of Sydney. Then I have a letter from **Mr. James** D. Dight, who was at one time a representative in the New South Wales Parliament, of the Singleton constituency. In that letter, it is stated - >I approach you as the representative of the Hunter Valley in the Commonwealth Parliament with a view of asking you to interview the PostmasterGeneral, and put before him a matter which needs some alteration at his hands. It is with reference to the despatch of mail matter from Sydney to the different towns along the Hunter Valley, or I may say as far as Murrurundi. At present there are three mail trains leaving Sydney in the afternoons, namely, the North-West, leaving at 3 p.m. : the Brisbane, leaving at 5.10 p.m.; and the Glen Innes, leaving at 7.15 p.m. All communications for the towns up the Hunter Valley must be- posted in time for despatch by the North-West mail, otherwise are detained till the next day, as I am informed no mails are made up for despatch to the towns of the Hunter Valley by either the Brisbane or the Glen Innes mail trains, although they pass through these towns. What I wish to ask of you is, would you interview the PostmasterGeneral and endeavour to persuade him to allow postal matter for the Hunter townships that may be late posted for the North-West mail to be despatched by the Glen Innes mail? It would be greatly appreciated by all residents in these towns and the district surrounding. The ex-Postmaster-General objected to anything in the form of sweating. But I can say that for the last two years and a half, a poor lad in the employment of the Department has been sweated and driven in a way that would not have been tolerated in the old slave days in the Southern States of America. Not only has this boy been overworked, but the horse on which he rides has been overdriven. He is, according to my information, employed as a telegraph messenger at Boolaroo, in NewSouth Wales, and he has to carry the mailbags from the Post Office to Cockle Creek, half-a-mile distant, five times a day, and from Cockle Creek station to the Post Office four times a day. Besides this, he has to act as letter-carrier in the mornings, delivering letters around Boolaroo, Spiers Point, which is half-a-mile distant; Argent's Hill, which is one mile distant, and Cockle Creek. . In addition, a letter-box is cleared at Spiers Point twice daily - once while the boy is delivering letters - at Argent's Hill once daily, and Cockle Creek four times daily. Then he has to deliver telegrams, necessitating travelling on an average ten miles daily. I am informed that he has been employed for a period of two years and five months, and, during that time, he has had five horses, four of which have broken down owing to too much work, while the one he is using at present is nearly knocked up. It might be well to provide this lad with a bicycle in order that he might do his work satisfactorily. I regret very much to have detained the Committee, but really my patience is absolutely exhausted with making complaints to the Minister. I trust that the present Postmaster-General will give these matters his serious attention. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- I will. {: .speaker-L1H} ##### Mr LIDDELL:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906 -- I hope that the Government will not bottle up their finances and reserve too much money for other purposes, but will recognise that the Department must be properly reorganized. If that is not done, there will be such an outcry throughout the length and breadth of the land that I doubt whether any of us will come back to Parliament after the next election. {: #subdebate-10-0-s70 .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr STORRER:
Bass .The Post Office is probably the most important Department under the management of the Commonwealth, because it affects every man and woman and every boy and girl in the country. I shall not refer to any of the questions that have come under my notice as a member of the Royal Commission that is now sitting. I must, however, allude to a remark made by the honorable member for Illawarra, who said that the Commission was simply appointed to whitewash the former Government. I do not think that it can be said that I have sought to whitewash any one since I have been in Parliament, nor do I believe that the Commission intends to whitewash any one. It was not necessary for the honorable member to make such a remark, because we are all supposed to be honorable men, and he might have trusted the members of the Commission to do their duty. The cause of a great deal of the trouble in the Post and Telegraph Department is that the various States lost large sums of money in consequence of Federation, and the Commonwealth Government has been anxious to return to them as much revenue as it could possibly afford. Since Federation, more than . £6,000,000 has been returned to the States over and above that to which they were entitled. Much of that money might have been usefully spent on improving the postal service. But on account of the necessities of the States the Commonwealth returned it to them. I. think that the right policy was followed, because taxation is grievous to bear, and sometimes it is better to put up with a certain amount of inconvenience than to get into debt. Before we complain of the Post Office it is just as well to look into the facts. The Commonwealth, like private individuals, has to consult its pocket before it incurs expenditure. Take for instance the complaints made with reference to the telephone service. A former Minister reduced telephone charges, with the consequence that there was a loss of revenue and a great increase in the demand for instruments. Last year, 9,000 new telephones were erected in the Commonwealth, whereas in the previous seven years the rate of increase was only 3,000 per annum. Of course there was some delay, because it is. impossible to find at the corner of every street men who are capable of putting up telephones. The work is not as easy as digging post-holes. Technical skill is required. Moreover, it would not have been right to employ a large number of additional hands to do this work, and to then throw them out of employment when the rush was over. All men of business know that rushes will come in all departments of industry. There is no serious cause of complaint with reference to the telephones. A table has been laid before honorable members showing receipts and expenditure in connexion with post offices throughout Australia. To my astonishment, when I went through the document to ascertain particulars regarding my own State, I found that the revenue for the capital was not put down. Neither is there a return of the revenue for the other capitals of the States. Seeing that the figures are two years old the officers might have completed them, and surely should have recognised that the information would not have been complete or satisfactory without full particulars relative to the capitals. I am glad that the Postmaster-General has started the system of supplying this information, and hope that it will be kept up. The stock in hand should be valued, and we should have a complete balance-sheet. We have heard a great deal lately about the large amount of money lost on services in the outlying districts. This return gives figures relative to three post offices in the neighbourhood of Hobart. There is a loss of£800 on the three. That is very serious. The three to which I allude are Newtown, where the loss is £414; Sandy Bay, where the loss is £219 ; and Belleri ve, where the loss is £128. The (northern part of Tasmania shows a net gain of £10,127, whilst the southern part of the State shows a loss of £46. In the west of Tasmania the receipts exceed the expenditure by £3,126. This information is very useful. With reference to the facilities for outlying places, I brought before honorable members a little while ago the case of Flinders and King Islands. The people there have no cableservice, no wireless telegraphy system, whilst the mail reaches them only once in three weeks, and is unreliable at that. As the present Minister knows so much about postal matters, I hope that he will take this case into his serious consideration. A year or two ago it was requested that provision should be made for procuring at cheap rates sites for post-offices in rising towns in country districts, so that there might be no delay, and expense might be saved, when property had increased in value. I received a petition from 120 residents at Branxholm, in my constituency, for the erection of a post-office. They have had a piece of ground there for some years suitable for that building. The railway is to be continued to the town shortly.The Deputy Postmaster-General of Tasmania, in reply to the petition, stated that, as the railway was to be constructed, and allotments were increasing rapidly in value, it would be unwise to build a postoffice at present. That is very peculiar reasoning. I should have thought that that was the right time to build a post-office. The people at Lilydale, in Tasmania, want a telephone, but because the stationmaster's house is a few yards from the station, the whole question has been hung up for over twelve months. I should think a difficulty of that kind could be easily overcome. It would be if left in the hands of a business man. I trust that the Minister will look into the correspondence and have that work carried out. A little over three years ago, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro when PostmasterGeneral, visited Lilydale, and a -deputation asked him to grant to that and other places along the line the concession that people should be allowed to post their letters in the train without extra charge. Country people, especially at places where there is only one train a day look upon the train as their letter-pillar. They may drive 10 or15 miles to meet a train, but if they are after posting time they have to pay a late fee, and have also to pay extra if they want to post the letter in the train. That is a great hardship, because people who go to meet a train like to get there on time. If they arrive too early, there are no conveniences for putting up the horses. An extra fee on half-a-dozen letters means the payment of 6d., but it is not so much the amount as the principle that they object to. The sooner the extra charge is abolished, the better. Those who have not lived in the country have no conception of the hardships that residents in the bush have to put up with. All these extra taxes upon them should be abolished throughout the Commonwealth. The train is running, the letter-box is there, and they should be allowed to post their letters in it without extra payment. We have now a PostmasterGeneral who has made a close study of postal matters for a number of years, and is well acquainted with Australian postal necessities. I believe, if he is in office long enough, he will try to rectify some of the faults of the past. Perhaps by the time he receives the report of the Postal Commission, and effects all the improvements they suggest, we may have a good postal service for the Commonwealth. We are not a whit behind other parts of the world in the matter of intelligence and ability if we put our minds to these matters. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr Archer: -- How long will it be before the report of the Postal Commission is ready ? {: .speaker-KVJ} ##### Mr STORRER: -- One report- I do not know how far it will go - should be ready before very long, but it will, perhaps, be a long while before the whole of the work is completed, as there are so many questions to consider, and the Department is so large. In the meantime, I would not attempt to stop any one from introducing necessary reforms. If the PostmasterGeneral carries out reforms in the Department in the interests of the people, this Parliament will back him up. We might exercise a little patience with him, and also with the Department, seeing that during the last year there has been such a rush of extra work, due to the reduction of charges to the general public. Those who get the benefit of those reductions should be the last to complain of the concessions they have received. {: #subdebate-10-0-s71 .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN:
Nepean .Many of us hoped to have an interim report from the Postal Commission before these Estimates came up for discussion. That body was appointed on 24th June last, and has been sitting now for nearly six months. We realize the vast amount of work they have to do, and the immense distances they have to travel,,, and it may have been that they wanted to present a full report. Had the Commission presented an interim report, it would have greatly assisted honorable members in the consideration of these Estimates. I hope that the Postmaster-General will not postpone necessary reforms until the work of the Commission is completed. It may be thought a little indelicate to forestall their suggestions, but the first consideration should be the public interest, and the sooner the administration of the Department is on a proper footing, the better it will be for the country and for the credit of Parliament. I wish to direct the attention of the Postmaster- General to complaints which have been made because of the enforcement of the regulation that youths under eighteen years of age are not to be employed in connexion with the carriage of mails. In many instances this causes hardship to small contractors. Until lately the employment of boys has been winked at. The contractor for the mail service between Mount Victoria and Hartley Vale, or some township in the Macquarie electorate, has been employing a lad of fifteen to go to the railway station at Mount Victoria for the mail arriving by train about midday. . This contractor gets only £50 or £60 a year for the whole service, and if he had to employ a man to do this part of the work - because a boy over eighteen years of age demands a man's wages - it would cost him *£1* a week. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- He knew of the regulations when he signed the contract. {: .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN: -- Yes, but for three years during the existence of his previous contract the regulation was not enforced. He thought that the postmaster at Mount Victoria had a spite against him, but the enforcement of the regulation has been insisted on since a new postmaster came there. I hope the Postmaster-General will give consideration to the need for establishing telegraphic communication with Newnes, a township which has a population of between 1,500 and 2,000 persons; but is now dependent for communication by wire upon the courtesy of the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, which has a private telephone to Clarence, on the main western line. The company has done what it could to f acilitate the erection of a telegraph line, and has offered the Government the free use of its telephone poles, but the Department says that it has no money for the work. Another complaint which I wish to voice is that of guarantors for telephone services. When the Department accepts a guarantee for the installation of telephone exchanges, it should put the money to a trust account, and commence the work without delay. Nothing is more irritating than for those who have subscribed such a guarantee to find that nothing is to be done, and that their money will not be returned to them until it has been voted by Parliament. I had intended to speak in regard to retiring allowances, but as the hour is so late, 1 shall not do so. The practice of the Department in paying the Railways Commissioners for work done by their employes is not satisfactory to the latter. The Railways Commissioners si-.y that the postal duties of their employed are taken into consideration in the fixing of salaries; but the stationmasters who dopostal work feel that they get nothing for their extra duty. Could not the money paid by the Department be given directly/ to those who do the work? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- The Railways Commissioners will not permit that. {: .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN: -- Then the Department will do well to take its business from the railway stations . wherever possible. For some time past, the Strathfield municipal1, council has been in communication with theDepartment, through me, in reference to the long hours of the Homebush postmaster on Mondays and Thursdays. On those days, his assistant is sent to Flemington, where the cattle and sheep sales take place, and the postmaster has to stay in his office from about half past seven in the morninguntil half past eight at night, takings his meals there as best he may. Formerly the Department used to send: up a relieving officer from Sydney,, but that practice has been discontinued,, and the postmaster has been instructed to employ one of the messengers whilst his assistant is absent at the cattle sales. The messengers are boys about fifteen years of age, and this arrangement has not worked satisfactorily, owing to the fact that a good deal of money order and savings bank business has to be attended to, and this cannot be transacted by boys. I would urge upon the Department the desirableness of sending up an assistant upon the days to which I have alluded. The other matter to which I desire to refer, is the need for establishing additional trunk telephone lines from Homebush to Sydney. At present there are only eleven of these lines in existence - seven from Homebush to Sydney, and four from Sydney to Homebush. There are more than 300 subscribers on the exchange, and the facilities provided for them are utterly inadequate. One firm - I refer to Arnott's biscuit factory - which is connected with the Homebush exchange, has eight or nine telephones in use - more telephones than there are trunk lines between Homebush and Sydney. There ought to be not merely direct communication with Sydney, but additional junction lines to Parramatta, Strathfield, Burwood, Ashfield, and other exchanges which would relieve the central exchange of a good deal of the work which now passes through it. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will not regard these matters as of trivial importance, because of the hasty way in which I am dealing with them. Not longago I received a letter from a friend at Grafton, calling attention to the condition of the telephone exchange there. The telegraph boys have to sleep in an old building which was formerly used as a stable. {: .speaker-KW8} ##### Mr JOHN THOMSON:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It is usual to allow the representative of any particular district to voice the complaints of that district. {: .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN: -- The honorable member for Richmond is not present- {: .speaker-KW8} ##### Mr JOHN THOMSON:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- But the honorable member for Cowper is. {: .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN: -- Grafton isin the honorable member's electorate. I will pass on to him the grievance to which I was about to refer. Although thetelephone assistants are supposed to work seven and a half hours on Sundays, most of them work nine hours. But, although they work nine hours, they are paid for only seven and a half hours, being allowed to take the remaining one and a half hours off duty during the week. That seems to me to be an unfair arrangement. They should be paid at Sunday rates for the time they work on Sundays. The reduction of the cleaning staff in the General Post Office, Sydney, is a matter which I commend to the earnest attention of the Postmaster-General. We used to take a pride in. the cleanliness of our post-office, but at present we are rather ashamed of its condition. I understand that dirt ac cumulates in the building, simply because the cleaning staff has been reduced, and is not adequate to keep it clean. During the plague scare a good many rumours were afloat regarding the presence of plague-stricken rats in the building. We do not want statements of that sort to be put into circulation. Is it any use asking the Postmaster-General what he intends todo in reference to main trunk lines? I am almost afraid to visit some portions of my constituency, because of the way in which they have been treated by the Department. I trust that something will be done to improve the western line, and also the Gosford line, which is almost unworkable. The latter is conducted upon the condenser system, and it is nearly impossible to speak over it from Sydney. So long as these lines pay we ought to find the money with which to keep them in repair, even if we have to borrow. I do hope that the Postmaster-General, with that enthusiasm which has always characterized him, will bring all his energies to bear upon the solution of these problems which are vexing the Commonwealth so much at the present time. {: #subdebate-10-0-s72 .speaker-K5J} ##### Mr COON:
Batman -- There is one very disappointing feature in connexion with this debate. Some time ago, at the instance of the honorable member for Gwydir, a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the working of. the Postal Department. Every honorable member, therefore, expected that that honorable member would have had something to say regarding the work of that body. But up to the present time he has remained silent. The Chairman of the Commission is absent, but I notice that the Deputy Chairman is present, and I think that before these Estimates have been dealt with, he ought to make some statement regarding the progress which the Commission has made. Surely a body which has been in existence for six months has something to communicate to honorable members. Steps should certainly be taken to compel it to submit a progress report before the prorogation of Parliament. I desire to bring under the notice of the Ministry the position of the letter carriers who, in my opinion, do not receive adequate remuneration for their labours. I know that the late Administration have made provision for a slight increase in their salaries, but their case is worthy of special consideration. Some men do not regard the position of a letter carrier as one involving much responsibility, but, in my opinion, these men are called upon to discharge very important duties, and should not be overlooked. We find that a number of them are receiving £126 per annum, and many others only £110 per annum. Some of them will have been thirty-one years in the service before they secure the maximum salary. Under the present system men who have already been seventeen years in the service will have to serve practically another seventeeen years before they can reach the maximum pay of their class, and lads who enter the service as office boys must serve seventeen years before they can secure the maximum pay of their division. Surely there should be introduced a system under which these men will be able to receive the remuneration to which they are justly entitled without having to serve for so long a period. Our letter carriers receive very small wages as compared with the remuneration received by men discharging similar duties in other countries. Let me call attention to the remuneration received by letter carriers in the United States, and in passing I may say that it is doubtless due to the fiscal policy in operation there that so high a level is reached. The scale of pay there is as follows :1st grade, $600 per annum; 2nd grade, $800 ; 3rd grade, $900 ; 4th grade, $1,000; 5th grade, $1,100; and 6th grade, $1,200 per annum. In other words, they receive from £125 to £250 per annum. In New Zealand, those in the first grade receive from £180 to £200, those in the second, from £150 to £170, and those in the third, from £110 to £140 per annum. Thousands of letter carriers in the Commonwealth are not being adequately remunerated. I believe that the present Postmaster-General, like his predecessor, is in full sympathy with these men who are on the lower rungs of the ladder, and I hope he will look intothis question. Surely a man twenty-five years of age is worth more than £110 or £125 a year, and it ought not to be necessary for him to remain in the service until he is forty-five years of age in order to secure the maximum salary of his class. Letter carriers have very onerous duties to perform. They have to work in all sorts of weather, setting out very often early in the morning, and being unable to reach their homes until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. Then, again, their work, to a large extent, is not under direct supervision. They have to be trusted to properly discharge very respon sible duties, and from time to time have to bear the brunt of public criticism, and are often wrongly blamed for the non-delivery of letters. The Committee of the Cabinet appointed by the late Government to inquire into the management of the Department, submitted a. progress report, in an appendix to which examples are given of where on inquiry it was found that (he Department was not to blame. The following cases, amongst others, are cited - {: type="1" start="3"} 0. Complaint of non-delivery of letter which was subsequently found in the pocket of a lady to whom it was intrusted to post, and who failed to do so. 1. A firm in Queensland reported as follows : - As the result of a search, they had found 109 stamped letters which had never been posted but hidden away behind a case, and 120 unstamped letters secreted' elsewhere. Letters and cheques were also discovered in various places on their premises. 2. Non-delivery of a letter. Inquiry showed that it had not been posted, it having subsequently been found under a table cover. Surely these men, who have to stand the brunt of public criticism, are entitled to some consideration, and should receive extra remuneration ? The PostmasterGeneral will probably say that the proposals of the Public Service Commissioner will lead to an increase in their salaries. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- About £5 a year. {: .speaker-K5J} ##### Mr COON: -- Before these men can secure the full amount of the increase recommended by the Public Service Commissioner, they must serve a further term of fourteen years. If the Commissioner believes that in ten or eleven years' time they should receive a certain salary for doing the work which they now perform, they should be given that salary now. No plea that funds are not available should be allowed to stand in the way, when we have recently increased the salaries of some of the more highly-paid officials. I suppose that nothing canbe done in the matter in dealing with these Estimates, but, in framing the next Estimates, I trust the PostmasterGeneral will take into consideration the position of the letter carriers and line repairers. These latter have to perform very important and dangerous work, and they also are entitled to consideration. I know that the present Prime Minister and the Postmaster-General sympathize with these men, and will be prepared to give them the remuneration which men performing similar work in New Zealand and elsewhere receive. I do not know what the Royal Commission will recommend for the improvement of the administration of this Department. But I hope that before these Estimates have been passed the honorable member for Gwydir, who was very much interested in the Commission, will show that he has lost none of the zeal he displayed in securing its appointment, and will let the Committee have the benefit of the conclusions at which he has arrived after examining the witnesses who have appeared before him. We should know what recommendations the Commission have to make for the better administration of the Department. The honorable member for Gwydir should at least be able to make some suggestions for the improvement of our telephone system. I do not desire to occupy further time. I trust that the Postmaster-General will give attention to the matters I have brought under his notice. {: #subdebate-10-0-s73 .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER:
Capricornia -- When increased postal facilities have been asked for, the departmental reply has frequently been that the requests made are in every way reasonable, but cannot be granted until Parliament has provided the necessary funds. In my judgment, that reply is in itself a condemnation of the administration of this Department. It may be true that in the past the Department has been starved in order to return money to the States, but that does not exonerate those who have been responsible for its administration and for providing the necessary funds. Every one knows that it is unreasonable to expect that a vast business with such ramifications as the Post and Telegraph Department can be carried on without loan money. I do not know who is responsible for the failure to provide funds, which has resulted in the existing condition of affairs, but I understand that a previous Government did submit a proposal to raise money by loan to meet the requirements of the Post and Telegraph Department, and this House refused to ratify it. The responsibility must rest upon the Government in power for the time being to provide the funds necessary for carrying on the work of this Department effectively. They would be absolutely justified in borrowing money to carry out permanent works, extending the payment of interest and principal over a period of years. Mr.Watson. - If we started that policy, we should have every rotten proposal described asa permanent work. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- If the honorable member means to suggest that we must expect to have absolutely incapable men in charge of Commonwealth affairs who would permit ordinary subsidies for mail contracts to be charged to loan account, the outlook for Australia is not a very hopeful one. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- If we started with the borrowing policy, it would not be confined to the requirements of the Post and Telegraph Department. {: .speaker-JM2} ##### Mr ARCHER: -- That has really nothing to do with the matter in hand. The argument which the honorable member uses that money which was borrowed for the purpose of the post, telegraph, and telephone service would be used for a dozen other purposes is a very poor one. Surely those who control the Department would see that borrowed money was used' for only permanent work, or work the use of which would extend over a period of years. The people will have a very just cause of complaint if ordinary services, especially in country districts, are constantly refused or cut down simply on the ground that there is a want of funds. It is the business of the Government to find the money with which to give the people an efficient service. It has been said that the centres of denser population are paying for the loss on the country services, but that is an utterly false standard to set up. These are not services which are rendered" for payment received in the ordinary sense of the term but services to civilize the country for one thing, and to settle and develop it for another. The whole of the postal services must be taken as one service. The fact that some country services are run at a loss is surely no argument for discontinuing them. It is absolutely necessary that the people of the country districts should have their postal services. It is a portion of our policy for developing and" settling the country. Apart from the ordinary troubles regarding country services, we in Queensland, so far as I know, have not very much to growl about. The Department has met my requests for my constituency in every way in which it fairly could, considering the lack of finances. The ex - Postmaster - General did his best, and I am happy to say that, after a great deal of fighting, I succeeded in getting him to approve of most of the large works which I wanted, and which could justly be claimed to be necessary. But we cannot expect people in a country district who require a postal service to be put off constantly with the statement that although it has been approved of, the money is not available. It is the business of the Department to find the money. There is only one matter of a specific nature I wish to mention, and that is the trunk line between Maryborough and Bundaberg, which is' urgently required. It Has been approved, arid I only hope that the Government will carry it out as soon as possible. I have no doubt but that the Prime Minister will do all he can in that direction. {: #subdebate-10-0-s74 .speaker-KRN} ##### Mr SINCLAIR:
Moreton -- I congratulate the Minister upon his good fortune or good tactics in having reached his Estimates at an hour when we are all tired and anxious to curtail our speeches as much as possible. After having heard the wail of woe from representatives of New South Wales and Victoria, I begin to think that we in Queensland are in a happy position. We have been met by the officials in the States, in fact, by the Department generally, in a reasonable way, so far as funds would permit. Evidently, things are in a bad state in New South Wales and Victoria. A letter, which was plainly addressed to me at Parliament House, Melbourne, was returned ' to Queensland with the words, "Post Office not known," written in red ink across the envelope. It shows that the sorting of letters is not carefully done somewhere in Melbourne. I feel sure that the Postmaster-General will do all he can to push on with works so far as money is available. But I trust that he will prevail upon the Government to allow him a great deal more money than his predecessor had in order to carry out reproductive works. In my division various trunk lines are hung up for the want of funds. For some time, we have been agitating for further trunk lines between Ipswich and Brisbane. There has been a constant complaint from the residents of Ipswich that they cannot be connected with Brisbane. Sometimes they have to wait for hours before they can get a connexion. This very short line, if constructed, would pay. It is only a matter of finding the wire and fixing it. Then, a trunk line to Esk was promised eighteen months ago. The same condition of affairs prevails there as at Ipswich. Persons coming from the country, perhaps a distance of several miles, in order to communicate with 2 particular centre, have to wait for hours before they can do so, and sometimes they are obliged to go home without having been connected. The Beau desert line is in a similar position. The Government need have no hesitation in erecting these lines, because they would pay from the start. In 1908, £3,500 was voted for the purchase of telephone instruments for Queensland, and £6,904 was spent, but «this year the Government have only asked for a sum of £3,500, although quite a number of exchanges has been hung up from the want of telephone instruments. That reminds me of the fact that a number of second-hand instruments, which are now being set aside as useless, might be used in some places until they could be replaced with new ones. It does not appear to me to be commonsense or businesslike, when people cannot be supplied with telephonic communication quickly enough, that instruments should be thrown on the scrap heap. I am given to understand that hundreds of instruments are lying idle while hundreds of applications are refused connexion on the ground that there is a lack of instruments. Although not so ornamental as the newer article, the old instruments would suit country purposes very well ; and the Postmaster- General would do a good sendee if he installed them in some of the outlying exchanges. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Then honorable members would turn round and complain. {: .speaker-KRN} ##### Mr SINCLAIR: -- I do not think that honorable members would object. Doubtless, in a large city, subscribers might question the use of such appliances, but I am sure that the people in the country towns would be very glad to have instruments of. any kind ; and, in my opinion, the present system is extravagant. There has been a change in the political head of the Department recently, and I trust he will take into consideration a suggestion which I made to his predecessor in regard ' to a continuous telephone service in country districts. According to a return which was prepared, covering a period of, I believe, four months, there was only one call throughout the whole of Queensland between midnight and the usual opening hour in the morning. At present, if we ask for an extension of the telephone services in the country towns, we must be able to show that there is a revenue of £150 per annum. In many of such towns, a service from 6 in the morning until 10 at night is all that . is asked for, but, according to some regulation, there must be either an eight-hour service or a twenty-four-hour service. I suggest to the Postmaster- General that it would be only business-like, if the whole cannot be given, to give as much as possible. Seeing that only one subscriber availed himself of the allnight service, I do not see any necessity for going to the enormous expense of employing officers who must sleep on the exchange premises. The question of the inland mail service has been pretty exhaustively dealt with by the honorable member for Maranoa. I see, however, that in Queensland last year £55,628 was spent for the conveyance of country mails, and that, for the same service this year £55,679 is provided. We have been hammering away at the Department for an extension of the country services; and, in many cases, the reply to our request has been unsatisfactory, to the effect that the lines suggested would not pay their way." Very often I have been told that, because cream carts pass the residences, there was no necessity for the Postal Department to do anything. All the same, it is necessary to the development of Australia that the people of the back-blocks should have means of communication; and I hope the PostmasterGeneral, with his usual commonsense, will see that the struggling settler is not neglected in this respect. £520 is provided in Queensland for temporary assistance in the Department. If there is a question which requires looking into, it is that of temporary employment ; we cannot say that there are rushes in the postal work which call for any such arrangement. Postal work will always be expanding, but temporary employment is a source of dissatisfaction to those employed ; and I think that, in Queensland, at' any rate, a number might be put on the permanent staff and made to feel that they are a part of the Public Service. The honorable member for Nepean referred to the amounts paid to the. Railway Departments of the States for services rendered by railway officials as postmasters. In my opinion, the system of paying a lump sum is very unsatisfactory; and the sooner the Department gets into direct touch with the officials who do the work, the better it will be for the public and the officials themselves. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- The States Railways Commissioners would not, for one *moment,* allow one of their subordinates to be paid by another authority. {: .speaker-KRN} ##### Mr SINCLAIR: -- The other alternative is, where possible, to do away with the assistance of the Railway Department. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- That is what 'is done by the Department. {: .speaker-KRN} ##### Mr SINCLAIR: -- I know of an exstationmaster in Queensland who is now paid! £185 as postmaster, he having previously undertaken the railway and postal work for a similar sum. The railway officialslook on the postal work as a secondary consideration. I know a gatekeeper who receives from the Railway Department the magnificent salary of £36 per annum, while the Railway Department is paid £35. per annum for the postal work done by that woman, who refused to sell stamps on the ground that she is not paid for doing so, although the Railways Commissioners are paid by the Post and Telegraph Department for her services. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction in regards to this system of dealing with the Railway Departments, and if there is any way of improving it, I should be pleased to see a new method adopted. I notice an item of £1,140 to be paid to the Pacific Cable Board for services rendered in connexion with land line work at Southport. I should like the Postmaster-General to explain why this item appears upon the Estimates, and why the Department has to pay the Pacific Cable Board this money. Another subject which has attracted my notice is that of the defalcations of the postmaster at Toowong. I should like to know whether officers occupying responsible positions have to provide a fidelity guarantee bond or whether the Department itself guarantees them? There is room for improvement, if there is no guarantee. Personally, I have very little complaint to make against the Department, though I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will " get a bit of a move on," and if his officers tell him that there are no funds will insist on money being found for necessary works. {: #subdebate-10-0-s75 .speaker-L6Z} ##### Mr HALL:
Werriwa .- This debate has lasted about five hours. I shall not prolong it for more than five minutes. I wish to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General the regulation dealing with penny postage in country towns. The regulation provides that - >The limits within which the rates for town and suburban letters have effect shall be - > >In the case of the Capital city of a State, the area within a radius not exceeding 13 miles from the General Post Office of the State; and > >In the case of any other city or town, the area within a radius, from the principal post-office of the city or town of one mile for every 3,000 inhabitants of the city or town and its suburbs ; but not exceeding in any case a distance of eight miles from such principal post-office. I have before objected to the tendency on the part of the Department to extend advantages to residents of the cities which it is not prepared to extend to those who live in the country. The Department, in its own small way, has in the past pursued the mistaken policy of favouring centralization, and of giving favours to people in the large centres which are denied to those in the sparsely-populated localities. This regulation is an example. The complaints that I have made in the past have mostly related to the failure to spend money, which, I admit, the Department has not had available. This,' however, is not a question of expenditure. It is one of reconsidering '.a regulation .which prevents country towns from having the advantage of penny postage which those living in cities enjoy. I see no reason why this should be so. I have received from the Department a refusal to extend the penny postage system to the town of Murrumburrah, in my own electorate. I put it to the Minister that he will do well if he endeavours to make the lot of folks in the country as pleasant as possible. They have many disadvantages to endure, and anything that can be done to make them more contented will be good policy. I think that the minimum of 3,000 mentioned in the regulation which I have quoted, ought to be reduced so as to permit the penny-postage system to apply to small towns. This alteration would merely "be doing scant justice to country folks. Without delaying the Committee further, 1 appeal to the Minister to give consideration to the matter, With the object of extending to the residents in country towns some of the advantages already extended to the cities. Throughout the length and breadth of Australia, people should be able to have letters which are carried over short distances, handled by the Department for a penny, even if it be not possible to extend the penny postage system all over the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-10-0-s76 .speaker-KW8} ##### Mr JOHN THOMSON:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -13 a.m.]. - I cannot but admire the splendid example of patience and endurance set "by the Postmaster-General during this long debate. He has exhibited a fine sense of self-control, and it is only fair to say that he has given careful consideration to the troubles that honorable members have brought under his notice. The honorable gentleman is evidently disposed to accept suggestions regarding matters that may have come under the observation of honorable members affecting the working of his great Department. I do not propose to occupy much time by bringing under the Postmaster-General's attention particular grievances which exist in my electorate. I regret that there are many services which require to be completed, but they are mostly of a character which can be threshed out between the Department and myself ; and so long as I receive that fair play which other honorable members experience, I shall be satisfied. .The matter which 1 specially desire to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General, relates to the regulations affecting tendering for public works. The Department allows contractors to put in tenders without any deposit, with the result that after a tender is opened and- considered, if a contractor finds that his tender is lower than that of another, he refuses to sign a contract. The consequence is that higher tenders have to be accepted and Government works are much more expensive than they ought to be. It would be in the interests of the Department to require every tender for the erection of telephone or telegraph lines to be accompanied by a deposit as a guarantee of good faith. In two or three instances in my electorate tenderers, finding that their prices were much lower than those of others, have not signed the contract, thus occasioning considerable delay, the calling of fresh tenders, and greater expense to the Department. There is a clause in mail contracts allowing the Department, if the service is increased from, say, two to three days per week, to compel the contractor to carry out the additional service for a proportionate increase in the payment. That appears fair on the face of it, but in many cases a contractor, in providing extra plant, horses, stables, and grooms, is put to an expense out of proportion to the additional pay. He should be asked first to state the price at which he is prepared to do the extra work. If that were considered too high, the Department could give the work to some one else. In one case that came under my notice a man who was already losing money on a contract was compelled to provide an additional service, and was involved in an even greater loss. Up to recently country postmasters could not have minor repairs effected to buildings without sending in a requisition form that had to go through all the circumlocution of a Government Department, and . getting a voucher. Some improvement has been effected by allowing repairs up to £5 worth to be made at once, but urgent cases occur occasionally in country districts where it is necessary for alterations costing more than £5 to be made immediately, owing to Orders from the civic authorities or others. A discretionary power should be given to country postmasters to have those works Carried out. If we can trust them to conduct a business with a turnOver of several thousand pounds, we Can surely trust them with those little matters. These questions could be easily attended to by regulation, and the Department, instead of losing, would probably gain considerably. I would call the attention! of the) Postmaster-General to a number of cases where the erection of telephone lines and the construction of exchanges have been undertaken at considerable expense, but insufficient work to bring them into operation has been performed, and consequently no revenue is obtained. I know instances where telephone lines have been brought up to a post-office, but no connexion has been made. The Department is losing money in those cases through not spending a little more. That is not desirable, because if the work was warranted at all, it certainly should be finished. There is a considerable amount of unfairness in the arrangements as regards country telephone exchanges. A subscriber to a small exchange with not more than fifty people to talk to, has to pay *£4* 10s. a year, whereas a man in Melbourne, with thousands of subscribers to talk to, pays only ,£5. THat is an instance where country people are not treated as fairly as are those in the larger centres. In such cases a policy of decentralization might well be applied. The position is made worse by the fact that in country exchanges only residents within a radius of two miles from the post-office can be connected for *£4.* ros., whereas in Sydney any person in the area between Parramatta and Manly, a distance of about 10 or n miles, has to pay a subscription of only £5. The discrepancy in that instance between a small country exchange and a big city exchange is too great. I suggest that in exchanges, with a limited number of subscribers, the radius should be considerably increased. This would involve no additional expense to the Department while it would add to the number of subscribers. There has been a number of complaints asto the congestion of business along the different lines. This has been caused by an increase in the business, without any morefacilities being provided to cope with it. To remedy the pressure, the Department sometimes erects an additional line, but, especially in timbered country, the whole of" the lines are often fouled by falling trees. The Postmaster-General might cause a mapshowing existing lines to be prepared, with a view to seeing if the existing lines could not be linked up. This would providealternative circuits, and avoid delays. It would cost no more money than it does toput up additional lines, which give relief only while they hold good. I also suggest the more frequent installation of duplex and quadruplex instrumentsin busy centres. Honorable members are, *no* doubt, aware that a duplex instrument enables the capacity of a line to be doubled, because one operator can receive and another send at the same time. These instruments, I understand, are not very expensive, and their use would relieve the present congestion at less cost than the erection of new additional wires on the present poles. It is in the public interest, and in that of the telegraph operators, that the congestion should be removed. Anoperator in charge of a country office cannot leave until he gets permission from the head office, and may often have to wait a long while to get rid of business taking, only a few minutes to transmit. For these detentions the Department has to pay overtime. The manner in which alterations tobuildings are effected is a long 1,Vav fromsatisfactory, there being too much circumlocution. I referred to the matter when the Works and Buildings Estimates were before us, and I suggest to the new Ministerthat, where small works, at any rate, are concerned, his Department should take all' responsibility. At present, the carrying out of a small work, such as the construction of a silence cabinet, necessitates the same routine as a work involving large expenditure. I regret to say, too, that many of the premises in my district are inadequate The Grafton Post-office, for example, is a long way from being satisfactory, the ladsemployed there on night duty in connexion with the telephone exchange having tosleep in a stable. The conditions under which telephone communication is established in country districts are not satisfactory. We have been given to understand! tha.t the Departmental terms are most easy, and that there is no investigation to determine the probable receipts and expenditure. I apply for as many telephone connexions as does any honorable member, and have never had an application granted until the local people have guaranteed the Department against loss. I do not know how the Departmental Estimates of receipts and revenue are made up, or what check is made on them ; but I feel sure that, in many instances, fair consideration is not given to all the circumstances. At Iluka, on the Clarence River, there is a watering place where the people of Grafton and other towns hire cottages and take rooms for the summer months. They wish to communicate direct with their business premises and their homes ; but, on a request being made for the installation of an exchange, the departmental officer made an estimate of the probable revenue which must have been based on the number "of permanent residents,, most of whom are fishermen, or boardinghouse.keepers. It is, however, from the tourists that most of the revenue would come. The Department covers the probable cost of a service .by asking for a guarantee of 10 per cent, on the probable outlay. It is true that it allows 5 per cent, for maintenance, but that is not a concession ; it is a further contribution from the residents, because lines cannot be maintained for so little. I do not say that the Department should not ask for guarantees, but a return of 5, 6, or 7 per cent, on its outlay ( would be ample. I had intended to say something about public works, but I shall take the opportunity of an interview which the Minister is prepared to give me to speak fully in regard to these and the other matters which I have mentioned in detail. In quite a number of country allowance offices the person in charge is paid as little as *£1* per annum. In very many instances they receive only £^5 a year. Now, the public require just as much attention from an officer who is in receipt of only *£5* a year as they do from .an officer who draws a salary of £500 a year. In my opinion, the Department should grant increases to the persons in charge of allowance offices, whenever the volume of business transacted warrants their payment. I know of several cases in which old persons are in charge of allowance offices. In order to meet the mail coach, they have to rise at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. all the year round, and for their services they receive a very small sum indeed. When an application is made for the establishment of an office under the allowance system, the Department is accustomed to make some estimate- of the probable revenue that would be derived from it, and upon that revenue the amount of the remuneration paid to the person in charge is based. That remuneration may be only £1 or £5 a year. The Department takes no steps to ascertain whether the person who is put in charge ought not to receive a larger sum. When an individual accepts the responsibility of conducting such an office, he does so, not because of the allowance made to him, but as an inducement to the Government to grant postal facilities to the district in which he is located. Consequently, I maintain that as soon as these offices become selfsupporting, the Department should increase the allowances to a fair amount. Next to allowance offices, upon an ascending scale, are the semi-official offices. In the conduct of these, quite a number of evils have crept in, which do not contribute to their successful working. In the first place, the receipts from a semi-official office must aggregate £3°° a year. Unless an office will show a revenue of £400 a year it cannot be classed as an official office. But any office, the business of which is worth more than £300 annually, has a chance of having a Morse instrument installed in it. Now, whilst it looks as if a semi-official office, in which a Morse instrument has been installed, will serve the public just as well as does an official office, experience is in the opposite direction. There are quite a number of semi-official offices, with a revenue of £300 a year, which would be better conducted if a junior classified officer, in receipt of £140, 01 even £120, a year, were put in charge of them. He would be under the control of the Public Service Commissioner, and the adoption of the system which I have suggested would- provide an opening for young men who are anxious to secure the management of offices. I would, therefore, urge the Minister to reduce the minimum revenue exacted from an official office from £400 t° *j£300* per annum. At present, too, a postmaster who is in receipt of £150 a year has no chance of securing promotion unless his office can be classified in a higher grade. Even then many cases might be cited in which offices, as the result of the hard work of the officials in charge of them, have been placed in higher grades and have merely provided openings for other individuals. Telegraphists can be graded up to *£10* a year upon the ground of their efficiency alone. That being so, efficiency should also count in the case of postmasters, who have often to act as accountants, electoral officers, and bank managers, besides performing quite a number of other functions. In the grading of these officers sufficient consideration is not given to the question of efficiency, and too much to the amount of revenue which is derived from the offices which they control. This difficulty might be overcome by providing that after twenty years' service these men after proving their efficiency should be granted increments, even if their offices do not produce the larger revenue necessary to secure their grading in a higher division. It is not fair to prevent their advance simply because their offices do not show a sufficient profit to the Department. I find, too, that in many country offices no allowance is made to the postmaster for cleaning. Consequently, a number of these places are in a rather uninviting condition. It is not fair to ask the postmaster who receives only a small salary to himself undertake the work of cleaning, and I am convinced that if the Department were to make a small allowance under this heading its property would be much better cared for. whilst the comfort of its patrons would be increased. It may be urged that the Department relies upon its inspectors to report on these matters - that its Permanent Head has no way of learning the conditions which obtain in country offices except through these officials. I admit that the inspectors exhibit a tremendous amount of interest in their work and do their utmost for the public and the Department. But they are asked to do too much. The districts which they are required to traverse are altogether too large, and the result is that their vists to country offices are not nearly as frequent as they ought to be. Seeing that the Permanent Head of the Department has no means of ascertaining the way in which country offices are being conducted except through the inspectors, I would suggest that their visits of inspection should be more frequent. This object can be attained only by increasing the number of inspectors. If one or two additional inspectors were appointed in New South Wales a much better state of affairs would be brought into existence there. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the inspectors, having regard to the number of offices they have to visit, cannot do more than audit the accounts. I am given to understand that they have been instructed to do nothing more than inspect the clerical work of these offices, and not to inquire into such questions as the way in which an office is conducted, whether the instruments and lines used are in good order, or whether the postmaster is using or abusing the premises. They are the only representatives of the Department who visit the rural districts, and that being so, greater facilities should be given to them. I would also suggest that inspectors from the mechanical branch of the Department should visit country offices. I have been living in the electorate which I represent during all my life, but have never heard of an inspector from the mechanical branch visiting it with a view of determining whether the mechanical appliances in the various offices are in good condition or up-to-date. The Department trusts to the local line repairer, and while, no doubt, he does all that he can, he cannot be expected to be an expert in all these matters. The lines are not what they ought to be. Any reports that the local line repairer may make as to necessary improvements are not indorsed as they ought to be by an inspector. Periodical visits of inspection to country offices should be made by representatives of the mechanical branch of the Department, and the lines and instruments, as well as the accounts, examined. I trust that I have not wearied the Committee in my effort to bring before the Minister some proposals, the adoption of which, I feel assured, will assist him in mastering the details of this great Department. {: #subdebate-10-0-s77 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 .- -I do not usually bring matters of detail before the Chamber, and should not do so now but for the persistent and constant flow of negative answers that I receive to the most trivial requests. It would really seem as if the Department were beggared beyond description, and had not even a sixpence with which to carry out any kind of work. That is my experience of it j but for the sake of the credit of the Department itself, I am glad to hear that honorable members generally are not in the same unfortunate position. It seems to me a common occurrence to be told that no matter how urgent a work may be, it cannot be carried out. It would seem, as the honorable member forIllawarra suggested, that it would be well for the Department to have a stamp bearing the letters " n.s.f.", for its use would save a great deal in the matter of correspondence. The Department is getting into great straits for want of money. This House has it, so to speak by the throat. The explanation is very simple. Parliament will not permit the Department to raise capital, and will not furnish it with the amount requisite to meet its constantly expanding and growing demands. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- That is the trouble. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Who is responsible ? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Parliament. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I do not believe that Parliament is responsible for it in the ordinary sense of the term. It is due rather to the fact that there has been in power a Government - and I see no difference now - that has readily shut its eyes to the constant growth of the Department, and has deemed it to be its duty at a time of tremendous expansion to withhold from it the capital necessary to enable it to meet its demands. There are only two ways to meet the difficulty, unless some sort of loan expenditure is to be incurred : either the general revenue must furnish the necessary funds, or the Department must be permitted to do what any other business controlled by private enterprise would do: to provide for its own wants by increasing its charges for services rendered. I take it, however, that there will be no going back in that direction. It would be a retrograde movement after all the concessions that have been made from time to time by various Postmasters-General. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- There is no reason why the flat-rate system should not be superseded by the toll system in connexion with the telephonic branch of the service. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I see no urgent need, in a young country like this, for any drastic proposals of the kind. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Why should big business firms secure all the advantages? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Why should there be any anomalies in life? Why is not the millennium here? {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- Why are we here? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Quite so. Why am I talking here at 4 o'clock in the morning? {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- Heaven only knows ! {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member knows, or ought to know. Is he aware of the number of replies from this Department that I have to send on to my constituents every day- {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- I have any number of them myself. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I am glad to hear it. The Postmaster-General, for the time being, should set an example to those who have to undergothis kind of treatment, and I hope that, as he does so, he will be more generous to those who have to submit to it. I have risen for the purpose, not so much of drawing attention to local troubles, although they are bad enough, as to point out one or two anomalies in the regulations, in the hope that the Department will remedy them. I find a constantly increasing attempt on the part of this Department to secure revenue by surreptitious means - not in a dishonest way, but by a manipulation of the regulations, which makes the prices nominally charged for various services, not the prices actually paid. The exPostmasterGeneral seems to be in an hilarious mood. I do not know why he does not go home, for he knows that nothing is being done that would not be done if he were in charge of these Estimates. He has had a guarantee in that regard from the present Government. They are proceeding along well-beaten Conservative lines, and the further we go towards recess the mystery deepens as to why the late Administration were dispossessed of office by the Labour Party. The Postmaster-General continues to give honorable members the stereotyped reply, and we are informed that all our complaints will be attended to as soon as funds permit. Notwithstanding all their projects of reform, the pet Government of the honorable member for Darling, who is the chief dreamer and reformer of them all, continues to tread the same old path, and, to use a phrase patented by the *Worker,* we are not "one day's march nearer" the Socialistic millennium. Socialism, in the Post and' Telegraph Department, is apparently still a failure. I wish to point out one or two finger posts for the direction of the PostmasterGeneral, who long ago constituted himself the Henniker-Heaton of Australia. I hope he will take the hint, and revise some of the absurd regulations which have been issued by the Department. The ex-Postmaster-General increased the radius within which the lower telephone charge should operate from1 mile to 2 miles. On the face of it that would appear to be a concession, but here begins the penalizing process to all who may live at a greater distance from the centre of population. Whilst the cost of a telephone is £5 per annum within the two-mile radius, a subscriber living over the line, is charged 10s. for every quarter of a mile beyond the two-mile radius. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- That is a concession, because the charge used to be *£1* for every mile, or fraction of a mile, beyond the radius. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- But the charge is now £2 for a mile beyond the radius. I am actually paying it myself. I pay for my private telephone £7 per annum, and I live2½ miles from the exchange. The two-mile radius is measured as the crow flies, but the distance to places beyond the radius is measured as the road runs. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- I made inquiries as the outcome of a conversation with the honorable member, and I was assured that whilst that is the practice adopted in the case of trunk lines, it is not the practice adopted in the case of private lines. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I am talking of the exchange at Parramatta. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- I am assured that the honorable member is mistaken. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- For places beyond the two-mile radius an entirely different standard of measurement is brought into operation, and a subscriber, who may be living 2¼ miles in a direct line from the exchange, is charged for 3 miles. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- That was never the intention. I am afraid that the local officer has been interpreting the regulations incorrectly. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I agree that it is a matter of interpretation. I complain that subscribers living beyond the two-mile radius are not even given the benefit of the direct measurement up to the radial limit. In their case the measurement is exactly as the line runs all the way from the exchange. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I believe that the actual length of wire is measured from the limit of the radius. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I should not object if that were done. But that is not the interpretation put upon the regulation. The distance to places beyond the radius is measured as the road runs from the exchange. I direct attention now to a postal anomaly. I speak of matters arising in the place where I live, because I suppose they are typical of what takes place all over Australia, and because I can speak of them from actual personal experience. I live at a place where, according to the latest returns published, 400 people use the postoffice. As a matter of fact, I believe that the number is more than 400, because there are 500 names on the electoral roll. I find that there is a rule applying to these small places, to the effect that there shall be no distribution of letters unless the office earns £200 per annum, and unless there are 100 letters for each delivery. According to the report, 23,000 letters were received there two years ago, and, of course, the number is much larger now. That averages a good many more than the minimum required for a delivery ; but, inasmuch as the other requirement regarding the earning of the office is not met, therefore there can be no delivery. I live halfamile from the post office, and I have to get my letters as best I can. There is no delivery, although there are 500 residents. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr Fuller: -- It does not average anything like 100 letters per day. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- For 300 days there would need to be 30,000 letters in order to average 100 per day. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The Department admits that we have more than the minimum number of letters, and there is no doubt that it is a fact; but inasmuch as the post-office does not earn the stipulated revenue a delivery cannot be granted. Let me state why the revenue is not earned. I, for instance, procure my postal requirements as I pass through Parramatta, which is three miles distant, because it is more convenient for me to do that than to walk half-a-mile to the local post-office. Other persons who live a mile from the post office are in a similar position. It is a suburban centre, and necessarily a great deal of the business is done in other places. It goes to swell the revenue of Parramatta, Sydney, and other places. The revenue is being earned at this place, only it is being accounted for in other offices. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Surely there must be some limit before we can deliver letters ? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I should think that the test is the work being done. If the letters are being posted and received, is not that the best test that the Department is being paid for them somewhere? I think that this double-banking, for the sake of preventing persons from getting ordinary advantages to which they are entitled, is an absurdly unjust rule to apply to such places. It is the same with a great many of the suburbs I represent near to Sydney. The residents go to business every day in Sydney and buy their postal requirements there, but their letters are all sent to their private addresses. So that while the work is being done at this post office there is not the money there to show that it is being done because it is being spent at other offices. The requirements of the place should be met in a reasonable way, instead of being frustrated by absurd rules which seem to have been framed for the express purpose of preventing persons from getting facilities to which they are entitled. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr Fuller: -- The way in which persons are treated at country offices is very much worse. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I do not know that it is, as we have no delivery and no money orders are obtainable. It seems to me, as I told the officials, a matter of interpreting the rules. Surely there ought to be an authoritative interpretation of them, and the officers should not be left to act as they like. My own opinion is that the rules are not so much at fault as the interpretation of them, but, somehow or other, the officials never make the mistake of interpreting a rule in favour of a man who wants a telephone. It is not honest for the Department to pretend that it is giving to the people this or that concession with the right hand and taking it away with the other by means of absurd regulations. That is not an honest and above board way of doing business. If the Department wishes to give cheap telephones let it do so, but do not let it take back any concession in a surreptitious way. Regarding trunk telephones, I think that in view of what is proceeding the honorable member for Illawarra made a justifiable protest. 1 have a multitude of them in my electorate. After having promised that all these lines shall be undertaken the Department suddenly turns round and says that it cannot be done. The question is, how long will the people have to wait ? There is no promise that next year will bring any relief. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- The year after will, though. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It will not. My honorable friend must not imagine, because there is going to be more revenue in the Consolidated Fund at the disposal of the Government that, therefore, this Depart ment will get it. All these good years, in which it is supposed to have done exceedingly well, have been the years in which these services have been starved, and no expansion seems to be possible. The trouble is that the Department is not on a business footing. If it were able to control its own finances there might be some relief, but no matter what it may earn in a year it is only permitted to have what the Treasurer likes to give, and what he can afford to give depends not upon the requirements of the Department, but upon the requirements of the Budget. That is an anomaly. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr Fuller: -- It is a remarkable thing that three principal trunk lines which were struck off the list were required in constituencies represented by Opposition members. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The three lines spoken of by the honorable member for Illawarra would pay handsomely from the start; but, contrary to the enterprise in other parts of the world, there seems to have been a stoppage in the construction of long-distance telephones in Australia. And these lines would appear to be in the constituencies of members of the direct Opposition. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr Fuller: -- That is rather remarkable. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It is a coincidence, I suppose. With regard to Gosford, the present line is utterly inadequate. The fee, I think, is10½d. for a conversation with Sydney; and it is better to save one's money, because an effort to communicate only ends in disappointment. Ever since the Department was transferred, we have heard only one tune, namely, that of concessions to users of the Post Office, and not a thought of efficiency or increased resources. In any ordinary business undertaking, if a forward departure were in view, care would be taken to have adequate reserves to meet any emergency. To-day, however, in consequence of the policy followed, the service is disorganized and demoralized. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- This is a bad advertisement for Socialism. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Well, it is. Though I do not know that it is so much due to any fault in the Socialistic system as to the 'fact that the Government has some bee in its bonnet. If I had my way, the present scandalous state of affairs would not continue very long. I am ashamed to send requests on to the Department,because of refusal after refusal, many couched in the most woodenheaded language. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- No, no. I signed a number of them myself. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Then the Ministermust know that some of the replies are of the most trumpery kind. In one of my letters I made representations in the hope that the Department might be induced to take a sensible view of the difficulty under which certain people labour, and I got a reply that would have shamed a school -boy. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- What case was that? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It was the case of people in a suburb in my electorate who have to pay £6 and £7 for a private telephone, although they are not more than 6 or 7 miles from Sydney. The Department chooses to erect arbitrary exchanges where they ought not to be, and makes the unsuspecting subscribers pay for them. A sensible rule was in existence at one time, which saved the Department money, prevented unnecessary outlay on the construction of exchanges, and was capable of expansion, no matter how congested the population might be. Under that system the people got more telephonic convenience for their money than they do now; but it was. abolished in favour of the distance measurement. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- The system referred to by the honorable member represented a subterfuge, and opened the door to corruption. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I should like the honorable member to explain. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- The Minister, under such a system, can act according to his whim and fancy, and the door is opened to all kinds of corruption. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- There is no whim or fancy in the plan I am speaking of. Under the prudent arrangement I have indicated, money was saved) while, at the same time, the people had a service to which they are entitled. Under the present system, people living 6 miles out of Sydney have, in some instances, to pay £2 per annum more for their telephone accommodation than has to be paid by other people living 8 miles away. We understood that under Federation people were to be treated on an equality when' they lived in the same areas and received similar services. We talk of differential railway rates. Here are differential telephone rates, and the sooner they areabolished the better. With regard to the long-distance telephones, something will have to be done shortly or the matter will have to be brought up in the House in a prominent way. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- We have a Commission investigating. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I suppose that in the long vista of the future we may see the Commission reporting. Some time the muster-roll will be called, and I daresay the members of the Commissionwill answer to their names. In the meantime they are trying to unravel a most knotty and- difficult skein. I hope that they will be successful. They have my best wishes.. They have a tough job before them. But if we are to wait until the skein is unravelled by the Commission the interests of Australia will be held up for a considerable time. The trouble is that the' Department is not itself able to assess the value of the services which it renders to the public. I defy the ex-Postmaster-General or the present Postmaster-General to divide accurately the various revenues at present earned by the Department. There is not a system of accountancy worthy of the name. The most urgent need of the moment is such a system of accounts as is to be found in the best private businesses. Far more difficult things than are dealt with by the Post and Telegraph Department are handled by private firms. We shall not make much headway until those responsible for the administration master the elements of a sound system of accountancy. I make no reflection upon the officers. They have been working under a system that has been long in operation. But something more is needed ; and one of the most urgent needs is one that will enable the Government to value the services rendered to the public. Who is to know what value should be put upon those services at present in their various proportions and relations? I could talk for twenty-four hours without repeating myself if I wereto detail the grievances of which I am personally aware in relation to this Department. But I have studiously avoided going into details. I prefer dealing with the regulations which make trouble. They can be remedied, and an effort has recently been made to remedy them. One of the causes of trouble in the Department is that for the first five or six years of Federation everybody seemed to be under the impression that everything was ready for some supposed concessions to be made to the country. The whole Department was put into chaos by concession after concession being made. For the last two or three years an effort has been made to steady up and get back to a business basis. I have no word to say against the ex- PostmasterGeneral. Much has to be said in praise of his efforts to get back to some decent sort of efficiency in administration. The whole service was demoralized during the first five or six years. The sooner we return to the point that the Department should be treated as a business concern and not as a political engine used for placating members of this House the better. The very worst thing that can' be done with a great business of this kind is to use it for political purposes. The result must be that in the end we get less concessions in reality than would be the case if the Department were kept steadily and strictly upon business lines. I throw out these hints in the hope that my honorable friend who is now in charge will do more than simply remove the anomalies that are now causing so much dissatisfaction throughout the country. I hope the Postal Commission will untie some of the knots that now hamper the Department, and so allow it to go freely on its career of increasing prosperity, knowing, as we do, of what infinite use it can be made in the development of the resources of Australia and the facilitation of the business of the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-10-0-s78 .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr THOMAS:
PostmasterGeneral · Barrier · ALP -- Honorable members will not expect me to reply to their remarks in detail at this hour, but I intend to read in *Hansard* all that has been said. I shall take a great deal of notice of it, because I have been thankful for many of the suggestions that' have been made. Of course, I. could not promise to carry them all out. No one has greater sympathy than I have with the people in the back country in the matter of mail routes. I represent a back country constituency myself. The question appeals to me so strongly that I would rather cease to be Postmaster- General than agree in future to any Estimates cutting down back country mail routes. But, whilst I have all possible sympathy with facilitating the carriage of mails in remote parts, it is absolutely impossible to carry letters to every person in Australia. There must be some limit. It is only within the last two or three years that it has been found possible to deliver letters to every place in the United Kingdom, so it would be absolutely impossible for us to do so in Australia. Some of the complaints that honorable members have brought before the Committee are, I know, justified. I sympathize a great deal with them, but we cannot carry these works out unless we have money. It is all very well to say that we give the stereotyped reply that there are not sufficient funds. If the funds are not there, the works cannot be done. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- What about submitting a financial scheme to provide money to carry them out? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr THOMAS: -- This, or some other Government will have to submit to Parliament a scheme to provide money to carry out these works in the Post and Telegraph Department. Whether the money comes from revenue, or by borrowing, or by extra taxation, is a matter of policy for the Government to decide, but no Government should be permitted to live unless they deal with that question. The honorable member for Batman referred to the wages of letter carriers, but they are outside the province of the Department, being controlled by the Public Service Commissioner. If the Department feels that those men are. not being paid sufficiently, I take it that it will be our duty to recommend to the Public Service Commissioner that their pay should be raised, but at the same time the final issue rests absolutely with him. I am sure that it will be to the advantage of the Department to adopt some of the suggestions that have been made during this debate. Proposed vote agreed to. Division 190 *(New South Wales), £1,056,657.* {: #subdebate-10-0-s79 .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr BOWDEN:
Nepean .What is the reason for the reduction of the vote for telephone attendants, New South Wales, from £38,029, to £37,672? I had anticipated that the amount would rather be increased. {: #subdebate-10-0-s80 .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr THOMAS:
PostmasterGeneral · Barrier · ALP -- As exactly the same number of attendants are provided for, I take it that the reduction is on account of the regrading. Proposed vote agreed to. Division 191 *(Victoria),* £718,785 ; division 192 *(Queensland),* £452,939; division 193 *(South - Australia),* £278,850; division 194 *(Western Australia),* £298,012; division 195 *(Tasmania),* £121,542, agreed to. Resolutions reported. {: .page-start } page 2923 {:#debate-11} ### APPROPRIATION BILL Duration ofRecess - Leader of the Opposition. Motion (by **Mr. Fisher)** proposed - >That the Standing Orders be suspended, in order to allow the report from the Committee of Supply to be adopted, and the Appropriation Bill1908-9 to be passed through all its stages without delay. {: #debate-11-s0 .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Hume -- At this stage, I think it right to suggest to the Prime Minister that it is not usual to allow the Appropriation Bill to leave the House, except on the understanding that it will not become law until the business of the session is practically completed. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Certainly, I promise that. {: #debate-11-s1 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I suppose that ends the matter. Apparently the leader of the Opposition does not count. I think it time to make a protest against what has happened of late in this Chamber. This is not the first time, **Mr, Speaker,** that you seem to have ignored the presence of the leader of the Opposition, and I shall feel it my duty to take certain steps if this practice is persevered in. {: #debate-11-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I do not know exactly what the honorable member means. I should have preferred him to say either less or more. The honorable member for Hume was on his feet some moments before the honorable member for Parramatta, and I had, in fact, called on him before the honorable member rose. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- No, sir, that is not so. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -I had called on the honorable member for Hume before I saw that the honorable member for Parramatta had risen. Had I noticed before I called on the honorable member for Hume that the honorable member for Parramatta was on his feet, I should have called him; but I had called the former before I noticed him. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- With great respect to you, sir, I do not see that I am to blame. I certainly was on my feet when the honorable member for Hume was called. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I had called on the honorable member for Hume before I saw that the honorable member for Parramatta had risen, and, therefore, permitted the former to proceed. I do not know what complaint the honorable member has. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Simply this: The other day a similar occurrence took place. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Does the honorable member rise to a point of order? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- No; but I shall have to do so if I am not permitted to make an explanation. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I am prepared to hear the honorable member. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The other day the right honorable member for East Sydney, when leading the Opposition, rose in his place, and you, sir, did not see him, I, this morning, rose under circumstances in which, from time immemorial, it has been customary for the leader of the Opposition to speak; but you do not appear to look our way at all, and the result is that I am not recognised. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- This is a gross imputation. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member for Hume, however important his position, is not the recognised leader of the Opposition, or of any other party. Under the circumstances, I am entitled to complain of the treatment which I have received. I do not wish to complain unnecessarily, but the rights of leaders should be recognised, or adequate reason should be given for ignoring them. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I have already informed the honorable member that I had called on the honorable member for Hume before I saw that he had risen. It is my duty, under the Standing Orders, to call on the member whom I see first. Had I seen the honorable member for Parramatta before calling on the honorable member for Hume, I should have called upon him. {: #debate-11-s3 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa . -I presume that this is the stage at which to take objection to provisions in the Estimates to which one is opposed. There is an increase of £100 to an officer of the Department of External Affairs which, I think, should not be granted. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member may refer to the matter when the adoption of the report is moved. At present we are considering a proposal to suspend the Standing Orders. Question resolved in the affirmative. Motion (by **Mr. Fisher)** proposed - >That the resolutions be adopted. {: #debate-11-s4 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It has been the custom, since this Parliament first met, for the Prime Minister of the day to indicate the probable duration of any recess upon which we are about to enter. I do not expect the honorable gentleman to give us the exact date of the re-assembling of the Parliament; but it is usual to make a rough forecast of the length of the recess, andI ask him to follow the usual practice by saying when he intends to call Parliament together. {: #debate-11-s5 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- We have not yet arrived at the end of the session. There will not be an early meeting of Parliament next year, though honorable members will be called together earlier than has been usual in the past. If the present Government remains in office, Parliament will meet again before the close of the financial year. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Are we to understand that the Government does not undertake to meet Parliament again until the end of the financial year? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- I said the opposite. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member has already spoken twice. {: #debate-11-s6 .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER:
Illawarra -- We are entitled to a definite statement from the Prime Minister as to the probable length of the recess. As the leader of the Opposition stated, we do not ask the Prime Minister to name the exact date upon which Parliament will be called together, but we are certainly entitled to a more definite statement than that which has been made by the honorable gentleman. I do not know whether I shall be in order in referring to what has just taken place in connexion with your ruling, sir. But I think it is the acknowledged rule of Parliament that the leaders of parties should be recognised upon all occasions when important propositions are submitted. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- So far no announcement has been made in the House regarding the leadership of the Opposition. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER: -- Everybody is aware that the honorable member for Parramatta has been elected to that office. I take it for granted that you, sir, recognise him as the leader of the Opposition. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I do not assign as the reason why I did not see the honorable member for Parramatta the fact that he has never announced to the House his assumption to the office of leader of the Opposition, because, having seen in the press some reference to his election I spoke to him privately, and he then informed me that he had been so elected. I therefore know from the honorable member himself that he has been elected to the office of leader of the Opposition. The reason why I did not see him just now was not because of the absence of any such announcement, but because before he rose I had called upon the honorable member for Hume. There is, therefore, no ground upon which any complaint can be urged. I desire to add - I overlooked thefact when I spoke just now - that the honorable member for Parramatta remarked thaton a previous occasion the late leader of the Opposition had been similarly overlooked by me. That statement is not correct, because what took place upon the occasion to which he refers was that the late Prime Minister rose and made a statement to the House. When he had completed his statement, it was proper for the leader of the Opposition to have risen had he so pleased, and it would have been only in accordance - not with any rule, but with the common courtesy which is extended to the leader of the Opposition - for me to have called upon him had he so risen. But the late Prime Minister concluded his speech with a request that he might be permitted to move a motion without notice. It was my. duty to put that question at once to the House. I rose, and put the question, and the exleader of the Opposition called " No." These facts are well within the knowledge of honorable members, and are also upon record in *Hansard.* As the ex-leader of the Opposition called "No" the proposal which the late Prime Minister desired to submit then lapsed. It was at an end. By the action of the ex-leader of the Opposition it was removed from the cognizance of the House. Thereafter the Prime Minister moved another motion in reference to an adjournment. It was not accompanied by a statement of policy, but was a motion in reference to anadjournment. Thereupon the honorable member for Wide Bay rose, and I calledupon him as a matter of course, It was not a question of the leader of the Opposition following the Prime Minister, but. of any honorable member addressing himself to the proposed adjournment of the House. On that occasion, I failed in no courtesy to the leader of the Opposition. I did my duty in calling on the honorable member who first caught my eye, namely, the honorable member for Wide Bay. Later in the day the ex-leader of the Opposition asked me how it was that I failed to see him rise after the Prime Minister hadconcluded his statement.I then told him what I have already told the House, and the honorable member for Illawarra and certain other honorable members know perfectly well that after I had put the. points to the honorable member for East Sydney he was amply content, and informed me that he would withdraw from the newspapers certain complaints regarding my action which he had sent to them earlier. Therefore, I have the absolute assurance of the ex- leader of the Opposition that the step which I took upon the occasion in question was one against which he did not complain after I had explained the sequence of events to him. Tonight the honorable member for Parramatta is equally without any ground of complaint. {: #debate-11-s7 .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr FULLER:
Illawarra .I was present on the occasion to which you, sir, have referred, and I have the greatest pleasure - although your statement requires no corroboration - in saying that it is perfectly accurate. But I made no reference to that occasion in my remarks. The reference was made by. the leader of the Opposition. {: #debate-11-s8 .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Hume -- I am sorry that I should have given offence to the leader of the Opposition, and I can assure him that I did not intend to do so. But I do not know why I should be catechized - or why you, sir, should be catechized - for doing what any ordinary member has a right to do. I have a right to ask a question. I thought thatthe leader of the Opposition had gone to sleep after the long speech which he made. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr Fuller: -- The honorable member was asleep through the delivery of that speech. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I heard it all. I. do not think there is any hard-and-fast rule as to whether you, sir, should or should not call upon any honorable member. I would not desire to intercept the leader of the Opposition when he wished to make a statement, but I claim the rights that are enjoyed by every honorable member. The leader of the Opposition holds a high position in this House, but he does not overshadow everybody else, and I very much resent the attitude which he has assumed upon the present occasion. {: #debate-11-s9 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I suppose that I have to submit to be chastised in this way as the result of addressing you, sir. I want to say that I was on my feet as soon as was the honorable member for Hume. If you, sir, did not see me, it was most unfortunate. I accept your assurance that you did not see me, but I still say that I was on my feet in ample time to catch youreye. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I am very sorrythat this difficulty has arisen. I can only say that I have allowed honorable members more latitude than usual, but I, on a personal matter of this kind, did not desire to escape any remarks which the leader of the Opposition might wish to make. I can only say, not only that I did not see the honorable member until after I had called upon the honorable member for Hume, but that he did not rise until some moments after that honorable member. Questionresolved in the affirmative. Resolutions adopted. *In Committee of Ways and Means:* Motion (by **Mr. Fisher)** proposed - >That towards making good the. Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year1908-9 a sum not exceeding£2,637,298 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. {: #debate-11-s10 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I do not think that the Prime Minister has treated us quite fairly in regard to my request for some information as to the duration of the recess. It is within my recollection that thelate Prime Minister told us on every occasion-- {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- Did the right honorable member for East Sydney, when Prime Minister, tell us how long the recess which occurred during his term of office would continue ? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -I do not know. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- He did not. He refrained very properly from doing so. It is a matter for the Government to determine. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The ex-Prime Minister did, but if the Prime Minister refuses to give this information he must take the consequences. I am not begging for the information, and shall not persist further with the matter. {: #debate-11-s11 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- The position we take up is that the Government are responsible for carrying on to the best of their ability the business of the country, and tendering the best possible advice to the representative of the Crown. It may be necessary to call Parliament together at a very early date. As the honorable member knows, circumstances may arise to render such a course necessary, butI may say that in any case it is the intention of the Government to meet Parliament before the end of the present financial year. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported and adopted. *Ordered. -* >That Mr.Fisher and **Mr. Batchelor** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Fisher** and read a first and second time. *In Committee :* Clause 1 (Short title)- {: #debate-11-s12 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- In response to a second request by me for information regarding the duration of the approaching recess, the Prime Minister has seen fit to return precisely the same answer that he gave to my first inquiry on the subject. I take it to be his final answer, but I should like to say that, in my judgment, it is not a fair one. Every one knows that next year will be the last of the present Parliament, and that as the general election has been put back, it will be possible for us to remain in session later than October or November next. That means that in the remote States, and particularly in that from which the Prime Minister himself comes, it would be impossible to do any campaigning during the rainy season, so that honorable members will need to be away from this House as early as usual. But if we are not going to meet until late in the year there will be very little chance of our doing any work of a practical character. I do not know whether these considerations have occurred to the honorable gentleman, but they seem to me to make it all the more reasonable to expect from him a slightly more definite answer than he has given to my question. However, I have no right to pursue the matter further. {: #debate-11-s13 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert .I should like to point out that many honorable members who come from the distant States are entitled to some consideration. We have been sitting here continuously since the House first met, and I for one certainly desire to see my constituents during the recess. The beginning of the year is a most inconvenient time, owing to the hot weather and the wet season, to select for a visit to our constituencies. If we have a very short recess it will be impossible for most honorable members coming from Queensland to do so. {: .speaker-KUF} ##### Mr Spence: -- The position would be the same in regard to the representatives from Western Australia. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- I have in mind the representatives of all the distant States. We certainly ought to have some opportunity to visit our electorates. Clause agreed to. Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to. Schedule agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time. {: .page-start } page 2926 {:#debate-12} ### SEAT OF GOVERNMENT (Y ASS-CANBERRA) BILL Bill returned from the Senate without amendment. {: .page-start } page 2926 {:#debate-13} ### SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT {: #debate-13-s0 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I move - >That the House at its rising adjourn until 4 p.m. Ithink that this will meet the convenience of honorable members. I should like honable members to consider the Stowaways Bill, which is a very important measure. If honorable members desire it we might have only a short sitting. I repeat my promise that the Appropriation Bill will be held in another place in order that honorable members may have full liberty to take any action they may wish to take. {: #debate-13-s1 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I see no reason for meeting at 4 o'clock to-day. The Appropriation Bill covering the Estimates has to be considered by the Senate, and there is no business within our immediate purview which should necessitate our meeting again today. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- A Bill has just been referred to by the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir William Lyne: -- We have the amendments made by the Senate in the Manufactures Encouragement Bill to deal with. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- My own impression is that the measures referred to will not take long. There will be plenty of time for us to get through all the business we have yet to do before the Senate has dealt with the Appropriation Bill. It seems to me that we shall be waiting for the Senate long before they are ready for us. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I ask leave to withdraw my motion, with a view to submitting another. Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Motion (by **Mr. Fisher)** agreed to. That the House at its rising a'djourn until to-morrow. {: .page-start } page 2927 {:#debate-14} ### ADJOURNMENT Customs Prosecutions at Adelaide - Private Business. Motion (by **Mr. Fisher)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #debate-14-s0 .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Hume -- I desire to take advantage of this motion to refer to some statements I made the night before last in reference to the non-prosecution or the abortive prosecution of a firm in Adelaide. Honorable members know the firm to whom I refer. I wish also to refer to the payment of money which I think is due by a certain firm in Adelaide to the Commonwealth Government. My attention has been directed to a statement made on behalf of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro by the late Attorney-General in reference to one case in Adelaide. I was not aware that that statement had been made. I gave instructions on leaving for London for the prosecution of a certain firm. The information placed before me at the time was of a very serious character. From the representations made to me, I had no doubt whatever that the case was similar to one which had just been dealt with. It appears that the prosecution in this case was proceeded with. I do not know why or how it was arranged, but the two principals of the firm were allowed to plead guilty, and they received practically no punishment at all. I feel very much dissatisfied with the result of the case. No blame can be attached to the Minister as the case had gone out of his hands. Prosecutions were continued against the clerks of the firm, but, so far as I can gather, nothing further was done to the principals. {: .speaker-L6Z} ##### Mr Hall: -- They went before the Court, did they not? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I understand that they were allowed to plead guilty. {: .speaker-L6Z} ##### Mr Hall: -- Any one is allowed to plead guilty. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- So far as I can learn, it appears that no evidence was taken in the case. {: .speaker-L6Z} ##### Mr Hall: -- How could evidence be taken if defendants pleaded guilty? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I 'desired that this particular case should be thoroughly gone into, and that all the evidence should be unearthed. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- The late AttorneyGeneral said that he went as far as the evidence would allow him to go. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I noticed from the statement to which I have referred that the honorable gentleman did say that, but to my mind the result of the prosecution was very unsatisfactory. I was assured when I left for England that there was no doubt whatever as to the character of the case. I cannot understand for the life of me how, in the case of offences charged against big firms, it can be suggested that the principals know nothing of the matter, and that everything is done by the clerks. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Does the honorable gentleman refer to the firm that wrote to their London agents asking them to wrongly invoice certain goods ? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I cannot say, but I know that a barrister went to London about the case on behalf of the firm to whom I refer. As my attention has been directed to the matter I desire now to correct in part the statement I made. I said that the members of this firm had not been prosecated. I did not think that they had. I had not heard anything of their prosecution. This was due, apparently, to the fact that they were allowed to plead guilty, and a light fine was imposed. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- They pleaded guilty before theCourt? {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- Yes. In reference to the other case, I do not know what has been done, but I can inform honorable members that an application was made to me to agree to settle the matter by accepting the payment of a nominal sum. {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- That case is before the Court now. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- I refused the application made to me. I added that if I had my way only Parliament should consent to what was proposed, because the money was due to the Commonwealth. The money is owing, and should be paid unless Parliament thinks that it ought not to be paid. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- But the case to which the honorablegentleman refers is before the Court now. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- What is it before the Court for? Is the Court to decide that if the money is owing it should be handed over to the Commonwealth? {: .speaker-KJ8} ##### Mr Hutchison: -- It is before the Court on the complaint of thelate Government. {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- My feeling in that case was that it should come before Parliament. In my opinion Parliament is the proper tribunal to say whether the money is payable or not. I believethat it is owing. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Parliament cannot deal with the case before the Court has dealt With it- {: .speaker-KIN} ##### Sir WILLIAM LYNE: -- If the Court should decide that only a certain amount is payable, I think Parliament should deal with the matter. However, at this hour of the morning I do not desire to detain honorable members. {: #debate-14-s1 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
Melbourne -- I wish to bring before the Prime Minister a matter which I think most honorable members would like him to consider. As "the slaughter of the innocents " is likely to occur this week, can he see his way clear, sir, with your permission, to allow a division to be taken, without debate, on all motions standing on the notice-paper, so that honorable members in whose names they appear might consider in the recess whether it would be worth while to submit them again next session ? My reason for making the request is that this is the second session in which the time allotted to private members has been sacrificed in the interests of the country. Some of these motions are of great importance to private members, and if some means could be devised for taking a division on each one without debate they could all be settled in an hour. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr THOMAS BROWN:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- That could be done without a debate. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY: -- I conceive that it is quite possible to institute such a thing as a division night, when an honorable member could ascertain the opinion of the House on a question just as directly as the honorable member will give a reply to a question on the hustings, because a division could be taken in a few minutes. {: #debate-14-s2 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I have been glancing over the motions standing in the names of private members, and I do not think that the honorable member for Melbourne could find a more important set of motions if he looked through any notice-paper. I feel that some of them have not been sufficiently considered to be taken without debate; but so far as I am able I shall afford every possible opportunity for private business to be brought on. I hardly think that it would be possible this session to discuss and complete the motions to which the honorable member refers. Question resolved in the. affirmative. House adjourned at 5.39 a. m. (Wednesday).

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 December 1908, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19081208_reps_3_48/>.