3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
.- Yesterday, while I was absent from the Chamber, having been called away shortly after the delivery of my speech, a certain statement was made regarding me, to which I take exception, and about which I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Adelaideis reported in to-day’s Age as having said of me that I would still be with the Federal Labour Party if it had put me into the Fisher Administration. Now, it is well known to many members of the party that I was not a candidate for a position in the Ministry, and stated so to everv member of it who spoke to me on the subject. It is true that I allowed my name to remain on the list of candidates, but that was simply because I was approached on the morning of the election, and asked by two members of the party to do so. I had at the time made up my mind to retire from the party, one of mv reasons being - since the honorable member for Adelaide seems to wish to know them - that I find the Labour movement being made a cat’s-paw by certain political adventurers, of whom the honorable member for Adelaide is regarded as a fair type by many members of his own party.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 47.
Public Service Act - Postmaster-General’s Department - Promotion of G. H. Morgan as manager, 3rd Class, Telephone Exchange, Melbourne.
Old-age Pensions : Administration - Budget - Supply Bills - Treasurer’s Advance Account - Votes for “ Contingencies “ - Advertising Resources of Commonwealth - “Clarion” Newspaper Article- - Immigration League - Immigration - Land Taxation - Sewering of Parliament House.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year ending 30th June, 1910, a sum not exceeding £883,699 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Glynn do prepare and tiring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I think that we should have an explanation from the Treasurer as to certain items in the Bill upon which information is required. Although honorable members appear to think that only£100,000 is being asked for as an advance for the Treasurer, I would point out that he is really asking for£1 20,000, because he is asking for £20,000 to recoup the revenue. The sum of £20,000 has been spent in connexion with various votes, and we are asked to repay this amount. Hitherto the rule has been to give the Treasurer a yearly advance of £200,000. I do not know that that sum has ever been exceeded. We are now being asked to vote, not the proportion of that sum which the period of two months bears to a whole year, but more than half the whole amount. We are entitled to some explanation of this request for £120,000. We should be told what the £20,000 has been expended upon, and where themoney was taken from.
– The items appear in a schedule to the Bill, and I would remind the honorable member that it has been customary to discuss the items in Committee and not at the second-reading stage.
– Am I not at liberty to discuss them now?
– The general custom hasbeen not togo into details, more particularly as to items appearing in the schedule to a Bill, on the motion for the second reading. I have not prevented the honorable member from discussing the matter to which he refers. I have simply told him what the custom is as to the discussion of details.
– I should like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that I was dealing not with items in the general schedule to the Bill, but with those appearing in the abstract, which ‘ shows that we. are asked to grant a total sum of £883,699. If. we shall be permitted in Committee to cover the whole range of the Bill, I shall be satisfied, but I am inclined to think that when we go into Committee we shall not be permitted to do more than discuss the particular item immediately before the Chair. It was for that reason that I rose to direct attention to the abnormal sum for which the Treasurer is asking in respect of his Advance Account.
– The clauses of as well as the schedule to the Bill will be open to detailed consideration in Committee, so that my answer to the honorable member is that undoubtedly the whole matter may be debated in Committee, and debated there more freely than at any other stage.
– It seems to me that the. proposed vote of£1 20,000 in respect of the Treasurer’s Advance is an enormous sum to intrust to a Minister, without having from him a statement as to the way in which it is to be applied. . It is a blind bandicoot method of finance. In other words, it suggests what used to prevail in New York, when everything was conducted on the “ blind dog “ system: While we have the greatest confidence in the Treasurer, it seems to me that as this House controls the public purse it should have from him a statement as to how this amount is to be expended before it is granted.
– I have just informed the honorable member for Hume that this is not the stage for a detailed discussion on the schedule to the Bill. Its detailed consideration can take place more properly in Committee.
.- Yesterday afternoon I questioned the Treasurer as to the intention of the Government with regard to the date of the first payment of old-age pensions under the Federal system, and I do not think I shall be out of order in inquiring at this stage whether they intend to depart from the position they have taken up that the first payment cannot be made until the 29th July. After I spoke yesterday afternoon it was pointed out by a number of honorable members that even a. refusal to pay old-age pensions until fourteen days after the proclamation would entail serious hardship on many of the aged poor. The Treasurer, however, endeavoured to throw the responsibility on to the shoulders of others and adopted a most objectionable method of seeking to justify his position. He did not say whether the Government intended to try to make the first payment on the 14th July next, or to persist in their original intention to withhold it in five, out of the six States, until 29th July. He said that a great many papers had had to be prepared and circulated in connexion with the introduction of the new system, but did not definitely state whether or not the first payment could be made on 14th July. If it can be made then, it ought to be made. The Act has been passed for nearly twelve months, so that there has been ample time to carry out the preliminary work,
– Whose fault is it that that work has not been completed?
– It will be the fault of the present Government if justice is not done to the aged poor.
– Why did not the Labour Government do it when they were in power ?
– The ex-Prime Minister said on more than one occasion that the first payment would be made-
– But why did not the Labour Government do this work?
– Because of treachery on the part of honorable members opposite in removing the late Government from office. That is why the old-age pensioners are not to receive the first payment under the Federal Act until the end of July. I challenge honorable members opposite to adduce any reliable proof that the late Government did not intend to make the first payment in the middle of July.
– They had more time than the present Government have had to make the necessary arrangements.
– I repeat that they would have made the first payment on 14th July. Those who have been fighting in this Parliament for the last five or six years for the establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions have fully appreciated the unfortunate position of our aged poor, and certainly thought that, at the latest, the first payment would be made in the middle of next month. The Treasurer admitted yesterday that, on taking office, he simply allowed things to go on as he found them, and he gave no satisfactory reason why the first payment should not be made on the 14th of next month. I appeal to him to make every possible effort to relieve the sufferings of the aged poor by making the first payment on that date.
– I find that this Government is going the way of previous Administrations, by introducing a temporary Supply Bill.
– We fought out that question yesterday.
– Now is the time to raise it. One is not necessarily opposed to a Government when one declares that the Budget ought to be delivered before any grants are made by Parliament. We have been fighting for this for years. The Treasurer has had three weeks in which to make himself familiar with the necessities of the Commonwealth. If the Government have a policy - and we are told that they have had many Cabinet meetings - I should like the Treasurer to state why that question has not been discussed so that he could give the necessary information to Parliament before Supply is granted. A very large sum of money, presumably one-sixth of the whole of the requirements of the Commonwealth for the year, is asked for. If the Government can base their calculation upon last year’s expenditure they should make a statement to satisfy Parliament that it is necessary to make these payments at once. I do not know why the Treasurer has not delivered his Budget, so that we might have had before us a full statement of the payments that are to be made, and so that the policy of the Government might be fully discussed. In that way there would be a saving of time, and this money, if it is necessary, might be granted without undue debate. I presume the Treasurer will have something to say upon the large item of ^100,000 under the head of the Treasurer’s Advance Account. Presumably that is one-sixth. If so, the total sum for the year for that purpose is to be £600,000. k Surely some statement ought to to be made upon that item before it is passed.
– It was made last night.
– If it was made, I did not hear it.
– When we are in Committee will be a better time to give information about the items in the schedule.
– We shall not be justified in granting such a large sum without a full explanation.
– We tried to reduce the whole amount last night by onehalf.
– That would have simply meant granting one-twelfth of the requirements of the year, and if we grant one-twelfth we might as well grant one-sixth. I am sure that progress will be made if the Treasurer makes a satisfactory statement.
– I shall be glad to give any information in mv possession on any item when we go into Committee. We had so long a discussion last night that I did not think it necessary to make a second reading speech, in view of all the information which I gave then.
– The honorable member has not given us any information yet.
– I gave a good deal - all that I had to give. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has tried to make capital out of the fact that in the inauguration of old-age pensions a new departure is to be made all over Australia by making the first payment on the 29th July, instead of on the 15th, except in the case of Victoria. where the fortnightly system is already in force. I have not altered the arrangement which was made before I took, office, and which I understood was the best that could be made. I am assured bv the Treasury officers1 that every effort will be made, but that it will take them all their time to, be ready to pay pensions on the 29th, except in Victoria, where they will pay on the 15th. I understood that the arrangement made by the previous Govern ment was satisfactory. I am informed, although I have not seen the statement, that the Leader of the Opposition, when Treasurer, informed the press that it was impossible to do more than what he approved of, and what is now being carried out. No one ; would accuse the honorable member of not being anxious to expedite the matter. In fact, there is a consensus of opinion that there should be no delay in carrying out what is required by the law j and I must repudiate the suggestion that there is any desire to withhold -money from the old-age pensioners any longer than is absolutely necessary. The only difference will be that they will get two fortnights’ payments on the 29th, and thereafter receive their pensions every fortnight. The Victorian people will receive theirs fortnightly from the start, but in New South Wales the pensions are now paid monthly., and I believe that is the case in Queensland, so that there will be no hardship on the people there, while the people of Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania, who have not received pensions before, will not, I suppose, be very much upset at having to wait until the 29th for the first payment, and receiv-ing then double the fortnightly amount. I am assured by the Department that the arrangement approved by the honorable member for Wide Bay, when Treasurer, was the best that could be made. I have not sought to upset it, and every one is working hard to carry it out.
– My arrangement was to pay at the earliest possible moment.
– But the honorable member did not think it would be possible to pay before the 29th. I am informed that he said so to the press.
– I think not; at least, not definitely
– Did the honorable member intend to pay on the 15th July all over Australia?
– If possible.
– But the honorable member knew that it was not possible. The officers of the Department are working very hard to be ready by the 29th.
– They are doing well.
– The criticism of the honorable member for Robertson would be very good if our system were on the lines that he suggests, but I am sure that he will not expect the present Government to alter the existing system, within a month. The system in force here is to meet ordinarily towards the end of June, and the financial year ends on the 30th of that month. It is, therefore, impossible, unless we present Estimates without a knowledge of the revenue and expenditure for the previous year, to have them on the table when Parliament meets.
– But the Treasurer had the Estimates before, him in- preparing this Bill.
– Only the Estimates of the year just expiring were before the Department when I was preparing this Bill. We base our estimate for temporary Supply upon the vote given last year, and upon the expenditure, as far as we know it, up to the date when the Supply Bill is presented. Of course, if the financial year ended in April, and we met in June, six weeks or so after the end of the financial year, it would be possible to have the Estimates on the table when Supply was asked for, but even) then we should have to ask for Supply just the same.
– Does the right honorable member think it impossible to do other than he has done?
-Certainly. Even in England, when the Estimates are on the table, temporary Supply has to be asked for on the basis of the Estimates.
– Is the right honorable gentleman’s basis for the present Supply sound or unsound?
SirJOHN FORREST.- I think it is quite sound. We shall have to ask for further Supply after the Estimates are on the table.
– After the right honorable gentleman has made his Budget speech ?
– Yes. Honorable members are running no risk in voting this money.
– We do not know what the£100,000 is for.
– I shall explain that, though I am told that this is not the right time to do so. I said that I hoped to have the Budget before the House towards the end of August; but I hope it will be earlier in the month; at any rate, in about a fortnight. I shall let honorable members know the date. The last Budget was not placed on the table until 1 4th October.
– That was through the right honorable member.
– The honorable member for Hume was Treasurer at the time, and had been for more than a year.
– And the right honorable member kept the thing hanging over, resigned, and cleared out.
– That was in 1907, whereas I am speaking of last year, when the Budget was presented on 14th October.
– On what date did we meet in thatyear?
– I do not know.
– It was towards the end of September.
– Honorable members know that the financial year ends on the 30th June, and from that time until Parliament met on 16th September in the year to which I am referring, the Treasurer had time to prepare his official statement; and I know that, personally, I expected that the Budget would have been presented on the first day after the conclusion of the debate on the AddressinReply.
– The financial statement was very nearly ready, and was submitted within a week ortwo.
– The 14th October was a month after the meeting of Parliament.
– It was only in September that we met.
– That does not matter; the Budget statement was not ready, and for that there was no excuse.
– We met on the 16th September.
– At any rate, it was a month afterwards before the Budget was prepared, and the Government had had three months in which to prepare it. I do not desire to find any fault, but merely to show that those who complain now did not act as well when they were in office as I propose to act. I shall be glad, when in Committee, to give any information that may be requested.
– I have a vivid recollection of passing items in Supply Bills last year, when, as a matter of fact, the money had all been spent. Half-a-dozen times the right honorable member for Swan took exception to such a method of procedure ; and the honorable member for Hume, who was Treasurer at the time, told us that it was some of the former gentleman’s own accounts which had entailed the expenditure. The Bill before us teems with contingencies, reminding n:e very forcibly of a contractor’s -extras after everything has been enumerated. At the end of the Bill there is a contingency vote of £i 20,000 ; and I should like to know whether that may be regarded as the finish of all contingencies. I may be a little suspicious ; but I want to be assured that the £100,000 down in the Bill under this heading is not to be used as a first instalment towards the cost of a Dreadnought. From the experience I have gained here, it is evident that it is possible for the Treasurer to spend money in almost any direction, and then come and be indemnified by the House. Is any of the £[100,000 to be spent towards the purchase of a Dreadnought ?
– No, none.
.- Under cover of this Supply Bill various suggestions have been made to the Government, and I should like to add one in connexion with the payment of old-age pensions. Honorable members have expressed a de. sire that the pensions shall be paid fortnightly ; and I presume we are agreed that these payments should be prompt. In this connexion I desire to call the attention not ‘ only of the Treasurer,’ but of the Minister of Home Affairs, to the fact that, while it may be easy to pass a Bill providing for fortnightly payments, it is quite another matter to have the money conveyed fortnightly to the unfortunate recipients. The method of payment is, to my mind, suggestive of danger. In the first place, the services of post-office officials are availed of, although we know that, at the present time, they are simply overweighted with extraneous duties, especially in the metropolitan and larger centres.
– It is not proposed to do that.
– I happen to know that this extraneous work is used as an excuse for not carrying out the ordinary postal duties ; and yet we. find that, say, in Sydney and Parramatta, the post-office organization is to be availed of, although the payment of the pensions under such circumstances must congest the departmental business. The average pensioners are old and infirm, and, not being smart commercial people, they are very cautious and slow in the signing of documents ; and, if there are two payments in each month in the more populous centres, we shall find the ordinary business of the post-office retarded. While I appreciate the idea of fortnightly payments, I must point out the difficulties which the Minister of Home Affairs, particularly, will have to provide for in the shape of additional accommodation. If, in the Sydney or Parramatta centres, there are 500 or 600 pensioners, the payment of a very small proportion of them might be sufficient to cause a congestion of business. The ‘same sum has not to be paid to each ; and the official, like a bank official, will have to exercise extra precaution until he has become familiar with the recipients. These, of course, are matters which can give rise to no party feeling ; and I merely mention them in order to show that, if proper facilities are not provided, fortnightly payments cannot be carried out. Within a month from now there will be hundreds of complaints from different parts of Australia, alleging that the payments cannot be made. Why heap this extra work on the postal officials? It has come to my knowledge that, throughout the Commonwealth, they are now clamouring to have extraneous duties, such as the conduct of electioneering business, removed from their shoulders, and it is impossible for them to do’ extra work. Responsible officers in the Department, such as would be chosen for the administration of the Pensions Act, have already too much, to do. I think that the Government will speedily find that the provision already made is insufficient, and I hope that it will make further provision for the payment of pensions under a proper and efficient system.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Robertson that a Budget statement should precede the introduction of a Supply Bill of this nature ; but there is an objection to the Bill which is worthy of some consideration. The Government asks fc r Supply for two months, and Parliament, by granting the request, will dispossess itself of the power to enforce the delivery of the Budget within that time. It will be wholly for the Minister to’ say when the Budget shall be delivered. The delivery of the Budget is of concern, not merely to this Parliament, but also to the Parliaments of the States, which are now in session, and desirous of learning their financial positions. It is impossible for them to give consideration to the financial question until they have received from the Treasurer certain information which is generally made public for the first time in his Budget speech. Therefore, to defer for two months the delivery of the Budget will seriously inconvenience the States as well as the Commonwealth. It is for that reason that, last night, I voted for an amendment which, had it been agreed to, would have reduced our grant from two to one month’s Supply. Those who supported the amendment were contending that Parliament should retain control in respect to the delivery of the Budget. The Government, however, secured a majority for its proposal, and the Bill has been introduced. In my opinion, the House has unwisely given away its control of the Budget for too long a period. With regard to the payment of old-age pensions, the matters raised by the honorable member for Dalley deserve the earnest consideration of the Treasurer, who will be wise if he deals with them straight away. The officials of the Post Office, particularly in the large centres of population, already complain of the large amount of work they have to do. They say that it is only by working overtime that they can cope with the postal work alone. In these centres the work created by the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act will be particularly heavy, and the postal officials will find it practically impossible to perform it. Therefore extra provision .must be made. The honorable member for Dalley has also drawn attention to the want of proper accommodation in the post-offices for the paying of pensions. A large number of postoffices were built many years ago, and the increase of population has made their accommodation too small, even for the present convenience of the officials, and the public, for which they transact, postal and telegraphic business. Many post-offices are often congested with business at the present time, and will require to be greatly enlarged if the paying of pensions is to be “done within their walls. Regarding the payment of these pensions semi-monthly, I “ would point out that it has recently been represented to me that in country districts it would often be more convenient for pensioners to be paid monthly instead of semimonthly, because many of them live at considerable distances from the places where the payments are made, and it is difficult for them to travel to those places. A number of them would, I understand, like the present system of paying monthly to continue. I suggest that the pensions should be payable semi-monthly, which would convenience pensioners in the cities, and, perhaps, the larger part of the country pensioners, allowing applicants who wish to be paid monthly to make a request to that effect. In my opinion, elasticity in the administration of the Act will meet a large number of very deserving cases.
.- I agree with the last two speakers that the postal officials have not sufficient time to administer the Old-age Pensions Act. Neither do I think that the administration can be successfully carried on by the clerks of petty sessions. In the large centres, these officers, in New South Wales at any rate, have many duties to perform. Sometimes they have courts to attend each day, and they also act as Crown lands agents, and in other capacities. They have not time to give personal attention to the payment of old-age pensions. I have heard that, in one case, one of these officers had to keep pensioners, who had travelled miles to see him, waiting from some time in the morning until 5 o’clock in the afternoon before he could give them his attention. Applicants and pensioners have to be given information, and, in many cases, instructed how to fill in their forms, and otherwise comply with the Act. All this takes time, and the work is too much to add to the duties of officers who have already a ‘great deal to do. Some clerks of petty sessions are constantly travelling, being in a different town each day of the week. _ They, of course, could not attend to the payment of old-age pensions. Therefore the administration of the Act is likely to break down unless other provision is made for it. I hope that the Treasurer will give consideration to these difficulties, and endeavour to make better provision than now seems likely to be made. I have no desire to increase the expense of administration, but it is necessary to make some alteration.
.- The matters to which the honorable member for Dalley has drawn attention should receive the careful consideration of the Treasurer and the Minister of Home Affairs. In the Parramatta district there are hundreds of old-age pensioners who are paid monthly.
– It is not proposed to pay pensions at the post-offices in towns like Parramatta.
– I understand that it is proposed to pay them at the post-office in Parramatta.
– Not only is it not proposed to pay them elsewhere, but the Government has given up a building for which the State Government paid a rental of 15s. a week.
– I was going to mention that. The State Government specially rented a building in Parramatta, and pensions were paid at the Bank of New South Wales. That bank’s public chamber is at least as large as the public portion of the local post-office, but it was found impossible to accommodate there the ordinary customers of the bank and old-age pensioners as well, and therefore a building next door had to be rented to provide a special chamber for the payment of pensions. I have seen that chamber so crowded during the early days of a month that many applicants were being forced to wait outside. The ordinary business of the Post Office is sufficient to keep it busy. The latest proposal on the part of the Department of Home Affairs is that a small room at the rear of the building should be utilized for paying the old-age pensions. In order to reach it, the pensioners will have to pass along a lane which is the only means of access for those carrying mail matter into the Post Office, and I venture to say that, when the first payment is made, there will be a hopeless congestion. Parramatta is the centre of a big district. Pensioners living in Granville, Seven Hills, Baulkham’ Hills, Toongabbie, and places on the southern and western lines, and at Auburn and Rookwood on the suburban line, will have to go to Parramatta to receive their pensions, and the congestion must be accentuated by the arrangement for the payment of the pensions fortnightly instead of monthly. Grave complaint has also been made as to the impossibility of receiving prompt attention at the hands of the clerks of petty sessions in the various centres. In some towns in New South Wales the clerk of petty sessions is a very hardworked individual. In Parramatta, he discharges not only the duties of clerk of petty sessions, but of Crown lands agent, registrar of. births, marriages, and deaths, registrar of the small debts court, registrar of the District Court, and of State electoral officer. I do not know how many other offices, he fills. His office is not open to the public before 10 a.m., and as the Court opens at that hour, it is often impossible for applicants for old-age pensions to secure his attention until the Court adjourns at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. Such a state of affairs would naturally be inconvenient to the youngest and strongest in our midst, and, having regard to the age and infirmity of applicants for old-age pensions, we must recognise that, instead of their being subjected to inconvenience, they should receive special consideration, in order that the obtaining of pensions may be made as easy as possible for them. For that reason, I hold that the Treasurer and the Minister of Home Affairs might well give more attention to this matter, and more especially to the position in large centres. I regret that the Government have seen fit to dispense with the old-age pensions office in Parramatta, and feel sure that they will find it necessary to bake it over. As it is, they have allowed the State to retain possession of one of the finest officers under the control of the Oldage Pensions Department in New South Wales.
– I have listened carefully to the complaints of honorable members in regard to the payment of old-age pensions, and have been wondering what suggestion the honorable member who lias just spoken has to offer to bring about an improved administration. What does he think the Treasurer or the Minister of Home Affairs can do to improve the position at Parramatta other than by continuing the lease of the building to which he has referred ?
– They should continue the lease of the building, and retain the services of the State officer who used to pay old-age pensions there.
– Even that would not overcome the difficulty. Parramatta is not the only large centre where pensions will be paid, and if it is necessary to retain the services of a State officer there, it will also be necessary to appoint special officers for this work in other towns.
– I think it will be found necessary.
– The honorable member suggests that the Commonwealth should engage a number of officers to administer the Old-age Pensions Act throughout Australia.
– That will be. found imperative before long, so far as large centres are concerned.
– Parramatta is not a huge centre of population. We have in Australia many townsof equal size.
– Its circumstances are exceptional in this regard, since it was the centre of the asylums. Many men have left those asylums and settled in the town.
– That would apply to several other districts in Australia. If new officers are to be appointed and specially detailed in connexion with this work the expense will be considerable. I am not going to say that what the honorable member suggests may not be necessary in the case of Parramatta as well as some other towns, since I have not inquired fully into the matter. I certainly think that the criticism offered by the honorable member for Dalley as to the way in which the work of postal officials will be tied up is quite legitimate. But I fail to see how the difficulty is to be overcome. In South Australia, at all events, prior to Federation, police officers used to represent the Government in many matters, such as the collection of statistics, the compilation of rolls, -and other duties such as I gather from the remarks of the honorable member for Bowden are now discharged by Clerks of Courts in New South Wales. The police of South Australia used to be Poo Bahs of the State. With the establishment of Federation and the transfer of many State Departments to the Commonwealth, however, the postal officials became the Poo Bahs and the policeman is now the Lord High Everything Else. Commonwealth postal officers have, however, to attend to electoral, savings bank, and old-age pensions work, and as our functions increase they will have still more work to do. We shall have to recognise sooner or later that either the postal staff must be largely increased to enable this work to be coped with, or we shall have to appoint separate officers to do the outside work that has been placed upon their shoulders. It is unfair to charge the Postmaster-General!s Department with the increased expenditure rendered necessary to enable it to cope with the extraneous work that has been placed upon its staff. That fact is often overlooked. We hear honorable members criticise the increased cost of the Department under Federation, but it is not recognised that much of the work formerly done by State officials in other Departments is now discharged by postal officers. If we are to pile these extra duties on them, we must be prepared to increase their numbers, or else we must relieve them of some of these extra duties and appoint special officers to attend to them.
– That has .already been arranged.
– The right honorable member will find that in many cases it has not been arranged. I presume that he has in mind what has been done in regard to the principal centres of population. The difficulties to which reference has been made, however, arise chiefly in connexion with comparatively small post offices in charge of one officer, who is the sole representative of the Commonwealth in the district, and has also to attend to savings bank and other work on behalf of the State. My point is that we must be prepared to pay for this extra, work. There has been some criticism of the statement of the Treasurer as to the date when the Budget will be delivered. It seems to . me that the difficulty that always arises in this connexion is due to the fact that we have fixed upon an arbitrary date for the closing of. the financial year, which does not fit in with, our parliamentary arrangements. The 30th June has no special virtue. Why should we not say that the financial year should close on 31st March. Parliament seldom meets before May.
– When we sit in the Federal Capital we may alter the date of meeting.
– If the right honorable gentleman, is going to wait until we meet in the Federal Capital before he brings about any reform he will only realize the expectations of the people of Australia generally in regard to the progressive character of the present Administration. Is there any reason why he should not disappoint them and make an alteration now in regard to the date on which the financial year shall close? If 31st March were fixed upon, the Government would be able when Parliament met in May to bring down their policy statement, with a complete knowledge of the financial arrangements necessary for the ensuing twelve months. The existing arrangements worked very well when the State Parliaments used to meet on the 1st September and close two or three months later, but since the Commonwealth Parliament meets about May, and continues in session until December, I am certain that the pressure would be considerably reduced if the financial year closed on 31st March. Is there any objection to the adoption of such a course ? I am sure -it would facilitate the work of Parliament and result in an. all-round saving.
-371- - I wish to ask the Treasurer whether the
Government have made any arrangement for a conference of Premiers to discuss our financial relations with the States?
– I am not aware of any arrangement.
– Has the right honorable member observed a statement in the press that the Premier of Tasmania has said that it is not advisable for the ‘Parliament of that State to meet until the delivery of the Commonwealth Budget?
– I have been informed that such a statement was made.
– Is it not an indication that the Budget should be delivered at the earliest possible moment? The right honor able member last night took exception to my statement that he .should have no difficulty in arranging to deliver the Budget statement before the end of July. I still hold that view. There was never a time when the finances of the Commonwealth were better understood than they are now. The scrupulous economy necessarily exercised by the Treasurer of the day has caused expenditure to be kept down, and there should be no difficulty in submitting the Budget at an early date. Apart altogether from the desirableness or otherwise of granting two months’ Supply, the Treasurer must recognise that it is his duty to the Parliament and to the country to submit the Budget at the earliest possible moment. Some honorable members have displayed remarkable anxiety in regard to the payment of old-age pensions, although not long since they declared that it was impossible for the federal Parliament to grant them. We are delighted to know that they will be paid as from ist July. The late Administration had made arrangements to pay them at the earliest possible moment, in the middle of the month, if possible, and, if that was not possible in all the States, in as many of the States as possible. That was the understanding before I left office, and all our efforts were being made in that direction. Although under the Act authority is given to appoint a ‘Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of old-age pensions at a salary of ^1,000 for the former, and a considerable sum for the latter, the late Government, and myself, as Treasurer, administering the Act, thought it advisable not to make fresh appointments to those positions. We appointed Mr. Allen, the Secretary to the Treasury, as Commissioner, and by that means saved £800 a year. We also saved a considerable sum by appointing Mr.
Collins, the Accountant of the Treasury, as Deputy Commissioner. By that act the Government saved, not only a considerable sum of money, but also a great deal of time, and obviated a great deal of inconvenience. Whatever other appointments we might have made, I believe there would have been confusion, but Mr. Allen had had considerable experience of the Victorian system, and was able to apply, it to the service of the Commonwealth, and so the old-age pensions system has been inaugurated ‘with an exceedingly, small amount of friction, considering the difficulties to be faced, and the great area to be covered. A material alteration was also made regarding applications for pensions. The idea in the Act was that pensions should not be* paid until the applications had been approved by the Commissioner himself. It was felt by the late Government that it would be much better to make the questions put to applicants more stringent than usual, and toenable the Commissioner to pay on the authority of the magistrate. That arrangement effects a great saving of time, and? avoids inconvenience, because with, the declaration of the magistrate that the formis in order, and that the applicant is entitled to a pension, the Commonwealth can at once pay. That arrangement is a great improvement on what was previously proposed. I wish to ask the Treasurer whether, on the broad principle of this Bill, he may not be doing something that he will regret, in asking for two months’ Supply. If the Government intend to introduce financial reforms, are they not committing themselves to pay all services for two months, even if they are out of date, or are to be .reformed out of existence? I imagine from what the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and other Ministers have said, that they intend to bring about great reforms in the Departments, and also to revolutionize the defence of the Commonwealth. I do not know whether that is to be done in one, two, or three months, or in as many years.
– This Bill will not interfere with our doing that.
– But the right honorable member is committing himself and the country to carrying on the expenditure on the same lines as we have followed hitherto.
– This Bill simply gives authority to expend.
– The sole reason that the right honorable member gave for asking for two months’ Supply was that he intended to pay on the old basis, and therefore I presume that he does not intend to disturb the existing services during these two months. But my chief point is that the Budget should be submitted at the earliest possible moment. This ought to be, above all, a financial session, and if the right honorable member made up his mind to apply himself to the task, he should have no difficulty in submitting the Budget before the end of July.
Question resolved in the, affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to. Schedule.
Divisions 1 to 10 (Parliament), £5,387.
– - I desire an explanation from the Treasurer of what is embodied in the various Departments under the heading of Contingencies. Some of the contingency items amount to very large sums.
– All the contingencies are set out in the corresponding divisions in the Estimates-in-Chief . When we, reach the particular items in the schedule I will give the details. ^ Mr. WEBSTER. - Unless we have that information we shall practically be voting one-sixth of the actual amount required for the service of the year in the dark. Surely the Committee are entitled to know what provision is being made for the many works that are being delayed throughout the Commonwealth. If the present system were to be generally adopted there would be nothing to prevent the Treasurer from putting all the ‘ items under Contingencies in his bi-monthly Supply Bills.
– We used exactly the same arguments when we were sitting there, but honorable members who are now on that side were not much concerned about them then.
– The honorable member when on this side did many things, but he did not do them in the right way., In this case I am simply inquiring for information. In my electorate many works” are delayed waiting for funds, and I get from the Department the stereotyped reply that when funds are available the works will be proceeded with. I shall be glad to hear the Treasurer explain the items under Contingencies.
– I propose to give the honorable member an example which, by showing the system adopted, should cover the whole ground.
.- I should like to know from the Treasurer what the amount is that has been paid in connexion with the sewering of Parliament House? Has the work been done by the State, and is it completed?
– The State does the work, and we pay the interest. I think the matter had better be referred to when we reach the Department of Home Affairs.
.- I desire to ask the Treasurer whether it is possible for him to explain the item for Contingencies under this item. Under the heading of the House of Representatives, we have a matter of £3,250 for Contingencies, and I should like the Treasurer to make an explanation that may cover other similar votes throughout the Bill. The Treasurer has asked the honorable member for Boothby to defer his question in regard to the sewering of Parliament House until we reach the Department of Home Affairs ; but I am afraid that, if we do so, we shall be told that the item has already been passed. Personally, I should like to know what are the arrangements between the Commonwealth and the State in regard to the sanitation of the building.
– No portion of the expense of sewering Parliament House is included in this Supply .Bill. I have just been informed by the Speaker that the State Government of Victoria carried out the sewerage works in this building, and that the Commonwealth pays 4 per cent, on the cost. I find that last year the vote for Contingencies under the heading House of Representatives amounted to £1,530, and honorable members are now asked to vote £250, or one-sixth. The items are set forth in the Estimates for the year which is now expiring.
.- I suppose that the item of £1,200 for salaries, under the heading of House of Representatives, means the salaries of the officers of Parliament, and that the remuneration to honorable members is not included ?
– That is so; the remuneration to members is under special appropriation.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions11 to 16 (Department of External Affairs),£7,158.
. -I see that we are again asked to vote an appropriation for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. This question was threshed out atthe end of last session, whejn a large proportion of the members of the present Government were adverse to the passing of any vote for the purpose. What does the vote mean ? It means that the people of Great Britain, Europe, and elsewhere, are being hoodwinked by the Commonwealth Government. Weall know the greatresources of Australia; but, what is the use of telling a man that there is plenty of food in a restaurant if he is unable to enter the restaurant in order to obtain it? About£2,000 has been spent in filling the newspapers of Great Britain with lies, and telling the workers that, if they come out to Australia - whether they be ironworkers, carpenters, or other mechanics - they can obtain regular work at an increased wage. We hold out hopes to them of improving their position, while, at the same time, we know that almost every one who has been induced to come here has had a contrary experience. Under this vote, we have had beautiful pictures of the agricultural products of Australia advertised in newspapers abroad. I may be told that the party to which I belong carried out a precisely similar policy ; but it must , not be forgotten that my party; followed a common-sense method, proposing, as it did, to make arrangements by which immigrants could obtain possession of the resources of the Commonwealth. The present Government, supported bv men who, we are told, have a “ vested interest “ in the country, are said to be doing all they possibly can to throw open Australia to the people of Europe : they advertise the fact that any agricultural product can be grown here. However, we find that if farmers from the Old Country come here, their experience is that looking for suitable land is like looking for a needle in a bundle of hay.I askthe Treasurer, or the Minister of External Affairs, whether he can point to any part of Australia, within reasonable distance of a market, where intending immigrants could start farming at a reasonable rate? ‘The question has been discussed time and again in. the House; and yet we go on fool ing the people still further. Do Ministers intend to open up the resources of the coun try before inducing people to come here, or are they going to follow the old plan, of bringing immigrants to particular metropolitan centres, with the inevitable result of reducing the wages rate? I know that, considering the majority behind the Government, it is a matter of impossibility
– There is a very small majority behind them at the present moment, anyhow !
– But the Government supporters are within call, and when the bell rings and the whip cracks, they will come in and vote, whether they believe inthe proposal or not.
– As a point of order, I nsk that the honorable member withdraw that remark. I object to be charged with voting for proposals whether or not I believe in them.
– I am sure that if the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said anythingwhich is offensive to the honorable member for Hunter, he will withdraw it.
– If I have said anything offensive to the honorable member for Hunter, I withdraw it; but the honorable member has to admit that, in a party of fusion, many must sink their opinions toa certain extent.
– I do not accept that asan apology; because it is simply making bad worse.
– I again apologize if anything I have said hurts the tender feelings of the honorable member for Hunter; but the honorable member must admit that the party, composed as the party behind theGovernment is composed, have, during my term in this Parliament, held opinions diametrically opposed to each other.
– Is the honorablemember going to connect his remarks with the Department of External Affairs?
– I wish to show that, if the Ministry spends money in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, it should follow up its action by makingthese resourcesavailable to people who come here.
– I draw attention tothe state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– I am pleased that the Prime Minister has now come into the chamber, because I have a vivid recollection that, during the latter part of last session, he stated that he had endeavoured to get the Premiers of the States to make the resources of the country available to immigrants.No member has done more in that direction ; but he has admitted that the State Premiers would not assist him. He was willing, as Prime Minister of the Common wealth, to spend money in advertising the resources of Australia, but the only outcome of what was done was that certain persons were brought here by means of false promises. I ask him, therefore, if it would not be futile to continue this work? If he were to tell me that it is the intention of the Government to introduce, in the near future, a land tax for the purpose of breaking up the large estates, and making land available for settlement, I should at once sit down ; but as he has recently charged the Labour party with supporting what he calls extreme legislation, I have not much hope that he will do that. Yet be knows that it is cruel in the extreme to invite immigrants from Europe to take advantage of our resources when those resources are not available to them. It was the reverse of pleasurable to me last session tq read in newspapers which were favorable to an immigration policy admissions to the effect that we could get thousands of immigrants more than we have land for. Does the Prime Minister, in view of the impossibility of getting the State Premiers to help in making land available, intend to introduce a Federal Bill which will open up our resources to immigrants? As a very minor light, I hardly expect to receive a reply from him. But I believe that, bad as he is, he has certain good intentions, and that if his position in the present Administration were strong enough, he would make some proposal of that kind. Since our past advertising has brought here boilermakers, engineers, stonemasons, and workers in the iron trades, of whom only a few could obtain remunerative employment, is it not high time to stop spending money until we have made proper provision for those whom we seek to attract?
– Three- fourths of the late Administration came to Australia, as immigrants, and not one of them went on the land.
– Twenty or thirty years ago, those who needed land could get it.
– There was a. landgrant system in South Australia.
Mr.MATHEWS.- Yes; and Victoria was offering large areas on easy terms of selection. But members of Parliament, the newspaper writers, and the man in the street, all know that it is worse than a crime to ask immigrants to come to this State to take up land now. Even the Conservative press admits this. That great journal, the Age, which has now the honorable member for Parramatta under its thumb, admits it. The honorable member used to charge me with being under the thumb of the Age, but that was not so. That newspaper has never supported me, and never will. It is said that the Age is becoming a supplement to the Argus. I do not say that that is true, though there is certainly a tendency in that direction. But, much as we may condemn its dirty methods in criticising politicians, we must admit its greatness. It has pointed out to the people of Victoria, and to the members of this Parliament, that it is criminal to bring persons here for whom there is no land. The Sydneydaily newspapers have made the same admission. There is, of course, land which is not in occupation, but it is such as no man could earn a living upon, or so far from, markets that it would be cruel to ask those who do not understand our climate and conditions to take it up. As an Australian, I take an interest in these problems. I know that, unless the agricultural areas of Victoria are opened up, the cities will suffer. But I believe that there are little angels sitting above, and lesser angels below, who will look after the interests of those in the agricultural districts. My principal reason for speaking on this subject is that I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that the exhibition in the Old World of pictures showing the productiveness of this country, its great buildings, and its vast foundries, will bring here men for whom there will be no employment. Already immigrants have come to electorates like mine, and that of the honorable member for Dalley, who have made the competition of the artisans there keener. Their coming has reduced the quantity of work available, and, in the near future, must bring about a reduction of wages, too. I do not wish to see those whom I represent injured in this way. The exhibition of pictures, and the glowing advertisements of agents, will attract to Australia persons who naturally wish to improve their condition, and who think that, as this is a new country, its resources must be as described. Had the legislation which the Fisher Government wished to introduce been passed, the country would be what it is being described ; but those necessary reforms have yet to be put into operation. I know of three families who immigrated to New South Wales, and thai came to Victoria, finally returning to the Old Country, some by the steamer in which they came out, and some by the next one. Apart altogether from the cruelty of inducing people to come to Australia by means of false advertisements,, we ought in the interests of the Commonwealth itself to put an end to a system that cannot redound to our credit. After we have prepared our house we should invite people to come and occupy it. If we do that, we shall do well. I should like this item to be rejected, but I suppose that the free majority behind the Government will carry it. I trust that the Ministry will take precautions to prevent a recurrence of the cruel experience of people who have come to our shores in the circumstances I have indicated, and that they will see that men already in Australia are not robbed of the little employment offering by reason of people being attracted to Australia by false advertisements inserted in newspapers in the Old World.
.- I cannot agree with the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, and who, I think, completely overlooked the fact that every man who comes to this country offers in himself a market for the produce of those already here. If we wish to maintain the White Australia about which the Labour part, are always clamouring on the platform, we must do what we can to populate the Commonwealth with people of our own race, and so save it from aggression on the part of the people of overcrowded Eastern countries. I am1 glad that we have m power a Government that will probably exercise a close scrutiny over the manner in which amounts are expended in connexion with this advertising account. I have in mind a certain bargain that was made by the Government that has just retired from office, a bargain which 1 hope will not be imitated by Governments to come. IT” there be any possibility of such a bargain being repeated, it will be necessary to institute a Committee of Public Accounts, such as exists in connexion with the House of Commons. That Committee is of a non-party character, and possesses power to examine accounts, scrutinize all papers, call for witnesses and examine every contract entered into by the Government.
– Did not the honorable member object to a bargain made some time ago by the present Prime Minister ?
– I have objected to bargains entered into by Governments controlled by the Labour party, and I arn going to object now to a bargain entered into by the late Labour Government. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that an outrage was done to the workers already in Australia by distributing in England false advertisements as to the prosperity of Australia which induced immigrants to come here before land or occupation was provided for them.
– The Labour Government endeavoured to find land and occupation for immigrants, and would have done so had they remained in office.
– I have before me a contract that the late Government entered into with the proprietor of a newspaper called the Clarion, under which they agreed to purchase 7,000 copies at £50 above their . face value. In other words, they agreed to give £50 more than the proprietor could have obtained for the 7,000 copies had they been sold from book stalls.
– Who is the proprietor?
- Mr. Randolph Bedford, who, I am glad to know, has since become a member of the Labour party.
– He has been a member of it for years.
– We have the authority of the honorable member for Bourke that Mr. Bedford recently offered to stand in this State in what was known as the Liberal interest. The copies were purchased for circulation, not only in England - to. attract a type of immigrant to which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports objects, pending employment being found for them here - but throughout the Southern countries of Europe. We were told that these copies were circulated in Germany, Austria, Italy, England, Ireland, and other countries.
– And translated into several foreign languages.
– Quite so. Probably the extra £50 was paid for the translations? I am endeavouring to ascertain why it was paid.
– The honorable member makes an accusation before he has ascertained the facts.
– An accusation of what?
– The honorable member by innuendo has accused the late Government of lots of things.
– I stand by every word I have uttered.
– Can a newspaper be printed in several languages for nothing?
– Was Mr. Bedford intrusted with the work of translating this issue into several languages? I wish to know for what the extra£50 was really paid. The ex-Minister of External Affairs is now in the Chamber. Unfortunately, when this bargain was first published he was in Papua. Perhaps he will tell us why the late Government paid the proprietor of the Clarion £50 over and above the face value of the 7,000 copies which they purchased from him.
– The honorable member has no right to catechise me, since he voted me out of office.
– The honorable member claims, because of that vote, that he is absolved from all responsibility for his actions as a Minister. It is an easy way to avoid answering the question ! The confidence that my honorable friends have in Mr. Bedford’s capacity is not shaken bv the wonderful good which the circulation of his paper abroad is likely to do in bringing about foreign immigration to Australia, for I understand that they have since nominated him for a Labour seat in order that he may denounce the labour project which, as editor of the Clarion, he was so anxious to promote.
– They have not nominated him.
– He is in a ballot for nomination.
– He is nominated for ballot. I confess that some of these Labour methods of recognising the signal “worth” of their supporters do not commend themselves to my judgment. The statements that have been made this afternoon by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would come more gracefully from a member of a party that was consistently trying to keep out immigration from Australia. Such a policy, I thinkj is suicidal, but if my honorable friends wish to talk ordinary clap-trap as to the way in which immigrants must interfere with those already in the country, I say that their own Government ought to have -kept clear of any such contract as that to which I have referred.
– They had to spend this money according to the instructions given by Parliament.
– Where are those instructions to be found ?
– For what did Parliament vote the money?
– Every one knows that we vote certain sums that may, or ma.y not, be expended. It is not essential that votes of this kind should be expended. I am sure that Parliament never had the slightest idea that money would be expended in the way I have indicated to advertise in foreign countries the merits of Australia. I have not seen the article in question, and do not know what its value is.
– The whole trouble is that an Australian artist was patronized.
– I dare say that inquiry would show that among the Labour party there are fewer Australian born than there are on this side of the House.
– But we have a more truly Australian spirit than have honorable members opposite.
– I sincerely hope that the Treasurer will see that payments out of this account are such as may be immediately submitted to the House, and indorsed by it as having been made in the true interests of Australia, and as calculated to bring to our shores the type of immigrants we want from England, Scotland, and Ireland, and not a type we do not want from the southern countries of Europe.
.- I am astounded at the attempt made by the honorable member for Wentworth to attack a man of the calibre of Mr. Randolph Bedford. Certainly, the honorable member admitted that he had not read the article in the issue of the Clarion, purchased by the late Government. Had he done so, it would have improved any brains that he may possess. Even with the power of the purse behind him, the honorable member will never occupy the position that Mr. Bedford will hold, not only in the hearts of the people of Australia, but in the literary world wherever the English language is spoken. I did not know that the late Government had purchased a certain number of copies of the Clarion, but if, after perusing the article, they saw fit to enter into the contract referred to, I think they did well. I have read the article, and do not hesitate to say that never before has an attempt been made to enable such a publication to be read by people of many nations. It was translated into several European languages, with the result that when we have a chance of unlocking the lands of Australia, many desirable immigrants will be attracted to our shores. I remember the statement made by the present Prime Minister some time ago, that it was our duty first of all to find land for the people already here, and then, and only then, for any white men who might choose to come here. No one will deny that the State land laws are infamous. The honorable member for Adelaide will bear out my statement that recently there were no fewer than 1,000 applications for 127 allotments a little outside of Adelaide, and that hundreds of people had to be turned awa)’ disappointed. The honorable member for Wentworth dishonoured himself and his education when he attacked Mr. Randolph Bedford as he did. He says that that gentleman endeavoured to stand as a Liberal. How could he do so when he was a Labour man ?
– He did come to me, and offer to stand as a Liberal.
– The honorable member, I am sure, is doing himself an injustice in making that statement. Mr. Bedford may have asked for his assistance just as, in the past, I have asked the honorable member for his, and he has asked for mine.
– He begged to be selected as a Deakin candidate.
– He could not stand as a Deakin candidate and a Labour candidate at the same time any more than the honorable member could have stood as a Deakin candidate when he offered himself for election as a Labour man.
– I know that he asked me to arrange for his selection as a Deakin candidate.
– I repeat that he could not stand both as a. Deakinite and -a Labour candidate.
– There was no Labour party or pledge at that time.
– That is a petty quibble, which is unworthy of the honorable member. .1 am sorry to have to say that, because I love the honorable member for the good work that we have done’ shoulder to shoulder. I notice that under the Department of External Affairs, Administrative Division, the contingencies total £488 more than the salaries. I always have a suspicion about contingencies ; and I would like to see the items put as clearly as they would be in the balance-sheet of any financial institution. Under “ Executive Coun cil,” the contingencies are only ,£30, as compared with £135 for salaries; but for the Offices of the Commonwealth in London, the contingencies are again larger than the salaries. That brings me to the proposed vote of £2,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. I indorse every remark made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, although the honorable member who preceded me criticised his statements. ‘ It is well known that men have gone from here to the Old Country painting such pictures of the conditions in Australia that the only word that can fitly describe them is “liar.’’’- Men are induced to come here, and find they cannot get land. I indorse the sentiment previously uttered by the Prime Minister, that we must make the land available first for our own people, and then, when they are settled, open our arms in wide welcome to any member of the white race who will come here. Mir. Randolph Bedford is well known, not only here, but in Great Britain, as a litterateur. He has published three books there, and has written a play called “ White Australia,” which I a’dvise the honorable member for Went worth to see. The one note pervading that play is “The land for the people.” In the Northern Territory, the vile system of land tenure that we have copied from Great Britain is in full force. In fact, throughout Australia, one cannot take a journey by any railway without* seeing large tracts of unused land. The Commonwealth or the States, or the municipalities, as representing the people, should have the right to resume land at the value which the owner would put upon it, provided that he is willing to pay rates and taxes based upon that valuation. That would prevent him from robbing the community, as it has too frequently been robbed in the past. If the Government will introduce a land tax which will permit the land to be given to the people, they will have the support, not only of their own followers,* but also of this party, for that is a plank in our platform. I shall gladly give my vote for such a measure, if the Government have the courage to introduce it. If, however, they think that they are only going to mark time on that question, honorable members in this Chamber,’ and the people outside, will not permit them. I care little who are on the Treasury bench, so long as they bring in good measures ; and if the present Government will introduce measures that
I believe in, they will have my support, so far as it is in keeping with the planks of my platform and the pledges I gave my constituents. If the Minister of External Affairs would explain the items of “ Contingencies,” it might prevent a good deal of debate.
– - In the Estimates-in-Chief, when they are submitted, the honorable member will find the items comprised under “Contingencies” set out in detail, just as they would appear in any ordinary balance-sheet. They will include telegrams that have to be sent between here and the office at Home on public matters, the printing and distribution of the Commonwealth Gazette, which alone amounts to £1,500 a year; the printing and distribution of the Commonwealth Statutes to the States Governments, &c, which costs something like £800 a year ; interpreters’ fees and cost of administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, postage and telegrams, office requisites, other printing and record books, travelling expenses, temporary assistance, and incidental cash expenditure. The £1.488 in contingencies under the Administrative Division is entirely made up of those items of which the House has approved before, and which will appear in detail later on.
.- Honorable members should not take the honorable member for Wentworth seriously. He seldom takes things seriously himself ; and in this matter he has followed the old game of drawing a red herring across the track, in order to divert attention from an important matter in which he knows that honorable members on this side take a serious interest. It is evident that the Government are continuing to expand £1,000 u month, or £12,000 a year, on advertising, and it is about time we knew what sort of advertisements they are issuing. I have had a great deal of evidence that the money is being spent in such a way as really to degrade Australia, in the eyes of the people of the Old World. Nothing madder could be imagined than for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to spend money to do an injury to the country whose interests it is supposed to look after. Through being connected with a very large organization, which has its membership principally in country districts, and which covers the whole of Australia, I have special opportunities of knowing the effect of the adver tisements on those who are brought to Australia by their agency. The slate of the labour market is a serious matter to that organization, and we have opportunities and machinery for collecting information that no Commonwealth Department possesses, or has attempted to provide. There are many hundreds, and even thousands of people, brought to Australia by the lying advertisements that have been circulated. The worst offender is the New South Wales Government, but Queensland is about as bad, and apparently the Commonwealth has been helping.
– Will the honorable member ascertain from the Minister what it is proposed to do with the ,£2,000?
– The honorable member must have great faith in me if he thinks I can extract any information from the Minister. The whole House has failed so far to get any information out of the Government, except a small explanation of the item of “ Contingencies.” It has been pointed out before that the term is very misleading, and some change ought to be made in the method at present followed by the Departments. We cannot draw from the Minister a statement of what the Government propose to do with regard to advertising the Commonwealth. The present Prime Minister, when he was in different company, put forward a policy which we could not complain of. He said’ that openings on the land ought first to be provided, but he is in new company now. He is in the company of those who support what has been taking place, particularly in New South Wales. The whole thing is most degrading. Thousands of people are being brought to Australia, and those who have any chance of doing so get away back again at once, and tell the truth to the people of the Old World, while those who have to stay here write to their friends at Home and warn them not to come to Australia.
– Because they had been misled. Many of them are carrying their swags. The honorable member for Robertson, who has some sense, even if the honorable member for Wentworth lacks it, will realize what it means to a man fresh from England to have to carry his swag and cadge his tucker through the western portions of Queensland and New South Wales.
– Are those newcomers ?
– Yes, they are men whom the money of the people of Australia has been spent in helping to bring out. The foreign consuls in Sydney dare not speak out publicly ; but I know that men who cannot speak a .word of English have been induced to come to New South Wales, and have gone to the consuls begging to be sent back to their own country again, as they were unable to get any work. It is a mean, cruel, and outrageous thing to bring such mer. here, and no man with a heart would be a party to it. It could only be done by men like Dr. Arthur, who poses as president of the Australian Immigration League, and has published advertisements all over the Continent in the languages of the various European countries which lead the people to suppose that he is president of a republic. Those advertisements induce men to come here, and they think that they are sure to find plenty of work when they arrive. There is also evidence in the city of Sydney that girls who have been brought out as domestics have been driven to ruin, and on to the streets of Sydney. The Government have spent money to help to bring that about. Dr. Arthur is somewhere in England now. He was notorious in Australia as the man who cared nothing for the truth. Of course there is a great game behind it all. Not long ago, in a case in the Police Court at Orange, evidence was given that a man who was brought out as an immigrant had received for his work the magnificent wage of 2s. a week. The honorable member for Wentworth, in his characteristic ignorance of what he is talking about, says that every immigrant will be an additional consumer, and so create a market. What sort of a market does a man present who earns 2s. a week? This man, I may say, had a very liberal employer, because, after five weeks, the wage was raised voluntarily to five shillings. He found out, however, that others in the district were getting i os. a week, and he sued his employer for that amount ; but the employer engaged a lawyer, and the man “ went down,” because of his agreement to take 2s. There is a bureau in Sydney which brings out misled domestic servants, whose references are held until they promise to go to some mistress at Potts Point, who starves her servants, and so forth, and for whom no Australian girl would work. We have the admission that in the case of New South Wales, poor men are purposely selected because they will not be “too particular” when they land here. The Government of New South Wales, composed as it is of the same crowd as that supporting the Commonwealth Government, are spending £25,000 a year in this direction, and that is quite enough to kill the prospects of the country. No doubt we shall have to honour the -contracts for advertisements, but the Government ha.ve control of the contents, and it would be infinitely wiser to advertise warning people against the misleading statements of the States’ authorities. In New South Wales more immigrants have been brought in than it has been possible to absorb, and many have gone to New Zealand or elsewhere. One person told me that in nine miles he met thirty immigrants on tramp, who could not find any work to do, and these men have been living on the hospitality of residents in the country districts. What sort of a market is a. man. who has to beg his bread? It is denied that artisans are brought out, but we all know well that such is the case, and the worst offender is New South Wales, with Queensland as good second fiddle. I have in my possession a letter from Queensland, which shows that I am now stating the exact facts. It is all very well for those who are living comfortably, like the honorable member for Wentworth-
– Like the honorable member himself, for instance.
– I trust that, like the Treasurer himself, I have some human sympathy, and I protest against the misleading of people who, in consequence of their disappointment, must denounce Australia, and warn their friends not to come to a country in which the lands are all monopolized. The fault lies in the disgracefully bad management of the land laws, and I hear no suggestion by the Government by way of remedy. At the proper time, I shall show that the Government have dropped the old plank of the Liberal party, which provides for a White Australia, and that they do not propose to touch the land by means of taxation. Before we pass this item, we ought to know exactly what is proposed to be done. I have investigated this matter, and I am anxious to see Australia filled with a white race, but it is no use bringing men out here to starvation and degradation, and thus doing a direct injury to the country. The Fisher Government definitely stated that they were not going to spend any of this money, and, of course, I do not know- what they did do, c because they had no time in which to prove themselves. The complaint about circulating a very excellent production is somewhat extraordinary from one who believes in expending money in advertising Australia, and supposing the cost was £50 more than the proper and usual charge - which I do not suppose it would be - the complaint only shows a lack of sincerity. It would be far better to save this£12,000, and utilize it in the development of the Northern Territory when we get control of it. It is known that numbers of the best people will come here, under proper circumstances, though, as I have already indicated, manyhave gone away, some to New Zealand, and other parts of the world, in the first ship they could get. The proposed expenditure is an absolute waste of money.
– The honorable member is doing harm in defaming the country in which he has done so well.
– I do not know that I have done very well, and, certainly, the right honorable member knows absolutely nothing of the matter.
– The honorable member looks well, anyhow !
– The country is vastly different from what it was a few years ago.
– There are millions df acres available inWestern Australia.
– The advertising is only doing harm, because we all know that Victoria has not room for its own people. In fact, it would appear that there is room only for sheep, and the mismanagement suggests that the government of the country is by sheep’s heads. Victoria is not doing so much in the way of misleading advertisements as are New South Wales and Queensland.
– What particular Queensland advertisement does the honorable member say is misleading?
– The State Government of Queensland has an organized immigration system.
– Why does the Minister not get up and explain?
– Ministers are not allowed to explain. Either their explanations will not bear examination, or they have none to give. In Queensland, under the immigration system, men and women have been brought out who can get neither work nor land, and are dependent on the well-known hospitality of the residents. In this respect, however, as I said before, New South Wales is the worst offender,’ and we ought to know what the plans of the Government are in this connexion.
– Ask the Government something easy !
– I do not think it is an unfair question. Are the Government waiting for Mr. Wade, or other of the State Premiers, to tell them what ought to be done?
– The Prime Minister says that he is waiting for the States to take action.
– The action taken by the States is bad enough, and we ought not to follow their example. In any case, we ought to be honest, and not mislead the people abroad. When an immigrant comes to New South Wales, he is sent to work on shares, and this is known to represent one of the grossest forms of sweating. There is not the slightest chance of their obtaining Land, because there are hundreds of applicants for each block; and on the share system, with the keen competition, the percentage of profit is very low. The late Government were removed from office because they proposed to tax the land - because the big land monopolists would not permit a graduated land tax to be imposed. However that may be. the Government have control of the statements made in advertisements in various parts of the Old World, and, with some wise legislation on the part of the States, Iam sure that Australia could absorb millions. Queensland and Western Australia have done more in the work of immigration than any of the other States, but the fact remains that people are now coming here who cannot find employment. That, of course is a very serious matter for Australia, and we ought to have some statement from the Government as to whether the expenditure in advertising is to be continued. I have no hesitation in saying that some of the advertisements I have seen are absolutely false. A few years ago an immigration bureau in London on behalf of Victoria did some advertising, and, on investigating the matter, I found that it was published that 500 carpenters were wanted at Alexandra, whereas there were not 500 people in the whole district. That is the sort of silly statement that is made by the State authorities.
– Will the honorable member give his authority for the statement that 500 carpenters were advertised for as required at Alexandra?
-I defy any one to show that I have ever made a statement which I could not prove.
– Then let the honorable member Drove that one.
– I have had the information in this House. The advertisements to which I refer were published years ago, before Federation. I am instancing them to show the recklessness of some of the State advertising.
– It is very stale matter that the honorable member is bringing up.
– If the honorable member for Flinders wants facts, we can supply him with recent evidences of reckless advertising.
– The honorable member should not make wild statements. He should be able to produce authority for what he says.
– I should be very foolish to make a statement which I could not prove.
– Then let the honorable member produce evidence of the statement about the carpenters.
Mr.SPENCE.- It is all very well for the honorable member to try to draw a red herring across the trail. I am too old a hand to be led off the track. I can produce evidence of the advertising for 4,000 miners.
– Although at Newcastle the miners are not now working a day a fortnight !
– It is notorious that miners were being advertised for when our own men were unemployed. There is ample evidence in British newspapers of the wrong done by the States in advertising.
– Ten years ago !
– Withinthe last two years. The evidence can be produced if it is wanted.
– It is wanted. If the honorable member makes ridiculous statements, the sooner he produces evidence in support of them the better.
– Nothing I could say would induce the Treasurer to alter the Bill. It has been proved that statements have been made, regarding New South Wales conditions, which were known to be false. Dr. Arthur, the head of the Immigration League there, admitted that he had made statements which he knew to be wrong. That was so notorious that it is not necessary to prove it. Of course, the Common wealth is not responsible for that. I instanced what the States have done only because of the mischief that has occurred. We should not be a party to increasing it. I do not say that the Commonwealth Govemment has published misleading advertisements. But statements have been made declaring that so many thousand navvies were wanted for certain places, that miners were needed for Broken Hill, and so on.
– Can the honorable member give specific instances ?
– Let the honorable member do what we have to do ; let him investigate the matter for himself.
– I do not make reckless statements.
– Let the honorable member earn his salary by reading the English newspapers in the Library. If he wishes for evidence, he will find it there.
– It is the honorablemember who is speaking who should produce evidence in support of the statements which he has made.
– As I have stated, I have evidence; but the honorable member does not want it. The matter was a big question at the New South Wales State elections. Copies of the advertisements which had been published were distributed throughout the State. The advertisements were the work of the Immigration League, and traceableto Dr. Arthur.
– Was the State Government responsible ?
– It was responsible for permitting what was done, and hiding behind a private man. Some of our money might well be spent in warning the public against untruthful advertisements such ashave been published. We are not responsible for what the States have done, but we are responsible for what the Commonwealth does. I do not say that our advertisements have done the harm which the State agitation has caused. Of course, some of those who have come here have found positions, but it is, nevertheless, cruel to induce immigration for which we have not sufficient room. We ought to welcome men to Australia as comrades, not as competitors, and we shall be able to do so if, by wise legislation, we make opportunities for ten times as many as are now coming here. I do not object to expenditure to assist immigration, but I object to advertising which is misleading as to our conditions.
.- Honorable members who have spoken on this question complain, first, that the resources of Australia are being advertised, and, secondly, that what is being done is ineffective. Last session we heard something about the purchase of a certain number of copies of the Clarion, because they contained illustrative and descriptive matter setting forth the resources of the Commonwealth. 1 did not see the publication, but I understand that the work was well done. The last Government was answerable for the purchase.
– I was solely answerable.
– In that case, the honorable member authorized the purchase either to encourage or to discourage immigration. Similarly the last Deakin Government subsidized the Bulletin proprietary for certain articles, ostensibly written by a Mr., Renard, but actually by a Mr. Fox, who, less open than Mr. Randolph Bedford, had substituted for his own name a French translation of it. All I have to say about the proposed vote is that it. is altogether too small to be effective, if the intention is to direct a Strang current of immigration to Australia. Of course, if the money is to be voted merely to subsidize smart journalists, the sooner we know it the better. An annual expenditure of ,£1.2,000, however, is not enough to do what it costs Canada ^£200, 000 to do.
– It is the CanadianPacific Company, and not the Canadian Government, that spends the money.
– We have been told that the information regarding our resources which has been prepared for advertising purposes is to be translated into many languages. I do not recognise the need for that. I do not wish the country to be flooded with Dagos, or the inhabitants of the Levant and other countries, from which destitute persons are continually pouring into Great Britain. It may be narrowminded, but, as I am of British descent, I wish our population to be mainly a British population. The honorable member for barling and those who have taken part in this debate, are doing more to advertise the resources of Australia than Mr. Bedford could do. If copies of the official report were distributed throughout Great Britain, with the announcement that Australia, with a population of only 5,000,000, pays 700 legislators - some better, but most worse, than ourselves - salaries ranging from £600 to £300 per annum, and maintains six Governors and a Governor-General, with their establishments, those who read the statement would say that, if it can do that without going bankrupt it must be a glorious land.
– What would the honorable member suggest?
– If we are to attract population to our shores, we must endeavour to do so in a wholesale manner, and not trifle with the subject in such a way’ as to lose £12,000 per annum. All that we need to do is to tell the people of the Old World the exact truth concerning Australia. I do not desire that Australia should be made a special preserve for any one. The question that is of the greatest importance in this connexion is what is the best class of immigrants for the Commonwealth to encourage. At the present time, more than half the population of Australia is to be found in our capital cities. That being so, the people that we should wish to attract are those Who will utilize the land. We do not desire to bring here more artisans and mechanics to flood our already congested cities. It should rather be our object to bring about the introduction of farmers and farm labourers with a little capital. A farm labourer in Great Britain may not have sufficient funds to acquire a farm there, but if he possesses ,£300 or £^400, he should be able to do something for himself here when properly assisted bv legislation. It should be our object to endeavour to attract farm labourers possessing a little capital, so that they will be able to tide over the time during which they are making themselves familiar with Australian conditions and Australian methods. Until they had so educated themselves, they could not hope to succeed even on the best land that we could offer them. This vote hinges on a question of policy, and the Commonwealth Parliament must soon determine what that policy is to be. If the States will not unlock their lands, then we must cease to encourage immigration, and to expend money in that direction. The problem of defence, and of keeping Australia white must also await State action in opening up the land. If the States are not prepared to unlock their lands - if they do not impose a system of taxation that will tend to closer settlement, and cause land to be thrown into use - the Commonwealth must do so. We cannot escape from that position. It is the desire of the Labour party to at once impose taxation with that object in view. I hold that we should first give the States the opportunity to take this action, and that if they fail to do so, the Commonwealth Parliament must step in.
– What does the honorable member propose?
– I am not going into details at this stage. It is sufficient for me to state the general principles in which I believe. We should not be asked to vote the funds necessary to encourage immigration if the States are not prepared to unlock their lands.
– How long would the honorable member give the States to impose such taxation?
– Three years.
– Then the honorable member would hang up the question of defence for three years?
– The honorable member is not such a child in politics as to believe that by spending £12,000 per annum, we shall largely increase our population within two years. The honorable member for Melbourne. Ports correctly described the position in his electorate when he declared that work could not be found for all the iron workers available there. The position is the same in New South Wales. The engineering trade and the iron workers generally in the electorate which I represent do not desire that artisans from Scotland or Belfast shall be introduced to compete with them, and they do not expect me to agree to votes for that purpose. Australia., in the matter of population, is very like an envelope. So far, although it is a vast and most fertile territory, only the gummed edges have been touched by the people. We have the luck to be in the brightest spot on God’s earth, and it would be a short-sighted policy to endeavour to limit it to a population of only 5,000,000. During the advocacy of Federation some twelve or fourteen years ago, the present Prime Minister and Sir Edmund Barton used to declare that within forty years of the establishment of the Commonwealth we should have a population of 50,000,000 or 60,000,000. The fact remains that since Federation - or, rather, during the last nine or ten years - our population, after deducting the excess of births over deaths, has remained stationary.
– It has been retrogressive.
– Exactly. We cannot allow that state of affairs to continue, and must be prepared to agree to an expenditure that will induce a desirable class of immigrants, such as I. have indicated, to come to Australia, not by tens and twenties, but at the rate of 50,000 or 100,000 every year.
– Hear, hear.
– May I remind those who cheer me that they must rid themselves of Conservative ideals, and agree with me that if the State Parliaments will not tax their lands into operative use, the Commonwealth Parliament must do so. If we are to have immigration, we must be prepared to absorb it. We have enough industrials to meet the present industrial demands of Australia, but if we are able to secure a large rural population, we shall then have plenty of room for more artisans and mechanics.
– Seven thousand children are annually . being murdered in Australia.
– The honorable member has touched upon a question with which I do not wish to deal at this stage, although it is one that will not long be spoken of with bated breath. We shall soon have to take it up and deal with it. Fortunately for ourselves, the white races of the rest of the world are all in the same position. The coloured races, however, are not indulging in the evil practice suggested by the honorable member for Darwin, and, consequently, are rapidly getting ahead of us. MayI say, in conclusion, that I see no utility in voting £12,000 in this way, merely that some of it may be given to a journalistic friend. I do not care how able he is, or how he spells his name; if that is the only object in view, the sooner we close this account the better. If, on the other hand, it is designed to attract immigrants, then we must see that the truth is told concerning Australia, and that an effort is made to encourage agriculturists and agricultural labourers to come here, rather than to bring to this country large numbers of industrials whom we cannot absorb.
.- I should have been well content to allow this debate to go without any contribution from myself, but for the interjections made a few moments ago by the honorable member for Flinders. When the honorable member for Darling was speaking - making statements that are common knowledge with most of us-
– And in support of which the honorable member cannot produce a tittle of evidence.
– The proof is here.
– I asked for proof of the statement that 500 carpenters were imported for Alexandra.
– I made no such statement.
– When the honorable member for Darling was making statements that are common property with us, and within the knowledge of all electors, the honorable member for Flinders, with that ability common to the legal profession, believing that he had the honorable member at a disadvantage in not having the proof at hand, sought to press him for it, and continued to press, and, at the same time, to deliberately charge him with making ridiculously inaccurate statements that could not be substantiated. I venture to suggest that there is never a stage in the proceedings of the House when honorable members do riot make statements in support of which it would be difficult for them to produce official proof, if required so to do at that particular moment. Well do I remember even the Prime Minister, who is now the honorable member for Flinders’ leader, being completely nonplussed only a few days ago, when similarly asked to provide proof of an assertion that he was then making, and having to regret that he had left the information at home. The honorable member knows full well that that experience is liable to happen to any and every member. It is possible that even the honorable member for Flinders, despite all the care and precision which characterize most of his utterances in the Chamber, may at some moment find himself without the necessary proof to substantiate a statement that he may utter. It was distinctly unkind and uncalled for for the honorable member to press for data when he believed that they were not to hand.
– It will do tomorrow.
– I am sorry to have to class the right honorable member amongst those who always put off till to-morrow what they ought to do to-day. Although he claims to be an expert in the matter of finance, he is putting off for a period of five years the settlement of a question that he said yesterday was prominent, urgent, and indispensable to the success of this session. Yet with a calmness that almost beggars description, the right honorable gentleman has decided to put off the fatal day for no less than five years. I rose merely with the desire to furnish the honorable member for Flinders with the proof that he so eagerly sought a few moments ago when he thought it was not available. The Ministry and their supporters, or the majority of them in the House, are desirous of securing immigrants at any cost, and their leading supporters outside the House have placed it on record that they require immigrants, not for patriotic reasons or for filling up the country, but as a business investment for themselves. I need only quote the remarksof Dr. Arthur as published in the press on the 25th February last. That gentleman, with some degree of eloquence, pleaded with the Chamber of Commerce in Adelaide - one of those chambers which now control the actions of the present Ministry - to assist him in his immigration proposals. Although he referred to the necessity for filling up the waste spaces, it was not until he put it to the Chamber of Commerce as what he termed a sound business advertisement, that they listened with patience, or were able to raise even a feeble cheer. He was reported to have used these words -
He put it to them as a sound business advertisement, apart from the higher plane of patriotism.
Some ten or twelve inches of space were occupied with his remarks upon the patriotic aspect of inducing immigrants to come here. They failed, but his concluding words - “ I put it to you as a sound business advertisement “ - brought forth the necessary approval. On that aspect of the case, I have only to look back a few months to the time when a Mr. Morgan visited Australia in the interests of the manufacturers of England and of their type here. He put before the public this statement : -
The manufacturer, in order to develop his industry, must not only have a sufficiency of labour, but an absolute surplus.
I venture to suggest that the reason why the Ministry and some of their supporters in the House, and most of their leading supporters outside, are so eagerly asking that public funds shall be spent to induce immigrants to come here, is not so much that they fear, as was asserted by the honorable member for Wentworth, any Asiatic invasion, but that they desire a surplus of labour as a sound business advertisement for their own particular pockets. Every honorable member knows what a surplus of labour will mean, with twenty or thirty, or perhaps even a hundred men knocking at the one door for the one situation. The employing section will be different fromwhat we have known them, in the past if they do not immediately take full advantage of that surplus labour, and inform those who are then employed that their wages must come down, and their hours of labour increase, or they can go out and make room for some of the surplus, they in return becoming a portion of the surplus knocking hopelessly at the door of the employer. We do riot want to be reduced here to the straits in which the military authorities inEngland found themselves but a few years ago when men were wanted to defend the country, and it became necessary to reduce the standard of chest measurement and height before they could get even in some instances pigmies to carry the rifles.
– Does the honorable member suggest that Dr. Arthur meant what the honorable member says when he referred to immigration being a good advertisement ?
- Dr. Arthur addressed that particular Chamber of Commerce in unusually flowery language upon the patriotic aspect of the immigration movement, and apparently did not arouse the admiration of his friends. So he concluded with these words - there can be no question about what he meant -
He put it to them as a sound business advertisement, apart from the higher plane of patriotism.
He had dealt with the sound investment to the country - that is, patriotism - so he put it to them as an individual business advertisement, and then, and then only, was the admiration of the Chamber of Commerce aroused so far as to agree with his sentiments. Let me quote a few words as an indication of the attitude of the gentlemen who were behind the fusion negotiations which resulted in the formation of the present Ministry, and who are asking, in unmistakable terms, that public funds should be liberally expended to induce immigrants to come to Australia. I quote the Honorable E. E. Smith, who, I believe, is a Victorian, from the official report of the last grand Inter-State Conference of the Employers Union, held in April, 1905. He began by saying that he would allow common sense to cure the political difficulties then existing. I ask honorable members to note the word “ obvious “ in Mr. Smith’s speech, although he did not explain what he meant by it. He said -
I certainly would, for obvious reasons, encourage immigration. We must have the people, and we shall have them. We import machinery ; why should we not import labour?
So he classes a man precisely on the same level as a piece of machinery that he will scrap at any moment when he has had from it sufficient return to pay for its purchase -
We are importing machinery from America and Great Britain, and why not import labour? I do not care whether it is black or white.
Gentlemen of the political persuasion of the Honorable E. E. Smith are now behind the Ministry of fusion, urging them with one voice to liberally spend the public funds to induce immigrants to come to Australia.
– What is there wrong in it? We have machinery, and want labour to work it.
– The honorable member for Robertson asks what iswrong with the remark of another man that he does not care whether the immigrants are black or white. Then,we nail down the honorable member for Robertson as desiring to bring immigrants, black or white, to Australia. There is no loophole for the honorable member, and he must not attempt to escape from the consequences of his unfortunate interjection.
– That gag will not work.
– According to the same gentleman, I understand that there is a desire toretain the coloured immigrants in what are termed the tropical parts of Australia ; but when the kanakas were in. Queensland, although there were regulations to confine them to certain work and to the tropical areas, they were to be found pretty freely in the southern portions, and I believe that, in spite of those laws and regulations, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland was wont to employ a kanaka, although the kanakas were supposed to be kept to the cane-fields. I come now to the proof which the honorable member for Flinders so eagerly sought. He will find, in Hansard for July, 1907, page 928, a question by an honorable member to this effect -
Has the Federal Government given any sum of money to Dr. Arthur’s Immigration League?
– I did not say a word about Dr. Arthur. I asked for some proof or substantiation of the statement that the Victorian Government advertised for 500 carpenters to go to Alexandra.
– I made no such statement.
– No such statement was made by the honorable member for.
Darling. The honorable member for Flinders asked for proof respecting the thousands of miners referred to. After that reference to the miners, and after the statement was made that incorrect and misleading advertisements were being published in the British press to induce British immigrants to come here, then, after careful consideration, the honorable member for Flinders insisted again and again on proof, and classed the statements as ridiculous, absurd, and inaccurate. I am proceeding to give the honorable member his proof, and, apparently, he is in fear and trembling now that the proof is forthcoming. I ask honorable members to notice the entirely different demeanour of the honorable member.
– Is there any evidence whatever to support the statement regarding an advertisement by the Government qf Victoria for 500 carpenters i
– If I may, in a pleasant way, use a simile, the honorable member’s feathers were a few moments ago on end, but are now dragging. I merely want to prove the correctness of the statements made.
– What we want is not proof, but Supply.
– I am as anxious for Supply as my honorable friend, but I may remind him that he was more dangerous than any other honorable member in the House when he was not a Minister ; and I am sure that the effort he put forward, in Opposition, to prevent a Ministry accomplishing too much of -what he considered objectionable will find favorable consideration with him now, on the part of others who are endeavouring, perhaps not adequately, to follow the wonderful example he set. The second question has reference to the alleged responsibility for the advertisements appearing in papers throughout the United Kingdom ; so that we have proof that misleading statements were being circulated.
– There is proof that some one said that. .
– The honorable member did not ask from whom the proof should come, but simply for proof ; and now we have an admission that there is proof from some one. Had the honorable gentleman stipulated whose proofs should be forthcoming, we should have looked up the necessary evidence ; but he only asked for proof as to the advertisements. The second question was -
Is this League responsible for the following advertisement appearing in papers throughout the United Kingdom : -
Farm hands and domestic servants to Queensland. Assisted passages, very low rates, to Western Australia, the land of sunshine. Two thousand miners and general labourers wanted for New South Wales, for which a limited number of assisted passages is now available. Write or call for full information to John Craigs, authorized emigration agent for all the lines, 13 Station-road, Ashington.
The third paragraph of the advertisement stated that 2,000 miners and general labourers were wanted for New South Wales for whom a limited number of assisted passages were then .available. The Minister replied to the effect that he had given £150 to the particular league presided over by Dr. Arthur, and that the Government had no knowledge of the advertisements, but would make inquiries.
– This is the league which the Leader of the Labour party of the Federal Parliament helped to inaugurate.
– That is not so, and the honorable member knows it.
– He addressed the first public meeting in. Sydney in favour of it.
– I must again appeal to honorable members not to continually interject, because, otherwise, it will be impossible for the honorable member for Adelaide to continue his speech.
– The honorable member for Flinders asked for further information, and I have in my hand a copy of a letter by Dr. Richard Arthur, as president of the league, and addressed to Mr. Marshall Lyle, solicitor, of Queen-street, Melbourne, under date 19th October, 1907. The letter is as follows : -
We are putting collection boxes on the Himalaya and Medic, both leaving to-day. Can you do the same, or get your Government to do so ? This is a splendid work, which require.” to be organized. All these hundreds of passengers are potential immigrant agents. Don’t mix up immigration and land settlement inyour pamphlet.
That will meet with favour from the honorable member for Wentworth and others, who are anxious for immigrants, but are not anxious for land legislation of a class likely to call for subdivision of monopolized areas.
– Why does the honorable member say that?
– What proof is there that honorable members on this side do not desire land settlement?
– Most honorable members on the other side, so far as their public utterances are concerned, resolutely refuse to favour such legislation as would be operative in the acquisition of land for people who are seeking it at the present time. Honorable members opposite are irrevocably bound to a policy which, according to the Argus, whether they like it or not, they must accept as soon as the Ministry introduces it ; and the policy is to relegate the land administration to the Legislative Councils of the various Parliaments. The letter from Dr. Arthur went on : -
In fact, rather issue two. In the immigration book everything must be couleur de rose.
Do not tell the truth - paint it all the colour of the rose.
No hint of difficulty about getting land. You need not be afraid you will be rebuked.
The gentleman knew and understood the difficulty ; and yet he desired to deceive immigrants in a manner certainly not creditable to him. The honorable member for Flinders, if he requires much further proof, may read it here in a statement to the effect that if the truth were told, subscriptions to the league would be killed off.
– Did Dr. Arthur say that ?
– The honorable member can read the letter for himself.
– Did Dr. Arthur say, “ Do not tell the truth “ ?
– No, he did not use those words, but I shall read the whole, and then honorable members may understand : -
Even when Queensland offered cheap farms in London, there was only one applicant. As regards land settlement for home (Victorian) consumption, you can be as pessimistic and as indignant as you please. The blacker the better, though don’t get too much on the line, “ What is the use of inviting the immigrants here when we have nothing to offer them.” That would chop off subscriptions. Anyhow, don’t do anything to frighten off immigrants, because competition for them is so keen in Europe, and even if conditions change for the better in Victoria you might find that it was of no avail, as you have given the place a bad reputation.
– Whom did the honorable member get to write that letter for him ?
– I am reading a letter from Dr. Richard Arthur, who is the head and tail, and, I believe, the centre of the Immigration League - the head and tail of that section of the community which is behind the present Ministry, urging that immigrants should be brought out, though, according to Dr. Arthur himself, there is no land on ‘which to place them. Dr. Arthur is careful to urge that everything should be painted couleur de rose - that no hint should be given about the difficulty of obtaining land or employment.
– Who instructed him to write that letter”?
– It is impossible to say, but it .is a letter written by him as president of the Immigration League ; and I think it ought to be sufficient evidence for the honorable member for Flinders.
– Does the honorable member think that every honorable member here approves of all that Dr. Arthur does?
– I do not know of what the honorable member approves - it is impossible to say from his addresses. If any further proof is required by the honorable member for Flinders-
– The honorable member has not given me any proof yet.
– The honorable member asked for proofs that advertisements appeared asking for thousands of miners when no miners were required, and also proof that misleading advertisements were being inserted in the British press respecting immigrants. In reply, I have read a statement by the leader of the Immigration League to the effect that thousands of miners were required, apart altogether from the remarkable letter I have quoted ; and the honorable member for Flinders, in what is, perhaps, a characteristic manner, declares that no proof is given. Will the honorable member inform me of the nature of the proof he requires, when I may be able, not at the present moment, but in the course of a few hours, or days, to produce it, showing that things were done which he. now tacitly admits were unfair. The honorable member took advantage of a few impromptu remarks of the honorable member for Darling, who had not at his command the necessary data for the statement he had made.
– The honorable member has not produced any proof in regard to the particular item I referred to, namely, that of the 500 carpenters.
– First of all, the reply is that no statement was made by the honorable member for Darling about 500 carpenters ; and that would seem to remove, if not in his mind, at any rate in the mind 11 of others, any justification for the interjection and request for proof.
– Does the honorable member for Darling say that he never made a statement about 500 carpenters?
– I am relying on the word of the honorable member for Darling. When the honorable member for Flinders sought to pin the discussion to the one inter- jection he had himself made, the honorable member for Darling denied having made any statement of the kind indicated ; and I rely on that denial.
– The statement was not made in the way the honorable member for Flinders puts it.
– What did the honorable member for Darling say ?
– I have known others who, like the honorable member for Flinders, notwithstanding all proof, and, not- withstanding that the Court has been perfectly satisfied that one side was in the right, and the other in the wrong, have insisted and asserted to the last moment that the wrong side was right. This Parliament is not a court. It will not give a decision. If it did, it might not be of a strictly judicial character, but might have a party colouring.. In proof that Dr. Arthur has been guilty, to some extent, of publishing in the newspapers of the United Kingdom advertisements of a nature the existence of which the honorable member for Flinders has by inference denied, let me read another letter, in which he says -
There is a great demand at present, and will be for some time to come, for miners of all kinds, and pick and shovel men, in New South Wales. There has been such an expansion in the coal trade that hundreds of miners are needed at the various collieries on the North and South coasts. There the wages are from 8s. per day upwards, men sometimes making 12s. or 15s. per day. But all other kinds of mining need men also.
Two thousand miners are required at Broken Hill, several hundreds at the Cobar copper mines, at from us. to 22s. a day, and small mines all over the country, whether they be copper or -gold or tin, are advertising for men.
That letter substantiates the statement that Dr. Arthur and those acting with him are responsible for having published misleading and incorrect advertisements in the press of the United Kingdom, and corroborates what was said by the honorable member for darling. To my mind, it is the evidence for which the honorable member for Flinders pertinently asked a few moments ago. When the letter was being written, miners were being dismissed at Broken Hill .and Cobar, and throughout New South Wales hundreds of unemployed of all classes would have been glad to take any work at the most meagre, remuneration. The letter shows the methods which have been adopted by that section of the community which is supporting the Ministry, on whose behalf the honorable member for Flinders ventured the interjection that the statements of the honorable member for Darling were absurd and ridiculous. It seems to me that there may have been ar> understanding between the Broken Hill Proprietary and Dr. Arthur, and that, thinking that there might be trouble with its men in the course of twelve or eighteen months, it persuaded him to get his league to use public funds in the endeavour toattract to the State 2,000 miners, whose arrival would assist to secure a reduction of wages at Broken Hill. No doubt, those responsible regret that these things have come to light. It is not to their advantage that the trickery in which they, have indulged should be exposed to the public gaze. It may not be satisfactory to the Ministry, or to the members of the three or four parties which have fused to support it, to have it known that their friends have published incorrect information in the United Kingdom, and suppressed the truth to mislead intending immigrants. I regret that these methods have been adopted, and that men of the stamp of Mr. E. Smith are prepared to import labour as they import machinery. It shows how low their estimate of humanity is. Perhaps that estimate is in keeping with- the opinion which many other supporters of the Government hold, without the courage to give expression to it. It is well, however, that the facts should be brought prominently before the public, in order that it may know what is being done by the section which has brought about the fusion, and whose mouthpiece, the Argus, says to-day that all behind, the Ministry must support it, no matter what it introduces, good, bad, or indifferent. It may be that the honorable member for Flinders will assert that no proof has been adduced of the existence of the reprehensible methods which have been referred to. I have heard it stated hundreds of times in courts of law-
– In courts of law, statements cannot be made unless there is authority for them.
– I am surprised that the honorable member, possessing a legal training, should say that. Manifestly, one side is always in the wrong, and makes statements which it cannot substantiate. No doubt, he has been on that side occasionally, though, of course, it is no personal reflection on him to say so. On many occasions I have known Judges to rebuke those who have appeared before them, for making statements which they could not substantiate, and a good deal must take place before a Judge will rebuke “ gent, one.” If the honorable member denies that proof has been adduce.! in support of the statements which have been made, let him indicate what he requires to convince him., first, that misleading statements have been published in the press of the United Kingdom, and, secondly, that the persons most -prominently supporting immigration are knowingly, deliberately, and wickedly attempting to deceive the public, pressing this, as they have pressed other Governments, to spend the public funds in attracting immigrants for whom, in their private correspondence, they acknowledge there is no work available. My honorable friend must admit that the statement of the honorable member for Darling is correct - that 2,000 miners were advertised for at a time when the mining companies of Australia were dismissing men. As I have been drawn into the debate, may I be permitted to say a few words in regard to immigration generally. As a member of the Labour party, I am anxious that Australia shall be peopled, because I have a great dread lest the country should pass under the government of any but .our own race. There is that possibility at present. The man who owns 60,000 or 70,000 acres of the finest soil in Victoria could do nothing to prevent it. He may run some thousands of sheep on his land, but they would only provide food for the invaders who might desire to dispossess us. I recognise the value of our institutions, and prefer them to those of other countries, and I know that to preserve them it is necessary to people the Continent with a strong, virile, white race. Yet I deprecate all attempts to decoy to Australia artisans, labourers, and others for whom we have no employment. I shall assist, to the best of my ability, the truthful advertising of our resources, so that our wonderful pro ductions and possibilities may be made known, in the hope of attracting here immigrants of whom, as citizens, we may in the future be proud. But I am not in favour of spending money on advertising intended to hide black spots, and to paint everything the colour of the rose. While such deception may not directly injure us, though reflecting upon our reputation, it certainly injures those whom it misleads. We. have had serious attempts to mislead them in the past, and presumably the desire of some persons in Australia is to continue that form of deception for a purpose they dare not make public.
– Those cases were absolutely unauthorized by any Government.
-The Immigration League, of which Dr. Arthur is president, has been subsidized by the Government. At page 928 of Hansard, honorable members will find a reply made by the Treasurer to a question put to him in July, 1907, in which he said that the league had been subsidized by ^150 of Federal money. I am given to understand by gentlemen residing in New South Wales that the league is liberally subsidized by the New South Wales Government. The. Minister of External Affairs will therefore recognise that it is so prominent that it can command subsidies both from the National Parliament and a State Parliament, and that to the extent to which the Government have subsidized they have authorized. To the extent to which they subsidize they recognise the official character of this league, and must be in part responsible for the utterances of its officials. The Minister of External Affairs is to some extent responsible for the utterances of his colleague, although I noted with some degree of pleasure that the Postmaster-General was’ reprimanded for having made a statement respecting loan moneys. Nevertheless, to some extent every Minister is responsible for the utterances of his colleagues, and when the president - the Prime Minister - speaks he commits the whole Administration. Upon this occasion we have not an impromptu utterance made at a public meeting, but the calm, cold, deliberate writing of the president of the league, containing statements of the most reprehensible and knowingly incorrect character. I am, therefore, justified in calling prominent attention to it ; in expressing the hope that we shall, as far as possible, counteract it, and that we shall take all honorable and proper means to bring before the white people of other countries our resources, possibilities, and free institutions, so that, apart from deceptive advertisements, they may come to these shores if they so desire. They will be welcomed in exactly . the proportion in which we can absorb them. I use the word “ absorb” in the sense of giving or finding them employment that will allow them -I shall not be excessive - to live in frugal comfort, and keep those dependent upon them in precisely the same condition. That is not too severe a qualification to impose when we are asked to expend public funds in this way.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
.-The question now before the Committee - that of advertising the resources of Australia - is of all the most important, and I think I may say, without fear of contradiction that it is the one question upon which all sections of the House are agreed. That honorable members supporting the Government are in favour of immigration is evident, and we have only to read His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech to find that the Fisher Government were as keenlv alive as we are to the necessity for adopting some system. We therefore enter upon this discussion on the basis of mutual agreement. In His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech, we have the statement -
My advisers recognise that the effective defence of Australia requires a vast increase of the population, and that a comprehensive policy of immigration is urgently called for. …
We all recognise that a great increase of population is absolutely necessary, both for the development of Australia and for its protection, if it is to be maintained as a white man’s country.
– We differ as to the method bv which it is to be secured.
– I admit that at that point we arrive at the parting of the ways. I do not wish to do an injustice to the Labour party, but they appear to me to desire to put off indefinitely the settlement of the question.
– No, indefinitely ; because they say, in effect, they are opposed to immigration until certain steps have been taken in regard to the land. They favour a Federal land tax; whilst we, on this side of the House, are opposed to it. Although many honorable members of the Opposition have expressed a desire that immigration shall be encouraged, we find that as soon as a definite proposal is submitted, they, and those for whom they stand as sponsors iu this House, are opposed to it. Let me quote from a resolution carried by the Newcastle Labour Council.
– And the party behind the honorable member is in favour of the introduction of black labour.
– That is a scandalous libel.
– Smith said so.
– Who is Smith ? Is he every one?
– What is the honorable member quoting?
– The Newcastle Labour Council.
– Are they everybody?
– No; but they represent the views of the party for which the honorable member stands as sponsor. The Newcastle Labour Council issued a circular warning intending immigrants from going to that State.
– Quite right ; and they exposed the lies that were circulated.
Mr.PALMER. - The interjection that the Newcastle Labour Council were quite right in warning off intending immigrants serves only to emphasize my point that honorable members opposite are in reality opposed to immigration, although they admit that it is necessary if we are to keep Australia white. The question hinges upon the necessity of a Federal land tax, in order to make the lands of Australia available for immigrants. I desire to present some statistics showing, first of all, the land available in Victoria, and, secondly, the lands available in Australia generally. I propose, in the first instance, to quote from a speech made in another place on Friday la st by Senator Givens. I am sorry thatI have not been able to obtain the Hansard proof, but, according to a press report -
In dealing with the question of land settlement, Senator Givens said there was room-
– I hope that the honorable gentleman will not go into details as to something that has occurred’ in another place. The honorable member may make a general statement, but must not quote details.
– Then I may say that Senator Givens expressed the opinion that the lands of Australia were monopolized, and that not a single acre could be obtained from the monopolists. Is that statement true? c
– In many cases it is.
– It seems to me that honorable members opposite are looking with covetous eyes at those who have been able to acquire properties worth holding. There are 1,262 estates under the Victorian land tax, and the average of each assessment in the year 1900 was 6,479 acres. In 1905 the average was reduced to 5,577 acres. In 1906 it was still further reduced to 5,338 acres; and in 1907, to 5,198 acres. These are the latest figures, and they prove that in seven years the areas of the large landed estates in Victoria have been reduced by one-fifth. That is an important fact, entirely controverting the baseless assertion that no part of the large estates pf Victoria is available for settlement. There is another important statistical fact, and that is that about one-half of the area of Victorian estates over 10,000 acres in extent, consists of Crown land. There are in the large estates in Victoria, 9.545,000 acres, and half of these are Crown lands. Those figures indicate the extent of land controlled by the State of Victoria.
– The bulk of that is unapproachable.
– I shall come to that question at a later stage. Of the land in Victoria available for occupation there are 14,541 acres of first-class, 114,000 acres of second-class, 2,079,000 acres of thirdclass land, and 3,325,000 acres of pastoral land. There are also 6,517,000 acres of mallee land. These figures are from the Victorian Year-Book. Some time -ago several honorable members who were then sitting with the Fisher Government on this side stated that no lands were available for the people in Australia. The honorable member for Fremantle thereupon wired to the Premier of Western Australia as to the lands available in that State, and received this reply -
Sixty-two million acres of unselected land within a ten-inch rainfall limit, one-third of which is estimated to be suitable for mixed farming ; six hundred and fifty thousand acres now surveyed in advance of selection ; one hundred thousand of this at present available, the balance to be thrown open shortly.
That speaks volumes for the amount of land which is available, and to which the State authorities desire to attract settlement. From the Queensland parliamentary papers I find that in that State there is a process of selection going on, and that enormous areas are available. The land not alienated in Queensland totals 145,000,000 acres. The area selected in 1906 was 708,000 acres, and by new-comers 276,000 acres. There was open for selection at the beginning of 1906 15,782,000 acres.
– And 4,000,000 acres were selected last year.
– A large quantity of that land is held under very long lease. Tell us the area of land which is really available for the people.
– I am endeavouring to do so. “ He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
– The honorable member knows that that land is no more available for the people than is his own land in New South Wales.
– I have quoted the statement of the Premier of Western. Australia.
– The land in Western Australia that the Government are offering for settlement is available to anybody.
– I wish to place before honorable members some facts as to the total area of land in Australia. There appears to be an entire misapprehension as to the extent and scope of our country and its value from a settlement point of view. Honorable members opposite are so intent on looking with covetous eyes on those who have already acquired estates that they have no attention to bestow on the large areas of unoccupied land which are just as attractive now as the areas nearer to the shore were in the earlier history of Australia. In the Commonwealth there are 1,903,000,000 acres. I shall deduct the area below a 10-inch rainfall, although in some parts where there is less than a 10- inch rainfall there are men occupying leaseholds with profit to themselves and advantage to the community. The area below an average of 10-inch rainfall is 600,000,000 acres. Above a 10-inch and up to a 145-inch rainfall the area is 1,303,000,000 acres. The area leased out of this - and this is the point which exercised the mind of the honorable member for Riverina just now - is 774,000,000 acres. The area alienated or in process of alienation is 126,000,000 acres, making a total of 900,000,000 occupied either by lease, alienation, or partial alienation. The unoccupied country therefore totals 403,000,000 acres. Of the total area of the Commonwealth only one acre in fifteen has been alienated, while of the total area above a 10-inch rainfall one acre in ten has been alienated.
– Those figures, include the whole of the Northern Territory.
– I understand that honorable members opposite have great hopes of being able subsequently to settle a thriving community even in the Northern Territory. While we have all these lands available, and every State is enacting laws to throw open areas as they are required for settlement, it is altogether a wrong policy to say “ We will obstruct immigration as much as possible until you have given us a land tax in order that we may dispossess the men who have acquired land, who have held it since the early days, and who have paid for it.” I present these figures, satisfied to know that, whilst honorable members opposite decry immigration until certain results have been accomplished, when the fact has been placed before the people that for our own protection we must have more population, the people will be with us, and say “ Go ahead, work hand in hand with the States in encouraging immigration. Do not take up a position of antagonism. If you are going to wait for a Federal land tax you will have to wait at least some years before you can make a start.” For reasons of defence it is essential that an early start should be made. I quite agree with the statement in the GovernorGeneral’s speech that : -
A comprehensive policy of immigration is urgently called for, and I shall be dissatisfied if the Deakin “Government do not at an early stage introduce a policy which is likely to accomplish the desired result of bringing increased population to Australia.
– How would the honorable member raise money for that and for the Dreadnought also?
– The question ‘ of a Dreadnought is of the utmost importance.
– I ask the honorable member not to deal with that question now. He can deal with it in relation to the Defence Department.
– I am quite prepared to deal with it now or then. It is our bounden duty to assist to defend the commerce of this great Empire, as well as to protect our own shores, and the only way we can defend our commerce is to assist the British Navy. I have placed these facts regarding land available for settlement before the Committee, because I feel impelled to view the question -from the larger stand-point of Empire. If we are to develop Australia, to make it a worthy descendant of our great Empire, we must set to work without loss of time to introduce the right type of people, who will take up our large vacant areas. I am prepared to admit that there are thousands of acres at present not available for settlers, because the land is situated too far back; but there are thousands and thousands of acres which are in the range of practical occupation, which, if occupied, would mean wealth to the community, increased labour for the labourers, and a vast step in the direction of the progressive development of the Commonwealth. I trust that we shall not hear from honorable gentlemen opposite any further expressions of determination to resist the immigration of the right type of people ; but that they will seek to induce the States to carry out this important work, and thus make the lands of mutual advantage to those who are here now, and those whom we hope will come.
.- I am glad that the honorable member for Wentworth is now in his place, because he made some reference to my having authorized the payment of a sum of money for a special number of the Clarion, at what he conceived was ,£50 above the market value. I understand that the honorable member obtained his information from a letter written in one of the Sydney newspapers by Mr. Hurley. But that letter was, so far as I understand, written under a misapprehension. I have not the remotest idea of what the ordinary price of the Clarion is; and, at any rate, that has no relevance to the particular publication referred to by the honorable member.
– A single copy of the Clarion is 6d., and 7,000 copies could have been purchased for £175, whereas the Government paid £225.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. It is the ordinary issue of the Clarion which is published at 6d. ; but the issue in question was a special number containing nothing else but an article on the resources of Australia.
– I have the number here, and it is advertised at 6d.
– I can tell the honorable member that that number was not published at 6d.’; and the only connexion between the two is the cover.
– What is the ordinary issue of the Clarion?
– The honorable . member ought to know, seeing that the newspaper circulates very largely in his district. All honorable members who have seen the particular issue of the Clarion, and to whom I have spoken, have expressed the greatest admiration of it j and I am surprised that the honorable member for Wentworth should object to any article setting forth the resources of Australia, considering the view he takes on the question of attracting immigrants.
– What puzzles me is why the Labour party should do anything to encourage immigration.
– I cannot be responsible for what puzzles the honorable member ; in fact, if the honorable member were not puzzled, we should look for some explanation. In this special number of the Clarion, every advertisement was deleted, and so was every reference to politics ; so that the number was quite different from the ordinary number.
– I understand that every issue is a special issue.
– Advertising the resources of Australia?
– This number of the Clarion was written up specially with that idea. The original proposal was to have a series of four articles ; but that was objected to, and they were compressed into one, which filled the entire paper. Then, further, the number was published in five languages, including English.
– What was the object - to get immigrants from Italy, Spain, Austria, and Germany?
– I think the honorable member is wrong about Austria.
– The number was circulated in Austria, and translated into German, Spanish, .French, and Italian; and I assume the object was to get immigrants from foreign countries.
– The honorable member is not quite accurate. The whole business of advertising does not merely consist in attracting immigrants. Another object is to develop the trade of Australia, and to that end, to advertise the resources of the country, in the hope of developing our trade with foreign countries as well as with Britain, however anxious we may be for British preference. Another idea is to attract tourists to Australia ; and most of the advertisements have been written with the object of directing attention all over the world to Australia as a legitimate field for business enterprise. As a matter of fact, we do not need to do a great deal of advertising for the purpose’ of attracting immigrants. As the present Prime Minister knows, Sir Joseph Carruthers, in a most exhaustive report on the subject, claims that there is not the smallest difficulty in getting immigrants; but that, on the other hand, the agents are overwhelmed with applications. If the present Minister of External Affairs chooses to look up the files in his office, he will find that what I have stated is a fact. Mr. Sydney Kidman has also said that there would be no difficulty at all in inducing thousands to come here, if they were certain of employment when they arrived. My own opinion is that we have no need to advertise in order to get immigrants by the thousand, and possibly by the million.
– The honorable member’s object is to advertise to keep immigrants away ; and that is why he photographed those miners’ humpies and sent copies Home.
– I have not the slightest notion to what the honorable member refers. Photography is not one of my hobbies ; and I certainly never photographed any humpies.
– I applied the pronoun generally.
– Then, the honorable member should not do so when he addresses his remark to me. If he means that somebody somewhere photographed humpies, it is no concern of mine. The whole question is, what sort of arrangements do we make at this end in order to insure that the immigrant gets work, and that there is an opening presented for the development of his ability on the land, or elsewhere.
– We do not do half as much as we should.
– Of course not. But all this talk of advertising with a view to attracting immigrants is so much humbug.
– And all the talk about there being no work for the men when they arrive, is also humbug.
– I agree that, when not the slightest attempt to provide work is made, it is so much humbug. The
Fisher Government made a real proposal - one that meant immigration, as shown by the following paragraph from His Excellency’s speech -
My Advisers recognise that the effective defence of Australia requires a vast increase of the population, and that a comprehensive policy of immigration is urgently called for.
– I must ask the honorable member not to go into details on that question now.
– I shall simply say that the Fisher Government definitely laid it down that, as a matter of extreme urgency, there should be progressive taxation of land values, in order that there might be subdivision of the large estates, and extensive areas thrown open to settlement, thus offering inducements to immigrants in large numbers. This proposal meant practical settlement and practical defence.
– Does the honorable member think that a progressive land tax would’ settle the lands of Australia?
– A progressive land tax is one of the measures-
– Is it not the only measure of the Labour party?
– The honorable member knows that he will not interrupt the course of my argument and cause me to admit that the whole of the Labour party’s policy lies in a progressive land tax. I will say, however, that, so far as immigration and defence, as arising from the settling of the waste areas is concerned, the key is a progressive land tax. Lands must be unlocked bv some means or other. If the honorable member can suggest a more effective means than a progressive land tax, I shall be happy to assist him in bringing it into operation. This is not my opinion, or that of the Labour party only. The Sydney Morning Herald,, which is not a Labour journal, not a wild Socialistic rag, but one. whose respectability the Minister of Defence will vouch for, says -
If immigrants are to be placed on the land systematically and in numbers without prejudice to the land requirements of our people, it is not to be disputed that the provision of settlement land on easy terms will have to proceed at a much more rapid pace than is the case now. This applies, not in one State, but in all - at least, in the more settled States. As to this State, we are not unmindful of what the Government is doing in the matter of resumptions. Speaking at Guyra on Wednesday night, the Minister for Lands said he was “ determined to face the problem (of making land available), and he looked forward hopefully to the time when the men would not be moving about the country looking for land without the Government pursuing them to take up the available areas.” We hope this good time is nearer than it appears to be. But we doubt if the policy of State resumption alone will bring it about. The active co-operation of landowners themselves might enable the Government to do so, and, perhaps, the neglect of owners to see matters in this light mav prove to be strengthening the hands of those who are only waiting the chance to apply the goad of a graduated land tax.
That is the opinion of probably the most Conservative journal in Australia.
– Is it suggested that the Commonwealth Parliament should impose a land tax ?
– We are not now discussing whether a land tax should be imposed by this Parliament or by those of the States. ‘
– It makes all the difference.
– Let us not cloud the issue. Some honorable members have to-night taken up the position that unlimited areas of land are available throughout Australia, and even in Victoria and New South Wales, and. that we ought to pursue a systematic immigration policy to encourage settlement upon them. If the States would impose progressive land taxation, it would be better to allow them to do so, and to leave the whole business of immigration to them. But is the progress of Australia, to be delayed indefinitely while the Legislative Councils of the States refuse to sanction such taxation ?
– In Queensland the representatives of the people have never asked for progressive land taxation.
– That is because the State has never enjoyed a sufficiently Liberal Government.
– The franchise for the Queensland Parliament is as broad as is that for this Parliament.
– Is the imposition of land taxation the best means to induce settlement ?
– Undoubtedly. I do not wish to discuss the theory of land taxation, but surely the honorable gentleman knows that its object is, not so much to obtain revenue, as to cause those who hold the land to pay something for the privileges which they enjoy.
– They should be called upon only to pav a fair thing.
– It is a fair thing. If progressive land taxation would be imposed by the States, I should prefer to leave it to them.
– Then let us give them a chance.
– In South Australia the House of Assembly passes a progressive land tax everyyear, and the Council as regularly rejects the proposal.
– South Australia is the only State where that occurs.
– The interjection adds strength to my argument. In the State where a majority is prepared to support progressive taxation, the Council is persistent in opposing the ‘will of the representatives of the people. It is idle to think that we shall get a progressive land taxation from the State Parliaments within a reasonable period when the people of the most democratic State cannot get it from its Parliament. Let me now read what the Minister of Defence has said on the land question.
– Seventeen years ago !
– Honorable members seem to know what I am about to read without having heard it. Seventeen years ago I advocated, in the South Australian House of Assembly, reforms which I am advocating to-day.
– It is only advocacy. The honorable member does not mean anything.
– That is a sort of platform joke. The honorable member knows that I mean what I say. This is what the honorable member said, and I am sure that he meant it -
I do not believe in paying for land at all.
This is the man who is now one of the bulwarks of the Conservative party - 1 believe in taxing it, and if we tax it to its full unimproved value we shall have no need to sell it; indeed no one will buy it. When a man wants a bit of land in this Colony he has to go hundreds of miles back into the bush, behind his strong neighbour, who has picked out the eyes of the country.
– Would he expect to get land in Collins-street?
– I am quoting what the honorable member’s Minister says, the man whom he must follow -
We ought to tax the strong neighbour for every ounce of privilege which he possesses over the man who proposes to go into the bush.
– He was speaking then for other people, not for honorable members on this side of the House.
– I prefer to go to the Minister himself for any explanation of these views.
– This is tedious repetition.
– That reply may be satisfactory to the honorable member, but it is hardly convincing. Does he still hold the same opinions ?
– Will the honorable member give notice of the question?
– In the circumstances, I think that that is a fair answer. I can quite understand that, having regard’ to his present associations, it would be exceedingly difficult for the honorable member to give a straightout reply.
– I would not interfere for the world with the large estatesowned by honorable members opposite.
– In that respect we differ from the Government party. We are quite prepared to sacrifice our large estates.
– What about the honorable member for Darwin ?
– He is yearning for a progressive land tax.
– The honorable member and his party keep on preaching; against private property in land, and vet collar all they can get.
– I am prepared to pay for all. I have in the way of land.
– Several of the members of the honorable member’s party are getting big estates in the West.
– The area which honorable members on this side of the House may possess does not materially affect the question.
– It questions the sincerity of their actions.
– The honorable member is wrong. The sincerity of the Labour party’s advocacy of a land tax is not affected in the least by the fact of whether or not they own land.
– I think so.
– The honorable member knows that it is not, and to assume otherwise is to take a deplorably low view of human nature. Assuming that the Minister of Defence still holds the view that private property in land is wrong, surely he is not going to allow the fear that he may have to pay a land tax of a few pence in the £1 to interfere with his advocacy of that which he believes to be right ?
– I cheerfully paid land tax on my 10 acres the other day.
– It is utter nonsense to suggest that the sincerity of honorable members of the Labour party’s advocacy of a progressive land tax is affected by the question of whether or not they own land.
– Then why do they propose to exempt estates not exceeding £5,000 in value?
– It does not take long to explain. It is because we propose a progressive land tax.
– They propose such an exemption in order to catch the farmer’s vote, and to avoid taxing themselves.
– If the honorable member believes that he would believe anything. It is an utterly ridiculous suggestion.
– It is quite true.
– The object of a progressive land tax is to induce the owners of large estates to subdivide them. What purpose would be served by inducing small land-owners to cut up their estates ? There is no point in the honorable member’s interjection.
– There should be no exemption.
– Not in the case of a tax designed to break up large estates ? Could there be a greater absurdity?
– Doesnot the honorable member recognise that the effect of the proposed tax would be to cause the holders of poor land, and not the holders of rich land, to cut up their estates?
– Certainly not. The honorable member is confusing acreage with value. It is immaterial whether the land be poor or rich. The sole question is whether itsunimproved value exceeds £5,000.
– But the man on the rich land makes a better living than the man on the poor land, and the latter, under the Labour party’s proposal, would be the more heavily hit, and would have to subdivide his estate.
– The exemption relates, not to estates of 5,000 acres, but to estates the unimproved value of which does not exceed £5,000. When we speak of land of the value of . £5,000, we have in mind land that has a producing value of atleast £5,000.
– The British Government axe now proposing to tax the unearned increment.
– Quite so.
– The Labour party, however, are proposing, not a tax on unearned increment, but a straight-out tax on land, regardless of whether or not any income is obtained from it.
– Certainly,if a man holds land the unimproved value of which exceeds £5,000, and does not put it to any productive use, he should get rid of it, and allow some one who is prepared to put it to good use to secure it.
– The honorable member, as a practical farmer, knows that many a holder of £5,000 worth of land in some years does not obtain a shilling from it.
– We must have regard to the average of the years. In some years, £5,000 worthof land may return nothing, but its value does not fall to zero.
– Quite so; nevertheless the holder of such land under the Labour party’s proposal would have to pay the same tax, whether he obtained anything from the land or not.
– Land must be valued according to its productiveness over a series of years.
– Would the honorable member exempt the holder of a large estate from taxation during a bad year ?
– Certainly not. The honorable member knows perfectly well that a land tax, whatever it may be, must come out of the produce of the land. But to return to the point immediately at issue, I have been induced to become discursive in attempting to reply fairly to interjections from honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member is wasting time admirably.
– The honorable member did not think that a like procedure was a waste of time a little while ago. We have taken much longer to deal with matters of far less importance.
– Never on a Supply Bill,, so far as my memory serves me.
– The right honorable member is wrong.
– The debate on the advisableness of continuing thevote for advertising purposes was introduced by the honorable member for Wentworth.
– And the honorable member continued the debate.
– When an honorable member attacks me for having caused certain advertisements to be circulated in Europe, surely I am entitled to reply.
– The honorable member could be controverted by a reference to the very newspaper that he circulated.
– The right honorable member knows that, as a matter of fact, it was very good business for Australia. I have here a long extract from an Australian newspaper, in which, under the heading of “A Policy to be Avoided,” reference is made to the difficulties that Canada has experienced owing to the lack of a proper selection of immigrants, and a proper supervision of them on arrival. If we were dealing fully with the question of immigration, I should read the article, because it describes very vividly the state of affairs which some men from Australia and New Zealand found prevailing in Canada as the result of the alleged careless immigration methods adopted by the Canadian Government. Those men have since returned to Australia. Those who bring under the notice of the authorities - whether in this House, at meetings of Trades and Labour Councils, of the Employers’ Federation, or of other bodies - that in some cases no attempt is made to find land for immigrants when they arrive here, and that no genuine assistance is extended to them, with the result that they are stranded and left destitute, do a service to the country. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we employ State funds to bring immigrants to Australia, and fail to look after them when they arrive here. I have sheaves of letters regarding cases where that has not been done in various States.
– Not in Western Australia, I hope.
– I have no letters with regard to Western Australia.
– Should there be no immigration until we can look after every immigrant that comes?
– I do not say that, but if we employ State money to bring out immigrants we ought to look after them on arrival.
– To what extent?
– That will depend a great deal on the character of the man.
– That will come in time.
– In the meantime great harm is done to Australia by men being stranded here. They are led to believe that there will be any amount of work for them, and then they write to their friends at Home, telling them not to come out, and describing the conditions prevailing in Australia, in the belief that they are typical of the whole of Australia, whereas they are not. Those who point out that these conditions sometimes prevail, and bring such cases under the notice of the authorities, are called members of the “stinking fish” party. They are accused of decrying Australia, but it is because they love Australia, and want to better it, and do not want these statements to be made about it, or do not want such statements to be true, that they take action. . The men who really belong to the “stinking fish” party are those who constantly cry out that there are any amount of opportunities for anybody to get full work at full wages in Australia, and that there is plenty of land available for all who choose to come and occupy it. Under present circumstances, those assertions are not true. Immigrants who come here, believing that they are true, write to their friends in the Old Country describing their experiences, and so considerable damage isdone to Australia. A sane policy in this matter is to make sure to do everything that lies in our power to throw open land at prices at which settlers will be able to make a “ do “ of it. Within the last three or four years a dairy farmer from Denmark, with eleven children, came to Melbourne with the intention of taking up land for dairying in Victoria. He applied for every Government block that was thrown? open, but he was allotted no land whatever. Finally the family took up land in the district of the honorable member for Corangamite, being assisted by another Dane, who was a local resident. That family paid, as naturally would be the case in the circumstances, being under great pressure, a very much bigger price than they ought to have paid for the land, considering the use - dairy farming - to which they wished to put it. The result is that to-day the whole of those eleven children are working in factories in and around the city of Melbourne. That is because they could not get land at a reasonable price. The father was a practical dairy farmer in Denmark, and really knew his business. He assures me that he could make much more off the land at present prices in Denmark than he could make in Victoria at the prices which he would have to pay here. I do not say that that case is typical of the whole of the land values of Victoria, but if that kind of thing is at all frequent we can easily understand the damage that will be done to a settled policy of immigration.
– I could give the honorable member any number of instances to the contrary.
– I could give a great number to the same effect.
– What would be a substitute for the ballot system?
– The South Australian system of a Land Board, which personally interviews each applicant, and investigates his circumstances, is infinitely preferable. The ballot system is a gamble. Under it the man who is the least likely to be successful has as much chance of getting land as the man who is most likely to succeed. We must make land available at such cheap rates that those who come raw from the Old Country will be able to make a “do” of it.
– It takes some time to get used to the different conditions out here.
– Of course. Honorable members who say that in Queensland and Western Australia unlimited areas of virgin land covered with scrub are available, should remember that that is one of the factors of the situation. The men brought out to Australia are not, as a rule, most suitable for pioneering work of that kind. That is one of the reasons why we advocate a progressive land tax. We believe that the lands nearer settlement ought to be cut up, because they could be utilized much more readily by immigrants than could the outside country, which must be pioneered by Australians.
– Can the honorable member show how the progressive land tax will cut up that land?
– Of course. But does the honorable member really require to be shown that?
– Order ! There are so many interjections passing across the chamber that it is not possible for the honorable member to continue his speech. The only result is to prolong debate. I would also remind honorable members that we are in Committee, and that every honorable member has, therefore, the opportunity to speak as often as he likes.
– If a man has to pay taxation for every £1 above .£5,000
that he holds in land values, and an increasing amount for every £5,000 worth over that, he will very soon find it unprofitable to hold a large area of land, and will have to cut some of it up.
– The productive value is expressed in the £5,000 value. I cannot understand the honorable member’s poor land theory. The question is not affected in the slightest by whether a man holds poor or rich land. Under a progressive land tax a man will get rid of as much land, whether it is his best or his worst, as will reduce his taxation to an amount that he can afford to pay. It does “not follow that he will get rid ofhis poor land. He may get rid of his better land, but in any case if he does sell his poorer land, he must sell more of it than he would of his richer land, in order to bring down the total value of his holding to a reasonable figure.
– If he holds nothing but poor land, he is bound to throw it on the market, because his charges are so much heavier.
– The honorable member is confusing areas with values. It makes no difference whether a man holds rich land or poor land, so far as regards his having ro throw it on the market in order to reduce the total value of his holding. The whole question is the value of the land held. If a man holds such an amount of unimproved land as to bring him under the progressive land tax, to that extent he cannot get money out of his lands, and, therefore, he must get rid of them, in order to make an income.
– Then that is practically confiscation by taxation !
– Confiscation is a point which, I am afraid, the Chairman would rule me out of order in discussing. When it comes to a question of confiscation, we are faced with the alternative of repurchasing the land. That is confiscation by artificially increasing the values, and making it more difficult for people to obtain land ; it is an inflation’ of values by State aid, and a gift of the added value to the persons who hold the land. In my opinion, the State has no right to go into any enterprise of that kind, because it really means confiscation, just as much as does a progressive land tax, which, I admit, takes from the few for the benefit of the many.
– It is confiscation by taxing the value out of the land.
– We cannot tax the value out of the land.
– Yes; if there is a tax of is. in the pound.
– But the honorable member sees that up to ^5,000 in value there is no tax.
– The States will tax the smaller estates.
– Then it will be the States, and not the Commonwealth, which imposed the taxation. We are now talking of a Federal progressive land tax; and I must say that I have never heard of any such tax as is. in the pound, even if the value of the estate were ^1,000,000. One reason for my having been a strong advocate all my life, practically, of progressive land taxation, was found during a visit I paid, in company with the Speaker of this Chamber; to an area of land in South Australia, which had been settled for forty years, or longer. This area was about 60 miles north of Adelaide, and there, a few years- ago, was a township and a large number of prosperous farmers, who cultivated from 200 to 500, or, perhaps, 1,000 acres. When you pass through that country now, you find ruined houses where before there were homesteads ; in fact, the whole district is one big sheep farm, though the land is some of the finest cereal country in all Australia. A big land-owner, who had a squatterage in proximity to the township, bought farm after farm, when bad times came, and the holders were crippled, as, fortunately, they have not been of recent years, but as they may be again ; and the same thing has gone on in many places in South Australia, and, to a large extent, in other parts of the Commonwealth. The Government of South Australia are doing all they can to survey land as rapidly as possible, so as to induce settlement; but, under present conditions, the people have to go from 200 to 400 miles inland, where, possibly, the rainfall is insufficient, and where they have to meet all the difficulties of pioneering work. At the same time, a few men are allowed by the law to add farm after farm to their holdings, just as we have found amongst the crofters in Scotland; and while I do not say that the means adopted by these land-owners are unlawful or un fair - because they gave a fair price for the land - I take exception to the effect of such a proceeding on Australia. Instead of having thousands of settlers on some of the best lands in Australia, we are confronted with sheep farms.
– Why does not the Labour Government of South Australia deal with the question?
– As I have told the honorable member before, the Legislative Assembly in South Australia have every year passed a progressive land tax Bill.
– If the Upper House blocks the measure, surely there is power in a democratic country to alter the Constitution ?
– I do not wish to accuse the honorable member of ignorance of the Constitutions of the States of Australia, but he ought to know that, where there is an elective Legislative Council, such as in Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, no power on earth can alter the Constitution, without the consent of that small proportion of people who have votes for the Upper House.
– I know that Constitutions have been altered in various States, and I presume that, if the Labour Government of South Australia are in earnest, they can alter the Constitution of that State.
– The honorable member will see-
– I must ask the honorable member not to- proceed with that argument.
– Of course, I bow to the ruling of the Chairman ; but I should like an opportunity, if the honorable member for Wentworth is serious, of explaining what the position actually is. For very many years efforts have been made to obtain a much broader franchise for the Legislative Council in South Australia.
– Order ! I point out that if the honorable member proceeds on this line of argument the discussion will take a very’ wide field. It has already taken a wider ‘ range than it should ; but last year, when I tried to curtail the dis- , cussion, honorable members opposed me, and told me I must give a broader interpretation to the Standing Orders. I am giving a broad interpretation now ; but if I allow the honorable member to proceed, some other honorable member may interject foreign matter, and there will be no end to the discussion.
– The questions of immigration, land settlement, and advertising Australia are so interwoven that it is extremely difficult to separate them, and the discussion brings into view the difficulty of getting such legislation in the States as is desirable. However, I have no desire to take up more time of the Committee, and shall content myself with pointing out that those who are really serious in trying to bring about an increase of population will have to take the advice of the Sydney Morning Herald, which I read at the beginning of my speech, and look very closely into the necessity of providing lands sufficient to employ the energy of thousands, and not of mere hundreds, as is the case to-day.
– The honorable member for Boothby has delivered a very interesting address; but throughout he has not said that his party is in favour of the nationalization of monopolies. The Labour party regard land as the greatest monopoly, and are in favour of taxing it, with an exemption of £5,000 in value. But this is only in order to get the law enacted; and later they will doubtless come down on the smaller estates below the exemption value, and nationalize them. The honorable member tried very hard, but without success, to explain away an interjection made from, this side of the House; and there is no doubt that the object of the taxation is to burst up estates. The honorable member endeavoured to get away from the fact that the first estates to be burst up would be the poor holdings that are not productive. Consequently, the first estates to be crushed will be those beyond the Goyder line of rainfall in South Australia, and those within the line will be the last.
– I am astonished to hear the honorable member say that, be- cause it is ridiculous !
– What unearned increment is there in the case of land at Terowie in a drought season?
– Nobody owns land there; they are lease-holders. Mr. HENRY WILLIS- There are large areas of land in Terowie.
– There is scarcely an individual who owns more than £5,000 worth.
– I shall take the honorable member’s- word for that. Terowie is a long distance from the centre c.f population.
– It is 140 miles from Adelaide.
– It is in the desert country, beyond the Goyder line; and all the private land there will fall into the market, seeing that its economic value will not enable the holders to pay the tax. Of course, this is an easy way in which to carry out the confiscation policy of the Labour party. Honorable members run away with the notion that there are rich lands which will at once be forced on to the market, and that the only persons affected , will be the nominal owners. I point out that when we go out into these districts, we find a church, a smithy, and perhaps a bank. In numerous townships throughout Australia you will find these edifices.
– What about the public houses ?
– There may be public houses there, too. The banking institutions of Australia have not established branches throughout the country merely for the fun of doing so. There is a demand everywhere for capital. Those who have put millions into the banks require outlets for their investment, and the banks employ the- cream of commercial men to manage their business, and to loan out their money to the holders of land. The result of the bursting up of large estates would be that many would be surrendered to the Crown, and the banks would lose the money invested in them. Members of the Labour party rejoice in the fact that the banks would be hit. But in hitting a bank you hit the poor. In the list of the proprietors of any bank you will find the names of parsons, widows, and orphans.
– And old-age pensioners ?
– Honorable members shall not laugh me out of court. Let me refresh their memory a little. Who were those who suffered most by reason of the financial crash in the early nineties? Then you saw the parson, who had put his few savings into a bank or building society, the widow, and the fatherless child, reduced to penury. It is the most provident in the community who have invested their money in the shares of banks and kindred institutions. The investments are often small in themselves, though in the aggregate of vast proportions. Should the large landed estates be confiscated, these persons would be ruined; but the policy of the Labour party is to burst up the large estates.
To those who do not think, it says, “ The tax will not hurt you, because every estate worth less than £5,000 will be exempt from taxation.” Having burst up and confiscated the large estates, the party will say, “ We are in favour of the nationalization of monopolies.” A day or two ago there was tabled in the other House a motion for the introduction of a Bill for the nationalization of land and all monopolies. That disposes of the £5,000 exemption. The scheme of the party will never accomplish what is aimed at. The honorable member for Boothby has shown that the peopleiof South Australia, the most democratic community in the Commonwealth, have refused to agree to progressive land taxation.
– No. I said that the people’s representatives have agreed to progressive land taxation year after vear.
– But the honorable member added that the Upper House has refused to pass such a measure. He also stated that there is a property qualification in connexion with the franchise for that body. What is that qualification? Is it higher than a rental of 4s. per week ?
– Yes, certainly. More than twice as high.
– What is it?
– The honorable member may not discuss that question.
– Can it be said that those who pay 7s. or 10s. a week rent are persons of great affluence? South Australia has always had one man one vote. The State enjoyed that franchise long before the Labour party existed, although the members of the party are continually taking credit for this and other reforms. But the Parliament of the State has not imposed progressive land taxation, not because the Upper House represents only men of property, but because the needy wage-earners will not vote for it. They are honest. They do not desire to confiscate the property of other deserving persons. The reason why the Labour party will never be able to carry such taxation in Australia is that the proposal is unjust, and amounts to robbery. I decline to believe that the working community is a communitv of robbers.
– The majority of the population of South Australia has declared for progressive land taxation.
– The honorable gentleman stated that we must provide land for immigrants. That is nonsense. Those who have made Australia what it is came here with no other inducement than a free passage.
– They had the opportunity to get land when they arrived.
– When they reached Australia they had to acquire a knowledge of its climate and conditions, which differ greatly from those of Europe. Then . they took up land, learned how to put it to the best advantage, and became the present moneyed class. It is the hardy men of enterprise and grit who have madeAustralia what it is. The wealthy did not come out here; our wealth was created by the men of intellect, of strong will, and firm muscle. These men have made the country worth £1,000,000,000. It is not merely the wage-earners who have built up the country’s prosperity. That is due to the efforts of the men of intellect, of genius, and of invention, as well as to the workers. Each has done his part. Why should these men be robbed of what they have earned? Honorable members talk about unearned increment; it is those who have amassed wealth in the cities who ought to be taxed. It is they who enjoy the unearned increment created by the enterprise of the thousands in the country, who have opened up our lands and made us a commercialnation. Those in the city have grown rich, but, under the Labour party’s proposal, they will go free.
– Certainly not. There are not many holdings in Melbourne which are worth less than £[5,000.
– I have forced an admission from the honorable member. There would not be an exemption undertime proposal of the Labour party, because it stands for the nationalization of monopolies, and holds that the ownership of lands is a monopoly, and the greatest of sins. The policy of the Labour party is a policy of humbug, an appeal to the prejudices df the masses, and to the small farmers whoseholdings are not worth £[5,000. South Australia has given an excellent example. She has a very small exemption.
– She has not any.
– That State is the freest of all. I took some part in bringing about the imposition of its land tax.
– And yet the honorablemember does not remember its conditions !
– I am speaking of a long while ago. A progressive land tax used to be talked of then, but the proposal was scouted, and will always fail.
The greatest land reformers have always regarded it as fatal to prosperity. The Labour party is bound to fail, because it appeals to the prejudices of the masses, who are supposed not to know what is meant by it, and because it makes a class appeal to the poor against the rich. The surprise is that spirited and high-principled men can be found willing to ally themselves with a party possessing such a policy. The proposal before us is the voting of money to be spent in encouraging immigration to Australia. We should do our best to induce people to come here. We need population. One leans upon another, and if the country prospers all must prosper. Those who come here will create additional wealth, and the extension of our commerce will benefit every member of the community, and every institution in it. It is matter for regret that the Government proposes to spend so little in inducing immigration. I hope that at no distant period a very large sum will be placed upon the Estimates to attract a continuous and large inflow of population. The ox- leader of the Labour party spoke some time ago at the inaugural meeting of the Immigration League of Australia, of which the Daily Telegraph of 16th October, 1.905, gave the following report -
The inaugural meeting of the Immigration League of Australia on Saturday evening in the Lyceum Theatre was a pronounced success in every way. . . The chair was occupied by Dr. Arthur. The gathering was a non-party character, all shades of political thought being represented. Dr. Arthur said - “ To keep Australia white they must invite immigrants to come here, and inducements should be offered. The object of the League was to agitate and educate. . . . They welcomed Mr. Deakin. They also welcomed Mr. Watson, whose presence showed that the workers were in favour of the movement.”
Here are a few extracts from a report of a speech then made by the honorable member for South Sydney -
Mr. Watson explained that he accepted the invitation to be present at the gathering on the clear understanding that they were not to commit themselves as to the details of what the League was aiming to bring about.
We should remember that honorable members on this side of the House are not committed any more than are the Labour party to the details of Dr. Arthur’s scheme -
He came with the clear conviction, however, that something of a tangible nature had to be done to fill their country with people. . There could be no doubt in the mind of any reasonable man or woman as to the desirability of immigration. They had seen what Canada was doing in this regard, and that she was building up a prosperity greater and greater every year … It was not correct tq say that in Australia they had nothing to offer immigrants. . . . He was not one of those who insisted that before a man could land here he must have a large amount of capital. . . . In conclusion, he hoped the League would have a successful future. He believed that in directing attention to the necessities that existed in this direction, the League would be doing a great and patriotic work.
– Why does not the honorable ‘ member read what the honorable member for South Sydney said at that meeting in regard to a land tax?
– I shall have something to say about that. It will be seen from the quotation I have made that the honorable member for ~ South Sydney was in favour of immigration, although he would not commit himself any more than we, who claim to be in favour of it, would to the details of the scheme that might be put forward by Dr. Arthur. The honorable member for Adelaide stated this afternoon that Dr. Arthur had induced people to come here from other lands by telling them that Western Australia was a land of sunshine, and that miners were needed in New South Wales. I do not know that there is much cause for complaint in regard to such a statement. Miners may or may not be out of employment, but whether they are or are npt, that is no reason why we should not encourage suitable immigrants to come to Australia. Then, again, no one can say that the statement that Western Australia is a land of sunshine is incorrect. The same remark may be applied to all parts of Australia. The honorable member, in referring to a speech made by a Mr. E. Smith at an Inter-State Conference, said that that gentleman declared that we must have population; that we were importing machinery ; that we must have labour ; and, I think, that “ it must be white and black.” I then made an interjection which caused the honorable member to think that I favour black labour. Let me say that I have always voted for the policy of a White Australia, and am still in favour of it.’ Under the high Tariff now in force, new machinery may be imported for the establishment of industries, and it may be necessary to introduce skilled labour in connexion with that machinery. Mr. Smith probably had that in mind when he said that we must have labour, because the introduction of skilled labour is sometimes absolutely necessary in establishing new industries. I know of a new industry in Sydney in connexion with which skilled labour had to be imported. The statement has been made during the debate that Dr. Arthur advised the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce that it was good business and a patriotic movement to advertise for immigrants. It would be unreasonable to disagree with that statement. We cannot do better than advertise Australia and encourage people to come here. To say that those who come here are unable to find employment is not to state the case fairly.
– I” am prepared, in fifteen minutes, to produce a new arrival who cannot find employment.
– I have no doubt that a dozen men could be found who have come here only to be disappointed. I have made inquiries, however, at the New South Wales Intelligence Bureau, which encourages immigration, and know ‘that every intended immigrant to New South Wales must first be approved by the AgentGeneral, and that very careful supervision is exercised. I have frequently rung up the Department to inquire if there were any men awaiting employment, and have almost as frequently been told that none were available. The honorable member for Darling said that girls coming to Australia were badly treated, but I have been told by the head of the Intelligence Department in Sydney that they find employment almost immediately after their arrival. I have not yet heard of a new arrival being stranded in Sydney, or unable to find employment. I have employed some immigrants, and know that it takes them some time to become accustomed to Australian conditions. They are excellent men, and are just as anxious to secure high wages as is any Australian. Indeed. I think, that they are induced by statements made on board ship on the way out to entertain an exaggerated idea as to what are the standard wages in this country. I do not think that any one can point to a case where a man- who, on arrival here had enough money to sustain him for a week, was prepared to work for less than the current rates of .wages. Immigration ought to be encouraged by the Labour party. They will lose nothing, even in the matter of their party organization, by doing so, since newcomers are just as keenly alive to labour interests as are any Australian -workers, I, hope that the Government Will continue to .advertise our resources with a view of attracting suitable immigrants.
Mr, KING O’MALLEY (Darwin) speech made by the honorable member for Robertson, who seems to hold that theoriginal pre-emptors of Australian soil created this Continent. One would gather from his remarks that the Almighty had” nothing to do with its creation, and that it owes its existence to the boodleiers of thiscountry. He seems to forget that Australia has borrowed £250,000,000, and that that immense sum has been expended on railways, ‘bridges, roads, and other works, as well as upon public buildings, that havetended to create an unearned increment in’ the property of those who first took up the soil pf Australia. And yet the honorable member says that it means confiscation to exempt £5,000 of unimproved land values. I do not think he understands the question. Ifhe did, he would recognise that the present system of taxing improvements is equivalent to highway robbery. The moment a man spends vast sums of money on improvements - the moment he gets his property intoa high state of productivity - a valuer comes along, and up goes the assessment of his property for taxation purposes. On theother hand, the man next door, who keepshis property in such a state that it is fit only for dog kennels or pigsties, is exempt from taxation. Is the honorable member for Robertson aware that a man may have- £5,000 of unimproved land values, and’ still have £20,000 worth of improvements on which no taxation would be imposed under our scheme?
– I beg to ‘ call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.”]
– I have ‘no desire to’ cast any ‘reflection on the Minister of Defence, but. judging from the quotationmade to-night from the speech delivered by him, we are in a perilous position.
– The honorable member’s property is quite safe.
– I am glad to have that assurance. But what guarantee- have we that the Minister, now that he has the army behind him, may not take possession of all the property of all the boodleiers of Australia? As to the item immediately under consideration, I would ask why we advertise to bring people to Australia when we have no land and no situations to offer them ? Does it not seem that in doing so we are securing immigration under false pretences? Every healthy immigrant, according . to American actuaries, adds to the wealth of this country £20 the day he lands as a factor of production and consumption, and is worth £80 a year to the State. But is it fair or honest to bring these people to Australia when we know it is impossible for the Australians themselves to get one foot of land unless they pay four times what it is worth ? We should look at this question as business men. I am sorry to say that the followers of the Ministry are financial dreamers - Utopian boodleiers. The idea of men in this great country wanting to bring people here, when thousands of those already here are out of work, when there are thousands of applicants for every block of land offered, and when a few men own a large section of this State ! Your public men are afraid to tackle the question, and yet you call your people courageous. No man, whatever his wealth, position, or ability, should stand in the way of the State. We want defence. Honorable members say we must be prepared to defend ourselves from an expected onslaught by some foreign nation. We are talking about buying guns, about a navy, and about drill. Why, it is on the nerves of the people of this country. We are talking about building Dreadnoughts. You are frightened of Germany. You say, “ Some day we will have to fight her.” Why not fight her now, if you will have to fight ? Do not wait until the other fellow is ready, if a fight is inevitable, but fight when you are ready. What sort of advertising do you do here? A lot of money is spent on it. I see from the Estimates thatsomething is always going out ; but I never see anything coming in for it. You have not the first ideas of how to advertise in this country. You do not know you are alive on the question. Who will read your big articles in newspapers ?
– The Clarion, for instance.
– The Clarion is a good paper, with a good man at the head of it, and he is an Australian. What do you want to advertise when you have no place for immigrants to go to? Conscientiously, I ask honorable members on the’
Government side, “Do you want fifty starving men looking for one job?” The two great antagonistic forces in this world are the power of capital, without a soul to be damned or a body to be kicked ; and on the other side the power of labour. But those two forces have a common interest. In Americathey used to look upon labour as a raw commodity,to be bought in the open market, just as they would buy raw. material and transform it into the finished product. That is the line that, the people in Australia are going on to-day. I heard Dr. Agnew, at Collingwood, state the other night that 65,000 children had died in Australia during the last nine years. If the wise and able men of this country had attempted to build foundling homes where those children could have been put out to be looked after, as is done in Canada and the United States,you could have increased your population with your own people, instead of having them planted in baby farms all over Australia, and losing a great proportion of them. Australia has gone in for a great borrowing system. If you do not devise some proper scheme of finance, whereby the States and Commonwealth will co-operate, your public debt in forty-four years, at therate at which you are borrowing now, will amount to £500,000,000, and the interest bill will be nearer £20,000,000 annually than the £8,500,000 at which it stands to-day. The. other day the Financial Times stated that New South Wales has worn out her welcome on the London market. A few days after New South Wales had floated her loan, and got £9410s.or £95 net - that is, paying on every million , £50,000 of a loss below par, on which the people of Australia must pay interest - the London County Council went on to the London market and floated £1,000,000 at £102 net, or £20,000 above par. Therefore, the difference between a New South Wales loan and a London County Council loan at the same rate of interest, and for the same currency of time, was£70,000 odd in a million. You call yourselves financiers, when on £2,000,000 you pay £140,000 more in a loss of capital on which you must pay 3½ per cent. interest for all time and eternity, because I do not think you ever expect to pay your debts. I never hear anybody talk about paying off. I hear every one talking about further borrowing. That is because Australia does not bother about anything but political financiers. A political financier is a man who has about 3 per cent. of superficial knowledge and 97 per cent. of dense financial ignorance. I want to compare this country with the United States. The debt of the United States to-day is only £200,000,000, althoughtheyowed nearly £800,000,000 when the war closed. There is £320,000,000 of gold in the United States.
– The business before the Chamber is the vote for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, and I submit that it is not in order, under that heading, to discuss the whole range of national finance, and almost everything else under the sun, as has been the case for the past two or three hours.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr.
Johnson). - The Chairman of Committees allowed a very wide scope in other directions, and so far I have been unable to see that the honorable member is out of order.
– The United States could close up the national banking system, pay off the £200,000,000, and be absolutely free. Yet since the war of 1863 they have never had a political Treasurer. Their Treasurers have all been trained men. We have able financiers in this House, such as the honorable member for Flinders, the honorable member for Mernda, and the honorable member for Balaclava ; but you never see those men holding the Treasurership in Australia. We should not waste a penny in advertising to bring immigrants to Australia until we make such arrangements that we can put the men to work and provide positions for the women. In Canada immigrants are given land and means of transportation. There are agents to meet them in Montreal and Quebec, and the people are taken right to Manitoba, in the north-west. Homes are given to them, and they are helped in every possible way.
– Only one immigrant in ten takes up land in Canada.
– I think the honorable member is greatly mistaken. Over 59,000 Americans have left the NorWest territory of the United States during the last year or two, and taken up land in Canada. I know this to be a fact, because I owned property in Western America myself, and property has been sold there at high prices. People are taking millions of United States money into Canada because the Canadian Government offer inducements. Years ago, I said that we ought not to spend millions in keeping up our tinpot military system, but ought to bring people out to this country to buy the land. I have no desire to confiscate land, though’ I do not wish to see millions of acres locked up for a few sheep. What would my military friends on the Ministerial side say if, in the face of a Japanese army, we sent out, say, a General Gordon at the head of a flock of sheep? Yet that is what hon orable members opposite picture as the building up of a nation - a nation of sheep, billygoats, and bandicoots. It is only a dispensation of Divine Providence that will . induce this House to listen to, or study, finance ; one has only to make a financial speech to clear everybody out.
– The honorable member has the best audience of the night !
– Yes; I got an audience after the bells were rung. I have no ill feeling against the Government ; indeed, I desire to congratulate the Minister of Home Affairs, and the Minister of Defence, as two of the grandest fighters who ever sat in this House. I used to watch the latter in amazement hammering away morning, noon, and night.
– Right or wrong, always r
– Right or wrong, he was in opposition. In my opinion, the time is not far distant when we shall have elective Ministries, and doour business in about three months. I was present at the Collingwood City Council meeting the other night, and they did more business in one evening than we do in a week. We should elect our Ministers just as we do our Speaker; and then we should be able to perform our legislative duties, and be free to attend to our private business.
– I do not hear many cheers on the Opposition side !
– One beauty of the Labour party is that every memberis free to express his private opinion. Thisfusion of parties is antiquated, and, like a submarine, is a sinker; and, with electiveMinistries, all this fight as to who should sit on the Treasury bench would be doneaway with.
– Order ! That hasnothing to do with the question before us.
– Quite so; but the beauty of Parliament is that nothingyou ever talk about has anything tq dowith the business.
.- The- - - honorable member for Boothby, referringto some remarks I made early in the debate, appeared to have gathered the impressionthat I made an attack on the literary value of a publication which- his Governmenthad bought at a. certain price fordistribution in Europe. I did nothing of the kind ; I had not at that time seen the article, and all I attacked was the practiceof giving contracts without calling for tenders to prominent political journalists “to advertise Australia.” The statement I made was that some 7,000 copies of this publication had been bought at a cost of some £50 more than the price shown on the front page justified.
– If a quantity be bought, there should be wholesale rates.
– Quite so; but, apparently, the late Government paid at a higher rate for 7,000 copies than the average man would pay for a single copy retail.
– Was the number not printed in three languages?
– Yes; and I think a wrapper was supplied with, each copy ! The point I make is that the honorable member for Boothby told us that the object of the publication was, not to attract immigration from the various foreign countries mentioned, but to encourage trade with those countries.
– Did the honorable member say that?
– He certainly did. I asked the honorable member, by way of interjection, whether he wished to encourage immigration from Germany, Italy, and France.
– And did he not reply that there were other objects in view?
– The honorable member said that there were other objects in circulating papers of the kind, and one was the advancement of trade. Now, I find in that publication the following: -
Yet, for all this industrial legislation, and the fine reforms it promises, Australia’s great want is men of small capital to embark in rural occupation, and small farmers for the land. But to all decent white men and women, Australia holds out the hand of welcome, offering the freest of citizenship to-day, and the promise of partnership in the most prosperous and the happiest nation of the earth.
If that is not asking for immigration, I do not know what is.
– Does the honorable member take any exception to it?
– No; I cordially agree with the sentiments expressed.
– It does not mean 5s. a week !
– I agree with the honorable member in repudiating the particular type of appeal for which Dr. Arthur is responsible ; and since the publication of that appeal, I have had nothing to do with that gentleman’s arrangements. But did the Labour party not publish of Australia anything not absolutely true?
– I think not. .
– The Labour party would not circulate in Europe false information about Australia. Well, this is what they published in this number -
The richest man, and the freest man - almost, certainly, the most self-reliant and the most leisured’ man in the world - that is the Australian ; the last of the great continents ; the country where vested interests have strangled equality of opportunity least, where class privilege cannot live, and where every adult of 21 enjoys a vote, and all the self-government a vote implies - that is Australia.
The lands owned by the State are of tremendous area] the public debt -is mostly represented by railways and other public works. All, such means of transport are Slate-owned, and there is no juggernaut of private ownership to crush the farmer, who, in other countries, has found that the man who owns a railway practically owns the country through which the railway runs.
This is a publication absolutely brought into life by the Government of which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was a supporter.
– It must not be forgotten that there was a land tax behind all this.
– I have not had time to read every line of the publication ; but I do not think there is a word there about a land tax; the article speaks of things as they are, and not as we may hope them to be. It is stated most clearly that the lands owned by the States are of tremendous area. Is that couleur de rose or a statement of fact ? If it is couleur de rose, why have the Labour Government paid for it, to the large profit of the people who have produced it ? Honorable friends opposite address themselves to these questions as if they were opponents in the House to the closer settlement of the lands. As a matter of fact, the only difference between us is one of method. Honorable members on this side of the House - Democrats on this side of the House - are not those who are rapidly getting rich by advocating the abolition of wealth, but they are none the less Democrats. We believe that the States which, under our Constitution, are intrusted with the lands of Australia, should be intrusted also with the taxation of those lands, and the land policy generally.
– With Upper Houses !
– Does the honorable mem ber not know that the Constitutions of the States have been altered again and again; and. if the people of the various States wish to have graduated land taxation or any other land ‘ policy, they will be able to manage the business very much” better than could the honorable member who lives in one of Australia’s largest towns, and probably knows little enough of such matters.
– We are all agreed that Australia, more than any other country in the world, needs immigration. We are one of the white outposts, and no other country is more required to be self-contained and self-supporting. At the same time. I am opposed to introducing immigrants until we have prepared the way for them. It is simply wasting money, unless the Government give some undertaking or definite promise as to making room for the newcomers ; and, in the absence of any such promise or undertaking, I shall certainly oppose any vote of the kind. My. personal experience of immigrants, who have lately been introduced, has not been satisfactory. I have -been appealed to again and again by those who have been brought ‘‘here under delusive promises and inducements held out from one source and another, and now find themselves absolutely stranded. This is a most undesirable state of affairs; and, so far as my intelligence guides me, the arguments advanced against the land tax, which presents the only method of introducing a sturdy yeomanry, are fallacious. We are told that the land tax is inequitable, because it makes no exemption. That argument is used even by those who, at heart, are opposed to a land tax of any sort. I. am prepared to admit that, ethically, there should be no exemption from a land tax, the values that are aimed at being those belonging to the people. One does not .need to be a deep thinker, or a learned economist, to recognise that the constantly increasing value of land is the result of public expenditure and effort. Many honorable members have been taught in that school of political thought. They will therefore admit that unearned increment is a legitimate mark for taxation. We ask the landholders to return to the people the value which the people have conferred on their land. That is a fair and reasonable request, and those who own land should be only too pleased to pay such a. nominal charge. But the position of affairs in Australia is such that we need, not merely a tax on unearned increment, but a tax which will be so heavy as. to make it impossible to hold large areas of arable land without putting them to the fullest cultivation. To bring about the full use of land, I am pre pared to vote for a tax of as much as is.. in the £1 on large estates. Of course, land which is not suitable for close settlement has comparatively no unearned increment, and some absolutely none at all. But land which is constantly increasing in value should be subject to a progressive tax. When the State attempts to buy back land, it puts up prices against itself. It is a remarkable fact that the recent attempt tobuy back land in New South Wales has resulted in a considerable increase in theprice paid by farmers for small holdings. The price paid for the first instalment of land bought back, and resold, was on theaverage something like £1,600 a farm,, but on a later instalment the average wasabout £2,000 each for thirty-six farms or more. That, to my mind, clearly proves that it is idle to attempt to settlethe country in this way. Moreover, it isruinous. In addition to paying for the unearned increment, the State increases values by becoming a buyer. What is needed is to cheapen land, and that can be done only by the imposition of a land tax. We aim at breakingup the big estates, and, incidentally, at raising^ revenue. We do not wish to tax the smaller estates, because we contend that their holders already pay more than afair proportion of taxation. The man on a small area is an active member of 0 society, who, in proportion to the land heoccupies, contributes a thousand times as much to the State as does the man who holds a large area of equally .good land. That has beendemonstrated again and again. I have had particular facts and figures brought under my notice recently which go to show that, on a rough average, a small man farming 250 acres of fairly good land contributes about £80 a year to the revenue in railway freights, whereas if the holder of 30,000, 40,000, or 100,000 acres were contributing in like proportion - which he is not - he would be increasing the revenue enormously. Instead of making all he can out of his land, even for himself, the large holder does not get from it a tithe of what it should return, and escapes his just obligations. He does not contribute nearly so largely as does the small ‘man by paying railway freights to and from the centres of population. Customs duties, and innumerable minor taxes. In comparison with the small man, the big man contributes next to nothing to the revenue. That is the logical reason for exempting the small man from, taxation, unless the taxation of his land is accomplished by the remission of taxation of other kinds. We aim at reducing things to an equality. A progressive land tax would be revenue producing up. to a certain point, but it would have a tendency to break up the large estates. When that had happened, the small men who would settle on the land would contribute largely to the revenue, and greatly augment the public funds. In my opinion, this defence of our land taxation proposals is needed. I do not think honorable members have clearly understood our reasons for exempting small men from taxation. Those which I have put forward are proper and effective. I urge the Government to include land taxation in its programme. It seems to me that’ the present line of cleavage between the two great political parties is due to the division of opinion in regard to land taxation. Clearly, to obtain the support of certain honorable members, Ministers had to jettison their land tax proposals. But the country cannot progress without land taxation. Without it we must have stagnation. In the face of the fact that the situation in Europe is critical; that we have an awakened East knocking at our door, and that our population is infinitesimal compared with the property which it controls, it is imperative that we take steps to place ourselves in a position of greater security. Ten years hence, Australia’s position will be worth nothing, unless, in the meantime, a land tax is imposed. Once we have progressive land taxation, it will be unnecessary to discuss proposals for increasing immigration. The fact that land is available here, and that a paternal Government is willing to assist men without capital, on the French system of credit, will lead to the inundation of the country by a virile population, such as years ago came to our shores in the hope of winning gold from the earth. When men elsewhere know that they can secure in Australia areas of land sufficient for the support of a. family in comfort, they will come here’ in large numbers, and we shall have all the immigration that we need. Unless land is made available, the continent will be lost to Australians in the course of the next decade or so. I see nothing to save us. That any Government should so abandon the destinies of the country as this Government has done to secure support, is a tragedy for which posterity may yet live- to curse the present generation.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 17 to 20 (Attorney-General’s Department), £$,240, agreed, to.
Division 21 to 29 (Department of Home Affairs). £52,450
.- I wish to say a few words in regard to the practice of the Commonwealth in sending young men to Queensland and Western Australia on the miserable pittance of £40 a year, which is equivalent to about 15s. 5½d. a week. How, in God’s name, can a young man keep honest On such a salary, if he has to maintain the dignity of a position in the Commonwealth service ? I know that, in reply, an argument will be used which has grown hoary on the lips of every sweater who has put a vile marl* on the earth by living on it, namely, that these young men know the conditions under which they have to go. This stigma is one which we should remove from our escutcheon.
– ls the honorable member referring to permanent officers?
– -They are made permanent by being sent away. The meanest and most contemptible thing about the business is that they have to pay the passage money to the State to which they are going. In the Customs Department, no fewer than twenty young men have been sent away under these conditions.
– To what positions?
– They are in the clerical division. I shall place all the evidence before the Minister. In Western Australia, a small advance is given, and a small extra allowance is paid in Queensland to those outside the centres of population. But surely the Committee will say that officers should not be sent to other States on the miserable, contemptible, sweating pittance which I have named.
– Have the men referred to been three years in the service?
– No. There is no bank or other financial institution in Australia which, would do such a mean, con- , temptible act as to send a man to another State, and make him pay his own passage. I brought the matter under the last Minister, and I hope that the present Minister will notice it. The least he should do is to require the payment of passage moneys by the Department which sends officers from one State to another. I must quarrel with the Treasurer when he deserves it, and when he hits me, shall hit him back; but I do him the credit to say that in Western
Australia he never despatched an officer from one place to another without paying the cost of the trip. The Commonwealth officers whose salaries come to £1,000 a year have first saloon passages paid for them. No honorable member would .be guilty, in the conduct of his private affairs, of such meanness as I have called attention to, and I hope that we shall not continue to allow it to be committed by the Commonwealth. There is only one other point to which I wish to refer. I was under the impression that State servants on being transferred to the Commonwealth had their rights conserved, and it was my boast, until lately, on many a public platform, that men and women in the Federal service received equal pay for equal work. I find, however, that that is mere moonshine, judging by the treatment that has been meted out to three transferred officers, apparently because they are women. These women, one with twenty years’ service, another with twenty-two years’ service, and still another with twenty-three years’ service in Victoria, were recently transferred to the Commonwealth, and they are receiving the munificent salary of £78 per annum. Yet we have in the Public Service Act a provision that any adult who has been for three years in the Public Service of the Commonwealth should not receive less than £1 IO per annum.
– How long is it since they were transferred.
– They have just been transferred to the Commonwealth Service, but I am sure that if they were men they would have received different treatment. I do not blame the present Government. I should speak as I am now doing even if the Fisher Government were in office. I was sorry to see the signature of a member of that Government attached to the notice of transfer which appeared in the Government Gazette. Rather than sign such a notice I would have resigned had I been a Minister. I have made my protest, and will take another opportunity to press these cases on the consideration of the Government. I hope to receive from the Treasurer an assurance that the young men to whom I have previously referred will have their travelling expenses paid in future.
– I undertake to inquire into the complaint made by the honorable member as to the young men to whom he has referred, and may say that the position of the three women recently transferred from the Victorian to the Federal Service has already been brought under my notice by two honorable members. I shall give it early attention.
.- Will the Treasurer explain what is covered by the item “ Contingencies, £1,300,” under the heading of “ Census and Statistics.” The amount asked for is nearly double that required in respect of salaries. Under the heading of “ Meteorological Branch” we also have £2,000 provided for “ contingencies,” whereas the amount asked for in respect of salaries is only £1,400. These contingencies require some explanation.
– Last year the vote for “Contingencies” under the heading of “ Census and Statistics,” was £7,904, made up as follows -
Postage and telegrams, ^300; office requisites, exclusive of writing paper and envelopes, ^200 j account, record and other books, including cost of material, printing and binding, ^50 ; writing paper and envelopes, including cost of printing and embossing thereon, ^50; other printing, ^3,640; travelling expenses, ^1,200; temporary assistance, ^2,000; fuel, light, and water, £60 ; office cleaners, ^’104; incidental and petty cash expenditure, ^200; library, ^100. Total, .£7,904.
For the same purpose we ask in respect of the two months covered by this Bill, one-sixth of the amount granted last year.
– I thank the Treasurer for his explanation, and should like to know whether he can assure the Committee that none of the items of “ contingencies “ appearing in the different divisions are loaded with details differing from those appearing in the example he has given us.
– Then I am satisfied.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 30 to, 35 (Department- of the Treasury), £10,480, agreed to.
Divisions 40 to 50 (Department of Trade and Customs), £56,213
.- We find in division 40, an item of £850 “to reimburse the States, cost of carrying out provisions of the Commerce Act of 1905.” I hope the Treasurer will ask his colleague the Minister of Trade and Customs to look into this matter with a view of determining whether or not the Commonwealth is not paying more than it ought to do for this work. I believe that the total expenditure under this heading for the year will be nearly £10,000, and that it was never contemplated when we were passing the Commerce Bill that we should be saddled for all time with such an expenditure. Only the other day we had an admission by those engaged in the tanning industry that they had derived great benefit from the Act. Under it their leather went into the London market as being practically of the finest value since it was warranted free from adulterants. ‘ My contention is that the States should bear some proportion of this expenditure, and I hope that the Treasurer will submit my view to his colleague.
– I shall be very glad to bring the matter under the notice of my colleague the Minister of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 51 to 196 (Department of Defence). £110.347.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence on what system it is proposed to equip rifle clubs. A few days ago I visited a .district in my electorate where I was informed that a rifle club had been established with a membership of between fifty and sixty, and that the Department had furnished it with only five rifles. Is that a fair equipment for a rifle club of that numerical strength ?
– They have practically obtained all the rifles they are entitled to under the present regulation, namely, 10 per cent.
– It seems to me to be an extraordinary method of assisting the members of rifle clubs to become efficient in rifle practice when they can get only 10 per cent, of rifles for that purpose. I should think that the rifles will be worn out before a full supply is obtained if each man indulges in anything like a reasonable amount of practice. The regulation should be looked into.
– The late Minister was trying to get 20 per cent., but he had not the rifles to go round.
– What kind of Australian defence is this? We are talking about the defence of the Commonwealth, and we find now that the late Minister discovered that he could not supply 20 per cent, of rifles to the enrolled members of rifle clubs. How can the Department expect to get an enrolment of this very important arm of defence when it cannot furnish a larger supply of rifles than that? It seems to me that if there is any further increase in the enrolment the allowance of 10 per cent, must be reduced to 5 per cent., and so on. I strongly urge upon the Government that if they wish to encourage the formation of rifle clubs in the country districts they must provide a sufficient number of rifles to enable the ordinary amount of practice to take place. It is ridiculous to expect that sixty men in a rifle club can get sufficient with only five rifles at their disposal. This part of the defence scheme is a’ very weak one, and the question of armament ought to engage the earnest attention of the Government. I remember that when the first Labour Government were in office they discovered a like deficiency, and gave to the Old Country a large order for rifles, but apparently the growth of rifle clubs has continued at such a rate that we are now practically in exactly the same position. This treatment of rifle clubs is not in the direction of encouraging the formation of others. In Molong; in my electorate, there is an old-established corps of the Australian Light Horse, and a strong civilian club, and, if I mistake not, some other form of defence .force is represented there. For a number of years they had a range in use, but it was condemned, I think, by the local council as being dangerous. After a considerable amount of trouble the Department discarded the old range, and arrangements were made for the selection of a new site. It was understood that the new site would be made available very quickly, but the lease of the land was not executed as speedily as it might have been. Who is responsible for the delay I do not know. The Department say that it was due to the fact that a gentleman who was interested in the land to be secured for a range site was absent in the Old Country, but he says that it was due to their unbusiness-like methods. So far as I can gather everything is now in order, but when it comes to the question of equipping the new site I am informed by the Department that no funds have been made available. In fact, I understand that the recommendation of the Department was to provide funds for this range on last year’s Estimates, but for some reason unexplained the then Treasurer decided to eliminate the item, with the result that during the current financial year the Department have not been able to effect the improvements necessary to make the range available.
What I want to know from the Minister of Defence is whether, in view of the special circumstances of this case, any attempt has been made in this Supply Bill to provide the money which was asked for last year by the Department, and, if so, will the work be taken in hand as speedily as possible, to enable the riflemen to become efficient? I made special representations to the Department recently about the range. The whole of the facts of the case have been under review, and as far as. I can ascertain they are as I, have stated them. The rifle clubs and others who are interested in the range have been deprived of the use of it for twelve months, and they want to know how much longer they are to remain in that unfortunate, position. The fault lies with the Department. This is not the way to encourage the development of our Defence Forces. It is only another instance of the disheartening experiences which young men in country districts have to put up with in their desire to do their duty by equipping themselves for’ defence purposes. They should receive some consideration at the hands of the Government. If provision is not made for the work until the Estimates are brought down the probabilities are that the vote will not be passed until just before Christmas, and that will mean that the work will not be taken in hand until some time next year, making a year and a half, and perhaps two years, that the range will have been lying idle. This is a case that deserves ‘ special consideration, which I hope it will receive from the Treasurer and Minister of Defence.
– There were at one time in my electorate five rifle clubs. They had two ranges, one of which has been closed. I am speaking from memory, but I think the other was at Oakleigh. There was a case of rifles there, but when the club opened it an officer of the Department threatened them with all sorts of pains and penalties if they dared to use them. The young fellows in the district were very keen on rifle shooting, but they have had to give it up on account of the absence of a convenient range. At present they have to go to Williamstown on their Saturday afternoons, and that takes the whole afternoon. When there was a range in the district “they could get an hour’s shooting at any time. , I feel that the departmental officers. Have very little sympathy with the rifle .clubs, but if we wish to protect this country we” ought to teach every man to shoot. I trust the new Minister will see that every facility is given in that direction. These young men get no payment, although they give their spare time to practising rifle shooting for the good of the country. The permanent military men have not the sympathy that they ought to have with these volunteers. Men who are prepared to give their time to learning to shoot should receive every assistance from the Department. Money spent in putting up and keeping in order these rifle ranges is money well spent in the defence of Australia.
.- I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence the difficulty which the members of the Cadet Forces at the public schools and elsewhere have in getting their uniforms. Many of the cadets are the children of very poor people, but, although the parents put up some proportion of the money, considerable delay takes place in getting the Government or the contractors to do their part in providing the uniforms. A specially urgent question is the need for increased accommodation at the Adamstown rifle range. That is the centre of a large district. It serves a population of, I suppose, 150,000, and on the occasions of the annual matches or rifle ‘courses it is patronized by men from Sydney and from as far north, I suppose, as the border. All the musketry courses for the district have to be fired there. I learn that only recently when they were trying to get through an ordinary mus.ketry course the men were firing over one another at the different distances in order to get through. Something should be done there to ‘accommodate, not only the men who must go through the musketry course, but also the members of rifle clubs who patronize the range. The competitions for prizes, for which I presume we’ provide money, also take place there, and I am told that the accommodation is utterly inadequate for the number of competitors. The caretaker’s residence is a standing disgrace to the Department. No family should be expected to live in quarters such as the caretaker and his family have to occupy. I hope the Minister will look into the matter as early as possible, with a view to improving the range.
– During the latter portion of last week I heard from artillery men that the new 6-in. Mark VII. guns, purchased by the Commonwealth Government two years ago as up-to-date weapons, are really eight years old. In purchasing guns of that character we should have obtained an uptodate article. It is evident that they must have been second-hand when bought.
– Surely not.
– The Minister might well see into the matter. Guns of that pattern are now in Tasmania and Victoria. If they are second-hand, the people have been deceived, and if we paid for new guns the country has been robbed. If we got ‘them at a low price, that makes the case no better, because we had no right to purchase them if we knew they were second-hand. I think that the Minister of Defence might tell us whether there is any truth in what I have said. He will find the papers in the Department. If the facts are as related, the officer responsible for purchasing the guns, and the firm which supplied them, ought to be brought before some tribunal. If we were supposed to get new guns, and were supplied with weapons that were six years old and out-of-date, somebody ought to be punished.
– I wish to compliment the Minister of Defence on the attention he has given to the .matter I brought under his notice regarding the strike at the Williamstown rifle ranges. A number of men employed there were being treated very unfairly, because men employed at the Newport Workshops, who were already in full employment, were -given preference in regard to engagement at the ranges, over men who had spent a good deal of time in learning the business, and ought to have been engaged. I feel sure that the Minister will see that the suggestion I have made is worth carrying out, and that men who are eligible, and who are out of employment should tie considered first. I can indorse what has been said by the honorable member for Calare, in reference to the shortage of rifles. It is absurd that there should “be only one rifle to every twenty of the men who are prepared to risk their lives for’ the defence of Australia. Imagine -the ridiculousness of twenty men being engaged in an action, and nineteen of them waiting until one fell, in order to take up his rifle and carry on the firing ! If we cannot import sufficient rifles, then, in the name of common sense, let us start a factory and manufacture our own. When the Transvaal was fighting against the mighty British Empire, not only did the Boers make their oown rifles,- but they- actually con structed big guns. Surely we possess sufficient intelligence to do the same sort of thing. If the Minister of Defence will only show as much energy in the administration of his Department as he used to display in criticising the Government when he was Leader of the Opposition, it will not be long before every man in our forces will have a rifle. I recognise much good in the Minister’s past actions. I commend to him the idea of making the defence of Australia dependent upon a land tax. In my opinion a land tax should be made to pay for the whole of our defence. In England at one period there was almost incessant war for over 100 years, and, nevertheless, no debt accumulated. It was only when the Hanoverian succession occurred, and the debts of Charles II. of unblessed memory had to be discharged, that a national debt was commenced. Let me commend to the Minister the example of a country whose legal enactments can be claimed to be scientifically exact, and whose Customs Tariff is, in respect to the principle on which it was framed, probably, the best in the world. I allude to the country which Great Britain chose to be her ally for defence and offence, namely, Japan. Japan offers an % excellent example of what can be done. I * shall quote from the Financial and. Economic Annual of Japan, published by the Government Printing Office, Tokio. I learn from this book that £100 of income pays a tax of £1 10s. But in case of special emergency the tax would be £3 9s. A man who has an income of ,£300 ordinarily pays 6 0, I but in time of emergency, he would pay £13 16s. A man who has £1,000 of income will pay £30 ordinary .taxation, the amount to be increased by 150 per cent. - making £75 a year - in a time of emergency. A man with an income of ,£10,000 - and there are many wealthy men in Japan - would under ordinary circumstances pay an income tax of ^550, but the special tax which might be imposed would be .£2,035. I do not blame any one for having a large property. II wish every member of this House had a large income, and were able to pay taxation on a large estate. I do not wis’h to see a miserable, shabby land tax, such as exists in Victoria. The Age, to its eternal credit, has thundered out its denunciation of the Victorian tax in no uncertain way. It is. I believe, the most absurd land tax in the whole world. Let us see what England’s ally, Japan, does in this respect. The income tax of Japan realizes £2,700,000 per annum. The land tax realizes £8,571,000. Let me quote this passage -
The land tax is levied according to the value of land which is assessed on the basis of capitalizing the net earnings or the rent of land and entered in the official land registers. The land tax is collected from the pledgee in the case of land under pledge, from the superficiary in the case of land under superficies of more than a hundred years’ duration, and in all other cases from the land-owner. The annual rate of land tax is fixed at per cent, of the assessed value of land, but under the Extraordinary Special Tax Law the tax was increased to rates ranging from 3 per cent, to 17.5 per cent., according to the class of land.
In the stress of war, we have no idea of what the tax would be. But it is our duty to find a means by which we can raise a much larger revenue than we do at present, and I do not think that we can discover a better source from which to raise it than the land. I wish now to speak on the twopenny halfpenny, tinpot Dreadnought proposal of the Government. I do not think there is a member of this Parliament who imagines that the paltry present of one battleship of the Dreadnought type would wipe out our obligation to the Home Land. I am sorry that the Fisher Government were defe’ated,_ because I am satisfied that if they had remained in office they would have been prepared, if necessary, to take a referendum upon this question. The creators of this Parliament would then have had an opportunity of controlling it, and I am sure they would have said that, for defence purposes, the land should be the sole source of revenue. If that much were conceded, and twenty Dreadnoughts were required to assist the Home Land, the Ministry of the day would then be in a position to raise them. So far, not a penny piece has been collected in Victoria towards the presentation of a Dreadnought to the Mother Country. Let honorable members contrast that with what Japan has done by voluntary subscription on previous occasions, and I think that the Jingoes of the country must hang their heads with shame. I say, let our workshops ring with the sound of 5,000 hammers wielded by men engaged in making provision for the defence of Australia. Let the air resound with the cheers of 50,000 men who can be sent by means of a railway to any part of the Commonwealth - to the Northern Territory, for example - where danger most threatens us. But, as the honorable mem- ber for Darwin pertinently asked, “ What will a flock of sheep with a shepherd at its head do towards keeping away an. enemy ? ‘ ‘
– Will the honorable member forgive me for suggesting that thisspeech might very well be delivered upon: the general debate, which will come on. almost immediately?
– Very well, if the Minister of Defence would like to have it all over again, I have no objection.
– I merely wish to say that I do not desire honorable members to imagine that I am treating them with discourtesy by making the few remarks which I propose to make. I have listened to their complaints in regard” to the scarcity of rifles, and I feel almost disposed to add one or two complaints of my own. There is quite a familiar ringabout some of the grievances which have been ventilated, particularly about those mentioned by the honorable member for Calare. There are cases in my own electorate in which men suffer disabilities fromlack of rifle practice, and during the shorttime that I have been administering the Defence Department I have found that theposition, so far as the riflemen of the Commonwealth are concerned, is anything butsatisfactory. I have done my best toremedy matters, but, of course, a great deal remains to be done. I do hope thathonorable members will accept my assurance that my sympathies are entirely withthe riflemen of Australia, and if I can doanything to remove the disabilities underwhich they labour, I shall be ready at all times to do it. I do not object to thesematters being brought under my notice, but- I want honorable members to recollect that, however hard we may fight upon the floor of the House, our opposition to each otherceases the moment we come to do business in the Department. I promise to look intothe complaints that have been made, and torectify them wherever it is possible to doso. But I may point out that we shall notovercome all our troubles in this connexion until we are able to manufacture our own rifles. Within the next few days I hopethat we shall be able to take the first activesteps in that direction.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 197 to 203 (PostmasterGeneral’s Department), £518,424.
.- I wouldask the Postmaster-General to obtain in- formation as to whether the trunk telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne is a paying one. No difficulty should be experienced in getting that information. At the time this line was projected, I objected to the metropolitan residents being placed in a different category from residents in the country, who are obliged to guarantee a certain sum before any new line will be constructed by the Department. I should like the Minister to ascertain the exact position before the next. Supply Bill is under consideration, so that honorable members may know whether the persons using the trunk telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne are placed in a superior position to that occupied by country residents.
– I wish to direct attention to a new departure in Postal administration. It appears that in new centres where postal facilities are sought, the Department practically says to the applicants, “You must carry on the business yourselves for a period of twelve months, and then if the traffic warrants itwe will consider your request.” I know of two cases in myown electorate. One is on the raihvay line between Parkes and Condobolin. At a certain point on that line a number of newsettlers have located themselves, owing to the cancellation of certain improvement leases. As a matter of fact, about fifty families are settled there, and they have endeavoured to obtain a post-office at their siding. In reply the Department has informed them that it will provide them with a mail bag, and if they can secure the services of some personwho will receive the bag, make it up, and attend to the distribution of mail matter, it will allow him £1 per annum, and at the end of six or twelve months, if the traffic warrants it, steps will be taken to establish a post-office there. Precisely a similar position of things obtains at another siding on the Cowra-Harden line. That is not a progressive policy to adopt in developing country centres. If any concessions are to be made, they ought to be to these outlying places; and I hope the Postmaster-General will look into the matter, and see whether a more liberal policy cannot be adopted.
.- I cannot allow thisvote to passwithout supplementingwhat has been said by the honorable member for Calare. Only today I brought under the notice of the Postmaster-General a country locality in my district,which the State authorities have thought of sufficient importance to construct a raihvay to, but where the administrators of the Post and Telegraph Department decline to afford the usual facilities until it is shown that they will prove a paying affair from the start. All this seems to be due to Mr. Scott,who runs the Department, and has done so for a considerable time. Butwe must not forget that in the metropolitan areas extensive services have been orderedwithout any guarantee.
– Take the Melbourne and Sydney trunk telephone line.
– Yes. In the locality towhich I have referred there are a large number of settlers; and under the circumstances it is not surprising that some people are finding that Federation is not having the desirable results they expected. A railway has been constructed there for about forty miles, at a cost of £3,000 a mile; and yet it is not deemed of sufficient importance to provide telegraph or telephone facilities. The same complaint can be made in regard to other places, though in a lesser degree. I do not know whether all this is because the Deputies have no responsibility, and are just figureheads, subject to red tape. I venture to say that there are twenty or thirty localities inwhich there are large numbers of applicants for letter-boxes,which could be erected at the cost of a few shillings, and return revenue at the rate of £1 per annum each. The boxes I havein my mindwere promised two years ago, and have not yet been supplied. First, Iwas told that a consignmentwas expected from England, and next that somewere expected from Melbourne ; and, as a matter of fact, I am not only ashamed to meet my constituents, but also ashamed to have to interview the Postmaster-General on such small matters,when his mind ought to be de- voted to business of much greater importance. As I say, I do not knowwhether all this arises, because the Deputy PostmastersGeneral have no control, orwhether it is because they will not take the initiative ; but, at any rate, the administration of this Department is not nearly so good as in the pre-Federation days. For instance, beforewe entered the Union, no guarantee of 10 per cent.was asked, but 5 per cent. was considered sufficient to cover interest andwear and tear. In some places, after the guarantee has been subscribed, the desired facilities are not afforded. Only the week before last, in a small community, some. £32 was subscribed in order to prove the bond fides of the people in their desire for telephonic communication ; butt if I may judge from experience, three years will elapse before the work is carried out by the Department.
– I know scores of cases like that, and the Labour Government were the worst of all.
– -My own opinion is that Mr. Scott, the Secretary of the Department, runs the whole show, and that, so far as the country is concerned, it may starve; though he does not take that view of the metropolitan requirements. Although scores of thousands of pounds may have to be spent in the cities no guarantee is asked for, whereas in the country the service must be shown to be a paying one, even, as I have said, in a case where the State Government has thought the district of sufficient importance to construct a railway. Is it any wonder that people are getting a contempt for Federal administration ?
– In reference to the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra, as to the trunk telephone line between Melbourne and Sydney, I shall be happy to comply with his request, and place full information before the House at an early date as to the capital and working cost. I am not quite sure that the results from this line are so satisfactory as might be desired, but, at any rate, full information will be given at an early date. The honorable member for Calare, and the honorable member for Grey, have rar fullest sympathies as a ‘country member myself. It is highly desirable that country districts should have their requirements fairly considered. I found, however, when I assumed office, that certain practices and precedents had been laid down by my predecessors to the effect that certain facilities were not to be granted unless there was some proof or evidence that they would pay their way. I have only to repeat what I informed the honorable member for Corio recently that, for my part, I do not feel inclined to be bound by previous practices, but I cannot take the responsibility of reversing them without consulting my colleagues, especially on questions of expenditure on works which may involve loss of revenue. I do intend to consult my colleagues as to whether it is not desirable to establish a new rule that postal, telephonic, and telegraphic extensions in country districts shall be provided, even in cases where they will not pay. In such cases Parliament might be asked to make a special provision so that the Postal Department will not be charged with the loss. At any rate, I undertake to bring this matter under the notice of my colleagues.
– To which Department would the Minister charge the loss?
– I should charge it, perhaps, to the Consolidated Revenue,, but it is a matter that will require discussion. I can only say that the representations of the honorable members for Grey and Calare have my warmest sympathy, and, so far as I can help in the matters referred to, I shall be prepared todo so. ‘
Proposed vote agreed to. Division 38 (Refunds of Revenue), £20,000, and division 39 (Advance to> Treasurer), £100,000.
.- The Treasurer might give the Committee some information upon the proposed vote of £20,000 for refunds of revenue, and also upon the proposed vote of £100,000 advance to the Treasurer. Trie last sum has generally been considered sufficient to cover six months; but I have discovered that the Treasurer has sometimes Been granted more than £200,000 ‘towards hisadvance account, by means of these Supply Bills. A certain sum’ is granted under a Supply Bill, and is paid away, and later on recouped. That is not a desirable practice, and had I continued in the office of Treasurer, I should have put an endto it.
– With reference to the vote of £20,000 for refunds of revenue, I may inform the Committee that last year £100,000 was voted for this purpose. The money is required to meet the money order account, and the cost of stamps placed on postal notes ; to pay the Eastern Extension and Pacific Cable Companies their share of the revenue from cablegrams; to refund amounts paid to revenue in error, and alsofor the re-purchase of stamps. These are the principal headings under which expenditure takes place under this vote. We are asking in this Supply Bill for one-fifth of the amount voted for this purpose last year. With regard to the Treasurer’s Advance, the £100,000 asked for is required’ to pay for new works in progress, including: works carried out under contract and works being carried out by day labour. It is estimated that we “shall require £80,000 for this purpose. The Treasurer’s Advance account is also’ drawn upon to provide a trust fund for the Government Printer for the payment of wages and material for Government printing, and also to meet payments under the Naval Agreement. About £8,000 will be required for this purpose. These payments are made in the first instance from the Treasurer’s Advance Account. The balance .of the £100,000 will be required to meet unforeseen and extraordinary expenditure.
– I think we should have a quorum present to listen to an important statement of this description. .
– Is that the way honorable members keep agreements? [Quorum formed.).
– I think I had finished all I had to say. I explained the principal heads under which payments are made from the Treasurer’s Advance Account. It has been customary to ask for considerable sums at the commencement of the financial year, because in the interval between the end of a financial year and the time at which the Government obtains fresh appropriation for new works and buildings for the .current year it is necessary that these works, which are being carried on all over Australia, should be paid for out of the Treasurer’s Advance Account.
.- Had the Treasurer yesterday given any indication that the chief expenditure from the Treasurer’s Advance Account would be for the public works to which he has referred, be would have rendered unnecessary a great deal of the debate that has taken place on this Supply Bill.
– Has the honorable member no mercy at all in his bowels?
– I do not know that I am particularly called upon to show mercy to honorable members opposite who have already betrayed every trust reposed in- them by their constituents. I am discussing a proposed vote of £100,000 towards the Treasurer’s Advance Account. I have always taken up the attitude that public moneys should be expended only upon the direct authority pf Parliament. I am prepared to admit that sometimes exceptional circumstances arise which render it necessary’ that the Treasurer should be in a position to meet small accounts, but when he asks the authority of this House .to expend from the Treasurer’s Advance Account thesum of £100,000, some explanation is necessary. If the right honorable gentleman had intimated yesterday that £80,000 of the amount would be expended in paY.ing for works already authorized by Parliament
– That is a fact; and 500 men will be’ out of work in a week unless the House passes this money.
– I am very pleased’ that even at this stage, and at this late hour-
– Honorable members opposite were told that last night.
– Can the Prime Minister point to any remarks in which it was stated that £80,000 of the ‘£’100,000 proposed as an advance to the Treasurer would be expended in the carrying out of works already authorized by Parliament?
– Honorable members were told that the money was required for workmen engaged all over Australia in connexion with works carried out by day labour.
– The honorable gentleman is capable of explaining and wriggling out of every statement made by him in this House. I. am acquainted with the fact without needing further evidence of it to-night. Although the Treasurer intimated yester-. day that some of the money would be required to carry on public works, he did not indicate that anything like £80,006 was needed for that purpose. Had the information been given earlier, the debate would probably have been shorter.
– There is hardly an item in the Bill which does not cover either salaries or contingencies.
– There is one such item, amounting to about £100,000. At ten minutes to 12 o’clock to-night, after two days’ discussion, we learn from the Treasurer that £80,000 is needed’ to carry on works in progress under the control of the different Departments.
– I think I made the statement yesterday - though I am not . certain: The information was contained in the statement which I gave to the Leader of the Opposition.
– I paid close attention to the honorable gentleman’s speech, and. - did not hear him give the information.
– Labour members’ have for two days past been blocking the payment of wages to working men.
– The Minister climbed into Parliament on the back of the working man, and then deserted him.
– I am sticking to him. It is the honorable member and his party who are deserting and fooling him.
– The Minister is sticking to the working man as he has stuck to his opinions on land taxation. When I hearone who has deserted the workers trying to throw mud at those who are sticking by them, I am naturally indignant.
– I have neither deserted, nor fooled, the workers, which is what the. Labour party is doing.
– The Minister cannot fool them now, because they know that he has betrayed them. However, I do not wish to enter upon a personal wrangle with him as to his betrayal of the cause which he previously espoused. Had the Treasurer given last night the information which, we have just wrung from him, there would have been no need for the lengthy discussion which, we have had.
– He did give it.
– The Minister has made so many statements Which he cannot substantiate that one cannot give serious attention to his remarks.
– I could get my parrot to say things like that.
– The honorable Minister ought to get the electors of Parramatta to send his parrot here instead of himself.
– At all events, he would be better than the honorable member.
– We have now dragged certain information from one Minister and another, which we have got by way of interjection or in little bits of speeches. After two days’ debate, we have succeeded in obtaining for the people a statement as to how the money which we are voting is to he expended. I do not think there has been undue delay, but the Government must be held responsible for whatever delay has occurred, because the Treasurer did not, on introducing the Bill, make a proper explanation of its items.
– It is usual to postpone such an explanation to the Committee stage.
– The Treasurer did not explain the Bill, either in the House or in Committee. Personally, I should oppose granting even two days’ Supply to this Government, but now that matters have been straightened out a little, I am prepared to let the Bill go through.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 11.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 June 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090630_reps_3_49/>.