3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Treasurer to a hardship in connexion with the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act in South Australia. I have here a postcard which says that applicants for pensions, resident at Victor Harbor, have been informed that they must attend an inquiry at Port Elliot, a smaller centre, 4 miles away. It is almost impossible to get decrepit, halt, and aged men from Victor Harbor to Port Elliot.
– Is there not a tram ?
– No. There is a train, but the service is very infrequent. As there is only one train each way each day, the return journey occupies two days. I ask the Treasurer if everything necessary for the administration of the Act cannot be done at both centres ?
– I shall cause inquiries to be made, to see how far it is possible to remedy the complaint.
Mail Communication for Outlying Communities - Country Town Telephone Services - Motor Mail Vans - Pinkenba Mail Delivery - Warrnambool Post Office - Telephone Communication - Postal Errors, Compensation
– In view of the general desire to assist small settlers, will the PostmasterGeneral see that specially favorable consideration is given to applications for postal facilities from small communities at a distance from large centres of population ? It is important to farmers and others away in the interior to get intelligence as to the state of the markets and other news. I have specially in mind, in asking the question, a settlement of German farmers on Battle Creek, in my electorate, who have a large quantity of produce to sell, but are very much handicapped by the infrequency of their mail service.
– I shall be pleased to give consideration to any definite proposals or requests submitted to me. I think that communities situated like that to which the honorable member has just referred are entitled to favorable consideration.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that his predecessor, Mr. Sydney Smith, on several occasions promised to give a condenser telephone service bet ween Mudgee and Bathurst, from which town there is a copper wire giving connexion with Sydney? Is he also aware that the towns of Singleton, Muswellbrook, Scone, Aberdeen, Gundy, and Murrurundi have also been promised telephone communication, and are not only greatly inconvenienced by being without it, but are placed at a disadvantage compared with other centres of population? Will the Minister give effect to the promises of his predecessors, and thus keep faith with the people of the district of Robertson?
– I have no knowledge of the promises referred to, but shall cause inquiry to be made. If the services asked for can be justified, the applications will be favorably considered.
– Will the Postmaster-General also consider the need for a telephone connexion for the town of Mount Balfour, in Tasmania ? Though an isolated, it is a most important, centre. A great many men live there, and they are now without communication.
– I shall be happy to consider that suggestion in common with others; but I hope that honorable members will see that applications in writing are made to the Department, giving substantial reasons why communication should be granted.
– In view of the great success which has attended the collection of letters by the use of motor vans, will the Postmaster-General increase the number of these vans, to give greater postal conveniences to important business centres, such as Prahran and South Yarra ?
– I have not yet had an opportunity to consider the matter, but the suggestion is worthy of attention, and I shall cause inquiry to be made, to see whether it can be adopted.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the fact that at Pinkenba there is no daily delivery of letters. That important suburb, which is really the port of Brisbane, has to depend entirely for the delivery of letters upon the school children or the bakers’ and butchers’ carts. Will the Postmaster-General arrange to have the mails delivered there in the same way as they are delivered in other suburbs?
– I shall be pleased to inquire into the complaint and the suggestion made by the honorable member, and to furnish him with an answer later on.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, a question regarding the post-office at Warrnambool. The Estimates are being prepared, and there has been a complaint for a considerable time that the accommodation at that post-office is altogether inadequate. Will the Postmaster-General give the matter consideration so that increased and improved accommodation may be given, both for the public and for the employes in the post-office ?
– I shall be very pleased to cause inquiries to be made as to the nature of the complaint, and the possibility of complying with the honorable member’s suggestion.
– Has it come under the notice of the Postmaster-General that quite a number of business and private people in my district, who desire telephonic communication, have not been able to get services established? I refer notably to the district of Muswellbrook, where a number of persons have made application in. writing. Will the Minister take an early opportunity of having these services established, so that the people in that district may have the same facilities of civilization as exist in other parts of the Commonwealth ?
– Before I can promise that any service will be established, inquiries must necessarily be made into the merits of the applications. The cases to which the honorable member has referred will be dealt with on their merits in the same way as others are dealt with, and carried out as funds are rendered available by Parliament.
– In view of the advice of the Postmaster-General, that all applications for telephone facilities should be put in writing,I desire to call his attention to a request which was made in that form, at any rate twelve months ago, by the residents in the New Hundreds of
Commins, Mortlake, and other places in South Australia, asking for communication with the Post Office at Port Lincoln. The State Government have considered the locality of sufficient importance to construct a railway, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral at Adelaide has recommended that the construction of a telephone is in the public interests. Under the circumstances, I ask the Postmaster-General whether he will hurry on the work, so that these deserving settlers may get into touch with other parts of the world.
– Every application which is justified by circumstances and has been favorably reported on will be facilitated by the Department. I think it will be found when the Budget proposals are submitted that there will be no reason for any complaint in regard to any work for which there is reasonable justification.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– I wish to know if the Treasurer has made, or will make, provision on the Estimates for this year which will allow all public servants entitled under the regulations to furlough to obtain it. Last year many of them could not do so, because the proper provision had not been made.
– The granting of furlough is not a matter controlled by the Treasurer. When furlough is granted, the Departments concerned ask the Treasury for the money necessary to make provision for it, and I shall be glad to do what I can to comply with such requests.
– As a matter of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I have to draw your attention to the insulting behaviour and insulting remarks which are continually coming from the honorable member for Hume.
– Tell us what they are.
– The remarks are both personal and offensive.
– What are they ?
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to instruct the honorable member to, at any rate, observe ordinary courtesy, and at once to cease these personal and objectionable interjections.
– I should like to know what they are.
– I have not heard the remarks of which the honorable member complains. I do occasionally hear certain scraps of conversation or comment, but they are not sufficiently loud to wholly reach me, or I should intervene. If the honorablemember for Maribyrnong will point to any specific matter of which he complains -
– Hear, hear !
– I must ask the honorable member for Hume not to interrupt me when I am addressing honorable members. If the honorable member for Maribyrnong will point to any specific case of misconduct I shall be only too glad to take steps to prevent its continuance.
– Can the Prime Minister make any announcement as to the date of the probable adjournment of this House over the sittings of the forthcoming Premiers’ Conference? Honorable members have been under a certain amount of pressure lately in attending the House ; and it would be a great convenience if we could have as much notice as possible of the proposed adjournment. .
– The Premiers have arranged their conference for the 13th of next month, and have invited Federal Ministers to meet them on the 16th, which is a Monday. So far as I can at present foresee, this will involve a request to thisHouse to rise during the week commencing on that date.
– Do I understand the Prime Minister to say that he proposes to close this Parliament while the State Premiers are discussing matters over which this Parliament has complete control ?
– I propose to invite this Parliament to adjourn while Federal Ministers are engaged in discussions of the utmost importance to the financial present and future of the Commonwealth. These negotiations are of the greatest importance to the States, but as to that the State representatives and Ministers will be responsible. The adjournment will be made in the interests of Federal finance and of expeditingFederal parliamentary business.
– It is a most extraordinary course !
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question which bears on the wreck of the Norwegian barque Errol. First, I desire to refer to the following statement, which appeared as a sub-leader in one of the Sydney newspapers : -
From 1870 to about 1882 a boat withprovisions was moored in the lagoon, but finally sank at her moorings. Had this boat been at the disposal of the survivors of the Errol, it is stated that they could have sailed to Lord Howe Island in about twelve hours. But neither boat nor provisions was available. The sunken boat was never replaced ; and it is clearly an obligation of the Commonwealth to provide another, if only because the ships which meet with disaster there, or run the risk of disaster, are participating in Australian trade. This makes Middleton Reef of interest to us, even if its geographical relationship to our continent is somewhat remote.
Having regard to the fact that the Middleton Reef is in the vicinity of Lord Howe Island, and reasonably may be regarded as within the sphere of Commonwealth supervision, will the Government favorably consider the matter of replacing the sunken boat and providing a supply of suitable provisions for the benefit of shipwrecked people ?
– Let me admit that I was not aware provision had previously been made to meet catastrophes on the Middleton Reef. From the statement which the honorable member has submitted, and for which I am obliged, I shall be justified in making a recommendation to my colleague in charge of the Department of Trade and Customs in reference to it.
– Are the Government taking any well defined action to note the effects of the present Tariff on Australian trade, the working of the preferential clauses; also with a view to the discovery and due rectification of anomalies?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs is studying the effect of the present Tariff on Australian industries, and also the operation of the clauses relating to preferential trading. In addition, the Minister is giving consideration to the adjustment of anomalies, and will, as a matter of course, safeguard the interests of the producers and manufacturers of the Commonwealth.
Statement by Lieutenant Biddlecombe - Ex-Sergeant-Major Daly - Officers’ Uniforms.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Defence been drawn to a cable published in to-day’s press to the effect that Lieutenant John Biddlecombe, said to be a member of the Victorian Naval Service, has written to the London Standard expressing the opinion that a Dreadnought should not be offered by Australia to Great Britain, mentioning other forms of defence which he thinks necessary, and really attacking the naval policy of the present Government ?
– That is a crime, is it not?
– That depends upon Lieutenant Biddlecombe’s position. Can the Minister state whether that officer is in the permanent force or on the active list, or what his present position is?
– He is retired.
– I do not know, but I shall make inquiries. I saw the criticism referred to.
– Following up the question put by the honorable member for Corio, I wish to ask the Minister of Defence to temper justice with mercy in dealing with the case of Lieutenant Biddlecombe. as I believe he is a constituent of mine.
– Has the Minister of Defence yet received a communication from ex-Sergeant-Major Daly, lately stationed at Molong? If so, is it true, as reported in the public . press, that it contains serious allegations against the military authorities in New South Wales, and does he propose to take action in regard to them?
– A communication of the kind was received some time ago, and contains a number of charges in language similar to that of the press reports. The whole matter has been referred for inquiry.
– The Minister of Defence will be aware that his predecessor, with a view to reducing the cost of officers’ uniforms, gave a direction that no more trousers were to be issued to artillery officers and non-commissioned officers. This involved their going to social functions-
– In a newspaper.
– No, in their riding costumes and spurs. The effect, instead of reducing the cost of uniforms, has been immensely to increase them. Will the Minister look into 1he matter, and have the order reversed, because I do not think it was intended to increase the cost of officers’ uniforms?
– I shall certainly have a most searching inquiry instituted.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs state whether there is any truth in the report that has appeared in the press, to the effect that the Premier of New South Wales has not received an official intimation from the Home Affairs Department regarding the Federal Capital site question ? Was the communication which was sent to the Premier of New South Wales to the effect that this Government desired the New South Wales Parliament to pass legislation setting apart the necessary territory?
– According to the report which I saw in this morning’s newspaper, the Premier of New South Wales speaks of having received the letter that was forwarded. It would appear that the first step to be taken in connexion with the matter will have to be taken by the Government of New South Wales, and according to what appears in the press this morning, the Premier of that State is evidently willing, and, indeed, anxious to initiate those proceedings.
– Is the Minister of Home Affairs in possession of a report of a recent date from Mr. De Burgh, the eminent engineer, giving the latest figures relating to the water supply of the YassCanberra site? If so, will he make it available at an early date for the information of honorable members?
– Mr. de Burgh’s report has been received by the Department, and I shall make it available for honorable members to-morrow.
– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he will call for reports not only as to the water supply possibilities of Canberra, but also as to the possibility of that site being connected by railway with Jervis Bay. Will he also obtain a report as the suitability of Jervis Bay as a port for the Federal Capital ?
– A report has already been received from Mr. Scrivener as to the proposed construction of a railway from Canberra to Jervis Bay.
– That relates only to a flying survey.
– -That is so; but further reports will be obtained. The matter is mentioned in the letter sent to the Premier of New South Wales, to which reference has already been made this afternoon. I do not think there can be any question as to the suitability of Jervis Bay as a port for the Federal Capital. It offers ample harbor accommodation, and that fact has already been pointed out in a report by Mr. Scrivener.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether he has any information regarding voting machines? I understand that a committee was appointed to make inquiries, and many of us would like to know the result.
-A number of voting machines were sent in to the Home Affairs’ Department, and they are all now under examination by a committee which was specially appointed for the purpose. No report has yet been received from that committee.
– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs, without notice, regarding the Bill for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Common wealth, whether he will cause a memorandum to be prepared and printed giving the official history of the negotiations between the Imperial Government and South Australia and some of the other States, and placed at the disposal of honorable members?
– A great deal of that official history is contained in various bluebooks, and it would be difficult to get all the information consecutively. I think, however, I can give the honorable member information as to where he can obtain what he requires ; but I cannot undertaketo reprint it all. As a matter of fact, some of the information is not available, because the correspondence is not complete. I promise to give the honorable member all the information that I possibly can. A memorandum has already been prepared showing briefly the history of the matter.
– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs, with regard to a statement made by an exMinister of External Affairs, to the effect that there is a large accumulation of applications from persons resident in the Commonwealth who desire to become naturalized, whether it is a fact that those applications have accumulated upon his table to the height of 2 feet ?
– I do not know whether the honorable member who was recently Minister of External Affairs made such a statement. I can hardly credit that he did so, for it certainly is not correct. Every application put before me to date has been signed and issued, and I know the Department has been taking steps to expedite the issue of all naturalization papers.
Sir JOHN QUICK laid upon the table the following paper : -
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended - General, Holiday Arrangements; Parcels Post, Directions as to Posting; Postal Notes - Statutory Rules1909, No. 87.
Unsafe Rifles. - Police Examination. -Rifle Range, Horsham
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Birmingham, and the other from Francotti, Liege, Belgium, in an unsafe conditionfor issue, the barrels being rusty and torn?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
A shipment of 200 Francotte cadet rifles was received from Francotte, of Belgium, in January, 1907, with barrels more or less stained, but not in anunsafe condition, and they were put in order before issue. 2, 3, 4, and 5. No.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– Captain Reynolds is at present on leave. He will be communicated with, and the honorable member informed of his reply.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Control of the World’s Market.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– A cable message published yesterday gave currency to the report mentioned. Apparently South America is the country supposed to be affected. Australia practically imports no beef. Any improper interference with Australian producers will be watched and resisted.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should proceed without delay to introduce a Bill for an Act to remove the anomalies existing in the present Customs and Excise Tariff Acts, and to add such other duties as may be deemed necessary.
I have been somewhat amused this afternoon by those who, for something like forty minutes, have exercised their right to bombard the Ministry with questions. I have no doubt that honorable members who have been putting questions without notice to Ministers had not the slightest feeling-
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wish to ask whether, in your opinion, the honorable member is now addressing himself to the motion. We are not going to be lectured all the time.
– I am not able to forecast what an honorable member is about to say, and cannot know his meaning until he has concluded his sentence. I ask the honorable member for Hume to address himself to the motion.
– I should have addressed myself to it half-an-hour ago had I had the opportunity ; but I have been interrupted by the questions which honorable members have been asking. Apparently had some one else been moving this motion, in the interests of the Government, there would not have been so many questions asked.
– Does the honorable memberthink that any one could move this motion in the interests of the Government?
– No. I am moving it in the interests of the country, not in those of the Government.
– Everybody believes that.
– If the honorable member will stop his chatter, I shall be very much obliged to him. The people believe me, and they do not believe him. He keeps on interjecting.
– Although honorable members persist in interjecting when others are speaking, no one likes others to interject when he is speaking. I hope that honorable members generally will refrain from interjecting.
– I am sorry that I transgressed. All I did was to approve of what the honorable member was saying as to his action being in the interests of the country.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- I am moving the motion in the interests of the country, and to show who are the backsliders in this House. I wish to fasten on these backsliders the consequences of their actions, and I shall presently mention them by name. Because of the action taken by some honorable members, the Tariff which has been passed is not the Tariff that it was intended to impose. , A number of honorable members who were returned as Protectionists did not support the Protectionist policy. I shall emphasize that fact, and give the names of those to whom I refer, so that their attitude may be known to those who sent them here.
– What the honorable member says does not matter much.
– I do not want you to interfere, Teddy Bear.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark. It is very improper to use such language here.
– I am very sorry. Sometimes one cannot help giving expression to what one thinks. I very much regret that the man who should be the champion of Protection, and should stand up for the improvement of the Tariff, so that it may be made what he and I intended it to be, has sought refuge from my remarks by leaving the chamber. We have not been informed what arrangement has been come to between the two opposing parties which have fused. No doubt the fusion, like that of an electric wire, will soon mean destruction. I have here a speech made by the Prime Minister just before the meeting of Parliament. In it he refers to many things, though to nothing either very accurately or emphatically. He spoke on the subject of Protection, and the attitude of the fusion. Two statements appeared, one in the Argus, and the other in the Age, giving the policy of the new party, but they did not agree.
– There has been recently on the business-paper a motion for the discussion of the policy of the Government. While it was open to debate, the honorable member could have referred to the policy of what he calls the Fusion ; but as it has now been dealt with, it would be improper, under cover of the motion which he has moved, to deal with the subject. I ask him to confine his remarks to the motion before the Chamber.
– I am doing that as well as I can ; but in discussing my motion, I must refer to what has been said by the Prime Minister in regard to Protection.
– Then I cannot permit the honorable member to proceed. The question is, not the policy of the Government, but the introduction of a Bill to remove certain Tariff anomalies.
– Surely I may discuss the motion in the way I am doing. I do not wish to offend against your ruling, sir, but I must be allowed to refer to the statement of the Prime Minister that Tariff anomalies would be removed. I wish to ascertain whether the Government really intend to deal with these anomalies. I cannot discuss the motion at all if I cannot refer to that matter. I do not wish to have my tongue tied, and my lips closed. If they are, I shall have to take another course.
– I have certain duties to perform, and should be sorry to fail to discharge them in the present instance. They require me to permit the honorable member to discuss the motion of which he has given notice, whose terms he himself has settled. If he desired to discuss larger matters, he should have framed the motion so as to include them. There is nothingin the motion regarding the policy of the Goverment; but the honorable member was proceeding to speak of the newspaper statements regarding the agreement which brought about the Fusion. I ask him to discuss his motion, and not the policy of the Government.
– I did not intend to do so. I wished to ascertain whether five years are to elapse before the Tariff anomalies are dealt with.
– Had the honorable member been trying to do that, I should not have interrupted him ; but he was making a statement which was repeated again and again during the debate on the motion of want of confidence, and I should have failed in my duty had I permitted himto continue. I cannot allow him to go beyond the terms of his motion.
– I am not doing so. I have here a copy of a speech made recently by the Prime Minister in the Melbourne Town Hall. In it he dealt with the subject of Protection, and the rectificationof anomalies. It was only to that part of his speech that I intended to refer. I was saying, when you interrupted me, sir, that a statement appeared in the Argus, and another in the Age, as to what it was intended to do in regard to this matter. No member of the House has yet been informed what the Government is going to do to rectify Tariff anomalies. No doubt, if I ask Ministers I shall not get an answer. But I wish to emphasize the fact that we do not know what is to be done. I have given my life to Protection, and should like to know whether it will be five years before the Tariff anomalies are dealt with, or whether they are to be dealt with at an early date. Surely, I am entitled to know that. I do not wish to discuss the general policy of the Government.
– The honorable member will be in order indiscussing the motion of which he has given notice, but must confine himself to it.
– I was doing so. On the 24th May, the Prime Minister, in the speech to which I have referred, said -
The Parliament has passed its Tariff for Protection. That has laid the first foundation for supremacy, that is not to be, and cannot be, disturbed.
That is all that I was going to quote. Two paragraphs appeared in the morningnewspapers which differed in their warding. One of them was afterwards corrected. What I wish to ascertain is whether the Government has agreed that nothing shall be done for five years regarding anomalies, or Protection, or new Protection. The country will demand to know that before very long. There should be no hoodwinking of the electors, and no hiding of the Government policy.
– There is nothing about new Protection in the motion.
– It refers to Protection generally, and is pretty broad in its wording. If you, sir, do not desire me to refer to new Protection, I shall take an opportunity to do so on another motion, three or four days hence. I do not wish to disobey your ruling. It is important that the people of the country should know that the Prime Minister has gone back on his Protectionist principles. The people should know that he has turned turtle; that he is now a Conservative and a Free Trader, surrounded by a Free Trade clique, the representatives of the monopolies of Australia, of its banks and its monetary interests.
– Is this a Tariff anomaly?
– I do not wish to hear from the right honorable gentleman.I am speaking seriously. I am going to follow this matter up. I shall hunt that man until he is dead, politically.
– I think that every one will agree that that remark is in no way necessary for the discussion of the motion of which the honorable member has charge. I ask him to withdraw it.
– I did not mention any name. If you, sir, wish me to withdraw what I said, I do so.
– The honorable member is very emphatic.
– And very bitter.
– I am very bitter when I have been sold, but a good friend at other times.
– When the honorable member is getting his own way.
– No. Half of those to whom I intend to refer would not have been elected had the public known how they would vote. Those honorable members are here under false pretences ; and I shall certainly let the facts be known in every electorate to which I can travel. The Prime Minister said to me some time ago that it was possible to explain matters away ; but it will not be possible to explain these matters to the satisfaction of the public.
– Will the honorable memberproceed with his speech?
– I must be allowed a little latitude, seeing that I have had provocation which will ever live in my memory. I have here a list of anomalies not prepared by myself, but prepared in the Department of Trade and Customs. I received the first draft before I left office in 1908, and subsequently, in 1909, the then Minister, the honorable member for Yarra, at my request,br ought it up to date. This list shows unmistakably that the time has arrived - indeed, it arrived long ago - when these anomalies should be rectified, and new duties imposed to protect our manufacturers and people. But for honorable members in the Opposition corner under the late Government - honorable members many of whom are now on the Ministerial side,and who have turned their principles inside out and upside down - we should have hada proper Tariff, and the country will never rest until such a Tariff is produced. As it is, both manufacturers and importers experience much embarrassment and difficulty. I am now speaking in the interests of the whole of the community ; I have no interests to serve but those of the public.
– Why did not the honorable member-
– The honorable member for Wimmera, as a member of the Opposition corner party, was one of the greatest offenders ; and I hope that his Protectionist friends will remember the fact. At any rate, I shall remind his electors personally, before I have done, of what the honorable member did when the Tariff was being discussed, although he was returned as a Protectionist.
-Why does not the honorable member give the Free Trade members of the Labour party a rub-up?
– Free Trade members of the Labour party, seeing what was being done in the way of deserting their cause, helped me with the Tariff.
– They are traitors if they did that!
– The right honorable member for East Sydney took very little part in the framing of the Tariff, seeing that he was absent from his duties nearly the whole of the time. Thank goodness, however, the right honorable member must now stop here, because he cannot get a pair ! The honorable member for Wimmera did more injury, particularly to his own electorate, than any man sitting in the Corner party when the Tariff was passed through this Chamber. In the list to which I have referred, there is a large number of items, but I consider it necessary to deal with them in detail so that they may be recorded in Hansard. If honorable members prefer to have them printed, I am prepared not to deal with them all, but I must read some. First of all, I shall deal with anomalies from a departmental point of view, more than from a policy point of view.
– Has the honorable member any indication of what the honorable member for Yarra, when Minister, intended to do in regard to the anomalies?
– Not the slightest. I never asked the honorable member; but, as an act of courtesy, he had the list revised up to this year. Item 79d of the Tariff is that of matches; and in regard to it the Departmental comment is -
Wording could be altered so as to exclude certain advertising words now used by importers.
When this item was before honorable members, there was a long debate on the question of advertising on match-boxes ; and a great deal of trouble to the Department, and also to importers, would be obviated if the suggested alteration were made. My desire is to do the fair thing to Protectionists, and also to Free Traders in regard to articles which cannot be manufactured in this country.
– We have no chance of a Tariff session.
– We shall see what chance we have, with a Government who have a majority of only three ! The people are anxious that the rectification of the Tariff shall not be held in abeyance for five years, if they can prevent it. Items 885 and 89 involve a matter in which the ex- Postmaster-General, the honorable member for Barrier took a great interest. They deal respectively with invalids’ diabetic food, and infants’ food, as prescribed by Departmental by-laws, and the Department suggests the items should be amalgamated ; but it appears that, under the law, as it stands, that cannot be done. The honorable member for Barrier knows a great deal about this matter, and was very anxious to have it properly arranged in the Tariff ; but it will be remembered that I had a great fight at that time, and had to depend almost entirely on the Departmental officers, so that in the hurry of the moment we had not time to deal with every anomaly. The difficulty arises in this case in deciding between the two classes of food ; and, in order to put matters right, the law ought to be altered. Then items 106 and 107, which are apparel and attire, ought, according to the Department, be made similar in wording. Experts even cannot tell one class of apparel from another, and the consequence is great trouble and injustice to both importers and the Department. In regard to item 108, articles, n.e.i., the Department recommend that the words “not being apparel or attire,” be inserted. Item 121c, which deals with caps and sewn hats, n.e.i., ought, it is represented, to be altered to refer to”caps sewn,” because the item at present clashes with item121d, which embraces hats and bonnets of all descriptions. It is also suggested that “lace for attire,” which is item 123d, ought to be transferred to trimmings, under item 134a, because sometimes a line cannot be drawn between them. In regard to items 134a and b, “trimmings and ornaments,” we are told by the Department -
It is impossible to draw a line between trimmings n.e.i. and some classes of braid. Braids should be limited to plain braids of one colour. Gimp n.e.i. is another unworkable line, as many kinds of trimming are also known as gimp. Tinsel belting clashes with tinsel ribbon (item 123d). Gimp n.e.i. and Tinsel belting should be deleted from item 134b, Buckles, Clasps, &c.
The next is -
Item160c. - Motive Power Machinery n.e.i. - The item causes considerable trouble, and should be deleted. Such would then, if foreign, be dutiable as Machinery n.e.i. at only 5 per cent. more under item 162c, 25 per cent., and the same rate 20 per cent. if United Kingdom produce.
-What a botch the Tariff must have been - full of absurdities !
– The right honorable member should have been here, instead of making” money elsewhere. . The next item is-
Item 165B. - Punching or shearing machines combined or separate sizes up to¾ to read “up to and including¾ inch.” Slotting machines also add “ up to and including.” Centreing machines the same.
Item 172. - Brasswork and Gunmetal work for general engineering and plumbing and other trades. Causes considerable trouble in classification and gives the Department and importers a lot of extra work. It should be deleted.
Item 177. - Dynamo electric machines up to the capacity of 200 h.p. should read “ up to and including 200 h.p.”
Item 182. - Iron and Steel tubes or pipes. The word “ including “ should be deleted.
– I think we ought to have a quorum to listen to this. [Quorum
Item191. - Magnolia metal should be deleted. It is an antifriction metal dutiable under item 1 90.
This gives the Department trouble in deciding which item the goods should come under.
Item 205a. - Knobs, keys, escutcheons, &c., words “ imported separately “ to be added.
That is rather an important alteration, because under the item as it stands the law is to a large extent evaded.
Item 236B. - Oils Paints and Varnishes. Prepared for use, including Tattoo oil. Should define “ Paints and colours prepared for use.”
That is a very important matter, also.
Item 237. - Varnishes. Should include “ Granelette.”
Item 273. - Acetic Acid extract or essence of Vinegar. Is unworkable. Analysts cannot decide on samples.
Item 326. - Fancy Goods. The words “ articles n.e.i. used for ornamental purposes or partly for use and partly for ornament “ clash with other items, particularly item 336 (Jewellery n.e.i.) which is a higher rate.
Item 356i. - Paper and Stationery. Browns and Sugar. Is unworkable.
Item 356m. - N.E.I. including pulpboard. Pulp board 20 per cent. and 15 per cent. identical with cardboard 5 per cent. or free. Item 356a Millboard, Greyboard, &c.
The Department cannot decide under which duty this material has to come at the present time, and they have to deal with the matter haphazard.
Item 356C.C. - Paper Tissue should be qualified “ not grease proof or waxed.”
Item 357a. - Stationery manufactured should include the words “non-advertising.”
Item 370a. - Leatherette Paper leatherette 5 per cent. or free identical with surfacecoated paper. Free item 356 Surface coated papers.
Therefore, there are two different headings, and neither the Department nor the importer knows how to treat the matter.
Item408a. - Corks. Almost unworkable. Bungs should be transferred to item 408b and a measurement or weight per 100 made for corks under 408a Small corks (up to 8-oz. bottles) n.e.i.
Item 433b. - “ and other packing “ too ambiguous.
With regard to the questionof corks, I daresay some honorable members have been to the cork factory on the other side of the Yarra, and have seen what an improvement has taken place there. At present, however, the works are almost at a standstill for improvements, because of the absence of an opportunity to alter the Tariff as it now stands. That matterought to be attended to at an early date.
– It is not much of an industry.
– Before the Tariff was passed it employed five men, and now it is employing about sixty-five. That shows that it is a substantial industry. I have given the anomalies from the :stand-point of the Department. I come now to a list of the anomalies from the Protectionist and revenue point of view. What I have already read was written by the Departmental officers to show where trouble “is caused in coming to decisions on the “Tariff. The list of anomalies from the Protectionist and revenue point of view is as follows : -
Items 34 and 104. - Tapioca Free. Starch Flours, including Tapioca flour from which the dearer Tapioca is made 2½d. and 2d. Tapioca is used in making office paste. Duties on it are a serious handicap representing 120 per cent. Duties on paste are 30 per cent, and 25 per cent.
I want it to be clearly understood that, while all this information comes from the Department, which has looked at the matter as far as possible from the stand-point of Protection and also of revenue, I do not agree personally with the suggestion made in that regard, because cornflour can be, and is, made here, and tapioca is :grown here. I am, however, giving straightforwardly the whole of the objections placed in my hands by the Department : -
Item 91. - Isinglass n.e.i. at 15 per cent, should “be 20 per cent, and 15 per cent., the same as item 8S0 Oilmen’s stores 20 per cent, and 15 per cent.
That refers to the preferential duty of 15 per cent. This is important, because under one set of conditions the article comes in under a higher percentage than it does under the other, and it is difficult for the Department to know under which percentage it should be placed. The Departmental officers, therefore, want an alteration and a higher duty, because the present duty is not high enough.
Item t2ie. - Caps. This includes all kinds, whilst the intention was to place the heavier duties on sewn caps only. Motor, college, and similar caps should have been admitted at 30 per cent, and 25 per cent.
Item 123*. - Cotton piece goods 5 per cent, and free. Generally admitted that these goods should have been dutiable at 10 per cent, and 5 per cent.
There is also another item, which arises, not under the Customs Tariff, but under the Bounties Act. I refer to the question of wool tops, which are now being manufactured at Botany with machinery as excellent as it is possible to obtain. I have been to the works two or three times. Mr.
Hughes, who started the industry, deserves the greatest praise for what he has done, arid if honorable members went there they would be amazed. I have compared the tops produced there with Bradford tops, and with Vickery’s tops and all others made in New South Wales and imported, and I can honestly say that those manufactured at the Botany works are superior to anything I have ever seen. But the trouble is that the manufacturer can receive the bounty only on what he exports. The Department has refused to pay him the .bounty on any that he sells in Australia. They say the law is against it. That seems to be turning things upside down, and I should think we ought to give Mr. Hughes every encouragement to supply our own demands first, by giving him a bounty for doing so, before he is given a bounty for exporting his goods. I should’ like not only yourself, Mr. Speaker, but all honorable members who have the welfare of our industries at heart, to go to Botany to see the manufacture of these tops. You would all be amazed at what you would see.
Item 125/. - Flannelette should have been kept at 25 per cent, and 20 per cent, as introduced. It is now 5 per cent, and free. MoTe than ever a competitor with woollen goods made in Australia.
– It is dangerous, and the duty should be made 50 per cent.
– That is my feeling about it. It is a dangerous competitor with our woollen goods in all ways, and the House should take the matter into consideration at the earliest possible opportunity, in order that the present state of affairs may not continue.
– The people in the trade do not support the honorable member’s contention.
– They do. Mr. Mark Foy brought the matter under my notice years ago, and also a short time ago. He said it was a disgrace to allow flannelette to be imported as it ii now, and that he would very much prefer to sell woollen goods, of which flannelette has now practically taken the place.
Item r26. - Kerseys of all kinds are free. It was intended to limit the exception to Saddlers “Kerseys, making kersey for apparel and attire dutiable at 30 per cent, and 25 per cent, as Woollen piece goods. There is not now any inducement to make kersey for attire in Australia.
That surely is a matter to which we should give attention at an early date. I wish to refer back for a moment to the item of tapioca. I am reminded by the honorable member for Wannon that, in 1907, £58,053 worth of tapioca was imported, whereas, in 1908, £42,499 worth was imported.
– As a matter of fact, no tapioca should be imported.
– I agree with the honorable member. I come now to -
Item 132*. - Cotton socks, free. These should have been dutiable at 25 per cent, and 20 per cent, the same as other socks. Cotton socks are made in Australia.
– Hear, hear !
– Do I hear the new Free Trader applauding that statement? I shall not dwell upon this item, for, later on, I shall have something to say in regard to the manufacture of cotton goods in Australia -
Item 141c. - Lamps and gas stoves 20 per cent. ; item 177^, electric stoves 15 per cent, and 10 per cent. The rates should have been uniform.
There has been a great outcry in regard to the position of some of these stoves under the Tariff-
Item 143. - Sheet lead and lead piping, free. All made in Australia. Government proposed 50s. per ton ; House of Representatives made it free. Senate requested 20s. per ton; House of Representatives rejected the request.
I fought very hard for the Government proposal, and failed to understand why there should be any objection to the imposition of a reasonable duty that would enable us to manufacture sheet lead and piping, since lead is largely produced in Australia.
– I think, Mr. Speaker, that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The Government are very interested in this statement of Tariff anomalies.
– So it would appear, judging by the state of the Ministerial bench. We see on the Government benches honorable members who, although they were once Protectionists, cannot be considered Protectionists at the present time -
Items 146 and 152. - Corn shelters, corn buskers, 20 per cent. ; maize harvesters free. The names are said to be synonymous. Maize harvesters should be deleted from the item.
When these items were before the House, I was unable to understand why maize harvesters could not be manufactured in Aus tralia, since corn-shellers and corn-huskers are produced here -
Item 145. - Agricultural machinery and implements n.e.i. 15 per cent, and 12^ per cent. These duties are not sufficient Protection ; 20. per cent, as originally proposed would have been, sufficient.
I find’ that the value of our imports of agricultural machinery from the United States of America, in 1907, was- £239,941, whilst imports of the value cf £5,164 came from New Zealand, making, a total of £245,105. In 1908, the value of agricultural machinery imported into (he Commonwealth was £290,276 -
Item i6o«. - Steam turbines 5 per cent, and1 free. High-speed reciprocating steam engines for direct coupling or directly coupled to electric generators or to pumps, subject to Departmental by-law, s per cent, and free. Both of these lines should have carried a higher duty as they compete with the ordinary engines made in Australia.
Honorable members will recollect that an attempt was made to impose higher duties in respect of these items, but that it was. opposed by representatives of Western Australia. There was a strong agitation for the imposition of substantial duties, and it was urged that ironfounders in Ballarat,. Bendigo, and other places, who were manufacturing engines, should not have to compete with these lines, most of which are admitted free of duty. I am informed that the effect of the item has been to throw out of employment a number of men who used to be engaged in foundries where the manufacture of engines was once carried on. Surely that is a substantial argument for an early revision of the Tariff in that regard -
Item 160. - Generally. The duty of 20 percent, all round (1) gives no preference to the United Kingdom; (2) is not sufficient Protection, and then causes trouble in deciding whether an appliance is dutiable at 20 per cent, under this item or 25 per cent, or 20 per cent, under item i62f, as machines or machinery n.e.i., 25 per cent, and 20 per cent.
Item 162a. - Portable hoists for underground use, 5 per cent, and free. These should have been dutiable at 25 per cent, and 20 per cent, as machines and machinery n.e.i.
Item i62f. - Machines and machinery n.e.i., 25 per cent, and 20 per cent.
Honorable members will recollect that a big fight was put up over this item, and that the Protectionists on the Government side of the House were deserted by honorable members who were then sitting in the Opposition corner. With the assistance of honorable members of the Labour party, I was enabled to secure the imposition of the duty that was ultimately agreed to. There can be no doubt that speedy intervention is necessary in order that the item may be revised -
Item 1650. - Machinery for carding and combing wool should bc free. Bonus for tops is given, but complicated machinery is necessary which would cost prohibitive price if made in the Commonwealth.
That statement, I think,, was made in ignorance of the fact that Mr. Hughes, of Botany, is engaged in producing tops. He would be able to extend his works if a bonus were given on tops sold in Australia, as well as on those exported. The item ought to be adjusted as soon as possible.
Item 165* and 186. - Wire-netting machines, 15 per cent., while wire netting is free.
I need scarcely remind honorable members of the attitude which the Government took up in regard to these items. Surely if wire netting is free, the machinery used in its manufacture ought also to be free. My contention, however, is that there should be a duty on both items. I am strongly in favour of a duty on wire netting -
Item 170*-. - South Australian tinsmiths say that the admission of aluminium household utensils at 5 per cent, and free will seriously handicap their industry.
That is a complaint that ought to be dealt with -
Item 175. - Screws with nuts, &c, 25 per cent, and 20 per cent. It has been stated by some Victorian manufacturers that the Victorian makers of table and music stool screws at whose instigation the duties were imposed, refuse to make the screws at less than double the price they were prior to the duty.
Here is a case in which, in the interests of the public generally, action should be taken. I come now to -
Item 176a.- Rotary and progressive rock drills, 5 per cent- n,K’ free- These : ar.e made in Australia, and should have been dutiable at 25 per cent, and 20 per cent., as other drilling boring machines.
That is an item in which the present PostmasterGeneral took a great deal of interest when the Tariff was before the House -
Item 177- Generators for direct couplings for steam engines, 5 per cent, and free. These should have been dutiable at 20 per cent, when 200 horse-power, the same as all other kinds. They can be made in Australia.
Item 178*. - Gas meters, 5 per cent, and free. The parts only from which meters are used should have been 5 per cent, and free, and the finished meters 25 per cent, and 20 per cent.
I received many deputations from manufacturers of these articles, who complained that the duty as it stands was practically- crushing them out of existence and preventing them from carrying on their industry. Surely we should not allow five years to elapse before we take action to rectify such an anomaly?
Item 180. - Rails, fishplates, &c, 15 per cent, and 10 per cent. Duties should have been 174 per cent, and ia£ per cent. Old Tariff 12^ per cent.
The value of imports of rails and fishplates, in 1907, was as follows: - United Kingdom, .£563,468; Belgium, £28,990 ; Germany, £25,192; United States of America, £12,884; total, £630,534. In 1908, the total value of our imports of rails and fishplates was .£792, 928. The next item to which I wish to refer is -
Item 186. - Wire netting, free. Government proposal, 30 per cent, and 25 per cent., which should have been carried.
The value of our imports of wire netting, in 1907, was as follows : - United Kingdom, £400,112; Belgium, £55,253; Germany, £122>355i United States of America, not shown ; total, excluding the United States of America, £577,720. The value of these imports, in 1908, was £458>545- I can only hope that we shall not allow this item to remain as it is for the next five years, merely because of an unholy alliance.
– The Ministerial arrangement will cover six years.
– If my life be prolonged, it certainly will not last that long-
Item 191.- - Magnolia metal is free. It is an anti- friction metal, and is made in Australia. It should come under item 190, with other antifriction metals.
Item 217. - Standard and pillars for wire fencing, 5 per cent, and free. These being similar to droppers, should carry the same duty as the latter - 17^ and 12^ per cent.
Item 2348. - Mineral Lubricating Oil, 3½d. aand 3d. per gallon. Duty too low to protect the New South Wales Oil Company.
Item 234. - Kerosene, free. No protection to Australian kerosene.
Item 235. - Cloth Oil should have been dutiable according to its. character, as it contains dutiable oil. Item 236, paints and colours prepared for use. General 6s. per cwt., or 20 per cent. United Kingdom 6s. per cwt., or 15 per cent. The *ad valorem rate should have been the same.
Item 236(2. - Dry Colours 2s. 6d. per cwt. There should have been an alternative ad valorem rate to apply to the more expensive colours, and thus protect the Australian dry colour industry.
There are mountains of colour-making earth in New South Wales and South Australia, and probably in the other States. Unless the duty is increased, this raw material will remain unused. If the duty is increased, a great deal of employment will be given, and we shall be able to manufacture locally colours superior to those now in use. In 1908, the importations of iron and steel were valued at £2,751,397, and the importations of machinery and manufactures of metal at £10,171,607. I have here the details of these importations under various headings ; but I do not propose to read them to the House. The importations of steel and iron, manufactured and unmanufactured, fox’ many years averaged only £7,000,000. Surely we are not going to continue to import an immense quantity of steel and iron material. To return to my list -
Item 261a. - Glue, 30 per cent, and 25 per tent.
Item 26if. - Gelatine Jelly, 2d. and i£d.
Both these lines should have been dutiable at the same rate, as they are frequently precisely similar, so that analysts cannot distinguish one from the other.
Item 277. - Carbide of Calcium, free. This should have been 10 per cent, and free, to protect proposed industries in Queensland, Tasmania, and New South Wales.
Item 285. - Sticky Fly Paper, free. Should have been 15 per cent., to protect local makers, who have to pay duty on their raw material.
Item 303*. - Door Stocks, under a specified size, 2s. per 100 super, feet ; over that size, 2s. 6d. per 100 super, feet. The cutting to the size will be done outside Australia.
We should try to have it done inside Australia -
Item 311. - Doors of wood”. Old duties retained, while higher duties have been placed on the wood for them.
Item 330. - Watches, Clocks, &c, 30 per cent, and 20 per cent. Duties excessive, as these are not, and cannot bc, made in Australia.
Item 342. - Phonograph Records free. These can be readily made in Australia under a protective duty. Several persons had arranged to produce them, but have dropped their plans owing to this exemption. Duties should be 30 per cent, and 25 per cent.
In 1907, our importations of carbide of calcium were valued at £138,407, and in 1908 at £80,334. Our importation of timber in 1907 was valued at £1,560,376, and in 1908 at £1,862,796. I understand that a deputation is now with the Minister, asking for an increase in the timber duties, because in Tasmania, and probably in some of the other States, mills have had to be closed. Five hundred men have already been discharged, and at the end of the year another 500 will be discharged. Is the Minister going to reply, as he did to the deputation which waited upon him in re- gard to the duty on bananas, that nothing can be done for five years. Surely not ! -
Item 356a- Catalogues, 6d. per lb., or 35 per cent. This includes catalogues and price lists of foreign houses, which cannot be commercially printed here. Printers admit this.
Item 3568. - Papers, browns, at per cwt., 5s. and 4s. 6d. This is unworkable with the alternative ad valorem duty. It is impossible to secure unanimity of opinion as to what is brown paper. There should be alternative duties, 20 per cent, and 5 per cent., which are the rates on paper n.e.i. Item 356m, n.e.i., including pulp board, &c, 20 per cent, and 15 per cent.
Item 3S4. - Pianos, 25 per cent, and 20 per cent. These duties should have been higher for protective purposes.
I am afraid that under present conditions, the piano duties would not be increased. For my own part, notwithstanding my feeling towards one of the leading pianomakers, I should stand by my principles, and support higher rates -
Item 400*. - Wool Yarn, n.e.i., 10 per cent, and 5 per cent.
Item 400/. - Hosiery Yarn, 5 per cent, and free.
These cannot be distinguished one from the other, and should both be* dutiable at 10 per cent, and 5 per cent., as they are being made in Australia.
Item 408. - Corks, small size, and Bungs and rings, per pound, is. ; other sizes, 6d.
The item is practically unworkable, and should be re-arranged on a different basis, say, measurement or weight per 100. Some action should be taken to encourage the cutting cork squares here, as that is the most scientific portion of the industry. Cork squares are classed by the Department as manufactures of cork n.e.i., 15 per cent.
Item 148/. - Apparatus for testing milk, &c, free. These should be dutiable. They are made in Australia. “ Superficial foot.” - From a Protectionist point of view, the Tariff Commission’s definition should be adopted, in order to encourage the cutting of timber into thin sizes in Australia.
Our importations of paper were valued in 1907 at £1,233,719, and in 1908 at £1,330,848.
– Mostly newspaper.
– Perhaps so. The Commonwealth imports of lubricating oil are valued at - from the United Kingdom, £174,341 ; from the Straits Settlement, £15,982 ; and from; the United States of America, £123,461, or a total of £313,784. We import kerosene oil from the Straits Settlement valued at £33,407, and from the United States of America valued at £422,437, a total of £455. 844Those who object to the imposition of duties for the encouragement of the oil industry, would be astonished if they visited the Blue Mountains, and saw the development of the shale and oilindustry there. Something like £800,000 has been spent in making a line from the main railway into the great Capertee gorge. There are two miles of tunnelling on that line. The seam shows a thickness of about 4 feet on one side, and on the other is from 2 ft. 4 in. to 2 ft. 6 in. Little or nothing more can be done unless some protection is given against the importations of the Trust which has been formed by the Standard Oil Company and other companies, and which is now a greater menace than ever to an industry struggling so hard for development. We cannot sit quietly by, and see all this invested money lost, and the opportunity of employing a large number of men pass away. What is, perhaps, the worst feature is that, if these capitalists, who, I understand, are raising £400,000 more, should lose their money, it will create a bad feeling amongst capitalists in Great Britain, and probably put a stop to any investment of the kind here for a long time. This industry should not be allowed to languish simply because a few people are hungry for seats or office in this Parliament, or because they entertain towards the Labour party an antipathy which is both unmerited and suicidal. I have here a memorandum which has been sent to me, and, though I do not indorse every statement made in it, I shall read it.
– Where does it come from?
– I do not desire to mention the name now, but the letter will appear in Hansard. It is from a lady who understands the question, and she says : -
I am inclined to think that that is a mistake, but I read this as expressing the opinion of an expert.
– Does the honorable member think that thesixpenny garments would be any cheaper if the duty were removed ?
– I cannot say. I asked a certain person to give an expert opinion in regard to matters of which I knew nothnig; and, as I said before, I do not bind myself to the statements made.
Concentrating my attention upon dress goods, as I have been doing, I have not given much consideration to other anomalies, but that the items I have specified may justly be so classed, I think you will admit.
– That is a plea for a reduction of duties.
– In some cases, but not in others. The other day a deputation waited on the Minister of Trade and Customs in reference to the “banana industry; and I read with some degree of shame the helpless and impotent reply of the Minister that nothing could be done.
– Would the honorable member make bananas more expensive ?
– Never mind; banana-growing is a great industry in Queensland.
– So it is in Fiji.
-If we can get all the bananas we want from Queensland, why go elsewhere for them?And, besides, the labour in Fiji is black, whereas in Queensland it is white. The petition of the deputation contained the following prayer : -
That the Banana Industry may be protected the same as other fruits at 2s. per cental.
That steps be taken to modify the direct competition by the subsidy of a shipping company by Victoria.
And generally, that the producing industry of Australia may be relieved in every possible way from the unfair competition of cheap coloured labour.
To that, as I have already indicated, the Minister’s reply was, “ We can do nothing; we are helpless; we are shackled.” That is a most disgraceful reply to come from a Minister.
– He was quite right.
– I know; but I desire to show the impotent position in which this Government is placed, owing to the fact that both parties to the fusion have had to give up their principles, and the Protectionist party particularly so. The result is a policy of drift ; and I do not think that the country will allow it to continue very long. When we were dealing with the Tariff it was abundantly shown that great efforts were being made at Ipswich to extend a cotton mill, which had already been partially established. Some 300 acres have been planted, in order that there may be always some cotton on hand ; and it has been proved that cotton can be grown well in Queensland, as I myself saw forty years ago on the Logan. That being so, why should the colton industry not be protected in the same way as the woollen or any other industry ? Only in connexion with one particular part of the work, which I cannot accurately describe, is there the slightest protection.
– Why did the honorable member fail to protect the industry ?
– Because, although I fought very hard, the honorable member and others would not allow me to do so. The Leader of the Opposition knows how hard I fought for the protection of the cotton industry, and how my efforts were defeated by the then Opposition corner party. The question, however, should be revived in the interests of a latent industry, which must lea’d to the manufacture of a widely-used fabric. I have been reminded that there is an immense importation of wattle bark from South Africa and elsewhere in competition with the bark grown in Australia,
– Is it not a good thing to have bark imported for the purpose of making leather?
– Not when we have a lot of our own bark going to waste. The honorable member is only talking laissez faire, Free Trade humbug. Above all things, we ought, at an early date, to take into consideration the development of our iron and steel industry. It has been decided to start on a small scale with the manufacture of our own small arms ; and we have jumped the Protectionist and preferential Jim Crow in going to America instead of Great Britain for the machinery. What surprises me most is that the Australian workmen, who are to take charge of this factory, are to be sent, not to Great Britain, but to America to be educated in the industry. We should take a lesson from Great Britain, and not only have the best of material for our small and large arms, but also workmen who have been educated under the best men in the world - and the best men are to be found in Great Britain. This fusion, or confusion, Government seem to have thrown to the winds every principle of unity and of preference - every British ideal. While it is admitted that articles are manufactured cheaply in America, it is also known that the better work is to be found in the Mother Country ; neither ships nor arms are so well made in the United States. But I suppose the Government are taking their present action in order to show their independence of Great Britain, and that they will have no preference in the future. At the present time, as I have indicated, the iron and steel industry is not sufficiently protected. For some reason, with which I am not acquainted, the Government refused to pay the bonus on scrap iron, though it is always included in every part of the world where the bonus system prevails, and although it is well known that this material forms the very best class of metal for arms and machinery. Either a private individual or the Government must take steps to develop this industry, in order that we may not be left helpless if supplies are cut off in time of war. That matter is of such grave importance that I have always held that the~ Government may have to undertake it, for it must be regarded quite apart from any consideration of what is or is not Socialism. The time has come when, this matter should be forced forward. Let us have no waiting and dilly-dallying such as the present Government seem to be intent upon. There are other matters that I could refer to, but I think I have dealt with the majority of the important ones. I have, I believe, given sufficient evidence to show that there is no justification for allowing those matters to rest in abeyance for five years, as has been whispered, and even stated by the press once or twice, for no valid Or good reason. I ask the House to pass this motion as an indication to the Government, whether it be the Free Trade or Protectionist section of it, that the time has come when Parliament and the country will refuse any longer to allow the question to be dallied with.
.- I second the motion. I took a keen interest, during the discussion of the Tariff, in certain matters relating to the employment of women in our community. I regret that on one night, when I was beaten by a majority of two, with the Government against me, I was ill and could not hunt up my votes, or otherwise, so far as this matter was concerned, there would not have existed an anomaly which I regard as a slur upon the community. Had I known, what was going to happen with regard to dress goods, I should have voted with the honorable member far Barrier, who had moved that the articles to which I am about to refer, should be admitted free. Had I voted with him, his amendment would have been carried by the casting vote of the Chairman, and the goods which are not manufactured here would have been free of duty. I do not know what the intentions of the Government are, but no honorable member who goes into the question can fail to recognise that there are anomalies in the Tariff that are a disgrace to us as a community, and should be removed.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs stated in the Senate last night the intentions of the Government on all these points.
– I am sorry that I have not read his remarks ; but I blame that honorable senator mostly for the particular anomaly of which I am speaking; although I do not wish to make any attack upon him. The white-workers are holding their own against the best manufacturers in Great Britain, because their raw material comes in free, while the duty on the articles which they manufacture stands at 40 per cent, and 35 Per cent. Unfortunately, so far as dress goods are concerned., through a false statement made by the managing director of a New South Wales firm, a vote was reluctantly given in the Senate which created an iniquitous anomaly. That man’s statement was as mendacious as it could possibly, be. I shall show that those goods are not manufactured in Australia. As reparted in the Age of 5th March of this year, a deputation, introduced by myself, waited on the then Minister of Trade and Customs, representing the whole of the mantlemakers and manufacturers of women’s and childrens’ dress goods in Victoria. At that deputation, the latest figures that could be obtained from Mr. Ord were quoted, and the Age reports them as follows : -
For 1007 the woollen mills of Australia paid £70,000 in wages to 1,401 employes, while the wages paid to the makers of women’s readymade garments (including the white-workers) totalled ,£230,000 for 7,029 employes.
I claim for those 7,000 citizens the same protection as the 1,400 enjoy. As a staunch Protectionist who, if necessary, would go as far as prohibition, I would gladly give the woollen industry the highest protective duty that it ought to get ; but I claim for those other 7,000 citizens a,n equal measure of Protection. What, however, are the facts? The duty on their raw material is 30 per cent, if it comes from Great Britain, and 35 per cent, if from the Continent, while the duties on the made-up garments are respectively 35 per cent, and 40 per cent. That is nominally a jo per cent, difference, and 10 per cent. Protection ; but, iri actual reality, it is nothing of the kind. ‘ The experts of the world have specialized in the manufacture of different classes of these dress goods. For instance, Bradford produces lustres- that are unequalled in any other part of the world, while in France certain merinos are produced that cannot be manufactured elsewhere; and the same applies to Germany and Belgium. Even the United States of America, with Protective duties ranging from 60 per cent, to 100 per cent., and a population of 80,000,000, cannot manufacture those goods, the production of which has, by science and expert knowledge, been centered in certain localities. If that raw material is sent from the Continent to England and manufactured into garments, those garments come out here under the preferential British rate, so that the makers of similar garments here have really only 5 per cent. Protection, and that, as any Protectionist will say, is a farce and a fraud. Certain business houses in our community have had to give up some portions of the trade, and to dismiss their employes- because they cannot make these articles in competition with the imported. On the other hand, the white-workers, who have a Protection of 35 per cent. and 40 per cent. on the made-up garments, are going ahead by leaps and bounds, as will be ascertained by any one who asks Mr. Ord for information from his splendidly kept statistics. Honorable members may think that some of my statements need verification. I have here a few patterns - not so many as I showed when the Tariff was being discussed - but I have tried to verify all the statements made to me ; and if upon due inquiry I find that they are not correct, I shall be as strongly against this matter as any one could possibly be. I hold in my hand letters from every mill in Australia except the one dominated by the man whose mendacity won votes in the Senate on the occasion to which I have referred. However much of a disgrace he may be to that mill in his position, he has not been man enough to answer my letter, or to answer tradesmen who were willing to purchase from him, although every other mill in Australia extended the courtesy of a reply. Without a single exception, none of the mills was able or willing to manufacture the raw material of which I am speaking, and the duty on which is 30 per cent. and 35 per cent. Every one of the workers interested in getting that raw material as cheaply as possible has a vote, and at the meetings that are being organized, I shall tell them that if they cannot get the Protection which they have the right to demand, they ought to vote against every member or Minister who refuses it to them. The letters to which I have referred were sent out early in June, 1908, and the replies received are here, and can be inspected by any honorable member. I propose to quote certain letters which I received a little later, as follows : -
Waverley Woollen Mills,
Launceston, 28th June, 1909.
We haveyour favour of the 24th inst. re dress tweeds, &c At present we are too full of orders to take any new business, but if at any time we are able to quote, we shall be very pleased to submit samples which we trust will lead to business.
Williamstown, 25th June, 1909.
In reply to your letter of 24th inst., we are not manufacturers of cloth, only flannels and blankets.
Latrobe-terrace, Geelong, 25th June, 1909.
We are in receipt of yours of 24th inst., and, in reply, beg to advise that we do not make the material referred to.
For Collins Bros.
Ballarat, 25th June, 1909.
We are duly in receipt of your favour of 24th inst., and we are very much obliged for your kind inquiry. The goods you mention, however, have been somewhat out of our range of manufacture, as we have never been able to come near the imported goods in price owing to the manufacturing disabilities, which, we dare say, you know as well as ourselves. But if you would care to send us some samples of the material you require we would go into the matter at once and advise you immediately.
The Ballarat Woollen & Worsted Co. Ltd.
On the 6th July, the following was received from the same firm -
Ballarat, 6th July, 1909.
We are obliged for your favour of 28th ult., and we have also duly received the samples of mantle cloths you were good enough to send forward. We regret that we are not at present able to quote for these, as they are quite out of our range of manufactures.
Those are mantle goods, as it was impossible to get dress goods, the inquiries regarding which hadbeen answered in the previous letters. These are other letters received -
Normanby-road, Yarra Bank,
South Melbourne, 29th June, 1909.
We thank you for yours of 24th inst., and must apologise for the delay in answering same. We do not think our samples would interest you, as we are manufacturers of blankets and flannels; out flannels are only suitable for underwear.
Laycock, Son, and Nettleton. 28th June, 1909.
In reply to your favour of 24th inst., we regret being unable to submit samples of materials for ladies’ coats, &c, as we do not manufacture same.
Castlemaine Woollen Co. Ltd.
That was in reply to a query for the heavier goods, which we thought our woollen manufacturers could supply. I say, without fear of contradiction, ‘hat every woman citizen in Australia is now mulcted in what is actually a sex tax, which has been placed unjustly upon her. Close upon £500,000 a year is collected by the Customs officers through the infamy of that unjust duty, which is miscalled Protective, and which is nothing but a revenue duty.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad the honorable member is present. 1 regret that I did not vote with him. when the matter was discussed on the Tariff, to make the item free. I recognised, however, that while the <: Braddon blot “ disgraced the escutcheon of our Constitution, it was necessary to have revenue, and, having given my word to the Government, I voted against the honorable member. In order to ascertain whether there was any truth in the statement of the managing director of the mill to which I have referred, an expert was sent to Sydney, and obtained at the showrooms samples of the materials that were made there. Although the price charged was 3s. 6d. per yard, they were found to be so inferior that they had ultimately to be cut into gentlemen’s fancy vests, and sold at a greatly reduced cost. The majority of the women workers of Australia could not afford to pay 3s. 6d. per yard for their dress goods. I do not hesitate to say that not one of the finely-dressed ladies who were present at the opening of a certain salon on the great and glorious 12th of July, wore a. garment made of Australian material. I do not blame the women, since the local mills do not cater for their needs; but I do not believe that any one of the finely-dressed ladies who attended the gathering in question - and I wish that all women could be as well dressed - wore a dress of Australian tweed. I have gone with an expert to a theatre, and have looked in vain among the audience for a woman wearing a dress of such material. I hope that, with the assistance of its new-born converts, the Government will appoint a Committee or Commission of three that will be able to definitely declare what is and what is not manufactured in Australia. Such a Commission would be of material assistance to us in dealing with Tariff anomalies, and I should be prepared to vote for its appointment. There ought to be a ready means of ascertaining satisfactorily whether goods are or are not being manufactured under present conditions. At present, however, we have no such means. A man may by a tissue of lies lead the Parliament to believe that he is manufacturing certain material in Australia, when he is not really doing so. He may submit samples of what he declares to be local productions, although, as a matter of fact, not one yard of such material is being made here. A person produced a bundle of samples of goods which he declared to be manufactured in Australia. A Tasmanian senator told him that he was not speaking the truth ; but, at the psychological moment the House bells rang, and the honorable senator had not an opportunity to deal further with the matter. I have here a number of letters addressed to a. Melbourne firm, showing that certain printed flannels are not produced in Australia. The letters - all of which were written in 1908 - are as follow : -
Gentlemen, - Yours of rst instant to hand, for which we thank you, but regret that we are not makers of flannel. We doubt if any of the manufacturers here print flannel. - Yours faithfully (Sgd.) John Vicars & Co., Marrickville.
Dear Sirs, - In reply to your favour of 1st inst., r.e printed flannels, we beg to say that we do not make flannels. We confine ourselves to tweeds, worsteds, travelling rugs, &c. - Yoursfaithfully, The Albion Woollen Mill Co., Geelong.
Dear Sirs, - In reply to your inquiry rst inst., we have to advise that at present we are not in the position to quote for the lines referred to in your letter. Thanking you for your inquiry. - Yours truly, Collins Bros., Geelong.
Dear Sir, - In reply to your letter of the ist inst., we beg to state that we are not makers of printed flannels. - Yours faithfully, Walter Gaunt, Alfred Woollen Mills, Williamstown.
Dear Sirs, - We are in receipt of your favour of the ist inst. re printed flannels. We thank you for your inquiry, but regret being unable to quote you, as we do not manufacture goods similar to samples submitted by you. - Yours faithfully, Castlemaine Woollen Co., Ltd.
Dear Sirs, - We are obliged for your kind inquiry of the ist inst. We regret, however that we are not able to quote for printed flannel, as same is quite outside our range of manufacture. - Yours faithfully, The Ballarat Woollen and Worsted Co., Ltd.
Gentlemen, - Received yours of the nth inst., also patterns, &c, as enclosed. In reply to your inquiry, we have to advise you that there is no likelihood of our being able to quote for these or anything like them for some considerable time to come. We are so fully booked for our regular lines, that we cannot undertake new business just now. We, however, wish to thank you for the opportunity to quote. - Yours faithfully, Waverley Woollen Mills, Launceston.
I have other letters from New South Wales to the same effect. Free Trade is now dead and gone. Free Traders, as a party, will never again be known in Australian politics. The P.91 kv of new Protection has done away with the arguments which they were accustomed to use in opposition to the old Protection. The Free Traders used to tilt at the old Protection under which industries were established’ in England, and to point to the horrors of the women and child labour associated with them. I have not much respect for titles ; but I cannot speak too highly of that noble lord - Lord Shaftesbury - who helped to take the women from the mines, and child labour from the mills. Babes of six and seven years of age in the olden days had to work in factories in the Old Land, and we have all heard of the manufacturer who was offered twenty healthy children by the Parish if he would agree to take with them one idiot. Heaven knows what became of the idiot, and the honorable member for Laanecoorie, as a medical man, will probably guess what became of the others. Those who objected in the old days to factory legislation, declared that it would lead to the decline of British manufactures. We know how false that prediction has proved. Our desire is to build up our industries, and to give our manufacturers reasonable protection, so that by means of the new Protection we may secure reasonable hours of labour and fair wages for the workers. I trust, too, that as the result of that policy, we shall have list prices so that the consumers of Australia will not be robbed by any combine or monopoly.
– I ask the honorable member not to deal with the question of the new Protection.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. To return to the anomaly in regard to dress goods, I would point out that 7,069 human beings, who have a right to our protection, have been practically injured and that their position under the Tariff ought to receive our serious consideration. Every true Protectionist is prepared, I am sure, to give more Protection to the woollen industry ; but we must take care that it is not injured by the production of shoddy. Some time ago, I obtained a suit of Australian tweed of which I was very proud. Later on, I proposed to give it away, and, not wishing it to be recognised, when worn by its new owner, I had it dyed. The dyeing process revealed the fact that I had purchased a piece of shoddy. I hope that no industry that is protected by the Commonwealth Tariff will engage in the manufacture of shoddy, and that the Government will give us an early opportunity to deal with Tariff anomalies. The honorable member for Hume did not appear to fully appreciate the anomaly in regard to the duty on towels. I take it that the anomaly lies in the fact that towels are classed as “attire.” Would any man think of attiring himself in towels and parading one of our streets? If he appeared in public so arrayed, he would be promptly arrested. Then, again, I fail to understand why pocket handkerchiefs should come under “the same heading; but I should be prepared to support an item providing that such articles when imported in a manufactured state should be taxed. The Japanese Tariff is the most up-to-date in the world. The Japanese do not play with 5 per cent., 10 ger cent., or 15 per cent, duties; where they think it necessary, they impose duties of ‘250 per cent. It was in that way that they were able to deal effectively with the operations of the American Tobacco Combine. That Combine, controlling a capital of millions, and, if the truth be known, probably fighting the English Combine, refused an offer made by the Japanese Government to purchase their business there at a fair price. They had taught the Japanese to smoke cigarettes, and wished to profit by their action. Then the Japanese proposed a small duty of 50 per cent, on tobacco. The Combine laughed. A duty of 100 per cent, was imposed, and still the Combine smiled. Next a duty of 150 per cent, was levied, and the Combine realized that the position was becoming serious. They then desired the Japanese Government to buy th’em out. The Japanese, however, were wise enough, I believe, to say to them: “ No. You would not accept a fair offer. We are now going to manufacture for ourselves.” In 1906 a duty of 250 per cent, was imposed on tobacco; but, under the Japanese Tariff, everything required for a Government monopoly isallowed to come in. free. In this way, Japan rid herself of a monopoly, and theGovernment is to-day deriving a large income from the tobacco industry. I repeat that towels are not articles of attire ; but when imported already hemmed - -work that could be done in Australia - they should besubject to a high duty. I come now to the item of rock-drills ; and I think that the Postmaster-General will agree with me that it has given rise to an anomaly. The gentleman who would have been chiefly benefited by the imposition of the proposed duty was, I believe, a Free Trader ; but hewas prepared to ask for a protective duty that would help to fill his pocket. That, however, is only human nature. As to the items of lace and embroideries, I think that we should be able to obtain valuable information in regard to them if such a Commission as I have suggested were appointed. We should learn in that way whether these goods are made here, or could be made here. If they cannot be manufactured in Australia, then they should not be made the subject of a sex tax. As to the printed flannels to which I have already referred, I do not think that any man would be so ridiculous as to wear a garment made of any of the bright check materials that I have produced. If a man did wear one, he would run the risk of being sent to a place of detention. It is well known that what are described as “ end-of-season goods,” are being dumped in the market. I have full and complete evidence that they are sold here at prices for which the cloth alone could not be purchased. No one will say that we have not workers able to make clothes good enough for our community. We should put on such duties as would be almost prohibitive, or give a protection of at least 30 per cent. I hope that the Ministry will make a complete answer to the honorable member for Hume. If the Prime Minister will declare that the anomalies of the Tariff shall be rectified, he will get my vote. He will also have the right to claim the vote of every other Labour man. At the next election there will be no Labour candidates standing who will not be Protectionists, because of the new Protection plank in our platform, which is an absolutely justifiable one. As we have wiped out the Free Traders on this side, and as the Liberals have wiped them out on the other, because the Conservatives have accepted the Protectionist policy, I hope that every member of the next Parliament will recognise the dangers which threaten our manufactures by reason of the power of the trusts and combines which hold the nations in their grasp. For the first time in the history of the world a Continent is being dominated by a people, and I hope that we shall frame such a Tariff, and take such precautions against monopolies and trusts, that we shall be able to manufacture enough to supply, not only what we need ourselves, but the requirements of the world outside as well. We shall not then have a Tariff once every five years. We must follow the example of Japan, which, in 1903, 1904, and 1905, increased its duties until it obtained its present up-to-date Tariff. The Government of the United States of America, too, is constantly rectifying the anomalies which occur in its Tariff. It would be well if our Government introduced a system whereby, when an anomaly, or the need for a higher duty, had been discovered by a
Committee, the mere reading of a motion from the front bench, and the taking of a vote, without debate, would settle the matter. I look forward to the next ten years with trepidation, because I know how strong are the monetary combinations and capitalistic rings. I hope that the! Government will bring in a Bill to remedy all the anomalies in the Tariff.
.- I am sure that every Protectionist is disappointed with the speech of the honorable member for Hume. At the close of his remarks he made a strong plea for Free Trade in connexion with dress materials.
– He was quoting the opinion of some one else.
– He was quoting that opinion to impress the House that there is an anomaly in the Tariff which should be rectified by having Free Trade in dress materials.
– He did not say that.
– The honorable member for Melbourne evidently thought that he did, because, in seconding the motion, he advanced the matter still further.
– Do Protectionists wish to tax goods which cannot be manufactured in the country?
– An honorable member sent to Sydney for samples of dress materials manufactured there, and received the sworn declaration that they had been made in the country.
– They were dress tweeds.
Mr.COON. - Yes; made in Australia, and suitable for women’s dresses. Surely, material that was considered by Lady Northcote good enough for her own wear is good enough for Australian women to wear. I am surprised that the honorable member is not prepared to encourage the making of this cloth.I could understand a proposition such as that which he put forward coming from a Free Trader, but it was a strange one to come from a Protectionist. I, as a Protectionist, am not prepared to help him in rectifying what he calls Tariff anomalies by introducing Free Trade. He chooses now to sit on the Opposition side of the chamber, with those who have always sunk the fiscal question, and who were responsible for reductions in duties to which he has objected. He said, too, that the duty on cotton socks should be 30 per cent. How did the honorable member for Melbourne vote on that item. He voted for the free introduction of cotton seeks, and so did twelve other honorable members who now sit on the same side as the honorable member for Hume. If the honorable member for Hume thinks that the clothing makers are not sufficiently protected, he should suggest an increase in the duty on ready-made clothing, instead of proposing to take off the duty on dress material.
– He did not do so.
– When an honorable member reads a letter advocating the abolition of a duty, he usually does so to convince the Chamber that the duty should be abolished.
– The honorable member for Hume said that he did not indorse the statements in the letter which he read.
– I did not hear him say that. Atany rate, the honorable member for Melbourne, who seconded the motion, indorsed those statements, and congratulated the honorable member for Hume on his attitude in the matter.
– I would congratulate any one who would do anything to remove the infamies that exist in this Tariff.
– I am prepared to vote for the rectification of anomalies. I would vote for a duty on cotton socks, to encourage an industry which pays girls here 25s. a week, whereas abroad the wages are from 10s. to 12s. per week. The honorable member for Hume referred to the match-making industry. Since the duty was imposed on matches, a factory has been built in Richmond, at a cost of £14,000, and several hundreds of men are being employed there. Mr. Jeffrey, who visited Australia on behalf of the Board of Trade, two or three years ago, reported, on his return to England, that we could not make matches here, because wages were too high, and hours too short. But the result has falsified his statement. The honorable member for Hume also spoke about the wire netting duties. But he is sitting with those who reduced those duties. Can he get them to vote with him ?
– Can the honorable member get the Free Traders on the Ministerial side to vote with him?
– It is disorderly to reply to interjections. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports knows that the duty on wire netting was reduced because of the action taken by the members of his party. The honorable member for Hume asked for higher duties on rock-boring machinery. But seven members of the Labour party voted, and three paired, against such duties. In Committee, the voting for and against was equal, there being twenty-five on each side, and the Chairman gave his casting vote against the duties. Those who are responsible for what the honorable member terms an anomaly in this instance are those with whom he is sitting. Honorable members of the Labour party reduced the duties on all the items which, according to the honorable member for Hume, should bear higher duties. I am prepared to support the rectification of anomalies on Protectionist lines, but not on Free Trade lines. I am surprised at the attitude taken in regard to dress material and cotton socks by the honorable member for Hume, whosays that he has supported Protection all his life. He says that he champions the cause of the women workers of Australia. So do L I have yet to learn that the women of Australia are not patriotic enough to wear: Australian clothes - that they are so tied to fashion as to demand some design from France or elsewhere before they will walk down Collinsstreet or Bourke-street. If we have Australian goods of sound quality, I believe, our women are prepared to wearthem ; and the honorable member for Melbourne has done them an injustice.
– What price per yard?
– I do not know the’ price, but I do know that Australian women are loyal and patriotic enough to believe in encouraging Australian trade, even if they have to pay a little more for the goods.I am surprised to hear an honorable member, who claims to be a Protectionist, advocating the removal of the duty from a dress material because it is a burden on women-workers. There is no honorable member who would be prepared to inflict any such burden. I listened with a good deal of attention to the honorable member for Hume, who simply read out the list of anomalies, and urged that they should be dealt with. I waited patiently to hear the honorable member approach the question from the Protectionist stand-point, but he did not do so. If the Customs officers do not understand how to interpret items in the Tariff, honorable members on both sides admit that it is our duty to rectify anomalies and really that is all the honorable member has asked for to-day. The present Ministry have already promised to. rectify anomalies.
– At the earliest possible moment; as soon as convenient.
– And through a Commission.
– I have never heard that there is to be a Commission. I stand here this afternoon more convinced than ever that, as a Protectionist, I am much safer behind the present Prime Minister than with honorable members opposite.
– - I thought that, after this motion had been moved and seconded, a member of the Government would have addressed himself to the question, though to express an opinion of that kind may appear rather presumptuous on my part.
– Whom would the honorable member select - the Minister of Defence ?
– I should have thought the Prime Minister the proper person to give some expression of opinion. The honorable member for Batman, who, like myself, is a new member, has learned very quickly to speak “with his tongue in his cheek.” He claims to be a Protectionist, and I have claimed in the same direction ; indeed, I do not think that honorable members could find much weakness in my armour on that side. But I am a Protectionist only from an industrial stand-point, because I would refuse to impose duties simply with a view to revenue. In regard to woollen fabrics, I can back my own opinion against that of the honorable member for Batman or any other honorable member as to the possibility of manufacture within Australia. Both importers and manufacturers know that there are fabrics imported which are not manufactured here, and which there may be no attempt to manufacture for the next few generations. I admit, of course, that a duty on such fabrics may induce people to wear other fabrics that are manufactured here. We are told that if women will be foolish, and wish to follow the fashions of the older world, they ought to pay for the privilege ; but that is not my opinion. There are many items on which we must admit that women have a claim to show their taste in choice. I have heard many men speak discouragingly of women for dressing rather flashly, and so forth, but I have never yet known a man who did not like to see his wife, daughter, or sweetheart make as presentable an appearance as possible. The majority of women are naturally conservative, and we like to see them so in our homes and associations and we must not condemn them too much on that score. I might enumerate many articles which are not produced here, and which are not likely to be produced here for some time. There is, for instance, Italian cloth, in regard to which I drew down the ire of the honorable member for Hume during the discussion of the Tariff, because he thought I was taking a peculiar stand as a Protectionist, when I endeavoured to reduce the duty, knowing as I did that no attempt would be made to produce the fabric here for many generations. In regard to printed flannels, it may be an argument to say that if women wish to use the imported variety, they ought to pay the duty ; but, unfortunately, the manufacturers of Australia have never endeavoured to cater in women’s materials. The honorable member for Denison, who is, I suppose,, the only member besides myself who hashad much experience in this connexion,, knows that, in the case of certain fabrics,, no attempt whatever has been made to> manufacture them in Australia; indeed,, there are fabrics imported into Australia* that are not manufactured in England’.. Every country in the world has some specialty in which it excels; and that, I suppose, will occur in tEe case of Australia aselsewhere. As a Protectionist, I again saythat, in view of the fact that certain materials are not manufactured here, and that the necessary and special machinery is not: here, it is only common sense to vote for areduction of the duty in such cases. Weall know that there are anomalies in theTariff, but the principal anomaly, in my opinion, is that in no case has sufficient duty been imposed to cause manufacture tothe extent that ought to result.
– What about machinery?
– It is curious that Protectionists had to rely on the honorablemember for Dalley and the Free Trade honorable member for West Sydney to savethe iron duties, when the Opposition corner was filled with thirteen Protectionists, who had been sent here by the manufacturers of Victoria. At the next election the manufacturers will support those same honorable members, in spite of the fact that, during the Tariff discussion, they endeavoured to cripple the industries of theState.
– The manufacturers will support them at the next election, because they are against the new Protection.
– Exactly; it is the fear of new Protection that has made the manufacturers give their support to honorable members opposite, instead of allowing the Protectionist cause to be championed by the honorable member for Hume. I was told’ by honorable members opposite, when the Tariff was under discussion, that there is not an atom of generosity in the whole of the manufacturers of Australia ; and now those manufacturers are expending all their strength and money to “down” the honorable member for Hume. While in most cases I do not regard the duties as high enough, there are other commodities upon which the duties could be reduced, because they are not in any sense protective, as no attempt has been made to manufacture the goods here. We endeavoured to have a duty placed upon meters, and I was unfortunate in that case in having to meet the opposition of the honorable member for North Sydney, who is an able advocate, and greatly respected in this Chamber. Having some knowledge of the subject, he seemed to make it his special business to oppose my proposal. I had the misfortune to have to fight him on both occasions, and he was responsible for the fact that no duty was imposed on meters. There is nothing in a meter, or in the parts of it, which could not be manufactured in Australia, and we also know that everything that can possibly be so treated is now being measured by meters, or will be in the near future. The manufacture of meters will increase rather than diminish, and the meter makers deserve the imposition of a duty on the imported article. Another case is that of traction engines, which during the Tariff debates the honorable member for Corangamite said we could not manufacture here. He may have believed what he said, but I think I proved otherwise, and a certain duty was imposed. The local article is now produced cheaper than the price at which the imported article was sold prior to the imposition of that duty. We find that traction -engines are cheaper here now than ever they were, because the importers had to reduce their prices so as to be able to compete against the locally-manufactured article. They have even gone below it, and, seeing that those who buy traction engines have received a benefit from the imposition of the duty, we ought to be prepared to give the local manufacturer some assistance by imposing a still higher duty, so that he, and not the importer, may get the local market.
– The honorable member would not do that until the new Protection was enforced?
– Decidedly not. As I said previously, I have been bitten once, and I am not so innocent as I was. There will be no more of these increased duties without new Protection conditions attached. Another commodity which is largely manufactured here is cast-iron pipes. A duty was placed upon them, but it is really so small as to be an anomaly. So we could go through the whole schedule. I feel sure that, even as the House is composed now, we could get higher duties on condition that we did not insist upon extending Protection to the worker as well. There are in this Chamber representatives of vested interests who would vote for higher duties, so long as we were not nasty enough to insist on the worker getting a share. I wish to see attention given to these anomalies in the Tariff, so that the manufacturers cannot plead their existence as an excuse for not paying better wages to their workmen. Rightly or wrongly, I look to the Prime Minister for support in this direction. I may be asking too much, but I do expect that, whenever the matter is approached by the present Government, if he is still at its head, he will insure the payment of some share of whatever duties are imposed to the men who are working for the capitalistic manufacturers. If that is not conceded, I shall have to consider my position very seriously. I hope the Prime Minister will make a statement to the House to-day upon which we can rely, and which we can regard as expressing the intentions of the Government. I hope he will have strength enough to force the Free Traders who are now on his side to support him in doing away with anomalies. The good old Scriptural text about removing the beam from your own eye before looking for the mote in your brother’s eye, can be very well applied to the honorable member for Batman. Of course, he has learnt to be a politician, and he now parades the vices of the other side. It is not denied that, during the consideration of the last Tariff, a number of members of the Labour party voted against high duties, but our position is not so bad as is that of many honorable members opposite. If the honorable member for Batman can enumerate six or seven Free Traders on this side, I could show him twenty-seven on the other side, and if I liked to take the old Victorian eleven, I could show him on that side about thirtyfive members who are really Free Traders, and who have no intention of voting for higher duties in which the workmen, as well as the employers, can participate. The honorable member for Wentworth is smiling at the fact that he has obtained some converts to Free Trade on that side. He knows that he has nobbled them. Although during the consideration of the Tariff there were in our party men who would not vote for sufficient duties, and were not pledged to do so, we have now in our policy the plank of new Protection, which will give them an opportunity of casting their votes for higher duties in future than in the past. Those honorable members rightly held the opinion that Protection alone did not benefit the worker. But what shall we say of honorable members opposite? Can the Prime Minister, or any other Minister, convince me that the avowed Free Traders in his party, and the members of the old Victorian corner, have any desire to place higher duties upon commodities with the intention of giving the workers higher wages ? I can assure the honorable member for Batman that we have the best of the argument on this side so far as Protection is concerned. He, and others who forsook the honorable member for Hume, will, of course, endeavour to make their case good, and to pose as the true Protectionists, but we know that they are only “ shoddy.” They cannot help their present position, because they are sitting behind men who will compel them to become as nearly Free Traders as it is possible to make them.
– Mr. Speaker-
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Hume has consistently attacked me in connexion with my Tariff votes, and has misrepresented them. The question of Protection is a sort of King Charles’ head to the honorable member, and, having but one idea in politics, as in other walks of life, he is no doubt apt to take a distorted view of the position.
– When has the honorable member for Hume misrepresented the honorable member?
– In his speech a little while ago.
– I would point out to the honorable member that what he proposes to say now by way of personal explanation could be more conveniently and much more properly said during the debate which is now proceeding. I would suggest that the honorable member should not anticipate the debate by making a personal explanation, but should join in the debate after the honorable member for Laanecoorie has spoken.
– I wished to make a personal explanation, because it relates to votes which I cast on the last Tariff more than to the motion now before the Chair.
– I do not want the honorable member to be misled. If he proceeds to speak now, he will be considered to have spoken in the debate. I hope, therefore, that he will not continue, unless he is prepared to allow his speech to be regarded in that way.
– Ihad not intended to take part in the debate. I have gone to the trouble of taking out the figures in connexion with the voting on the last Tariff. I find that my votes in favour of the Tariff, as introduced by the Government, in the whole of the divisions substantially exceeded the votes cast on the average by the whole of the members of the present Opposition. The average number of votes cast in favour of the Government schedule of duties by the twenty-five members of the Labour party, excluding the Chairman, was 116 per member. The average vote cast by the whole of the present Opposition, including the honorable member for Hume’s party of four, was 132 per member. My votes cast in favour of the Government schedule were 140. After that table, I hope I have heard the last of the misrepresentation of my votes by the honorable member for Hume.
– Igave place to the honorable member for Wimmera, because the very first note that I had on my pad was his name, for the purpose of referring to the charges made against him by the honorable member for Hume - charges which were unjustifiable and completely undeserved. I was a most regular attendant during the whole of the Tariff debates; in fact, very few members can show a better record in attending the House and the divisions during the whole of that time, and I say that no honorable member sitting in the Opposition corner at that time-
– That is not much !
– If the honorable member will allow me, I shall correct his misrepresentations. He said that the honorable member for Wimmera was the worst of the whole of the Corner party.
– I did not say so.
– I shall leave the matter to Hansard for the present.
– I said he was one of the worst Protectionists. He was returned as a Protectionist, and turned his coat.
– I shall showthat the honorable member for Wimmera is just as earnest a Protectionist as is the honorable member for Hume. The only time that I went away from the Government proposals was when the honorable member for Hume ran away from them.
– I never did.
– The honorable member’s memory seems to be remarkably short. On many occasions we, sitting there, felt that we had been sold by the honorable member.
– :That is untrue.
– The honorable member for Hume is offending in two or three ways. In the first place, he said that a certain remark was untrue. He must withdraw that expression. In the second place, when he himself was speaking, he deprecated honorable members even interjecting “Hear, hear” to what he was saying, and administered a very proper rebuke. During the last two minutes, however, the honorable member has been constantly interjecting. I ask him to withdraw the remark.
– In one respect, sir, I think that you are slightly in error. I did not object to any one saying “ Hear ! hear!” whilst I was speaking ; I rather approve of such interjections. I withdraw the remark complained of, but honorable members well know whether I ever ran away from any Government proposition in regard to the Tariff. I say that I never did.
– Honorable members, who, like myself, desire to maintain their principles and to be true to their pledges, felt that they were degraded again and again by the way in which the honorable member, when in charge of the Tariff, gave away duty after duty.
– To whom?
– To those who were desirous of obtaining reductions. It does not lie in the mouth of the honorable member for Hume to challenge any honorable member on any vote he gave on the Tariff.
– I challenge that statement.
– Much less is is part of his duty-
– We know the honorable member.
– Unless the honorable member for Hume obeys the direction of the Chair, I shall have to proceed further. I hope that he will not force me to take another course.
Sir William Lyne. - It is hard to refrain from interjecting when such statements are made.
– I have listened for several weeks to such interjections on the part of the member for Hume, and arn becoming somewhat case-hardened. I should like him to follow the practice of men outside, who do not show such a distaste for their own medicine when some of it ‘ is administered to them. The very first item referred to by the honorable member as an anomaly was one in relation to which he ran away from the proposal of the Government, and granted concessions to those who were asking for them. I refer to the item relating to advertisements on match boxes. I strongly opposed his action. The honorable member for Newcastle may smile ; but since that item was considered good enough to be placed in the very forefront of the list of anomalies, I think_it worth referring to. Then there were the duties on wire-netting, fuse, and a number of other items.
– What did the honorable member do in regard to the duty on wire netting ?
– I know what I did, and we all know what the honorable member for Hume, as the Minister in charge of the Tariff, did, in connexion with those items. As a Protectionist, I, with the honorable member for Batman, was bitterly disappointed with the speech made this afternoon by the honorable member for Hume. It served to illustrate what has been the effect upon him of the fusion on the other side. I have never heard of a more striking exemplification of the result of environment than the speech which the honorable member delivered this afternoon. He gave us one of the most complete “Yes-No” addresses that has ever been delivered in this House. One could hardly tell, from moment to moment, on which side of the question he was speaking; but. undoubtedly, the balance was in favour of Free Trade.
– What a lie!
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, is the honorable member for Hume right in characterizing as a lie a statement made by the honorable member for Laanecoorie ?
– Did Mr. Speaker hear that interjection?
– I regret to hear that the honorable member for Hume has disregarded the direction I gave him a few moments ago. I ask him to withdraw the remark and to apologize.
– You know, sir, that I always try to follow your ruling, but it is almost impossible to disregard such statements as the honorable member for Laanecoorie is making. That is my excuse for my interjection. I’ withdraw it, and express my regret.
– I wish, sir, to know whether the honorable member for Laanecoorie is in order in repeating a statement that has been contradicted by honorable members.
– The cur.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie said that the honorable member for Hume had delivered a Free Trade speech, andhe also repeated the misrepresentation made by the honorable member for Batman in reference to the duty on matches.
– No honorable member is in order in contradicting an honorable member whilst he is speaking. The member who is disorderly is the honorable member who contradicts. The proper time to correct an error in the speech of an honorable member who is addressing the Chair is when he has concluded his remarks. I regret that a number of honorable members appear to be of opinion that they are making the speech of the honorable member who happens to be addressing the Chair, and that they must contradict a statement to which they object as soon as it is made. Honorable members have a right to say what they please; an honorable member may say that light is dark if he chooses to do so; and the time to correct such a statement is not as soon as it is made, but when the honorable member has concluded his speech.
– When the honorable member for Bass was addressing you, Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Hume said that the honorable member for Laanecoorie was a cur. I intend to call attention to such interjections whenever I hear them. Such conduct needs immediate attention and correction.
– I shall be pleased if honorable members will inform me of any breach of the Standing Orders. I try to hear all I can of the debate,but sometimes when honorable members have their heads turned from me I fail to hear remarks that I should be glad to catch. If, during the speech made by the honorable member for Bass, the honorable member for Hume made the remark in question, I must ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– I repeat that the speech made by the honorable member for Hume greatly disappointed me. Up to a certain point it was very evenly balanced, but eventually the balance fell on the side of Free Trade. We are told that the list of anomalies to which he referred was prepared for the ex-Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Yarra .
– If I may be allowed, I wish to correct that statement.
– The honorable member must not interrupt.
– I should like to ask that later on the House be furnished with information as to the use to which that list was to have been put had there been no change of Government. A list of anomalies prepared by direction of the honorable member for Yarra when he was Minister of Trade and Customs surely could not have been intended for publication or for action in this Parliament unless for the purpose of putting off the motion of the honorable member for Hume, which might possibly have been framed while the late Government was in office. We can quite realize that the honorable member, having the cause of Protection so close at heart, may have prepared his thunderbolt whilst sitting in this corner as a supporter of the late Government. But we had no intimation from the ‘Fisher Government that they intended in any shape or form to deal with Tariff anomalies.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who was an Honorary Minister in the late Government, said that they would postpone them for three years.
– That is so. Then, again, the only reference to the question of Protection in the GovernorGeneral’s speech is that contained in paragraph 17, which deals with the policy of the new Protection. The Fisher Government were careful to perform almost the same acrobatic feat as the honorable member for Hume has just attempted to accomplish, because they declared that the new Protection should apply to both protected and unprotected industries. They were anxious, if possible, to be on both sides of the fence at the same time.
– We desire that decent wages should be paid in every industry.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is now very anxious concerning the payment of fair wages, but when the Tariff was under consideration, it was not so much a question of wages-
– I rise to a point of order. When I was speaking, sir, you ruled that my motion did not cover the question of new Protection, and I was not allowed to refer to it. That beingso, I wish to know whether the honorable member for Laanecoorie is entitled to discuss that policy.
– If the honorable member is dealing with any question that the honorable member for Hume was not allowed to discuss, he is certainly out of order. I ask him to keep within the lines I have laid down.
– Some of the anomalies to which reference has been made to-day would not have been in existence but for votes given by honorable members like the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, whose sole consideration when the Tariff was before us seemed to be, not how the workers would be affected, but how the Chamber of Mines at Kalgoorlie would be affected by a proposed duty. There is another question that we are entitled to ask, and with which the honorable member for Hume may deal when he replies. We are entitled to know whether, when the honorable member was arranging for a Coalition consisting of the remnants of the Deakin Government and the Labour party, any agreement was made as to how Tariff anomalies should be dealt with by it.
– The Tariff had not then been finally dealt with.
– We are entitled to ask whether an arrangement was made under which there was to be any action, either in the direction of perpetuating the principle of Protection, or with regard to the rectification of anomalies. It is not my desire to further occupy the time of the House, for I am anxious that we should reach a practical question, with which, I feel sure, we are all anxious to deal in a practical way. But, before I close, I should like to say that, instead of the milk-and-water, half-and-half, shandygaff proposal which the honorable member for Hume has placed on the notice-paper, and which has gone off like a faulty squib, I prefer to accept the. declaration made by the Minister Of Trade and Customs, and published in the press -
– What is that declaration ?
– I shall read it. The Minister of Trade and Customs said -
Consideration is being given to the adjustment of anomalies in the Tariff, and any Bill on the subject would, as a matter of course, safeguard the interests of the producers and manufacturers of the Commonwealth.
I cannot fix a date for introducing such a Bill, as the Government will be guided by any circumstances which might make a measure of the kind urgent, and by the state of public business.
Then he said what the honorable member is not prepared to say -
Each anomaly will be dealt with according to its character, the general policy of the existing Tariff being maintained.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Can the motion be objected to?
– If the motion is seconded and carried, I shall ask the honorable member for Hume to fix the date to which the debate shall be adjourned.
– “ Gag “ again !
– Ought we not to have a statement from the Government?
Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
.- Shall I be in order in making a short personal explanation regarding two or three of the remarks which were made in the debate just closed? I move -
That the resumption of the debate be made an Order of the Day for Thursday next.
– The honorable member would not be in order in saying anything now which could be said in the debate on the motion, thus anticipating its further discussion.
– I desire to make a personal explanation only.
– The honorable member may do that. I shall stop him if he goes beyond what I think proper under the circumstances.
– I wish to say that the list of anomalies which I have read out was obtained from the Department of Trade and Customs. Some of the information was given to me by the officers of that Department while I was Treasurer ; and it was corrected and amplified by permission of the honorable member for Yarra when he was Minister ; though I do not think that he has seen it. I asked him if it could be brought up to date.
– The information was not prepared by me.
– No; it was prepared by the officers of the Department of Trade and Customs. I wish to make this clear, in view of what was said by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. I had the information compiled before I had any knowledge that a Government such as the present would come into power. I wished, if I got the opportunity, to remove the anomalies which I knew had crept into the Tariff by reason of the action of those who were once known as the Corner party. The list which I read out to-night does not contain only the anomalies which I wish to rectify. As my motion is so important and far reaching, I desired to make public a statement of anomalies prepared by others, with many of which I do not agree.
-The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– I merely say that I do not agree with all the suggestions in the list which I read. I stated the anomalies which have been discovered, to show the need for action in the direction of a revision of the Tariff.
– I wish to make a personal explanation in regard to the pairs recorded in connexion with the last division. As far as I knew, pairs were given by the honorable member for Bass to the honorable member for Cowper, and by the honorable member for Gippsland to the honorable member for North Sydney. Observing that the honorable member for Bass was voting, I went over to remind him of his pair. I was then informed by the honorable member for Riverina that the honorable member for Gippsland had instructed him to use that honorable member’s vote as he thought fit. Under these instructions he had transferred the pair of the honorable member for Bass to the honorable member for Gippsland. This had the effect of leaving the honorable member for North Sydney unpaired. I may add that I did not make the pair; but the honorable member for North Sydney informed me, before leaving Melbourne, that he had paired with the honorable member for Gippsland, and that the pair would stand good for any division on any matter connected with Government proposals or business. Lest difficulty should arise hereafter, I wish to say that I endeavoured to get the compact kept, but the pair was refused.
– I wish to explain that the honorable member for Gippsland, when leaving the Chamber less than half-an-hour ago, told me that he was not paired. He desired to vote on the motion of the honorable member for Hume, and, therefore, gave me discretion to pair him if a division took place in his absence. Before the debate closed it was arranged with the honorable member for Bass to transfer to the honorable member for Gippsland the pair which he had given to the honorable member for Cowper.
– I was not’ eon.sulted.
– I told the honorable member that I had a direction from the honorable member for Gippsland, and that the information regarding the honorable member for North Sydney could not be correct.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- In moving the motion standing in my name -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient that the proposed Small Arms Factory should be located within the Federal Territory selected for the site of the Commonwealth Capital City. it will not be expected that I should be able to adequately explain it in the seven minutes which now remain of the time allotted by sessional order to the business of private members. Under the circumstances the Prime Minister might well accede to the request which. I made yesterday that time should be given for its early discussion. One reason for this is that the motion must cause the Government to suspend action.
– More than a year ago land was purchased at Lithgow for a site for a small arms factory. Machinery has been bought, and a contract accepted.
– That does not dispose of my case. It often happens that land is acquired for some specific purpose and not used because further consideration showed it to be unsuitable. “Unless the Government has paid too much for the Lithgow site, the outlay can be recouped by its re-sale. In my opinion, action should be suspended until the House has made known its mind in this matter. I understand that none of the machinery or material has yet arrived in Australia. It can make little if any difference to the contractors whether a factory has to be built in the vicinity of Lithgow or of Queanbeyan. There is a railway to both places, and it would not involve the contractors in a shilling extra expense. If the Prime Minister consents to give me an hour ox so after dinner, I could undertake to conclude my remarks. The honorable gentleman dissents ; he gives concessions apparently only under pressure. I have been rather mild lately ; but if . this sort of attitude is taken, perhaps I can be as nasty as some other people. Does the Prime Minister mean that he is not going to suspend action?
– I have pointed out that there is nothing to suspend.
– Does the Prime Minister mean to say that he is going to proceed with the erection of a factory, despite the presence of this motion on the paper? May I remind him that the erection of the small arms factory at a particular place has never been sanctioned nor submitted to the House in a concrete way. I quite admit that, as a matter of administration, the Government are not bound to submit it to the House; but now that the motion is on the notice-paper-
– The matter was submitted and voted on.
– But now that this motion is on the notice-paper as a direct challenge, I’- do not think that the Government ought to proceed. I have no desire to quibble over the word “ suspend,” as the Prime Minister seems to do; what I urge is that this work ought not to proceed until the House has had an opportunity of approving of the Lithgow site. We are selecting a Capital site for Australia ; and if that Capital is ever to reach the dimensions that we expect, and that it ought to reach, we should have all Commonwealth manufactures, especially an important manufacture such as this, within Federal territory.
– What about the delay ?
– I admit that that is a matter entitled to consideration ; but I am sure that the honorable member, who has a great regard for the future of Federation, will agree that we ought not to give away any of the privileges of posterity.
– How long has the honorable member thought that?
– I have thought it ever since I heard the proposal to establish the factory at Lithgow. I have been watching this matter for the last nine months.
– And what has the honorable member done about it before?
– Does the honorable member think it a good thing to have this factory outside Federal territory, and under the control of one State? I feel perfectly convinced that if the positions were reversed, and it was proposed that there should be a factory in Victoria, his view would be a different one. Seeing that the hour of adjournment for dinner has arrived, I ask leave to continue my speech on a future occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 21st July, vide page 1468) :
Clause 10 -
Section fifteen of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (3) the word “ paid “ and inserting in lieu thereof the word “ granted “ ; and
by omitting from sub-section (3) the words “ is certified By a Registrar pursuant to this Act, and.”
Upon which Mr. Fisher had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “ amended,” line 2, the following words be inserted : - “ by omitting the words the Governor-General may by proclamation declare that the age at which.’ “
.- I made it quite clear that the object of” my amendment was to eliminate the contingent proclamation of the operation of the particular clause affecting women. It is provided in section 15, sub-section 2 -
The Governor-General may by proclamation declare that the age at which women shall be qualified to receive an old-age pension shall be sixty years, and from and after such proclamation the last preceding sub-section shall, as regards women, be read as if the word “ sixty “ were substituted for the word “ sixty-five.”
The Treasurer, in discussing the matter last night, stated that my amendment would involve an expenditure of about a million.
– The honorable member’s first proposal would mean the expenditure of £1,000,000.
– I do not agree with the honorable member.
– I speak from the figures that have been supplied to me.
– I think my estimate is a better one, and I frankly stated that the expenditure would be about £500,000, and by my indiscretion I lost my cause.
– That is about half what the Treasury officials say it would cost.
– It is not a matter to quibble about. Then the Treasurer said that I had never made any statement regarding what I should do in this connexion as Prime Minister. As a matter of fact, on twenty platforms I expressed my regret that the public finances at the time I spoke would not permit of any Government proclamation of these beneficent provisions, but, in regard to pensions generally, I urged that any tinge of pauperism should be altogether removed. I am not here to delay the Bill, nor with any desire to embarrass the. Government; and I am quite willing to take the sense of the Committee on the Question at once.
. -I am very glad to hear the honorable member make the statement he has, but in no way has he made any reply to the question I asked last night in regard to the financial position. I asked whether the provision he now seeks to have inserted was contemplated by him when in office, and was embodied in the draft Bill which he says he left behind him. My statement was that there was no such provision in the Bill, and that it was not contemplated, or in his mind, at the time.
– How can the Minister tell that ?
– I shall show that it was not contemplate?, or in the mind of the ex-Prime Minister, at any rate. If it was in his mind, he kept the fact to himself.
– I shall read the actual words I used.
– In any case, the honorable member for Wide Bay has not replied to my question.
– I said at Gympie what I thought.
– To show the difference between the mind of the honorable member when he was responsible for the finances and his mind at the present moment, I shall refer shortly to what he did say at Gympie. He then recognised the financial limitations, and, after saying that thepeople of Australia had never decided a question so unanimously as they had that of old-age pensions, he continued -
We were prevented in the Federal Parliament from giving effect to the people’s verdict on that question through financial limitation.
– Since then the present Government have been able to find £2,000,000 for a Dreadnought.
– If the honorable member for Coolgardie will wait until the finances are placed before honorable members, random statements of that sort will not be so effective as he wishes them to be at the present moment.
– The Government offered that amount, ail the same.
– The Labour Government offered the whole resources of Australia.
– If necessary.
– I am only showing that that was a greater offer than any the present Government have made. The honorable member for Wide Bay, when delivering his policy speech at Gympie, went on to say that £250^000 had been set apart for coastal arid naval defence, and he had been enabled to reserve a certain amount for old-age pensions. He referred to the Surplus Revenue Bill, and went on to say -
I mention this question just to say that whatever difficulties the Commonwealth might have regarding its financial position, is between the States and between the people and the Federal Treasury. I am here to say that every act that this Government can do to insure the carrying out of the principles of the Old-age . Pensions Act will be done. Whatever financial embarrassment we may meet with, that will be carried out to the letter. Once inaugurated, we shall be able, in the not far distant future perhaps, to give effect not only to the old-age pensions, but the invalid pensions as well. I am sorry I cannot tell you now that the invalid pensions will be brought in immediately.
The honorable member then recognised that there were financial difficulties - “financial embarrassments” he called them - and he was able to tell the people that he intended to pay old-age pensions immediately, vis., from the 1st July last. This was in March last, and the honorable member had nothing then to say about introducing invalid pensions at the present time. I go further, and say that if the honorable member were in my place now, he would not do so.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay used the word “immediately,” and that was last March.
– But if he had intended “invalid” pensions to date from the 1st July, would he not have been glad to say that he hoped to commence them at that date, so that both parts of the Act might come into operation at the same time ? My object is to show that the honorable member was not prepared for financial reasons to bring into force on 1st July the invalid pensions which were already the law, and only required a proclamation, and certainly had no idea at that time of enlarging the scope of the old-age pensions to the extent of another ,£400,000 a year. He anticipated then that he would have a deficit of .£100,000 on last year’s transactions, but I am glad to say that he erred on the side of caution. Instead of having a deficit, he was able to place about £50,000 more to the old-age pensions trust fund than had been included in the Estimates.
– We. had a deficit in the receipts, but we economized.
– I have the figures here. The actual amount received in Customs and Excise revenue was roughly £10,844,000. The honorable member’s estimate at that time was £10,800,000, so that there was a gain of £44,000 in that direction. There was a gain of £9,000 in the postal receipts over the honorable member’s estimate, and a gain of £29,000 in other receipts, so that there was an increase of about £83,000 in the revenue over the estimate that the honorable member placed before the country at Gympie.
– That £29,000 was a special receipt that was never asked for from the States by any other Government.
– I am not finding fault with the honorable member, because one cannot be absolutely accurate in an estimate. On the other hand, the actual expenditure was £64,215 less than the honorable member estimated that it would be, so that, altogether, the finances were, in round figures, £147,000 better than he anticipated at that time. By that means the £100,000 deficit which he anticipated was wiped out, and £47,000 odd could be placed to the old-age pensions trust account. In looking through the honorable member’s Gympie speech, to ascertain what was in his mind at the time, I find that, although he dealt with the two or three months of the financial year then remaining, he made no intimation whatever of how the current year, 1909-10, when old-age pensions would have to be paid, was to be financed. He gave a great deal of information about the future, and there was no doubt that he had good reason to be rather afraid of the financial position, or was “ embarrassed,” to use his own word, when he placed before the country the expenditure that he contemplated. He gave the items of additional expenditure. They included £1,750,000 for old-age pensions without any provision for invalid pensions. That again showed what was in his mind at the time. He never intended then to include invalid pensions, and specially excluded them from his calculations.
– That was four months ago.
– I have already said that this was in March last. He gave an estimate of expenditure for the future, but refrained from doing so for the financial year upon which we have just entered. He estimated old-age pension’s at £1,750,000, and extra expenditure on the Post Office at £100,000. This’ is the extract from the ex-Treasurer’s speech in reference to this £100,000 -
This is for the ordinary expenses of the Department, the amount provided this year having been, proved to be insufficient. In addition to amounts voted, £80,000 lias already been advanced this year to the Department for absolutely necessary expenditure. The Department has asked for £220,000. It does not include any provision for bringing the telegraph and telephone services up to date. It has been estimated that ^1,800,000 would be required for this purpose.
– I rise to order. Is the right honorable member in order in dealing with the financial position of the Commonwealth altogether beyond the particular subject now under discussion ? I do not want to stop him, but, if he is in order, others will also be in order in traversing the whole financial position. That would be an excellent thing, but we should know it.
– The right honorable member is quite in order. He is trying to show from his stand-point the position of the finances in relation to the question now before the Committee. I take it that anyother honorable member who desires to reply to him will have ample opportunity to do so.
– In addition to the ordinary expenditure on the Postal Department, and another £100,000, the honorable member for Wide Bay anticipated that .£1,800,000 would be required to bring the telegraphic and telephonic services up to date. There was also to be an additional expenditure of £1,150,000 on naval and military defence, and a number of other items, making the total additional expenditure £2,893,000. The honorable member went on to say that that did not include expenditure upon the Northern Territory, which might amount to £200,000 a year, or for the Trans-Australian railway, or for the Federal Capital. The honorable member apparently had a very great policy of expenditure, but he gave no clue as to how he would find the money. Although that large additional expenditure of close on £3,000,000 a year was contemplated bv the honorable member, he did not enlighten us in any way as to how the money was to be found. Up to the end of June, when he left office, he had left no record of the manner in which he proposed to deal with the finances for the current year 1.909- 10. I believe the honorable member when in office realized to the full the burden of responsibility that rested on him. He knew that there would be a difficulty in financing this year. He knew that it would be necessary to provide a large additional amount of money this year for the improvement of the postal and telegraphic services, to place the telephones upon a proper footing, and for old-age pensions. He knew that there would be a difficulty in finding the ways and means for those purposes. He therefore acted as we should desire any other man with a grave responsibility upon him to act. I commend the honorable member for his actions then, but I cannot commend his actions now. Knowing the difficulty of financing the affairs of this country during this year, he nevertheless proposes absolutely reckless propositions, asking first that we should provide another million pounds, and then proposing an amendment which the Treasury officials say will mean an additional burden of £400,000 a year. He does this, knowing full well all the time that he was Treasurer and Prime Minister that he was not able to make any statement as to when the provisions of the Act relating to invalids, whom every one wishes to assist, and whom many think are more deserving than any other section of the community, would be put into force.
– The right honorable member took good care that he should not.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay had plenty of time to do it if he had wished. He did not give us at Gympie, or at any other place, any idea of how he intended to finance this year if he had remained in office. We have now to bear the burden that he would have had to bear. He would have had just as much difficulty as we have, and I submit that it is not a time to increase the burdens in this manner.
– By giving a Dreadnought, for instance.
– The honorable member has the Dreadnought on the brain. I wish he had a little more loyalty to the Old Country, to which we owe everything - even our liberty and our existence as a people. If I speak strongly, it is because of such interjections, which I look upon as disloyal to the Old Land to which we owe so much. If the honorable member for Wide Bay and myself could only change places for a moment, the Committee would hear a very different tune from him, should any one propose what he is proposing now. But I suppose it is what they call politics, what is called playing the game - never mind about the country if you can pose as trying to do something for people who are really deserving of sympathy, and thus attempt to gain a cheap popularity.
– Once more, a Dreadnought.
– I will take the responsibility of that. That is a braver course to pursue than to make speeches designed solely to win the favour of those whom every one is desirous of helping, but whom it is impossible to assist to the extent that honorable members opposite would go. In the interests of those whom we desire to help, we should pass the Bill as it stands. The Government have already agreed to so extend and liberalize its provisions as to increase by ,£34,000 per annum the estimated expenditure under it. Under existing conditions, it is impossible to provide for an additional obligation of £400,000. I hope, therefore, that honorable members, however much they may desire that certain amendments shall be carried, will not strive for the impossible. If they wish, shall I say, to destroy the Bill, they will endeavour to “insert clauses that will make it impossible for the Government to carry it out.
.- The Treasurer has just concluded his speech with a statement that is the stockintrade of every impotent Government when met with a demand that they shall do something beneficial to the people. The statement that if a Bill is amended in any way it will be thrown aside, is the stockintrade of every Conservative Government. The Treasurer does not say that the Government will leave office if we improve it as we hope to do.
– If we did, the Opposition could not take office.
– One expects to find prevailing amongst those charged with the government of the country a higher spirit. This is neither a Government nor an Opposition Bill. It concerns the people of Australia, and, therefore, the threat that it will be dropped if certain amendments be carried will not influence my conduct in the least. The quotations which the Treasurer has made from my Gympie speech do me more credit than I could have’ expected. I thank him for them. The honorable member made them obviously” with the view of telling against me, but they are distinctly in my favour. If ever a plain statement of the financial position of the Commonwealth was put before the people, it was put by me. I claim no credit for it. The officers of the Treasury are” always ready to compile statistics that will enable a man who has the courage to do so, to put before the country the plain facts in regard to the finances. The only difference between my predecessors and myself in this regard is that I took the responsibility of placing the facts before the people. The honorable member in justification of his allegation that I was not willing, when Treasurer, to make any advance upon the provisions of this measure, quoted the following statement from my Gympie speech -
Another matter of importance is that of oldage pensions. The people of Australia have never decided any question more unanimously. We were prevented in ‘ the Federal Parliament from giving effect to the people’s verdict on that question through financial limitations. Later on, on a motion submitted by myself, Parliament set aside certain funds so as to enable old-age pensions to be established at the earliest possible moment. That Surplus Revenue Act passed, and also the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, to commence on ist July of this year.
I took a prominent part in pressing forward those measures. But what did the right honorable gentleman do in regard to the Surplus Revenue Bill?
– I voted against it, and would oppose it ‘now, but for the decision of the High Court.
– If the right honorable member had had a majority behind him, it would have been impossible to provide this year for Commonwealth old-age pensions.
– Then the honorable member says that the end justifies the means?
– Had we to consider what would be the result of an act of justice?
– I and my party thought it advisable to press the passing of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill, and the honorable member for Hume is entitled to some credit for that part of the measure which provides for the payment of invalid pensions. I know something of the negotiations that took place, and am able to say that he, more than any one else, was responsible for its inclusion. It was found that it would be impossible .to at once bring into operation the invalid pensions part of the Bill, and such pensions were, therefore, made payable contingent on the Government having the necessary funds. In the first draft of the Bill, it was provided also that the date on which old-age pensions should be brought into operation should be fixed by proclamation. I urged that they should be paid not later than the ist July of this year, and the Government of the day accepted my proposal. The quotation continues -
It enabled us to set aside ^250,000 for coastal and naval defence. I mention this question just to say that whatever difficulties the Commonwealth might have regarding its financial position is between the States and between the people and the Federal Treasury. I am ‘here to say that every Act that this Government can do to insure the carrying out of the principles of the Old-age Pensions Act will be done. Whatever financial embarrassment we may meet with that will be carried out to the letter.
– Is an alteration of the age at which pensions shall be payable, a principle of the Act?
– The honorable member for Wimmera, by interjection,- said that
I could not provide for the carrying out of the invalid pensions portion of the principal Act. When we reach the clause dealing with that matter, I shall tell him that I do not seek to bring that part of the Act into operation immediately ; I shall propose that it be brought into operation not later than ,ist January, 1910. In my speech at Gympie, I went on to say - Once inaugurated, we shall be able in the not too far distant future perhaps to give effect, not only to the old-age pensions, but the invalid pensions as well.
– What does “ in the not too far distant future “ mean? Not this vear?
– I should interpret it as meaning that the Government had it in their power to impose taxation which would enable them to bring that portion of the Act into operation in the not too far distant future.
– Then, why was not the honorable member a little more definite at Gympie?
– Complaint has been made that I have been far too definite in my statements. I made the point as clear as any one could make it in the course of a very lengthy speech, in which many subjects are dealt with.
– The “ not too far distant future “ could not have meant this session, otherwise that fact would have been mentioned in the Governor-General’s speech.
– Our financial proposals would have enabled us to deal with all these matters. The payment of invalid pensions would have depended oh our finding the necessary funds, and we were determined to find the funds necessary to give effect to the principal Act. I ask the honorable member to listen to the next sentence - and I would remind him that I am quoting the worst that the Treasurer could quote against me -
I am sorry I cannot tell you now that the invalids pensions will be brought in immediately.
The invalid pensions part of the Act could have been brought into operation then by proclamation.
– I am sorry, that the honorable member did not issue the proclamation.
– I agree with the Treasurer that the Leader of a Government ought not to make reckless statements for the sake of gaining political kudos. I go further, and say that those who are continually making reckless statements are not likely to gain any substantial backing either in this Parliament or in the country. There is something even more reprehensible. If a Minister refrains from expressing his views in this House,’ .and from indorsing them by his vote, merely because to do so would be to place him in an embarrassing position, he is undoubtedly a weakling. No one can complain because I did not disclose the whole of the policy I had in mind when speaking at Gympie; but now that the matter has been discussed, I think it will be admitted that the Government ought to accept an amendment providing for the payment of invalid pensions at an early date.
– After saying what was in his mind, would the honorable member care to suggest How he would have financed his .proposal ?
– It would be impertinent for me to offer the Government any advice on that- aspect of the question. They must find their own means of carrying out their own policy. We do not ask. them to find1 a policy for us, and, indeed, we should not be prepared to accept their advice on that subject. I have no desire to delay the passing of this Bill, but wish to improve it by making St mandatory where it is only declaratory. If that can be done, well and good, but if it cannot we shall endeavour to secure necessary minor amendments. I thank the AttorneyGeneral for accepting my suggestion that those who have been twenty years in the Commonwealth and who are otherwise entitled to a pension shall receive one on the passing of this Bill. I hope that the Minister will withdraw from the untenable and humiliating position which he takes up in declaring that unless the Government get their own way in this matter they will drop the Bill. If they decide to drop the Bill, I hope that they will give up their portfolios, and allow the people and this House to deal with the matter as they think fit.
– I trust that, in a matter involving such a big addition to the outlay caused by the Bill, the Committee will act reasonably. Since the inception of Federation, there has been a majority of honorable members in favour of old-age pensions.
– Only four voted against the system when a motion was moved in the House.
– If I remember aright, one of the matters to which Sir Edmund Barton gave prominence in his Maitland speech was the statement that, whenever the finances admitted, a scheme of old-age pensions would be brought into force.
– By that he meant the expiration of the Braddon clause.
– I think that he specifically mentioned the expiration of the
Braddon section. I am glad that the honorable member has made the interjection, because it will give point to my references to a few matters to which I wish to recall the recollection, rather than direct the attention, of honorable members. We have done something for the establishment of a system of old-age pensions before the expiration of the Braddon section. But although for more than eight years all of us, being equally affected by the humanitarian views dominant in modern politics, have recognised the expediency of old-age pensions, no definite step to establish a scheme was taken by a Ministry until a motion was moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay affirming the advisability of providing for, not invalid and old-age pensions, but old-age pensions only. Although the honorable member sometimes credits those opposed to him with being animated by Conservative desires, he will admit that there was no hypocrisy in the acquiescence with or spoken support given to that motion, and that we, as much as the members of the Labour party, recognise the claims of the masses to fair treatment. We recognise that it is the working classes, as a whole, who have sustained from time to time the greater part of the weight of the social edifice, and that, in the speculations and gambling of modern commerce, they share the risks, although they do not scoop the pool. We recognise these facts, perhaps as clearly as do some of those who more loudly prate of their humanitarianism, and more frequently make known their views.
– The Prime Minister stated that unless he obtained an arrangement with the States this Parliament could not provide for old-age pensions until after the expiration of the Braddon section.
– That was the opinion of every honorable member until the Surplus Revenue Bill was proposed. In the dying days of last session the honorable member for Wide Bay suddenly sprang a motion on the House affirming the desirableness of instituting a system of old-age pensions, but he did not blind himself to the fact that special arrangements would have to be made with the States. Actuated by considerations of economy, he confined his proposal to old-age pensions.
– Why this “ stonewall “?
– I am not attempting to “ stone- wall.” Had honorable members been willing to lend their assistance, last night, the Bill would have been passed then.
– We were prepared to sit up all night.
– Heroics about being willing to sit up all night are not likely to add much to one’s reputation. If we acted as some honorable members suggest, we should all be physically qualified for invalid pensions, as some are already qualified mentally. In dealing with the question of finance, the honorable member for Wide Bay, replying to an interjection of the right honorable member for Swan, said -
I presume the honorable gentleman is not acquainted with the trend of policy at the present moment, which indicates that the financial arrangements of the States and the Commonwealth will be adjusted at a very early date.
What was in his mind was the possibility of an arrangement with the States on the subject of finance. Such an arrangement has not yet been come to.
– It was the only hope held out to us.
– Although this arrangement has not yet been made, some honorable members have suddenly become impatient. For seven or eight years they were, content to await’ the expiration of the Braddon section, but now they will not wait another year or so until we really get some arrangement with the States. The Braddon section will expire at the end of 1 9 10, and even earlier than that we may know what for some time to come will be the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States.
– Does not the Government wish to continue the Braddon section for another five years?
– I have never heard that stated.
– The Treasurer has publicly stated it.
– I have over and over again denied that.
– I shall not, like Dr. Syntax, split hairs as to the meaning of a particular paragraph in the statement of the Prime Minister of the Government programme. An extension of five years was not mentioned, though it was suggested that there might be an adjustment which would extend to five years as a period of experiment, before some final solution was come to. When the original Old-age Pensions Bill was under discussion, the honorable member for Wide Bay was most solicitous about the financial aspect. In his speech on the measure he said nothing about invalid pensions, or about reducing the age at which women should be eligible for pensions from sixty-five to sixty years, a reduction which many women, no doubt, would be glad to have for the sake of a reputation of youthfulness. Then, in Committee, in speaking of clause i,’5, he- pointed out the possibility of doing something by an arrangement with the States which would not dislocate their finances. The honorable member for North Sydney moved that the issue of the proclamation provided for should be subject to parliamentary resolution, and the honorable member for Wide Bay pointed out that there was no danger of the proclamation being issued even by a Ministry in extremis and desirous of kudos, until before the finances justified it. I do not know if he spoke prophetically, but he was aware that it would be safe to leave the matter, even in his own hands. Until he left this side of the chamber, he adhered to that ‘sensible view of policy. He pointed out that what we were to do was to be done by an arrangement with the States. Again, replying to the right honorable member for Swan, he said -
The right honorable gentleman has furnished the best possible reason against making an alteration of the clause. If there is no dying Government, no danger can arise. There is an advantage in leaving the clause as it is, because at any moment after the Bill has become law the Premiers may rush to the Prime Minister and say that if the Commonwealth Government will put the law into operation, they will agree to subsidize the fund to the extent of the amounts which they are paying for old-age pensions.
Throughout he depended for financial assistance - beyond the appropriation of £750,000 under the Surplus Revenue Act - on the co-operation of the States, and, therefore, did nothing in the natter while in office. Let me go a little further back. Honorable members will recollect that about four years ago there was a fusion, or alliance, between two parties who were in agreement in regard to a very smail residuum of policy. It reminds me of Satan reproving sin to hear honorable members talk against the subordination of political opinions for the time with a view to a consensus on matters on which there is agreement, although such compromises are the basis of parliamentary government. Honorable members then had a platform of twenty-seven or twenty-eight planks, in regard to seventeen of which they allowed the utmost latitude of opinion, depending on the comparatively small balance for the purpose of the fusion. It was part of the programme of the party which was then, and is still, influenced, or led by the honorable member for Wide Bay, that a system of old-age pensions should be instituted, when the opportunity offered, on a basis fair and equitable to the States, and to individuals. What did the reference to the States mean? Was there to be a system’ of old-age pensions based upon the corporate sovereignty of each State? What was meant was oldage pensions for individuals on a basis which would be fair to the States financially,, and would recognise the just claims of the individuals who were to get them. In the face of all these facts, is the attitude of the Ministry to a proposal suddenly involving a large increase of expenditure at a time when we have to be fairly cautious in regard to the finances, and may for a while be cramped in meeting our ordinary obligations, right or wrong, even judging by the conduct of honorable members opposite ? I think that there can be no doubt as to the answer to that question.
.- The Attorney-General has to-night afforded us a revelation of a trait in his character which has been concealed for many years. Although I could not understand much of what he said, what I did understand was quite interesting. He must disabuse his mind of the supposition that the Committee is a court, and that he has to construe the words of the honorable member for Wide Bay in a sense which will suit the interests of his client. They must be understood in connexion with the circumstances under which they were uttered. The position is this : The Government declines to do a certain thing on the ground that the late Government was not prepared to do it.
– That is the whole argu-ment, of honorable members opposite. The Attorney-General, when on the Opposition cross benches, said what he would do if he were a Minister. Now, being a Minister, he says, “ If you were here, you would do what I am doing.” His reason for not doing what we wish to do is that the honorable member for Wide Bay was not in favour of it when the original Bill was before Parliament. The reason put for ward by the Treasurer was that the honorable member did not mention the matter at” Gympie, and evidently had it not in his mind. I do not know any one who less resembles a thought-reader than does the right honorable member for Swan. The tenure of office of the late Government depended on the support of a number of gentlemen on whom they could rely, .as we have seen, not at all securely. The present Treasurer said that we never had a majority, and had no business to be in office. What sort of financial scheme could be brought down by a Government with no majority? We now have a Ministry that we are told is, for the first time,, to establish responsible government by majority ; but they have been in office some eight or nine weeks, and we have not yet heard even an echo of a financial scheme, for the purpose of meeting those overwhelming difficulties of which we heard so much, although the Prime Minister said that this was to be a financial session. We have been told that the Government have no money, and that they can get no money; and yet their first distinctive act was to offer a sum of £2,000,000 to Great Britain, while they say they cannot get sufficient for the purpose of old-age pensions. I do not know where the Government propose to get the £2,000,000; but to borrow for a defence policy is to make a departure from sound principles of finance on which no British Government would venture. We are told that in a fortnight or so there is to be a Premiers’ Conference ; and I assume that the financial! relations between the States and the Commonwealth will be considered, and, we hope, adjusted. Old-age pensions is not a newobligation, but one which has rested for years on the shoulders of, at any rate, some of the State Governments. Are we to understand that the State Governments are so mean as to allow the Commonwealth to relieve them of the old-age pension expenditure, and recoup us nothing?. If not, we shall get from the States sufficient to very well - finance this scheme. The honorable member for Wide Bay was perfectly right in saying that an arrangement would be made ; and, so far from disagreeing with him, the Government propose in a few weeks to have a conference with the State Governments for considering this very question, amongst others. If the late Government had been allowed to bring down its financial policy we should have been in a very different position from that in which the Government finds itself today. The late Government introduced a scheme to place the telephone service of this country on a business-like footing; and had that scheme been carried out there would have been a difference in our finances of many thousands of pounds, though exactly how many we do not know. Further, the late Government proposed to introduce a land tax from which some revenue would have been derived.
– If the Minister of Defence will take the trouble to read the Land Tax Assessment Bill, he will see that the tax would have been gathered as from the 1st July. I may be wrong in regard to the date, but, at any rate, the tax was to be retrospective so far as the date at which it was due was concerned, on exactly the same principle as that observed in the Land Tax Bill of Western Australia. The late Government were unable to bring down a financial policy as a whole, because they had to confine their efforts to one short session They realized clearly that they were at the mercy of a handful of men who might at any time desert them, and who, as a matter of fact, did desert them before there was an opportunity to draft the Governor-General’s speech. The present Government signalized its accession by deliberately depriving us of an amount of revenue from telephones which would at least have made up the extra money required under the Bill now before us, and by giving that money to the commercial classes. Subsequently the Government offered a Dreadnought to Great Britain, although in today’s newspapers we read that Commander John Biddlecombe, in England, has expressed the opinion that, instead of the Government giving a Dreadnought, the money ought to be spent on local fleets. Of course, this gentleman did not know about the old-age pensions proposals, or he might have mentioned that object as worthy the necessary expenditure. The Minister of Defence, who at one time would be satisfied with nothing less than a Dreadnought, now says that “ Dreadnought ‘ ‘ is merely a descriptive term which may be used in reference to a cruiser, a torpedo boat, or anything else. As I say, the present Government, after presenting the commercial classes with some £35,000 or £40,000 and offering the sum of £2,000,000 to Great Britain, now decline to give the aged poor that consideration and support which the citizens of every country have a right to expect. When the aged poor ask for justice, they do not get it ; but when the Chambers of Commerce come and declare that they ought not to be justly charged for their telephones, the Government appoint a committee of experts to look into the matter. I should like to know what the financial scheme of the present Government is, because the gravamen of the charge made by the Prime Minister against the honorable member for Wide Bay, when he was at the head of the Government, was that the finances of the country were in such a state that he could not finance old-age pensions or any other scheme. The Prime Minister declared that the finances were the crux of the whole question, and yet I have to ask what the financial scheme of the present Government is. The Treasurer has said that if we do not accept the Bill as it is he will drop it; but he will not do so, for the simple reason that there are sufficient men on his side who will not let him, or who, if he does drop it, will drop him. There are other members on the Government side who never were in favour of a system of old-age pensions, and who would, if they had been able, have prevented any scheme of the kind. I have here a speech made at Warragul in 1907 by the honorable member for Flinders, who is one of the buttresses of this Government.
– Is the honorable member going to connect his remarks with the question of age?
– I was only going to say that the honorable member for Flinders is a buttress of the Government, and he is where buttresses usually are - outside. At the meeting to which I have referred, the honorable member said that old-age pensions could be much more economically managed by the States, and that, if the Commonwealth were to go into any scheme of the kind, the time would come when we should be faced with the burden of direct taxation.
– I repeated the same view in the House.
– That is an honorable course, but it is avery embarrassing one for the Government. Direct taxation supplies the whole solution of the question.
The late Government were prepared for direct taxation, and that is why they are now in Opposition ; while the present Government, who are not prepared to propose direct taxation, are in office, because they are supported by every vested interest in the country. The Attorney-Genera] said that we ought to wait until the Braddon section expires - that we should gain further experience for a few years, and, when we saw where we were, we might bring in old-age pensions to the extent that is now proposed. The honorable gentleman proposes that we should wait another five or seven years, and not do anything in the way of a permanent settlement of the matter. I admit that if I had to choose between this amendment and invalid pensions, I would prefer the invalid pensions. I want them both, for, like the right honorable member for Swan, I want everything I can get. If the right honorable member had to choose between granting this and going out of office, which would he do? That is my position. If I have to choose, I will take the invalid pensions. The right honorable member would be able to tell the State Premiers, “ There is now this charge imposed upon the Commonwealth, and you must meet it.” I venture to say they would meet it, and there would be no extra impost placed upon the Commonwealth Government. The Government are calling the Premiers together, for it is idle to say the State Premiers have called the Conference. The Premiers are coming at the suggestion of the Government to listen to what they have to say. They know that if they cannot come to an agreement with this Govern.ment. the worst will befall them; and, therefore, whatever the Government suggest to them, they will have to adopt. If, then, the Government say, “ We have to find the money for invalid pensions,” the State Premiers will agree to it, and will find the money. The State of New South Wales already pays invalid pensions, and so, I believe, do Victoria and Queensland. In those circumstances, we cannot suppose that a resolute demand by the Prime Minister would not result in an arrangement between the States; because, after all, it would not be a new impost, three States having already incurred it. It will, therefore, make no difference to them to hand the money over to us to pay. If the principle is bad - if we ought not to provide for invalids - let us argue the question out on that basis.
– I must ask the honorable member not to go into that question now.
– The Treasurer makes a pathetic appeal to us not to insist upon the amendment. He says it will wreck the Bill. I say it will not. The Government have come to a stage at which they must bring down some definite proposal. They cannot simply put forward this Bill and say, “ That is all we shall do, and if you do not like to take it, we shall throw it under the table.” That is the Treasurer’s attitude at present. If the right honorable gentleman will only tell the Opposition that he proposes to deal with the matter in a fair spirit, with the means at his disposal - not the present means, but the means which, having in view the relations between the States and the Commonwealth, are really at his disposal - we shall be perfectly satisfied, because we know that he only has to take up a resolute attitude to get the money from the States. The people of this country will never sit down quietly under a position of this kind - that the Government should find £2,000,000 .for a Dreadnought, and refuse to find the money necessary for this purpose. It says very little for the right honorable member’s responsible Government and his majority, that he takes up his present attitude merely because he is unable to get a majority of honorable members to his way of thinking. If he had a majority, he would not trouble to say two words to us. His pathetic appeal last night was by no means made to exhibit his public spirit. It was made to save his position. He knows that if he could ring the bell now, he would do so, and there would not be another word permitted from anybody ; ‘ but he also knows that the numbers will not permit him to do it. He has had a long experience in public life, and cannot possibly put aside the responsibility that rests upon his shoulders; and I tell him that the responsibility of this measure rests upon him, that Tie cannot divest himself of it, and that he knows perfectly well that the means of defraying the expenditure suggested lie at his hand. If he does not stretch out his hand to get them, upon him will rest the blame.
.- The debate has demonstrated that this amendment has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition for a specific purpose. The objections to it amount simply to this: “If the finances permit,” or “if there is no financial embarrassment.” That opens up the whole question of the acceptance or rejection of the amendment. Before arguing on the justice and sentiment of reducing the age, I wish to put the view that in the principal Act there is already power to proclaim sixty years as the age at which women shall receive the pension. That is the age which the honorable member for Wide Bay is endeavouring to fix by this amendment. From the proclamation provision, which is only the declaratory stage, to the mandatory stage, is a step which honorable members have now the power to take. I have a right to choose the present time to bring that provision into force. When I hear the cry of “If the finances will permit,” I would remind honorable members that from this out, not only in this Parliament, but in the next, they will be met by that cry on all measures involving the expenditure of money. The excuse will be made time after time that “financial embarrassment will ensue.” This is all owing to the wretched position in which we as a Commonwealth Parliament have placed ourselves. These are powers which the Commonwealth Parliament has to exercise, and the sooner we realize our position the better. The present Ministry, like the Fisher Ministry, desire to obtain the necessary revenue only out of “Customs and Excise; but that is not the proper source from which to obtain the money to pay old-age pensions. We shall have to make up our minds to tap other channels to meet the cost of large public functions. The honorable member for West Sydney said that most of the money to meet old-age pensions will come from “the broad mass of the working classes.” 1 will adopt that phrase and reverse it by saying that it is the broad mass of the -working classes of the Commonwealth that have to pay the cost, through the Customs and Excise taxation upon their food and wearing apparel. The position, therefore, is that those whom the Commonwealth has treated well, whom fortune has favored, will escape taxation for old-age pensions, while the poor - “the broad mass of the working classes” - are the only people who, under our present system of taxation, will be called upon to pay for -them. It is monstrous to allow such a position to exist in a Commonwealth which is supposed to be advanced and progressive, but which on that matter is notoriously behind the whole world. The Treasurer frequently holds up the Old Country to the House as an example. T, -am willing to take a lesson from her in this matter. I say to the Treasurer, “Follow the Old Country.” There an Old-age Pensions Act, costing about £7,000,000 per annum has been passed, and it is anticipated that it will cost £25,000,000 per annum before it is in full working order. But do the British Government go to the’ Customs and Excise Revenue for the money ? No. They have a special channel of taxation for that purpose.
– Many of our people are already paying taxation to the States.
– They are not paying anything like the proportion which the people of the Old Country in similar circumstances are paying. The taxation processes of the Commonwealth are a growing quantity. Twenty years ago, the proportion of taxation per head of the population was very little ; but the functions and powers of the Government were also little. To-day our powers are expanding. If we are not going to put invalid pensions into operation, let us take that part of it out of the Act. On matters of humanity, we cannot afford to fool. Do not leave the payment of pensions to invalids who desire relief, to the chance of a proclamation which might be issued next week, or, on the other hand, might be issued forty years hence. It will be far better to strike out that part of the Act, if there is no intention to put it into force. This very Government, in their principal Act, were responsible for the declaratory part ; but they now refuse to adopt the mandatory part. If they plead that financial embarrassment will ensue, I reply that old-age pensions, as well as defence expenditure, must distinctly come from direct taxation. The honorable member for West Sydney put forward^ as a party view, the solution that his Government when in power were prepared to impose a land tax; but that tax of theirs, so far as revenue is concerned, was as humbugging as the declaratory section of the Act in this case ; because, with the large exemption proposed, the necessary revenue could not be obtained. If I may use the honorable member for West Sydney as an illustration, he is looked upon as a landed proprietor. He is a cute little chap, keen and business-like; but I put it to him that the land values taxation proposed bv his Government would not have provided the revenue necessary for this purpose. Either the House has gone too far, or it has not gone far enough. Now, with regard to the sentiment and justice of the question, sixty-five years is at any time too advanced an age at which to bring the women of Australia under old-age pension provisions. We do not need statistics to prove that. Our own powers of observation show that the male at seventy is, as a rule, more capable and energetic than the female at sixty-five. If we are going to bring the pensions into operation for women, let us not do it on the day when the undertaker puts his hand on the individual - the day when the recipient will have to be taken away to the cemetery. Let us extend the pension at some period when it will give her some little assistance in her declining years. This is a humane measure. A few years back, those who advocated old-age pensions were regarded as undermining the responsibility and fibre of the individual ; but that day has gone by. We have this paternal work to do; and, on behalf of the women of Australia, who come from “the broad mass of the working classes,” I say that we all know from experience that the wife of the worker at the age of sixty is, unfortunately, in 999 cases out of a thousand, an exhausted being. The struggle for existence in Australia for the industrial classes is so keen, their labour is so intermittent, they are so little able to save for a rainy day, that sixty has become an age at which working women are no longer able to compete successfully in the battle of life. It is a matter of indifference to me whether the Deakin Fusion Government or the Fisher Government have charge of the measure. All I am concerned with is to give the relief to those who should have it, not when it is too late, but when they can have at least five years’ enjoyment of it. To any man the idea of his mother being compelled to receive the pension is a pitiful one ; but if a man’s wife or mother must put forward her hand to receive it, let her receive it at sixty and not at sixtyfive. Defence proposals will very soon be brought forward involving large sums of money, and why should we palter with the financial question at the very threshold? Australia, whether she likes it or not, will have to plunge into a large expenditure of money, and amongst her very first needs is a complete system of old-age pensions. But let us not go to Customs and Excise for the whole of the revenue. The Attorney-General spoke of some arrangement being made with the States, and of the expiry of the operation of the
Braddon Blot. Let that be provided for ira the Bill. I am sure that the Premiers of the States will not refuse to come to some arrangement for providing the necessary funds. No waste of money is involved. These pensions are to be paid to peoplewho have done their duty as citizens, and’ have helped to develop the country fromwhich the wealthy have derived their riches. Those to whom pensions are to be paid have not been wholly unmindful of economy. In many cases it has been impossible for them to practise what is known as thrift. I know of men deeply attached to their families who receive only 39s. per week. With such a wage is there any room: for saving? Surely the wives and mothers of such men, who have borne the heat and burden of the day, should not be expected to wait until they reach the age of sixtyfive years for a pension from the Commonwealth. Apart altogether from any question of sentiment, the justice of this proposal must commend itself to the Committee. It is unfortunate that the honorable member for Wide Bay should have toresort to the tactical method of moving the omission of certain words in order to achieve the object- he has in view. An appeal was made to us yesterday to take up> a dignified stand, and to be guided by the rules and forms of the House of CommonsSurely, Mr. Chairman, in such circumstances the statement which you made yesterday that, owing to the slovenly way in which the Bill had been drafted, you could not give a ruling on a point of order that had been raised, ought to have beensufficient to induce the Treasurer to withdraw the Bill, and to re-introduce it in ai* intelligible form. Your observation was a striking commentary on the way in which business is being conducted. I find myself compelled to vote for a round-about amend” ment - an amendment which, to use anAmericanism, is designed to “whip thedevil round the stump” - in order that wemay provide that pensions shall be payableto women on reaching the age of sixty years. I cannot understand why those whoare in favour of the principle of old-age pensions should stop at the hurdle of £1,200,000. Surely we can afford to pay legitimate old-age pensions? If the proposal were to reduce to forty years, the ageat which pensions shall be payable, I should not support it, but, having regard to the hard struggle for life and the strenuous battle that many women have to wage, surely sixty years is not too’ low an age to fix. Many women never get beyond that -age. If the only object of the Government is to reduce the channel of expenditure, why do they, not propose that a pension shall not be payable to any person under the age of seventy -five years?
– Why suggest that?
– I am simply putting that as an alternative to the Government’s’ scheme. I am arguing by paradox.
– No one has suggested it.
– Quite so, but I put it as’ a paradox. If financial embarrassment is the trouble that the Treasurer fears, why does he not propose to increase the pension age to seventy-five years?
– The Government would rather do that than tax the wealthy. _
– I do not say that we should decry the wealthy. When they have obtained their money fairly, I should not be one to say, “Take it from them;” but the masses of the people, through Customs and Excise taxation, are now practically providing for the whole cost of govern;ment. That being so, the cost of old-age pensions should be paid by the wealthy. Conservative Great Britain has levied the cost of old-age pensions directly upon the wealthy classes, and surely, we should be prepared to follow its example. There the rich do not escape their rightful responsibilities. The nobility of our race, not the mere spewed up plutocracy of to-day, never evade their true responsibilities. And instead of waiting for an arrangement to “be entered into with the Premiers of the -various States, let us resort to direct taxation to provide for old-age pensions. Sooner or later we shall be compelled to “do so. Old-age pensions and defence should be financed by means of direct taxation, and the only channel from which we may obtain the necessary funds is that provided “bv an income tax.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie) £9.17].- The Attorney-General has been a member of this Parliament from its inception, but I do not. think he has ever delivered in this House ji speech from which we have obtained less information than that which he has just made. I listened very carefully to it, but it left no clear impression upon my mind. The honorable gentleman spoke of a fusion or an alliance which took place some four or five years ago, and said that it agreed upon a plank for the pro vision of old-age pensions on a scheme equitable to the States and to the individual. He endeavoured to give to the arrangement a meaning that he did not make clear. The inference I drew from his remarks was that it was the intention of that fusion to establish such a system of oldage pensions as would conserve the amount returned to the States under the Constitution. I think, however, that it was open to another meaning, and that is that States such as Western Australia should not be penalized, as they will be under the present scheme.
– Western Australia seicures an advantage in the matter of public works.
– That . matter is on an entirely different footing. The number of people in Western Australia who will benefit under, this scheme will not be proportionate to the amount which Western Aus; tralia will pay. If .the Attorney-General’ wished to’ draw that inference, it is a perfectly legitimate one. _
– I remember stating in this House at the time that the fusion in question was not explicit upon the question of old-age pensions.
– I am sorry that the honorable member was not very explicit in his interpretation of the plank in the platform of the party to which he referred. The Treasurer, in his usual dictatorial manner, has threatened that if certain amendments be made, the Bill will be set aside.
– That was bluff.
– I thoroughly agree with the honorable member that it was, and I am confident that the Committee will not be deterred by the Treasurer’s threat from taking any action it may think desirable.
– I made no threat.
– Does the honorable member say that the statement that the Bill would be thrown under the table - that he could not go on with it if the amendments contemplated by the honorable member for Wide Bay were carried - was not a threat?
– That was only the truth.
– Is the honorable member going to quibble about terms? Is it not a threat to say that the Bill will be dropped if a certain amendment be carried? I do not think that some of the Government supporters would allow the
Bill to be thrown aside, although I admit that it may be in accordance with the honorable gentleman’s own personal inclinations. I have never done him the injustice of believing that he has much sympathy with the old-age pensions scheme.
– That is cruel.
– Not unless it is cruel to be just.
– I have given as much to the poor as any one.
– I am certain that the honorable gentleman is personally very generous, but when he talks of curtailing old-age pensions, he ought not to forget that for many years he has enjoyed a fat pension from the Imperial Government.
– I have had very little of it.
– The honorable gentleman has a pension of £500 a year. He may not have drawn it whilst he was in receipt of a Ministerial salary.
– For eighteen years I scarcely ever drew it.
– The honorable member drew it every year except when he was in office. Is not that so?
-It is, but that means that I have not drawn it during many years.
– The only reason for that was the honorable member was drawing a salary as Minister. Do we find in this some clue to his superabundant loyalty to “the Mother Country”?
– It is not an Imperial pension. It is paid by the Government of Western Australia.
– I always understood that it came from the Imperial Government, and waspaid through the Government of Western Australia.
– It has nothing to do with the Imperial Government.
– The honorable gentleman originally held an Imperial office, and, that being so, it I have made an error, it is one that might naturally be made.
– The honorable member has made a mistake, especially in attributing motives.
– I do not wish to impute any improper motive, for I believe that the honorable member’s loyalty, if rather effusive at times, arises from what he believes to be apure motive.
– His is not an old-age pension. ,
– No; it is a pension granted to him long before he reached the age of a pensioner under our law. As to his complaint that the Government will be unable to, find the funds necessary to finance this Bill, if it be amended as proposed, I can only say that, before offering to provide the cost of a warship as a gift to the Imperial Government, they ought to have considered how the necessary funds were to be obtained. Certainly, if Australia can afford to present the Imperial Government with £2,000,000 to provide for the construction of a warship, it ought to be able to afford to pay pensions to poor women who have arrived at the age of sixty years. I indorse all that the honorable member for Dalley has said as to the fact that the lives of many women are practically spent when they reach that age. They are certainly not fit to longer bear the heat and burden of the day, or to enter into competition with younger women in the battle of life. We ought, therefore, to stretch a point in their favour. The honorable gentleman, I presume, proposes to make some arrangement with the States, and I hope that he will succeed at the forthcoming Conference. When the Prime Minister complained that the Labour Government were not making any arrangements for financing old-age pensions, he must have been well aware that in three of the States pensions were being paid by the State Governments before the Commonwealth system came into operation, and that it was only reasonable to expect the States to reimburse the Federal Government in respect of the liability of which they were relieved. When that was done a very small residuum remained, for which the Federal Government became responsible.
– Has not the New South; Wales Government expressed its willingness to forego the amount ?
– Only since the present Deakin Government came into office. It did not give that assurance to the Fisher Government. .
– I think the assurance was given some time ago.
– Conditionally upon other State Governments acting similarly. It is only reasonable that the States should reimburse the Commonwealth an amount equal to that which they are now paying. When the next Premiers’ Conference meets, I hope that the representatives of the Commonwealth Government, if they attend it, will remind the State Treasurers, should they make any complaints, of the enormous increases in State expenditure since Federation. Some time ago I presented a statement of the details to the House. Of course, the amounts have since increased, and I believe that to-day the State Governments are spending over £4,000,000 per annum more than they were spending before Federation, notwithstanding that the Commonwealth has taken over the very expensive Defence Department, from which no revenue is obtained, the Department of the Postmaster-General, on which there is a loss, and other Departments.
– The honorable member is a long way from the amendment.
– Yes, but in that I am only following the example of honorable members who preceded me. I refer to these matters to emphasize the claim of . the Commonwealth to be reimbursed by the States for its expenditure on o.ld-age pensions. I hope that the amendment will be agreed to, and thai our legislation will be so perfected that there will be very few, if any, deserving cases in Australia unrelieved by this humanitarian law.
– I should not have intervened in the discussion had it not been for the extraordinary argument of the honorable member for West Sydney. The Leader of the Opposition holds a position which, like that of a Minister, is not without great responsibilities, and in addition it must be remembered that he occupied the position of Treasurer in the Government immediately preceding that now in power. His attitude in respect to this matter, therefore, having regard to his past actions and words,.cannot be looked upon as quite sincere. I think that we are entitled to conclude that it never entered his mind when Prime Minister, or that of any of his colleagues, to bring forward the proposition which he is now trying to force upon his successors. But by a rather adroit twist of a phrase in the Gympie speech he has endeavoured to convey the idea that something of this kind was in his mind.
– He does not twist phrases.
– I shall quote his exact words, so that honorable members may judge whether my criticism is fair or not. Speaking of the Invalid and Ola-age Pensions Act, he said in that speech that -
Whatever financial embarrassment we may meet with, that will be carried out to the letter. Once inaugurated we shall be able, in the not far distant future, to give effect, not only to the old-age pensions, but to the invalid pensions as well.
At the time there were two courses which he could follow. He had power fo bring the invalid pension system into operation by proclamation immediately, and, by similar proclamation, he could have done what he is now seeking to force his successors to do. But while he then referred to the ultimate possibility of paying invalid pensions, he did not refer to the possibility that the age at which women would be qualified for pensions might be reduced.
– In regard to invalid pensions he used the word “ immediate.”
– I have read what he said. He spoke of giving effect “in the not far distant future,” not only to oldage pensions, but to invalid pensions as well. *
– That is what he said tonight.
– No. He said tonight that he would not ask the Committee to institute invalid pensions at the present time. If the thoughts of persons are to be judged by what they say, I ask why did the honorable member refer to invalid pensions in his great policy speech, and not say anything about the reduction of age? Now he desires it to be understood that it was in his mind, and in that of his colleagues.
– No; he was silent on the point.
– The Treasurer asked him whether it was in his mind, and he made no reply. I understand that it was not. If he was frankly and fairly dealing with those whom he. was addressing at Gympie, it was not in his mind. That is to be seen by a subsequent passage. Speaking of future expenditure, he sets out that upon old-age pensions as £1,750,000. Any one reading the speech must conclude that that was his estimate of the expenditure under the administration of the Act, without amendments.
– The expenditure on old-age pensions, taking no account of invalid persons.
– Yes. The impression conveyed to me, and, I think, to every one who read his speech, was that he intended to comply with the terms of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, but not to put into operation the provisions relating to invalid pensions.
– He does not propose to do that now.
– That is so. Then, in the speech of the GovernorGeneral, the formal statement of the intentions of the Fisher Government, we find a short statement as to the administration of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, without any indication of an intention to bring in an amending measure. It must be remembered that at the time the honorable member for Wide Bay had the power to do what he now professes his desire to do. The Act vests in the Government of the day the power by proclamation, without parliamentary action, to do what he asks the Committee to do by legislation. This brings me to the extraordinary argument of the honorable member for West Sydney. Coming from the legal and trusted adviser of the late Prime Minister, it is oneof the most amazing that I have ever heard put forward in support of a position such as that taken up by him. I feel sure that his leader must have shuddered when he heard it. The honorable member for West Sydney said that the Fisher Government did not issue a proclamation because it was dependent on the support of a section on which it could not rely in this particular matter.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable member said that the fact that the Government was supported by a certain section, meaning those who were not members of the Labour party, rendered it impossible to do this by proclamation.
– No. What I said was that there were two reasons why we did not bring down a scheme embodying the whole of our policy, the shortness of the session, and the uncertainty of our majority.
– I am bound to accept the honorable member’s statement. He admits that one of the reasons why the late Government did not bring down its financial proposals was the uncertainty of its majority. He desires it to be understood that, had it done so, those financial proposals would have included the proposition which his leader made last night. Then what is the position of the late Government? Although its Ministers had in their minds the reduction of the age at which women could claim old-age pensions, that was not stated among their financial proposals. For what reason?
– The honorable member is putting upon my remarks a meaning which does not properly apply to them. I am sure that he does not wish to do so.
– I certainly do not. If I understand the honorable member, he alleged as one of the reasons why the alteration now pressed by the honorable member for Wide Bay was not put forwardby the Fisher Government that it couldbe brought forward only in connexion with its financial proposals, and that they were not laid before us for two reasons, one being the uncertainty of the Government’s majority.
– It is perfectly true that nothing followed, so far as old-age pensions are concerned. What was said at the Hobart Conference was that we required £6,500,000 before we could finance this business.
– In the collocation in which the honorable member’s statement comes, it can only relate to this debate in the way which I say, namely, that effect could not be given to old-age pensions, including lowering the qualifying age of women, because, amongst other reasons, they had an uncertain majority.
– We could not do anything.
– I take it at that; and I venture to say that a more complete confession of Ministerial ineptitude, arising from the most unworthy motives, was never made in a representative House. Here is a proposal which is now claimed upon all the dictates of humanity to be necessary, and which the honorable member and his leader say - because they are not sincere unless they do say it - is practicable and desirable, having regard to the existing finances of the country, which also could have been done by them by Ministerial Act, and was not done. Why ? Because they thought that if they did it, the majority would not permit them to continue in office.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I have accepted the honorable member’s statement of what he said
– But, as fast as I put the matter right, the honorable and learned member puts it wrong again.
– I have accepted the honorable member’s statement; and I venture to say that the argument used by the honorable member is one which probably made his leader shake in his shoes, because it involves the conclusion that the late Government refrained from doing a certain thing, which Parliament had deliberately invested them with the power to do by proclamation, because, amongst other reasons, they were afraid by reason of the uncertainty of their majority.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– Will the honorable member withdraw that statement?
– I withdraw any imputation that the honorable member is telling an absolute untruth, because I did not mean that; but the statement that I said what he imputes to me is absolutely untrue.
– It is not suggested that the honorable member did say what I am saying, because I am only showing the necessary inference from what he did say. What he said was that the attitude of the late Government, in regard to this, amongst other parts of their policy , was due to the fact that they could not bring forward the necessary financial statement by reason of the uncertainty of their majority. Having regard tothe particular matter of which the honorable member was speaking, I maintain that what he said amounts to a confession that, although they had the power, with or without bringing forward a financial statement, to do this thing which they now claim is demanded by every dictate of humanity, they did not do it, because, amongst other reasons, they were not certain of their majority.
– But because the late Government did not do it, is it never to be done ?
– That is another question ; we are now to judge the proposal on its merits.
– Then why waste time?
– It always appears to the honorable member to be a waste of time when criticism comes from this side. I am not going to take up the time of the Committee longer, except to say that it would be a great deal better if members of the Opposition, especially those who have held high office, were to extend to those who succeed them in those onerous and responsible obligations a little more consideration than is shown in the speeches we have heard to-night. I admit that the late Government had not a very long term of office, but it was long enough for them to engage in all ordinary administrative acts. If the late Government had, during all those months, considered this matter at all, and had thought it desirable, in the interests of humanity, to take the step now advocated, they ought not to have allowed any consideration of parliamentary majorities to interfere with their determination. They were invested with a. trust and the power ; and the fact that they did not take the step does not necessarily mean that it is not a proper step to be taken, although it certainly ought to shut their mouths to the kind of argument we have listened to to-night.
– By way of personal explanation, I should like to say a few words. I shall say what I did say, and leave honorable members to see exactly the position. The Attorney-General had accused the honorable member for Wide Bay of having no idea in his mind at the time the principal Act was before the House, or, when he spoke at Gympie, of doing anything in the immediate future.
– I did not mention Gympie.
– Quite right; it was mentioned by interjection by the honorable member for Wilmot. At Gympie, the honorable member explained that he hoped to bring in a measurein the not too-distant future - that he could have brought it in immediately if he had had the money, because it could be done by proclamation. What 1 said was that the present Government ought not to talk about insufficiency of means, because they were going to the Premiers’ Conference, wherein, by arrangement with the States, they could get money. All I said was that the late Government had no opportunity of bringing in their financial scheme for the best of reasons - that our majority was uncertain, and events had proved it to be so. Indeed,we never had a chance to bring in any measure. We did propose to finance those matters we had intended to deal with ; but we were not in the same position as the present Government, who are practically able to dictate at the Premiers’ Conference what shall be done in regard to our financial relations, with the States. Under the circumstances, it is quite wrong to infer from what I said that we had the means to pay these pensions, and did not pay them because we had no majority.
– Then the late Goernment can never have thought of the matter at all.
– We did, and the honorable member for Wide Bay said at Gympie that he regretted that the invalid pensions could not be brought into operation immediately, although he hoped that would be done in the not too-distant future.
– The honorable member for Flinders is doing the Leader of the Opposition a great injustice when he accuses him of insincerity in submitting this amendment. It is quite true that the honorable member for Wide Bay, as Prime Minister, had the power to proclaim this part of the Act, and he said at Gympie that he would like to see it brought into operation in the not-distant future. The honorable member for Flinders cannot guess what was in the mind of the honorable member for Wide Bay then, but I think that the Tatter’s colleagues have some idea.
– It is said that language is given to us to conceal our thoughts.
– In this instance, the ex-Prime Minister did not wish his thoughts to be concealed, because he stated what he actually meant. The ex-Prime Minister, when at Gympie, took the proper course. He did not say that if this House were to extend the Old-age Pensions Act, he would refuse to find the money to finance it, but that he had first to place our financial policy before Parliament, and get the funds, although he hoped that in the notdistant future invalid pensions would be proclaimed. The honorable member for Flinders thought he would strengthen his case by saying that the late Prime Minister put down the probable expenditure at about £1,750,000 ; but the honorable member knows as well as we do that the moment any Government bring in a Bill it is within the province of the House to amend and extend its operation. Does the honorable” member for Flinders mean to say that the honorable member for Dalley, or some other honorable members on that side, would not move to extend the provision’s of the Bill if they could get the House to agree with them ? The honorable member for Dalley has to-night said that we undoubtedly ought to pay women pensions at the age of sixty ; and I am sure that the honorable member for Wide Bay would not only have agreed tosuch an amendment, but would have found the money to finance it. The honorable member for Flinders and others opposite would leave the matter of old-age pensions to the States; and the Treasurer did all he possibly could, with a majority of the present supporters of the Government, including the Minister of Defence, to prevent the money being found for the pensions. If, as the honorable member for Flinders says, the Fisher Government had the power to proclaim this part of the Act - as I admit they had - and ought to have proclaimed it, the present Government have the same power. Why do they not exercise it? They, have a golden opportunity of getting all the kudos that would be gained from the mass of the people by taking that step. They have the opportunity which the Fisher Government did not get, although some honorable members opposite promised to give it to them - the opportunity of finding the money. We knew where we were going to find it, and our first action when we met the House was to table a Bill, which was the first step towards finding a portion of the money necessary to finance old-age pensions and other things.
– The Fisher Government’s land tax Bill would not have given them a penny this year.
– Perhaps not in the hands of a procrastinating Government like the present, who, in eight weeks, have not been able to arrive at any knowledge of their own financial policy. They cannot give the House the least idea of it. When they had no responsibility, they could hand out £2,000,000 as though the Treasury were overflowing, but they cannot find a paltry £200,000 or £300,000 for the poor women and invalids of this country. The Fisher Government would have been in no difficulty in finding that money.
– How would they have found it?
– Take nonotice of the Minister of Defence. The Government are only “ stone- walling. “
– They want as much delay as possible in the hope that somebody will find a policy for them. They are praying that the State Premiers will furnish them with a financial policy, and so they are going to shut up this Parliament until the Premiers’ Conference is over - the most atrocious proposal I ever heard of. It is the duty of the Government to find the money, and the honorable member for West Sydney indicated one way of finding it. Perhaps the Government will ask the
Chamber of Commerce what to do in the matter, as they have asked them about many other things, including the telephone rates. The Fisher Government would have found the money.
– How ?
– It is not my duty to tell the Minister of Defence what he will never be able to do himself. I will tell him no more than what was stated in the Gympie speech. The late Prime Minister said that old-age pensions would be paid, when, the present Prime Minister said it was not possible to find the money. I and my colleagues know that they would have been financed, and that!, if they were not, the fault would have rested with honorable members like the present Minister of Defence. We have now an opportunity of doing what is just. I ask the Government to accept the advice of their own supporter, the honorable member for Flinders, and to gain all the kudos of proclaiming the invalid part of the Act. Somebody has to look after these invalids. The State should do it, and not leave the task to poor people who have enough to do to feed and clothe themselves. Too much time has already been spent on this amendment, especially by honorable members opposite. We have apparently only a limited power now to deal with the Bill, and I am ready to vote for all that it gives us, in the hope that when we get a new Government we shall do full justice to all the old people of the Commonwealth.
.- I would recall the attention of the Committee to the subject before it. The evening appears to have been occupied by the Government in putting the Opposition upon its trial ; but I would remind them that the question is much more important and serious than that. We have to decide whether women of sixty, who are otherwise deserving, are to share in the old-age pensions. The contention of the honorable member for Flinders appears to be that if the Government had any definite evidence that the Leader of the Opposition had intended to bring this section of the Act into operation, the Government would agree to do it right away ; but surely the intentions, of the Leader of the Opposition when Prime Minister have nothing to do with the question. The present Government were brought into being to restore responsible government, and the Opposition are showing great confidence in them by making a proposal of this kind, and believing them to be capable of doing the necessary financing. The provision of the money necessary to pay women at sixty instead of sixty-five cannot be regarded as a very great financial task. The whole question is of the greatest importance to a large number of persons, and it is wasting time to wrangle as to. whether the honorable member for Wide Bay said or thought this, that, or the other, or what the honorable member for West Sydney said. The honorable member for Flinders tried to so twist what had been said as to give it a certain meaning, but even if it meant something ten times worse than the honorable member made out, that would be no reason for denying to deserving people the assistance which we know that this amendment will give them. It is degrading Parliament to indulge in these petty quibblings and squabblings instead of dealing with the important issue before us. Every one recognises that for a short time there will be some little difficulty in financing these proposals; but, after all, it is only a matter of a few months. With regard to the contention of the honorable member for Flinders that the Fisher Government could have proclaimed this part of- the Act, scarcely any Government would- have done so until the Act itself got under way. The difference of time in any case can only be a few months, and hence this proposal is not a big enough one for the Government to object to adopt. The present Government claim to be so able, and to have such a splendid majority behind them, that they ought to be capable of doing anything.
– I am not concerned with the question of whether the Fisher Government should, or should not, have proclaimed this part of the Act, or with the question of who has moved the amendment. I am concerned only with the amendment itself, and with its merits. Last year we passed the Old-age Pensions Act, and in doing so deliberately divided it, so far as the granting of pensions was concerned, into three parts. We enacted that old-age pensions should be granted to people at sixtyfive years of age, who had been twenty-five years in the Commonwealth, and that that part should come into force on the ist July, 1909, or at such earlier date as might be proclaimed. I understood at the time that there was practically no likelihood of the Act being proclaimed before that date. We also gave power to the Government of the day to provide by proclamation that women should be entitled to receive the pension at sixty instead of at sixty-five. We further provided that by another proclamation the Government of the day could direct that invalids who had not reached sixty-five should receive pensions. We had undoubtedly a reason for dividing the Act in that way. We had no idea that it was intended to bring the two last provisions into effect by proclamation within three or four weeks of the date when the Act itself came into active operation. If we had thought that possible, we should have provided straight out that the whole Act should come into force on ist July of this year. We must have had a reason for postponing the other two provisions, and that reason seems to have been that we did not know at the time what responsibilities or liabilities we were undertaking in regard to old-age pensions. The Act we passed was much more liberal than most of the State Acts, and we also knew that some of the States had no Old-age Pensions Act at all. It was, therefore, all guess-work as to what amount of liability would be incurred by the Commonwealth in passing the Act, and I take it that we intended to postpone the bringing into operation of the sections relating to women at sixty, and to invalid pensions, until we were able to ascertain exactly where we stood financially, and what further provision it would be necessary to make to meet them. It is unreasonable, within three or four weeks of the main -Act coming into operation, and before we have any idea of the amount of money that will have to be provided, to ask us to give effect to either of the other two provisions. For that reason I_ cannot see my way to accept the amendment at present. At the same time, the serious duty is cast upon the Government of looking forward to bringing into operation at no distant date both the other provisions. . They will have to consider their responsibility in those regards before they meet the Premiers with a view to making some financial arrangement to take effect at the end of 1910. I do not know to what extent they propose to go cap in hand, or to go down upon their knees to the representatives of the States. I confess that I have had grave doubts in this matter, and every day those doubts are getting graver. When I heard this evening that the Government contemplate carrying abasement to such an extent that the national Parliament is to be asked to adjourn for a fort- night while the .Premiers hold their Conference, I confess that it made me dreads the result very much indeed.
– Surely it is to.our interest ?
– It is not.
– Not to come to ai> agreement with the Stales.
– I may be going a little beyond the question immediately before the Chair, but I referred to this matter in connexion with the fears I had as tothe way in which the Government intended to approach the States. It is a matter which they ought to seriously take into consideration when they go to the Conference. When we passed this provision it was intended that effect should be given to it at no distant date. I am prepared to give the Government of the day a reasonable opportunity to find a means of bringing into operation that which the Parliament intended should be brought into operation, and I cannot, therefore, see my way at present to vote for an amendment which would give effect to it at once.
– I wish to urge upon the Committee, as strongly as I can, the absolute necessity of giving women who have reached the age of sixty years the right to draw a pension. This amendment will affect, probably, more women in my constituency than in any other Commonwealth electorate. I represent a large industrial centre, in the most thickly populated part of Australia, and every day cases are being brought under my notice which emphasize the wisdom of the course which the Leader of the Opposition invites the Committee to take. In speaking on the motion for the second reading of this Bill I mentioned that I intended to submit an amendment that would provide for the payment of pensions to women who had reached the age of sixty years, and I had then framed and tabled such an amendment for consideration in Committee. Subsequently, however, the amendment now before us was moved by the Leader of the Opposition, and I feel it my duty to support it. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat said he desired to give the Government time for financing this part of the principal Act, and that when it was passed it was not intended to bring it into opera- tion within a few weeks of the 1st July of this year. But does the honorable member not recognise that since then the financial situation has completely changed. The present Government has been practically throwing about millions in connexion with projects that are not really urgent. That being so, surely we are justified in taking a different view of the position to-day. In this evening’s issue of the Melbourne Herald we find the following statement : - “It seems to be still necessary,” said the Minister for Defence to-day, referring to the criticism by Commander John Biddlecombe, published in the London Standard, of the Dreadnought offer, “ to emphasize the fact that the gift was an unconditional one of an amount of money such as it would take to build and equip a Dreadnought.”
He was emphasizing the point that the Government have made a direct offer of £2,000,000.
– The money can be easily found for that purpose.
– And the Imperial authorities will probably tell us that they do not want it. Then, again, in the same newspaper we find the statement that the Minister of Defence - has in mind a Federal Government prize for the first airship that performs certain evolutions to be laid down.
Apparently the Government do not anticipate any difficulty in finding money for that purpose. I do not object to encouragement being extended to the inventors of airships, but I am certainly opposed to money being expended on matters of no immediate urgency, when our aged citizens are in need. Apparently the Ministry have plenty of money to provide for airships and the presentation of a Dreadnought, but no money to enable poor women who have reached the age of sixty years to draw a Commonwealth pension. In the Ministerial statement of proposals for this session there is the following paragraph -
An active policy of immigration will be undertaken and expanded in the light of the knowledge made available by the Commission and the Bureau, and with, it is hoped, the cooperation of all the States.
There we have outlined an immense scheme of immigration.. The money of the taxpayers is to be utilized in bringing out immigrants to compete with our alreadyovercrowded labour market, although the Government are not prepared to find money to provide for an old-age pension for suffering women who have reached the age of. sixty years. Then, again, we have the statement in the Ministerial manifesto -
The appointment of a High Commissioner in London with a well equipped office will be necessary.
– The honorable member must not go into details.
– I shall not do so, sir. The Government have plenty of money to provide for the appointment of a High Commissioner and a well-equipped office in London, but no money for pensions for women of sixty. Then we are told that -
To permit a better discharge of the national responsibilities of the Commonwealth your authorization will be sought for the acceptance of the Northern Territory.
Millions for the Northern Territory; no money for the aged women of Australia! The Government have already introduced a Bill providing for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth. Is that a mere placard, or are the Government really in earnest? Do they intend to give effect this session to that proposal ? If they do they must contemplate the expenditure of a vast sum of money. If they do not, then the Bill is only a sham and a delusion which ought not to be practised on us. A great defence scheme is also foreshadowed in the Ministerial statement, and proposals are made for founding a military college, a school of musketry, and, probably, a primary naval college. Plenty of money for all these projects, but no money for old-age pensions ! Here is another paragraph from the Ministerial statement -
In addition to the ample provision required for defence purposes . . the outlay upon the taking over ofocean lighthouses by the Commonwealth, and the construction, when authorized, of the railway line to Western Australia, have to be borne in mind.
Does the Treasurer say that that statement in regard to the construction of the Western Australian railway is a, mere placard ? Do the Government intend to deal with that project this session, or are they merely deluding the people of Western Australia? Is it proposed to expend millions on that line? Apparently there is plenty of money for all these projects, but none to provide pensions for old women who are in absolute need. A Royal Commission reported that pensions should be paid to women at least five years earlier than men, andwe recognised the theoretical justice of that proposal when the original Bill was before us, but we are now asked where we are to obtain the money to give effect to it. The proposals which the Government have already submitted must involve a total expenditureof from £10,000,000 to £15,000,000, yet they say that they cannot provide £400,000 to enable pensions to be paid to women who have helped to build up and develop Australia, when they reach the age of sixty years.
– Does the honorable member think that the Treasurer is honest about the Western Australian railway? I do not.
– Either the Government must consider they have plenty of money for all these proposals, or they have merely put them forward as placards. If that part of the principal Act which relates to the payment of pensions to women who have reached the age of sixty years is not to come into operation now, when will it come into force? We shall not have another opportunity to deal with the matter . this session, and, that being so, it will have to stand over until the next general election. In other words, there will be a delay of twelve months, unless we take action now. I have received from aged women many letters On this subject, and I propose to make two or three quotations from one of these, which is dated 5th July, 1909 -
Dear Sir, - Will you be so kind as to help me in my distress. So many advise me to go to you. I have called many times at your house but failed to see you. Mr. Walden -
The writer is referring to the Rev. Mr. Walden - has tried his best to get me the pension since 23rd February last. I have been in and around Enmore twenty years -
In another part of this letter, which is a very lengthy one, the writer says -
The Government doctor said, when he examined me in May last, that I was not getting sufficient nourishment. . . . May God inspire you to help an English gentlewoman. I shall die i f I cannot get help, as I am bad” every night and cannot get nourishment for weeks at a stretch.
As members of a national Parliament, we have to do our duty by these old women. It is my duty, as the representative of a large industrial centre, where cases of this kind are constantly coming under my notice, to emphasize, as strongly as I can, the necessity of reducing from sixty-five to sixty years the age at which women may receive a pension, and I hope the Committee will agree to this amendment. The Government have threatened that, if these humane proposals be embodied in the Bill, they will throw it aside. If a majority of honorable members say, however, that women shall receive pensions on attaining the age of sixty years, that majority will be prepared to amend the Bill in that direction, and, if the Government are not prepared to give effect to it, to support a Government that will. I shall not give any consideration to the threats of the Government. I have a duty to my constituents, and I am not going to allow such threats to divert me from the plain, honest course which I think I ought to take in the interests of those who have sent me here.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Fisher’s amendment) - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 -
Section sixteen of the Principal Act is amended by inserting at the end of sub-section (1) the following proviso : - “ Provided that a person who -
becomes a naturalized subject of the King on or before the thirty-first day of December One thousand nine hundred and nine, and
onor before that date is otherwise qualified to receive an old-age pension, and lodges a pension claim with a Registrar or prescribed officer, shall not be disqualified from receiving an oldage pension by reason only of the fact that he has not been naturalized for the period of three years next preceding the date of his pension claim.”
– I move -
That the clause be amended to read as follows -
Section sixteen of the Principal Act is amended by inserting at the end of sub-section (1) the following proviso : - “ Provided that a person who is or becomes a naturalized subject of the King on or before the thirty-first day of December One thousand nine hundred and nine, shall not be disqualified from receiving an old-age pension by reason only of the fact that he has not been naturalized for the period of three years next preceding the date of his pension claim.”
The clause, as I propose to amend it- I was not responsible for the drafting of it - willmore clearly carry out the intention of honorable members, that a person who is, or becomes, naturalized before the end of the year, and is otherwise qualified, shall receive a pension.
– Ihave given notice of my intention to propose the omission of the clause, with a view to amend the Act by striking out paragraph b of section 16. The difference between my proposal and that of the Attorney-General is that, under the clause as it is proposed to amend it, persons to be qualified for pensions must become naturalized before the 31st December next, and under my proposal, any man otherwise qualified may receive a pension on becoming naturalized. The difference is not very great, and the Treasurer might well extend the scope of the Act in the way I suggest.
– I do not think that there is any necessity to make the amendment. We have gone quite far enough in that direction.
– I do not think that the amendment, if made, would increase the expenditure. If the right honorable gentleman were making a charitable gift he would not stop to inquire whether a man was to be naturalized in that year or in the following year.
– It cannot affect very much unnaturalized persons who are here, because they will proceed at once to get naturalized.
– I admit that it will not affect very much any unnaturalized persons of this standing, unless they live in remote parts of the Commonwealth, and do not happen to see or hear of this provision, and it will only be a few hard cases which will be brought under the Minister’s notice if my suggestion is not adopted.
– They will not have to wait long to get naturalized.
– A great many of these persons experience a good deal of difficulty in doing so.
– I do not think so.
– They will have five months in which to take out letters of naturalization.
– They have had twenty years to do so, too.
– Many persons who are married to foreigners are not sure whether they are naturalized or not. They are not quite certain of their legal position. It should be remembered that in order to be naturalized a person has to sign certain documents, not before a Justice of the Peace, but before a Stipendiary Magistrate. I could cite the cases of some persons who chanced to be bedridden. The Stipendiary Magistrates, who are men in good positions, had not time to go to their homes, and so those persons experienced considerable difficulty in completing the papers. I venture to predict that if the amendment is carried in its present form, the Treasurer will be confronted ultimately with, perhaps, fifteen or twenty very hard cases. I urge him to deal with the public money as he would do with his own funds; in other words, to accept my proposition, and allow a man who has paid taxes for over twenty years, whose character is above reproach, and who subsequently becomes a citizen of the Commonwealth to draw an old-age pension.
– The Government have carefully considered this question, and cannot go any further than they have done.
SirJohnForrest. -We have given way a good deal, and made things easier than they were. We have liberalized the Bill.
– The Government have only taken out a manifest absurdity. They have not made things easier than they were.
– I admit that the Treasurer has improved the measure, but why should he now stop the work of improving it? To-night, he has talked about spending £300,000, and so on, but my proposition would not involve an expenditure of more than £300 or £400 a year. May I ask the Attorney-General if his purpose would not be accomplished by omitting this clause, and then striking out paragraph b of section 16 of the principal Act?
– Of course, it would be much wider.
– It would be slightly wider.
– I do not think that any material injustice will be suffered by any one through passing the clause as it is.
– I admit that the number of cases of injustices would be very small.
– People are taking out papers very quickly.
– A few persons may experience difficulty in getting certain information which they have to supply before the end of this year. Why not simplify the whole matter by taking out the provision for a period of three years?
– We have gone as far as we can.
– Seeing that there is only a period of five months left, and that there may be a little delay before the Bill can be brought into operation, why not do as I suggest?
– The Honorable member will see that the striking out of the subclause liberalized the provision.
– I recognise that the Bill is now much more liberal than it was. But why not allow the persons I referred to until the end of the financialyear to get naturalized ?
– I cannot understand this persistency about a small matter. Surely if we allow persons who after twenty years have not become naturalized
– There will . be plenty of time for that course to be taken if the persons are acquainted with the provision, but the hardest cases will be the cases of those who did not have that knowledge, simply because they were not in touch with public affairs. If they have been good citizens of the Commonwealth for twenty years, why should they be disadvantaged by a mere technicality? Will the Treasurer accept an amendment to allow these persons to apply for papers up to the end of the financial year?
– We will not do more than we have done.
– I beg to intimate that it is my intention to move an amendment.
.- I certainly think that the clause should be improved in the direction indicated by the last speaker. I fail to see why any person who has lived in Australia since infancy should be penalized because of what is only a mere technical objection. The taking out of naturalization papers does not make any one who has lived here practically a life-time any more a citizen of the country than the fact of his residence does. And seeing that very few persons will be affected by such an amendment as is suggested, I think that the Committee should find no difficulty in coming to a decision to liberalize the clause in the direction of allowing any one to obtain an old-age pension if he complies at any time with the mere formality of getting naturalized!. After a person has lived long enough in thecountry to qualify otherwise for a pension, I contend that no obstacle of such a technical character as this ought to be put in his way.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral towithdraw his amendment temporarily in order to allow me to move a prior amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I desire to draw attention to a matter to which I referred in my second-reading speech. Section 16 of the principal Act contains the following -
The following persons shall not be qualified to receive an old-age pension, namely : -
Naturalized subjects of the King who have not been naturalized for the period of three years next preceding the date of their pension claims;
Asiatics (except those born in Australia), or aboriginal natives of Australia, Africa, the Islands of the Pacific, or New Zealand.
When the original measure was before the House, I sought to strike out the provision excluding Asiatics, so long as they were otherwise qualified. At that time I spoke to a very thin House at the close of the session, and I should like to try again to induce honorable members to support my idea. In the matter of old-age pensions, this Parliament has no desire to consider any question of race, colour, or creed. We give pensions because persons are in need, and being British-born or naturalized British subjects, have lived in the country for twenty-five years and paid taxes ; and, to my mind, it is a distinct blot on. the Act to erect a barrier of this kind simply on account of nationality.
– Then why not give pensions to aboriginals?
– That would be absolutely impracticable.
– We have taken their country from them.
– We can make that up to them in another way. It is not a reasonable or rational policy to bar any aged poor person, who is reputable, and otherwise qualified, solely because he happened to be born on the wrong side of the Bosp’horus. Ever since I have been in an Australian Parliament I have always held the view that, while we may maintain the White Australia policy in its fullest sense, we ought to treat with perfect equality those aliens whom we have allowed to come in and to be naturalized. We do not feel degraded because we get our religion from Asia ; and it seems to be going rather too far to bar an Asiatic because of his birth-place. I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether it is not a fact that, under the section as it stands, Asiatics, although they may have become naturalized, cannot have the benefit of the Act?
– Yes, that is right.
– My proposal is only that Asiatics, who have become naturalized, shall become entitled to a pension ; and I move -
That the following words be inserted after the word “ by,” line 2 : - *’ the omission of -the words in sub-section (1) (c) ‘ Asiatics, except those born in Australia, or.’ “
– I object on racial grounds to Asiatics coming here, but when we have admitted them, and for twenty or twenty-five years, have compelled them to pay taxes, I think it would be most unfair and unChristian to deprive them, if naturalized subjects, of old-age pensions. The scientific basis of old-age pensions is really that of compulsory insurance, seeing that all participants must have paid taxes for many years ; and to bar naturalized Asiatics would be rather a mean action for a nation like Australia. To include these persons cannot mean a very large charge on the Treasury, because none are admitted now, and the claimants must have arrived here many years ago, many of them doubtless paying heavy fees on admission.
– The question of admitting Asiatics to the full privileges of the Old-age Pensions Act is one which would appeal to every honorable member if the pension system were made more comprehensive. But, seeing that invalids are not to receive pensions, for the reason that we have not themoney, and, knowing, as we do, that theAsiatic standard of living is much below our own, we should not be justified in giving Asiatics the full benefits of a measureso restricted in its operation regarding our own people. I hold that every Asiatic whohas been naturalized should be permitted’ to participate in the advantages conferred by this Bill, but we have not the fundswith which to permit of that being done. I would just as soon vote in favour of granting pensions to invalids as I would support the granting of them to old men. Thequestion is merely one of finance, inasmuch as we have not the money with which to pay invalid pensions, we should not bejustified in granting pensions to Asiatics, who may have lived in Australia for a lifetime, but who have certainly lived under a-, lower standard of comfort/ Consequently I cannot support the amendment of thehonorable member for Boothby.
– Will the honorable member support the granting of pensions to invalids ?
– I have no objection to do so as soon as we” have thenecessary funds at our command. Honorable members opposite apparently think that they are the only persons who are imbued with any humanitarian feeling. They pose here as men possessed of knowledgeon social questions, and they quite fail torecognise that this is essentially a financial question. They are content to prate about- legislation which would be beneficial to the masses - to talk about the representation of the working man, and to ignore the fact that they represent themselves, and not the working man. They are constantly sneering at those who are willing to do more than themselves.
.- The argument of the honorable member for Robertson regarding the financial aspect of this question does not appeal to me at all, because the additional expenditure that would be involved by the adoption of the amendment of the honorable member for Boothby would be very small indeed. But it seems to me that the Government wish to liberalize the provision relating to naturalisation quite as much as can be expected. They propose to make it possible for any person who is not now naturalized to become eligible to receive a pension from the ist January next. To my mind that is straining liberality to the breaking point. I contend that any person who has lived here for twenty years, who has not thought it necessary to assume the full duties of citizenship, and who does so now only to secure an old-age pension, is deserving of very scant consideration at our hands. .l am sorry that I cannot support the proposal which has been outlined by the honorable member for Boothby. It must be recollected that there are a .great’ number of Asiatics in the Commonwealth who can never become eligible to receive a pension, unless the Naturalization Act be amended. To enable a few of these Asiatics to qualify for an old-age pension would only excite xi large amount of disaffection amongst their brethren who cannot so qualify. I can readily imagine one of the disaffected saying, “ Here is a man receiving an oldage pension. I am as old as he is, an’d have been resident in Australia for a longer period. Why should I not get a pension?” The honorable member for Cook argued that, because Asiatics have been admitted to the full rights of citizenship, they ought to be treated just as liberally as is anybody else. But I would point out to him that very few Asiatics have been admitted to the rights of citizenship. In my own State there are none who have been so admitted. There, we even decline to allow them a vote. Consequently, the honorable member’s argument in that connexion was quite worthless. I am’ sorry that I cannot support the proposal outlined by the honorable member for Boothby, because I am entirely opposed to the principle which it embodies.
.- I shall support tie amendment of the honorable member for Boothby. I do not consider that any citizen of Australia should lose any rights that he has had under State law. We have conserved to the civil servants their rights, but under this Bill we are trying apparently to deprive some citizens who happen to be Asiatics of privileges to which they are justly entitled. That seems an unjust thing to do.
.- The honorable member for Robertson has said that the real objection to my amendment is a financial one. The chances are, however, that it would not involve an expenditure of more than a few pounds per annum. The greater part of the Asiatics in this country are not now naturalized. Therefore, they cannot participate in the advantages conferred by this legislation. What I object to is putting within the four corners of an Act of Parliament a barrier on account of nationality.
-. - We do so in other Acts of Parliament.
– We have dene so for special purposes. In .some .of the States, however, all naturalized persons have the right to vote. My objection to the Bill as drafted is that those who are citizens of Australia, and are otherwise qualified to comply with the conditions laid down - persons against whom nothing. can be urged whatever - ought not to be deprived of old-age pensions on the ground of nationality. Surely this Parliament ought to be above mere race prejudice? I challenge any one to justify debarring a man from receiving an old-age pension merely because he happened to be born in Asia. It is humbugging the question to saythat there is an objection to my amendment on financial grounds. As to the standard of comfort, to which the honorable member for Roberston lias referred, he knows very well that it varies even amongst Asiatics. Generally speaking, the standard of comfort of those who are naturalized is as high as amongst average people in this community.
– Can Asiatics be naturalized under our law?
– Noi under the Commonwealth Naturalization Act as it stands.
– But the .honorable member’s argument is that those Asiatics who are naturalized should be entitled to the pension.
– Undoubtedly. The barrier against naturalizing Asiatics has been imposed in its proper place, under the Naturalization Act. But why impose a barrier against a naturalized person who is otherwise qualified to receive an old-age pension?
– There is a great deal of force in what the honorable member for Boothby has said. Only a small number of persons would be affected by his amendment, because there is a provision in the Naturalization Act of 1901 which debars natives of Asia from naturalization. Of course, those born in India, which is in the British Dominions, are British subjects, but Asiatics not born in India are not capable of naturalization in this country. The subject was raised on a previous occasion, and some members of the present Government then urged the view now taken by the honorable member for Boothby. We are disposed, therefore, to accept the amendment. In fact, I do not see that a reasonable reply to the honorable member’s arguments can be given.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That the letter (a) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ is or.”
Amendments (by Mr. Hall) agreed to -
That the words “thirty-first day of December,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof “thirtieth day of June.”
That the words “ nine and “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That the words “ (4) on or before that date is otherwise qualified to receive an old-age pension, and lodges a pension claim with a Registrar or prescribed officer,” be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 -
Section seventeen” of the principal Act is amended by omitting from paragraph (b) the word “ twenty-five,” and inserting in lieu thereof the word “ twenty.”
– I wish to propose the addition of anew sub-clause to this clause.
.- I wish to submit an amendment which I think should come before that suggested by the Treasurer. I wish to provide for the omission of paragraphe of section 17 of the principal Act.
– Then, if a man had property worth £1,000 he would be entitled to claim a pension.
– Yes, or if he had property worth £1,000,000.
– The honorable member will not get that carried.
– I think it would be better to take the Treasurer’s amendment first; because it is necessary to complete the clause as it stands in the Bill. The intention is to carry out the desire to make the clause retrospective. The addition intended to be proposed is germane to what is actually being done by passing the clause as it stands.
Amendment (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That the following new sub-clause be added- “ (2) Where an old-age pension is granted upon a claim made within sixty days after the passing of this Act by any person who on the first day of July one thousand nine hundred and nine has resided in Australia continuously for at least twenty but less than twenty-five years, the claim may be deemed, for the purpose of determining the date of the commencement of the pension, to have been made on the firstday of July one thousand nine hundred and nine.”
.- Will this amendment prevent other honorable members from moving other amendments relating to prior portions of section 17 of the principal Act?
– It is proposed only to add a new sub-clause to clause 12 of this Bill.
– Has the clause itself yet been passed?
– The amendment now proposed seems to clash with the clause. Is that so?
– The clause itself reduces the residence qualification from twenty-five to twenty years.. That means that people who thus become qualified would, after this, have to make claims, and would only get paid from the first pay day after their claims were made. The honorable member for Wide Bay pointed out that that was scarcely fair to those who could have made claims if they had thought that the twenty-five years’ qualification would be reduced to twenty years, and he very properly suggested that we should date it retrospectively. We, therefore, propose by this amendment that persons who make claims within sixty days after the passing of this measure shall be paid retrospectively as from the1st July, 1909.
– Does the amendment clash with the clause?
– No; it reads into it, and is a Qualification of it.
.- If the amendment is now put, will it be competent to move to amend some other part of the section of the principal Act which we are now amending?
– It is difficult to say, without the principal Act before me. If such an amendment related to part of the section prior to that with which this amendment deals, it would be out of order. If it dealt with a subsequent part, it would be in order.
– Clause 12 is really not a clause at all, but only a suggestion. How, then, can this amendment be put as a sub-clause of clause 12 ? We should carry the proposal in the clause first, and treat this amendment as an addition to section 17 of the Act.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I wish to move the following amendment -
That the following words be added : - “ and by omitting paragraph e.”
Paragraph e, of section 17 of the principal Act, provides that no person shall receive an old-age pension unless the net capital value of his accumulated property, whether in or out of Australia, does not exceed £310. I have always been in favour of making the old-age pension such that no tinge of charity can attach to it. If we impose any limit as to property, there must necessarily be a certain amount of charity about the pension. This is not a new idea so far as I am concerned.
– For the reasons given last night in connexion with another amendment, the honorable member’s proposal is not in order.
.- You have just ruled out of order, Mr. Chairman, an amendment proposed by the honorable member for Barrier, on the ground that it would increase a proposed burden on the people; yetyou allowed a prior amendment, which would have the same effect, to be put I refer to the amendment as to Asiatics. I am in a bit of a quandary as to the position which you take up. If the one is in order, surely the other must be in order !
– But the Government accepted the amendment to which the honorable member has referred, and, therefore, took the responsibility.
– The Government can do that?
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 15, agreed to.
– The honorable member for Boothby suggested that an amendment should be made in the Bill providing that residence in Papua should not be regarded as absence from the Commonwealth. I saw no objection to that proposal, and have, therefore, drafted a new clause to follow clause 12, providing for the amendment of section 18 of the principal Act, which deals with residence in Australia. I move -
That the following new clause be added - 12a. Section 18 of the principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (1) thereof the following sub-section : - “1a.” Continuous residence in Australia shall not be deemed to have been interrupted by absence in a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth or in any British possession which becomes a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth.”
– Will that cover residence in Norfolk Island ?
– It will. If a resident of Australia goes to one of these places, and eventually returns to Australia, his absence will not be deemed to have interrupted his continuous residence here, and he will be entitled to a pension. The clause will not cover the case of Papuans or whites born in Papua who, at the end of their career there, come to Australia.
– Will it cover absence in New Zealand ?
– No; absence in New Zealand comes under the general provisions of the Act in regard to temporary absence.
– Will the clause put a time limit on absence from Australia?
– We can scarcely impose a limit, because if a man goes to Papua for a time as an official, or as an ordinary citizen desiring to develop the territory, and returns to Australia, I think his residence in the territory should be regarded as general residence in Australia.
– Is not Papua a part of Australia under the Acts Interpretation Act?
– No, because it is a Territory, not a State.
– Under the Acts Interpretation Act “ Australia” includes the whole Commonwealth.
– Under the covering sections of the Constitution the Commonwealth includes States, but not Territories, until they become States. The provision carries out the suggestion of the honorable member for Boothby.
.- The provision is a very proper one. It is only fair that, when Australians go to Papua to develop the resources of that Territory, their residence there should- entitle them to pensions, just as residence in Australia would do. That is the desire of the honorable member for Boothby. The proposal was discussed and approved by the late Government.
– According to the Acts Interpretation Act, Australia includes the whole of the Commonwealth. However, this provision will make assurance doubly sure.
– I do not think that a man or woman who, after living in Australia for twenty years, goes to Germany or some other foreign place, and lives there for a similar period, should be entitled to a pension; but it seems to me that the amendment will empower such persons to obtain such pensions. When the New South Wales Bill, which I introduced, was being discussed, good reasons were shown for a limitation upon absence, and a period of two years was fixed.
– The principal Act imposes a limitation of one-tenth of the period of residence.
– It seems to me that the amendment allows claimants to be absent from Australia as long as they like.
– Only as regards Territories of the Commonwealth.
– I do not object to that.
.- I am glad that this provision has been introduced. When the original Bill was under discussion, I pointed out the disadvantage which residents of Australia would suffer in going to Papua, and was backed up by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I think it was only for want of time that more consideration was not given to the suggestion that that disability should be removed.
.- The honorable member for Hume is mistaken as to the effect of the amendment. All it does is to allow residence in New Guinea, or any other dependency of the Commonwealth, to count as- residence on the mainland. You, Mr. Chairman, know that many persons have gone from your constituency and that which I represent to open up New Guinea. Some went years ago, when the mineral deposits at Sud Est and Woodlark Island were discovered.
– I wish to know whether children born in Papua, Norfolk Island, or other dependencies, of white naturalized parents, will be eligible for invalid pensions?
– The amendment covers inr valid as well as old-age pensions, but a necessary qualification is residence in Australia in the first instance. Persons who have lived all their lives in a Territory will not be eligible.
– I do not think that that is fair. Persons born in Papua of British parents should be entitled to pensions on meeting with severe accidents, just as they would be entitled had they beenborn on the mainland.
– The reason why such persons would not be entitled is that the finances of Papua and other Territories are distinct from those of Australia, and their obligations should not be thrown on the Commonwealth.
– The finances of Victoria are distinct from those of the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth subsidizes Papua. These places are distinct from Australia geographically and financially, and it would not do to throw their responsibilities on the Commonwealth. When they become States, the laws which apply to the existing States will apply to them.
– - For once in my life I agree with the honorable member for Robertson. Children have already been born to white parents in Papua, and they should have the same privileges as” they would possess if they had been born on the continent. They should not be denied - pension rights. I think that we are wealthy enough to extend the same privileges to all persons’ who are under Commonwealth laws.
– It is a matter about fifty years ahead anyhow.
– No’. I want to put on record my opinion that this provision ought to be made either now or at an early date. It is not quite fair to treat any white persons in Papua differently from persons on the mainland in this regard. I understand that some white persons whose ages range from seven to fifteen years are living in the Territory. Suppose that they become ill and cross to. Queensland at any time, why should they not enjoy the same conditions as are extended to other persons in Queensland ?
– The Bill covers those cases.
– It covers the cases of those parsons who went from Australia to Papua, but not the cases of those who were born in the Territory. The time is not far distant when the Commonwealth will have to provide a considerable sum for the development of Papua by means of railways, roads, and works of various kinds. When we undertake that obligation it will be nonsense to talk about dividing the money raised there and on the mainland. Again, the Northern Territory of South Australia when transferred to the Commonwealth will be a Territory and not a State. Probably we will acquire the control of other islands, for instance, the New Hebrides. The white residents of all Territories ought to be treated, as nearly as possible, in the same way as the residents of the Commonwealth. I ask the Attorney-General to look into the matter.
.- On Flinders Island there is a number of halfcastes who were born there and live practically under the same conditions as the white residents, and who, I think, are entitled to the same privileges as the residents of Australia. I desire to know from the Attorney-General whether those halfcastes are covered bv these clauses.
– My first idea was to ask the Committee to adopt the policy which the honorable member for Robertson advocated just now, and that is, that our Territories, particularly Papua, should te considered as part of the Commonwealth. But I admit that what I mainly wanted to achieve is met by the provision which the AttorneyGeneral has drafted. As regards white persons who are born in Papua and remain there for twenty-five years, the Legislative Coun cil can always pass an ordinance on their behalf, though we might have to find the money for the pensions, if we allowed the ordinance. It will be remembered that the domestic legislation of Great Britain did not extend to Australia, nor do I see that it is essential that our legislation should apply to Papua. All we ask is that the residence of white Australians in Papua for a number of years shall not invalidate their claim to a pension on their return to the mainland. The Attorney-General has met that position, and I do not think it is necessary to go any further ; the proposal meets the representations made to me when I visited the Territory.
– I desire to ascertain from the AttorneyGeneral the position of Lord Howe Island.
– I think it is part of New South Wales.
– I think it is part of the Commonwealth so far as representation in this House is concerned’. This is rather an important point, because it is inhabited by a number of old persons who, I think, should be included in the provisions of this measure.
– The honorable member for Boothby omitted to say that a Papua ordinance can have no effect upon the finances of Australia until it has been allowed by the Governor-General in Council. Suppose the Legislative Council of the Territory were to pass an ordinance to the effect that its white residents should enjoy the full privileges, of citizens of the Commonwealth under this measure. It would certainly be disallowed if the present Government were in office. Possibly when the white residents of the Territory represented to the late Minister of External Affairs .that they wished to participate in all the privileges granted in the Old-age Pensions Act of this Parliament, they were not familiar with the part dealing with invalid pensions. Suppose that any persons born of white parents in Australia were to live in the Territory for sixteen years and then become invalids. Even if the Government proclaimed that part of the Act those persons could not participate in the benefits it confers. In my opinion, it is incumbent upon the Government to see that the children of Australian citizens shall, on their return from Papua, be entitled to participate in those benefits, because the passing of an ordinance by the Legislative Council could not confer upon them the rights to which the honorable member for Boothby referred.
– They will have to be fifty-five years old, and that is looking a long way ahead.
– The honorable member has evidently not read section 20 of the principal Act, which contains the following -
Subject to this Act, every person above the age of sixteen years who is permanently incapacitated for work, by reason of an accident or by reason of his being an invalid, and who is not receiving an old-age pension, shall, whilst in Australia, be qualified to receive an invalid pension.
I say that children in Papua who are above sixteen years of age should, as soon as this part of the Act is proclaimed by the Government, be entitled to participate in its benefits ; and it would be unfair if some provision were not made for them.
.There is a possibility that if part of a State becomes a Territory, the people resident therein may lose any lights they may have at present under the Act. If they are only to have transitory rights, such as the clause will give, then residence ‘ in the Northern Territory or in Papua may involve a penalty. We desire that the Territories should grow and become permanent States ; and the best way is to allow all those who go there to have all the rights of citizenship which are enjoyed by those in the States. Our idea is to make the Northern Territory a strong outpost of the Commonwealth. A part of a State which becomes a Territory should not recede to the position of a Territory, as if it had been a Territory originally. ‘
– The Capital site will be in exactly the same position.
-But doubtless there will be a provision in the Capital Site Bill by which residents will retain all the privileges of citizenship of the - State, unless special provision is made for them by the Commonwealth. Why should we treat a resident in the Northern Territory differently from a resident in any of the other States? The fact of a man living there,’
And doing pioneer work, should entitle him to all. the privileges which are enjoyed in the States.
– The Constitution is perfectly clear on the point - the States include the Northern Territory.
– But the Constitution is not clear about Papua ; and it appears that there is going to be a distinction between the different Territories of the Commonwealth. The suggestion of the honorable member for Robertson is worthy of consideration before the Bill reaches another place.
– We must all agree that it is desirable to give the people who are opening up the Northern Territory and Papua the advantages likely to accrue under this measure. I do not quite follow the honorable member who last spoke in the sinuosities of his argument. He seems to think that a part of a State, which subsequently becomes a Territory, is likely to lose some of its rights through the transformation. I apprehend that this Bill applies to the whole of Australia.
– It is admitted that it does not apply to Papua.
– I am not now thinking of Papua. I could not follow the honorable member in his assumption that the residents of any new Territory, if now a part of the Commonwealth, will suffer any dis: ability through the transformation or change of government. Living at this moment in some part of Australia, they cannot . lose their rights through the part of the State in which they reside being created a Territory. It is eminently desirable to extend the scope of this measure to Papua ; and I should also like to see it extended to New Zealand - that is to Australians who have been absent in the Dominion. At several of the first Federal Conferences, prior to Federation, New Zealand was represented, and it was always understood that that Colony would be included. Had that been so, there would have been no doubt whatever that people who happen to be. away from the mainland for ten or twenty years in New Zealand would have had the benefit of this measure. There is always the possibility that some day New Zealand may join in a great confederation of Australasia ; and we ought to shape our legislation, as far as may be safely done, towards the ultimate realization of that great ideal. I may refer to a case, typical, I dare say, of others, of a man who, in order to earn his living, was obliged, during forty-three years’ residence in Australia, to spend some years in New Zealand. He did not leave Australia of his own choice, but because Australia did not then offer him a means of occupation; and now that he comes back to Australia, though he has had more than twenty-five years’ residence, he is deprived of the benefits of the Act. This is a case that deserves the attention of this Committee and the AttorneyGeneral. It is said that hard cases make bad laws ; that, I believe, is one of those wise saws and modern instances with which the Attorney-General has some acquaintance. I think it is rather a hard-and-fast provision that only an absence equivalent to onetenth of the qualifying length of residence should be allowed ; and I hope that the Treasurer and the Attorney-General will consider the advisability of giving persons, who may have been absent in New Zealand, the same privilege that is proposed for those who may go to Papua and other Territories of the Commonwealth. A slight alteration in the amendment suggested by the Attorney-General would meet the case. Seeing that we have not yet quite abandoned the hope that some day New Zealand will join the Federation, I think that we ought to do this. I am sure that the Treasurer would do it if the matter rested entirely with him. He is an Imperialist who desires to see uniform laws over all Imperial territories, and a measure which penalizes persons who through no fault of their own have been absent from Australia for a term of years will not enlist his sympathy. Take the case of a man born in Australia, but who leaves it and settles in New Zealand, returning here in ten or fifteen years’ time. Will he not be deprived of his right to a pension?
– Then, upon that ground we may fairly ask for a further modification of the provision regarding continuous residence in Australia, especially in view of the fact that in the principal Act we have already recognised the necessity for modifying it.
– The amendment of the AttorneyGeneral declares that persons born in Australia, who may reside for a period in Papua, and who afterwards return to the Commonwealth, shall be eligible to receive a pension. I desire to ask him whether a person who became incapacitated in Papua would have to return to Australia before he could receive his penson?
– He would have to make his claim here. His residence in Australia would not be destroyed by absence in Papua.
-His pension might be paid in Papua?
– That seems a reasonable thing. I presume that the same rule would apply to persons resident in Australia who had been absent for a period in Norfolk Island.
– What about persons who are born in Norfolk Island?
– I wish to correct the statement which I made just now. At this late hour one’s intellect is probably a little clouded, and that explains my error. A man must be resident in Australia on the date of making his claim for a pension so that he would have to return from Papua or Norfolk Island to make it.
– There are men who have grown old in Norfolk Island, men who were born there, who have traded with us all their lives, who have identified themselves with Australia in every way, and yet they will be debarred from receiving a pension. Is the Attorney-General prepared to enlarge the scope of his amendment so as to make it include those persons as well as residents of Papua, among those who would be eligible to receive a pension under the provisions relating to invalid pensions should they be proclaimed?
– I do not understand the full scope of the amendment. Let us assume that a person has been resident in Australia for fifteen years, at the end of which period he permanently settles in Papua. At the end of five years, had he remained in Australia he would be entitled to receive a pension. Will he not be eligible to receive that pension under the circumstances which I have outlined ?
– If he returns to Australia he can claim it.
– Then, I should like the scope of the amendment to be extended. Why should a man who has been a resident of Australian territory for twenty years, be compelled to come to the mainland to draw his pension, if he prefers to reside in Papua or Norfolk Island? It ought not to make the slightest difference to us in what part of our Territory he resides. I am entirely in agreement with the honorable member for Robertson in thinking that an old-age pensioner should be permitted to reside where he pleases. Why make it a condition that he shall leave the place where he has made his home and where possibly his family resides? An old-age pensioner’s family may have interests m Papua, and it may be more convenient for him to reside there.
– Does the honorable member think that if a man can get ros. a week and live in Australia, he would prefer to live in Papua?
– I hope that in course of time there will be many thousands who will make their homes in Papua. We may send an official to the Territory. He mav take his family there. . They may be doing good pioneer work. Why’ compel the head of such a family to come back to Australia to draw his pension ? That is an unfair position in which to place a Papuan pioneer. I do not suppose for a moment that a pension of 10s. per week will be sufficient to enable any person to live in great comfort. But such a weekly sum will aid a struggling family to keep in comfort an aged parent. If an old-age pensioner’s family are doing well in Papua, why compel the pensioner himself to reside elsewhere ?
– I indorse every word that has been said by the honorable member who has just preceded me. It seems strange that an amendment which increases the amount payable under this Bill, to a small extent, should be ruled out of order. Suppose that the owner of a house wished to enlarge his property, and that his architect said to him, like a silly ass, “ We shall have to pull down the whole building^ and start afresh.” That is similar to the position to which we are now reduced. If any of our Australian people choose to live at Papua or Thursday Island, why should we seek to debar them by providing that they can draw an old-age pension only if they make the claim on the mainland? A resident in Australian territory should enjoy the rights of Commonwealth citizenship. I would even extend the benefits of this_ measure to Australian citizens who, for any reason, might prefer to live in New Zealand. Indeed, I should oe favorable to a reciprocal understanding with Great Britain. If an English oldage pensioner chose to come to Australia, why should not Great Britain pay his pension here”, and why should we not have a similar_ arrangement to pay the pensions of Australian citizens in Great Britain? If the honorable member for Hindmarsh moves an amendment in that direction, and pushes it to a division, I shall vote with him.
.It appears to me that what is necessary is a short amendment providing that, for the purposes of this measure, the Territories of the Commonwealth shall be counted as part of the Commonwealth. Certainly, Papua is under the control of the Commonwealth Government. “v7e ought to be able to pay old-age pensions to Australian citizens residing there, just as easily as we pay them to citizens actually resident in Australia. Norfolk Island will soon be under Commonwealth control also. The residents of the Island should be treated exactly in the same way. I earnestly trust that, for the purposes of this measure, all our Territories will be treated as part of the Commonwealth. No very great number of pensions would be involved. If it were possible to take the course I have suggested, that would meet the whole case. I should like to hear the Attorney-General on the matter.
– I should not like to deal now with the suggestions which have been made, because they may involve more than some honorable members think. I take the case put by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, of a man who, after residing fifteen years in Australia, resides for five years in a Territory. It is proposed that he should be entitled to a pension at the expense of the Commonwealth. There might be a good deal of reason in that, if, in an exceptional case, such a man wished to remain for the rest of his life in the Territory. But I ask honorable members to consider the case of a man who resides for one year in the Commonwealth, and nineteen years in the Territory. They will admit that we could not deal with both cases in the same provision. I ask that these matters should be left in abeyance for the present, and I may be able to submit a carefully framed clause, to cover something more than is at present proposed, by way of amendment.
– A man may reside at the Federal Capital, which will be in Federal Territory.
– That would be dealt with on a separate basis.
– We had better provide for it in this Bill.
– The honorable member for Bass .raised the question of half-castes. Assuming that the half-caste is illegitimate, as he would be in the majority of cases, he would, I think, take his status from the mother, and as an aboriginal, would not be entitled to a pension under the Act.
– Suppose the half-caste were the son of a white woman and a blackfellow ?
– I am speaking without looking up authorities, but I think the same thing would follow. The status of an illegitimate child is that of the mother, subject to some provisions of State laws as regards the right to succeed as if the child were legitimate.
– Under the Sugar Bounty Act, a half-caste is counted as a white person.
– The general rule is that the status of a half-caste child is that of the mother, though there are some qualifications of the rule under State laws dealing with intestacy, into which it is unnecessary for me to enter. The answer I would give on the spur of the moment is that halfcastes would be excluded from the benefits of the Old-age Pensions Act. With regard to Lord Howe Island, that is a Territory under the Government of New South Wales.
– It is an electorate of New South Wales.
– It is not a part of the Commonwealth at present, but would become a Territory in the ordinary way by surrender and acceptance. Norfolk Island is to become a Territory. It is suggested that the residents of the Northern Territory would be deprived of their standing. That is not so. The Minister of External Affairs will introduce a Bill in a day or two to ratify the acceptance of the Agreement for the transfer of that Territory to the Commonwealth. But the measure will contain a provision that while the Northern Territory will be accepted as a Territory of the Commonwealth, the laws in force there will continue in force until altered by an Act of the Federal Parliament. As the Old-age Pensions Act applies to Australia, it will continue to apply to the Northern Territory, although that district would, on its transfer to the Commonwealth, be described as a Territory.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I propose to move the insertion of another new clause.
– The honorable member should have more sense than to jump in in this way after I had given notice days before of the same clause.
– I have been advised that another honorable member has circu lated an amendment dealing in a certain fashion with the, matter I propose to deal with.
– The honorable member saw the clause I drafted before he rose.
– I am surprised that my young friend should regard my action in this way. If he thinks he can handle the matter more satisfactorily than I can, I shall have the greatest possible pleasure in allowing him to do so. I should like to say, however, that I made an attempt to introduce the clause I wish to propose between two of the clauses of the Bill.
– I rose at the same time.
– I was not aware of that. I was advised by the Chairman of Committees to wait until the end of the Bill had been reached, and to submit my clause then. If the honorable member for Cook thinks that I am in any way infringing his privileges, in view of the fact that he had circulated a clause dealing with the same subject, I will hand the matter over to him now.
– As I gave notice some days ago of my intention to move in this matter, and also mentioned it in my second-reading speech, I think I should be allowed to take action now. I wish to move a new clause, to come under the heading of “Part IV. - Invalid Pensions,” before clause 13. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - 12c. Section19 of the principal Act is hereby amended by adding at the end thereof the words “ not being later that the 1st day of January, 1910.”
No objection can be raised to this amendment on the ground that it increases any burden upon the people, because it does nothing which is not authorized already by the principal Act. It is merely a matter of placing a limit with regard to the date. The amendment is similar to that moved by the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the date on which the proclamation should issue as to the payment of pensions to women who have reached the age of sixty years.
– I rise to a point of order. The amendment is not on all fours with that moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay, since in this case it is clearly provided that the clause in question shall come into operation on a certain date, which would mean an increased burden on the people. I submit that it is not in order.
– This is an important question of procedure. If it is not within the power of the Committee^ to vary a statute to the extent of limiting the time within which a proclamation under it shall be issued by the Executive, I do not know that the Committee has’ any power at all. If the Treasurer presses for a ruling-
– I am quite prepared to allow the amendment to go to a division on its merits.
– I should much prefer the adoption of that course than a straining of the Standing Orders.
– I withdraw my request for a ruling,^ and am prepared to allow the matter to be decided on its merits-
– The point of order raised by the Treasurer has my approval, and, therefore, since he has withdrawn it, I now take it, and press for a ruling. I submit that the amendment will involve an increased charge upon the people as from a certain definite date, and that, therefore, it is not in order. At present the Government have the right to issue a proclamation at any time, but that proclamation may not Issue for many years, and in the meantime this amendment would bring about a pub.nic charge at a definite date.
– I rule that the amendment is in order. I base my decision on the ground of the ruling that I gave last night - the fact that the principal Act already provides for the payment of these pensions, and that, therefore, there can be no additional expenditure involved by the amendment. The Executive may, as far as I know, have issued the proclamation to-day. The amendment is in order.
– I wish to point out in support of the amendment that since the coming into operation of the Commonwealth Old-age Pensions Act the Queensland Act, under which invalid pensions were paid, has practically been repealed, and, consequently, invalids in that State who were receiving pensions under it have had their payments stopped. That portion of the New ‘South Wales Act which provides for the payment of invalid pensions is still in operation. ‘
– And so with the Victorian Act.
– In the remaining States invalid pensions are not being paid. Every day we see the blind, the crippled, and the infirm begging in the streets of our cities. It is .a reflection on the Commonwealth that provision is not made by the public for their support. If the matter is not dealt with this session, this Parliament will have no other chance of doing anything in regard to it. The general elections must take place early next year, at latest, and the next House may be very different from this. Surely those who are now members would like to give full effect to the beneficent measure on the statute-book. I hope that the Committee will treat the amendment as a non-party one. If honorable members think only of the invalids who are in need, there will be a majority in support’ of it.
– The Committee will believe me when I say that every one ofus would be very glad to vote for this proposal to bring into operation at once the sections pf the Act which relate to the payment of pensions to invalids. This Government will be only too pleased to make those sections operative as soon as it can be done. But the present is an inopportune time for the proposal. Parliament has not )’et received a statement of the financial position of the Commonwealth.
– The Treasurer knows what that position is.
– The honorable member, when speaking at Gympie as Prime Minister, said that he did not know when effect would be given to the invalid pensions sections of the “Act, and has admitted that at the time he left office he had no immediate intention of bringing them into force. Hitherto I have looked upon him as one who disdained. subterfuge and stood by his political statements; but his conduct in regard to the Bill gives me reason to change my opinion of him. Can it be said that Ministers are hard-hearted persons who have no sympathy for the poor?
– The honorable member should be ashamed of himself. Now that he is out of office, he cannot be civil to those who are in office.
– I would not take office with the right honorable member for £10,000 a year.
– I ask the honorable member for Hume not to continue his interjections.
– What about the insult offered to me by the Treasurer?
– The honorable member is perpetually offensive.
– The honorable member for Hume was the first to interrupt. I ask him not to continue his interjections.
– The Treasurer referred to me before I interjected. When he was speaking of the honorable member for Wide Bay, I asked that honorable gentleman if his statement was true, and then he attacked me.
– I have no desire to be offensive, but the honorable member is so continuously offensive to me that he makes me say things that I do not wish to say. I have been subjected to his insults ever since I took office, though I have never done him an ill turn.
– The honorable member is an old schoolboy. Let him play with his “teddy bears” !
– I wish to deal with this subject seriously. We all sympathize with those who are in distress, and, for my own part; I should be glad, if it were possible, to put the invalid pension sections of the Act into force to-morrow. But I cannot at present say when the financial position of the Commonwealth will justify such a step.
– The Government has not got its. instructions from the State Premiers.
– The Premiers represent the States, which we should always be ready to assist. I regret that I cannot accept the amendment. I should like to accept it, but I should not be justified in doing so. Still, to use the words of the honorable member for Wide Bay, I hope the day is not far distant when the Government will be in a position to bring into operation the invalid pension sections of a very beneficent piece of legislation.
. - Again I have to correct the Treasurer for language which is extreme and, if I may be allowed to say so, quite unbecoming his position.
– Is it not time that the honorable member stopped lecturing? He has been doing that ever since he became leader of the Opposition.
– The Minister of Defence comes to the aid of his colleague Without knowing what the charge against him is.
– These little lectures are very tiresome.
– The honorable member will not deter me from expressing my views. The Treasurer misquoted mv Gympie speech.
– I read the statement, and it is here in print.
– The right honorable member stated that I gave no indication of what we proposed to do in the matter. I said that I regretted that I could not state that the invalid portion of the Act would be brought into operation immediately, but that I hoped that at no distant date we would bring that beneficent part into operation.
– “ In the not fardistant future “ the honorable member said. What I read was, “I am sorry I cannot tell you now that the invalid portion wil be brought into operation immediately.”
– Yes ; but what did the light honorable member say in his speech here? He said that I had no intention in> my mind to bring that portion into operation.
– I thought so.
– My words were that I was sorry that I was not able to bring it into operation immediately ; but that that would be done at no distant date - meaning; that it would be done as soon as the Government could raise the necessary money. Not only did the right honorable membermake that reference to our policy, but hemade a reference to my character. Formerly, he had a good opinion, he said, of my straightforwardness. After making a statement of that -kind to the House, I wish to tell him that it is now a matter of indifference to rae what opinion he holds regarding my character.
– The honorablemember has shaken us a bit by his proposals. He has shaken himself, I think.
– I speak without any feeling. If it is necessary for Ministers toreflect upon the personal honour of any representatives in order to buttress their position, they can pursue that course ; but it will” not alter my opinion.
– The honorablemember is very thin-skinned when he is attacked ; but he is not thin-skinned when he is attacking others.
– All my efforts have been directed to forcing the question of oldage pensions to the front. When the honorable member for Parramatta jeered at the idea of it being possible to finance a scheme before 1910, I replied that I was quite prepared to bring the matter to a head. We accepted from the Deakin Government a Bill, incomplete as it was. And when we now ask for a limit to be put to the time when the granting of invalid pensions shall be delayed, we are accused of doing a thing which we as a Government would not have been prepared to do.
– There is no doubt about that.
– Did not the late Government propose to raise the necessary means to provide for all the services of the Commonwealth? And we were willing to do so, had we a majority.
– The honorable member kept the means very secret, any way.
– Is there not on the notice-paper a Bill to provide for the imposition of a land tax ?
– There is no Bill to provide any revenue within this year.
– The Minister of Defence is as far astray on that matter as he is on the Dreadnought matter.
– The honorable member did not give us any estimate of the revenue it would raise.
– All that information would have been furnished in good time.
– All in the far distant future.
– That is a misquotation of my words.
– No ; the very words which the honorable member used.
– After using the phrase “ in the not far distant future,” I expressed my regret that it could not be done immediately.
– It was pretty mixed, I admit.
– The trouble was that I was too clear. May I remind the virtuous members of this Ministry that had we been a paltry Government, we could have proclaimed the invalid portion of the Act, and so left a legacy to our successors?
– The honorable member did not expect to leave so soon.
– That indicates the possibilities in the mind of the Treasurer.
– I should be glad to finance it, if possible.
– Can the right honorable gentleman point to a single act of mine which had a tendency to destroy the Federal finances and benefit my Government?
– The late Government did nothing. It could not destroy anything by doing nothing.
– It was because we did, and were doing, things to suit the majority of the people - but not those honorable members who were opposed to us, and di j. not desire our party to succeed - that we were removed from office in such a hurry. Not a single charge was made in the country regarding the position we occupied.
– I rise to order, sir.
– A charge was made against the honorable member for Wide Bay, and I take it that he has a perfect right to reply to it. Even the honorable member for Parramatta, by way of interjection, has made certain charges against him, and I ask the honorable gentleman to cease these continuous interjections. Probably, if he does, we shall get along with business better than we have done.
– On a point of order, sir, I ask whether it is in order for the honorable member, when we are dealing with an Old-age Pensions Bill, to enter upon a general defence of the policy and administration of the late Government ?
– The honorable member will not be in order in following that course. ,
– Nor was he.
– It is not often that I take the trouble to reply to references to myself or to the Labour party ; but they were made so directly and deliberately by the Treasurer, with the intent to wound or to misrepresent, that I feel that I am only getting justice when you say, sir, that I am entitled to make a full reply. The right honorable gentleman made the charge that the late Government did not intend-
– I do not know whether I said that or not ; but I think so.
– The honorable member said so.
– All the evidence points in that way.
– The honorable member also said that he used to think that I would not resort to a subterfuge, but that he had altered his opinion in that regard.
– Not in dealing with the subject just. now.
– Yes ; the honorable member did.
– In that case, I withdraw the remark. I said I thought that the honorable member was acting from political motives; but I did not mean my remark to be taken in a personal sense.
– If the right honorable gentleman withdraws the words he used, and assures me that he did not intend to use them, I have no desire to discuss that part of the matter at all. But there has been a tendency to reflect on the action of honorable members on this side. Since the matter has been cleared up satisfactorily, may I say that it is our duty more than that of any one else to press this matter. No one will deny- that, as soon as I was appointed Leader of the party, I pressed the question successfully on the Commonwealth Parliament ; and other honorable members were just as glad as I was to put oh the statute-book as complete an Old-age Pensions Bill as we could get at that time. There is a limit to the patience of those who hold Radical views; and we are seeking to make a step in advance of what we did two years ago. Within that time, going no further than the British Empire, thought has advanced greatly; and why should we not make a demand on the wealth of the country to enable us from the ist January, next year, to pay invalid pensions? That is the duty of this Parliament ; and it would have been not only the duty, but the pleasure, of the late Government to have staked their existence
On raising sufficient money to give full effect to both parts of the Act, even before the expiration of the operation of the Braddon section. I shall vote for the amendment with pleasure ; and I feel sure that if the Government face, as they ought, the question, six months will give them ample time to consider the finances, and there will be no difficulty in carrying the proposal into effect.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (ParramattaMinister of Defence) ri.z8 a.m.]. - I have read with care the utterances of the Leader of the Opposition at Gympie, and I agree with him that all sections of the House are pledged to this beneficent and just reform, which I have advocated ever since I had a seat in Parliament. I hope I shall not be wanting in the support of any measure which will have the effect of smoothing the later years of the toil-worn people of Australia ; and that has always been my attitude.
– Now is the accepted time !
– Ves! But I am sorry to say that now is not the day of our financial salvation, and that is just the trouble. That was also the trouble of the honorable member for Wide Bay at Gympie, when he was led to express his deep regret - and we can understand it would be sincere on that occasion - that he did not see his way to finance the invalid portion of the Pensions Act, and that he could not say it would be brought into operation immediately. That was in March; and his words, therefore, have no meaning, if .we are to take them literally, seeing that the Pensions Bill was not to operate for at least three months after the date of the speech.
– Unless brought into operation earlier by proclamation.
– The honorable member intended to make a distinction between the invalid portion and the general portion of the Act?
– Then there is the fact to be faced that the honorable member meant at that time, not the introduction of invalid pensions immediately, but their introduction at some period subsequent to the date at which the general portion of the Act should begin to operate. I take it that the honorable member had in his mind some proposal to increase the financial resources of the Government.
– There are honorable mem- . bers who know what I had in my mind; and an amendment of the Act was mentioned in the Governor’s speech.
– The only mention I find in the Governor-General’s speech is in paragraph 5, as follows : -
Notwithstanding these decreases in revenue, by careful economy in administration, a larger sum than the amount estimated has been placed to the trust fund to pay old-age pensions. Arrangements have been made to pay these pensions from ist July this year.
– There is another reference in paragraph 31.
– That refers to the Bill which the present Government have introduced.
– I understand that that paragraph refers to the Bill which was left in the Treasury by the late Prime Minister. We are carrying out, as far as we can, the proposals left for us by our predecessors ; but it seems that we are doing nothing right in following the path so clearly laid down for us. It is evident” that a change has come over the scene since the late Government went out of office. What is the meaning of what we now see? Have the finances altered in any way ? Is there any more money in the Treasury now than when the honorable member for Wide Bay left the Treasury? Are there any greater financial resources behind the measure than there were? Since the Gympie speech was delivered there has been no large “spring” in the revenue which would justify us in launching out into these new enterprises which the honorable member for Wide Bay himself declared at Gympie were from a financial stand-point impracticable. The honorable member almost apologized to his sympathizers, because he could not immediately bring the invalid pensions into operation. What has happened since to alter the situation from a financial point of view? We have not the money with which to pay these invalid pensions, and we say so frankly. The honorable member says that he could finance them, but he has not suggested where the money can be found. All that we can get from him is a reference to the precious Land Tax Bill which the late Government introduced. But anybody who knows anything about the land values of Australia knows that all those values have to be assessed before a penny of tax can be levied upon them. Under these circumstances anybody who will argue that within the next twelve months we can get a penny of taxation from that source is simply playing fast and loose with the facts of the situation.
– Then, how do the Government propose to provide £2,000,000 with which to pay for a Dreadnought?
– Has the £2,000,000 gone Home yet? We simply say that we shall find that money as soon as we know the precise form in which it is to be applied.
– Then the Government ought to find the money for these pension?.
– Really, we cannot do so, and there is an end of the matter. During this debate reference has been made to the trend of opinion in the Old Country in regard to old-age pensions. What happened there ? The same proposals were put forward. Impracticable proposals emanated from the Labour members in the House of Commons, just as political and impracticable proposals are being put forward here by Labour members. Everybody’ knows - and it is just as well to sayit. straight out - that they are merely electioneering. They do not want invalid pensions so much as they do a cry with which to go upon the public platform at the next elections. There is no other explanation of the facts of the situation - of this sudden swing round on the part of my honorable friends in the course of six weeks. They know that what I say is correct, and, therefore, it is just as well to speak plainly. In the House of Commons, Mr. Lloyd-George, with the responsibility on his shoulders of financing the measure which he was introducing, was compelled to waive all these proposals aside. He did waive them resolutely aside, and put the Bill through in the form in which he originally intended it should go through. We have to accept the same responsibility in connexion with this measure. We say that we have not the money with which to finance the additions to the Bill which my honorable friends suggest. We say, further, that as soon as we have it we shall be prepared to consider those additions. Meantime we must consult our financial resources and proceed with the Bill accordingly. Had we not better get this measure in proper working order before proceeding to load it? I would remind my honorable friends that there are two ways of killing a measure. One is by overloading it, and the other by mutilating it. They are taking the former of these courses, which may be just as fatal to the smooth working of the Act as if they turned upon it and rent it. Under the circumstances, I appeal to honorable members to get the Act in working order. It is a liberal measure - the best of its kind of which I have any knowledge. It has been urged to-night by the honorable member for Lang that it involves no new impost upon the people of Australia, because it simply transferred to the Commonwealth the old-age pensions which have hitherto been paid by the States. But the honorable member must know that there are three States in which no old-age pensions were paid. Moreover, the Act imposes an added burden upon the people, even in respect of the States which were previously paying pensions. The latest information is that there will be a substantial increase in the amount of the pensions payable in New South Wales alone. In Victoria provision will have to be made for paying double the number of pensioners recognised under the State law, in addition to which we have -to make more liberal payments to those whose claims have merely been transferred to the Commonwealth.
– Surely the Victorian Oldage Pensions Act is scarcely worthy of its name?
– I am not dealing with that question. I am answering the contention of the honorable member’s colleague that nothing new or additional is being attempted by our Act.. I say that its provisions are infinitely more generous than are those contained in any State measure of the kind. In New South Wales the amount payable under this heading will be increased from £510,000 to more than ^600,000. In Victoria there will be an increase of considerably more than a hundred per cent, in the total amount payable. The same thing will happen, to a lesser extent, in Queensland. So that there is a very substantial increase in the amount which will be payable under the Act as it stands, as compared with the amount which was previously paid by the States. I shall nol be surprised if, when the measure is in working order, the total disbursements amount to close upon £2,000,000. Indeed, I shall not be surprised if they exceed £2,000,000 after it has been operative a little time. Therefore, I ask whether we had not better get the measure into working order, with a. view to. seeing if it develops any defects before proceeding either to overload or mutilate it? I venture to say that all friends of the Act will take that view. In doing so, they will be better friends of the measure than the would be if they started either to maul it out of recognition or to overload it.
– That is a regular old Legislative Council argument.
– I am putting the precise argument that was advanced by the gentleman whom honorable members opposite are always alluding to as a great friend of theirs - Mr. Lloyd-George, the Radical Chancellor of the Exchequer in Great Britain. He waved aside all the proposals of the Labour members in the House of Commons, and asked the House, in the interests of the aged poor, to help him through with his measure, as it was framed bv the Government. The responsibility of financing the Act must rest with the Government, and it is in shouldering that responsibility, as we undoubtedly must do, that the Government ask the House to wait for better times and more favorable circumstances before making the large increase in expenditure which the amendment contemplates.
– We have been engaged upon this Bill since about 8 o’clock last evening, and, judging by the arguments used by Ministers, and especially by the Treasurer, the only case they have, is that some other Government did or did not do such and such a thing. Surely the Ministry is not so destitute of ideas of its own that Ministers have to fall back upon what some other Government was going to do. There is a very good reason why we should take the full responsibility, and should provide for invalid pensions at once. Surely, Ministers do not mean to say that provision was made for invalid pensions in the original Act simply for political purposes, and as a placard. If the intention was that the provision should be a reality, I venture to say that this is the proper time to put our intention into operation.
– If we have the means.
– The Government have to meet the State Premiers in a week or two. Is it to be understood that this Ministry is afraid to extend the benefits of this measure until they can make an arrangement with the State Premiers? Do the Government mean to say that they cannot frame their finances until they hear what the State Premiers will be kind enough to give to us?
– Who suggested that ?
– The whole argument from the Treasury tench to-night indicated that attitude.’ I say that we should provide for invalid pensions in this Bill. If that is not to be clone, let us remove the sections relating to the subject from the original Act, and get rid of all hypocrisy. Honorable members opposite who have spoken in the constituencies on this subject have taken credit for what the Act provides. They have emphasized the fact that it deals with more than old-age pensions. They have claimed that it proposes to grant invalid pensions. I could turn up the speeches of nearly every honorable member opposite who has addressed himself to the subject, and show that it has been pointed out repeatedly that the Government intend to provide for invalid pensions. It is cruel, to say the least of it, to allow this idea to go forth, and to let those who are unfortunately maimed live in the belief that assistance is to be extended to them, and then put them off the realization of the idea on the ground that this is not the proper time to do it. The only excuse offered is that the late Government did not state in the ex-Prime Minister’s speech at Gympie that invalid pensions were to be paid immediately. I say unhesitatingly that we should put in this Bill everything that we intend to carry out. There should be no hesitation about our attitude. Let’ us point out to the State Premiers that the Commonwealth is taking over the obligations of three States that have already established old-age pensions. Two of the States have instituted invalid pensions. The States that have not incurred obligations in this respect would have been compelled to follow. Does any honorable member opposite venture to say that those States could have maintained their attitude much- longer? Would they not have been forced to grant old-age pensions schemes out of their owl finances? The Commonwealth has relieved them of that obligation. We, therefore, have a good ground for putting it to the State Premiers that we shall retain sufficient Customs and Excise revenue to enable us to meet these obligations. If we are going to put off the payment of invalid pensions until the State Premiers say that they will permit us to pay them, I am afraid that we shall defer the obligation for a very long time indeed. It is a cruel hypocrisy to put invalid pensions forward merely as a placard, and to delude the unfortunate people who are hoping for relief.
– Did the honorable member make such a criticism with reference to the Gympie speech ?
– Ministers seem to be so helpless that they are compelled to fall back upon the Gympie speech. Surely they have ideas of their own? The Minister of Defence pleaded in the most pathetic way with the Leader of the Opposition to give the Government an idea of how to finance this Bill.
– And this is not supposed to be a party measure !
– We had evidence of the lack of party feeling in the division last night !
– The whole Opposition voted solidly.
– No, they did not. But every member of the Ministerial side voted solidly.
– That is not correct.
– It is correct.
– I maintain that we ought to be in a position to go to the State Premiers and say what we intend to do. But, instead of that, this House is to be put in the undignified position of being compelled to adjourn while the Commonwealth Ministry play second fiddle to the States.
– The States made the Commonwealth in the first instance.
– This Parliament is to be shut up while Ministers go cap in hand and kow-tow to the Premiers.
– I ask the honorable member not to continue that line of argument.
– I am pursuing the line of argument followed by the Minister of Defence, and to that extent I think I am in order. I say again that we ought to know what our obligations are in connexion with this Bill, so that when Ministers meet the State Premiers they shall be in a position to say, “ Here are the obligations which we have undertaken, and we must have the money for them.”
– The honorable member’s leader did not talk like that at the last Premiers’ Conference.
– Honorable members opposite, by applying the gag, took care that the Leader of the Opposition should not have a chance to say much. They would not let him speak, even about his own policy. It will be of no use for the representatives of the Commonwealth to go to the Premiers’ Conference with half a scheme. I believe that if the States Premiers are informed that the financial obligations of the Commonwealth in respect of invalid as well as old-age pensions must be met, they will give way. If, however, the representatives of the Commonwealth say to the State Premiers : “ We want so much revenue, but if we cannot get it, the payment of invalid pensions must be delayed,” the result will be that we shall have to delay their payment indefinitely. In asking for the necessary funds to finance the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, we are asking only to be allowed to do what otherwise the States would have to do themselves. The only object we had in view in establishing a Commonwealth old-age pension scheme was to facilitate the payment of such pensions throughout Australia. I hope that Ministers will give the State Premiers clearly to understand what Commonwealth obligations really involve, and, if they do, I believe that the Premiers will be willing to forego so much of their share of the Customs and Excise revenue as will enable us to pay the invalid pensions, and to meet our other financial obligations.
– I should not have risen but for sonic remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition. When the Prime Minister stated that the Government desired to get on with the Oldage Pensions Bill, the Leader of the Opposition said that they were responsible for the delay in passing it, and that if his Government had remained in power the Bill would have been passed. Are we to understand that the Bill which I have in my hand is the measure to which the honorable member referred? If so, let me say that there is not a single line in it providing for the proclamation of the date for the payment of invalid pensions, or for reducing the age qualification for old-age pensions. On Monday last, I waited on the Treasurer in connexion with the payment of invalid pensions. I asked the right honorable gentleman what was the estimated cost involved. He told me that there were no figures in the Department showing what the cost would be, and that no inquiries had been made on the subject. . UV far as he could learn, the late Treasurer had done nothing towards making provision for the payment of invalid pensions. The right honorable gentleman went further, and said that he believed that invalid pensions should be paid, and would set about inquiries at once to discover what the cost would be, in order that he might be in a position to state, in delivering his Budget, when it would be possible to pay them. I say that it was a definite course to pursue. The Leader of the Opposition says that it was the intention of the Labour Administration to pay invalid pensions at some distant date.
– At no distant date.
– I venture to say that the honorable gentleman knows full well that the financial position was such that he would have been unable to pay invalid pensions. But, in order that he might retain his position on the Treasury bench, he hesitated’, though he had an opportunity to do so, to say when invalid pensions would be paid. The pension which should be paid before all others is the invalid pension. I have come to the conclusion that the proposals for the reduction of the age qualification, and for the payment of invalid pensions, which have been submitted from the other side, have been put forward with the object of embarrassing the Ministry.
– Is that the honorable member’s excuse for not voting for them?
– I voted for the reduction, of the age, and I am prepared to support a proposal for the payment of invalid pensions on the ist of January. But I repeat that, in my opinion, these proposals have been made by the other side with the intention of embarrassing the Ministry.
.The present Government, since they assumed office, have adopted a practice of parading stories and tittle-tattle, which have the effect of bringing the actions df permanent officers of the Commonwealth into this House for discussion. Though they may, through private members, put forward tittle-tattle of that kind, I shall not be one to place any stigma on our principal officers. It is, in my opinion, a mean action.
– Who has done that?
– First of all, the Treasurer made a statement that the principal officer of the Treasury had said this and that. I say that .it is unjust to discuss public officers here in that way. When the principal officers speak to their Ministers, unless they are speaking officially in documents, they cannot protect themselves.
– May not a Minister ask his Under-Secretary for facts?
– True ; and the Minister can take the responsibility of saying so.
– He is not supposed toask about what a late Minister was doing.
– That is the statement which was made. The honorable member for Batman has just said that he went to the Treasurer and asked him about certain things, that the Treasurer told him about them, and further stated that no estimateshad been made, and that it was his intention to do so and so. I do not wish to deprive a Government that will do that sort of thing of any of the kudos that they may get thereby. That sort of conduct is the last refuge of impotence.
– It only proves that the honorable member made no estimates, and gave no instructions to get any.
– It is the simplest thing possible to get estimates. People who want to do things do not need to appoint a Committee to go round and make investigations for a year or two before they take action. They get their estimates very quickly, and do what they mean to do. If a Commonwealth Government is- going to change the whole of the previous practice and shelter itself behind its principal officers, it will not be a Government at all, in the ordinary sense.
– Who has done that, and how has it been done?
– It has been done two or three times.
– The Treasurer simply said that he is getting estimates which the honorable member had given no instructions to get.
– I decline to canvass what has been discussed between Mr. Allen and myself. It is quite out of place and improper to discuss it here, either by way of affirming or denying what was said. Everything was done from my point of view to furnish estimates at the proper time for everything that was intended to be done by the Government. As regards the honorable member for Batman’s statement that he has ascertained from the Treasurer what he intends to do, that information would, have come a great deal better from the Treasurer in this Chamber, when he was asked to explain the Government policy, instead of being told to the House in a roundabout conversation which took place when the honorable member for Batman interviewed the Treasurer and informed him that he was in favour of this enlightened proposal. The honorable member apparently was able by his eloquence to induce the Treasurer to open his heart and reveal his intention to do this, and to do it much earlier than the late Government would have done it if they had remained in office. The sympathies of the Government have been moved in that direction in accordance with the brilliant idea, expressed by the honorable member for Batman.
– I said the same to the honorable member as I said in the House.
– I give the honorable member for Batman credit for voting as he believes. If other honorable members would do the same this measure would be more liberal than I fear it will be when it leaves this Committee. The honorable member for Parramatta made a rather lengthy speech which was characterized by interjection as a “ good old Tory speech.” In his last sentences he said, “Let us not attempt to get too much in this Bill. Let us not go to extremes, and so endanger the position that we already hold. Wait until we have better times in Australia, and then we shall be able to do it.”
– I said “Wait until the finances are better.”
– I took down the honorable member’s words, but if he meant “Wait until we have better financial times,” I will accept that correction. When can we hope to get better financial times in Australia than the present? When are we likely to have another run of seasons such as we have had during the last few years? When will the financial resources of the people be stronger? We cannot hope for a very great improvement in that direction. If we strike some bad years, when it will be difficult to raise the necessary taxation for this purpose, the honorable member, according to that argument, would say, “ Now that we have bad times we cannot do it. Let us wait until we get better times again,” and nothing would be done. He also said that in the House of Commons Mr. Lloyd-George, after introducing the 01d:age Pensions Bill, was forced to reject proposals that came from the Labour party because the Government would not have been able to finance them. He also claimed that this measure was as good as any that had been passed in any other country. Is that anything to boast of? ‘
– I said that it was better.
– I .doubt it. As it stands now it is not better as regards the invalid pensions portion. As we originally passed it, it was not so good in some respects as the Queensland Act.
– It is going to cost a lot more money than the Queensland one did.
– The one trouble that seems to get on the nerves of the Ministry is the amount of money that the Act is going to cost. Has not the honorable member for . Parramatta reiterated countless numbers of times the assertion that during the last two years we have extorted from the people of Australia by indirect taxation over £2,000,000 more than we did previously ? Yet, when a portion of that money is asked to be applied toward the payment of invalid and old-age pensions, the Government seriously object to it.
– Why did not the honorable member do it?
– My reason is fully explained in the Gympie speech, which has been so frequently quoted. I stand by that speech. I said that I regretted exceedingly that we were not able to bring the invalid portion of the Act into operation immediately, but that I did hope that we should be able to bring if into operation in the near future.
– The honorable member said “ in the not far distant future.”
– That is even more restrictive. Coming after the word “ immediately “ those words mean a very short time indeed. One could not use words that would confine the date more nearly to the present day than those did. There are a number of honorable members who were in my confidence regarding this matter, and it was only because they did not desire to anticipate the action taken by the Opposition that they refrained from asking questions in regard to it. I declined to ask, directly or indirectly, questions as to the policy of the Government, for the reason that I think a man can live longer in public life, and enjoy the respect of his constituents to a greater extent, by maintaining a high standard than he would do if he put up some one to fly political kites on his account. The honorable member for Parramatta charged the Labour representatives in the House of Commons with attempting to destroy the Old-age Pension Bill introduced there.
– I made no such statement.
– The honorable member said that Mr. Lloyd-George had to resist the attempts of Labour members in Great Britain to get better terms for the aged.
– That is correct.
– There would have been 110 old-age pensions in Great Britain had it not been for the Labour party in the House of Commons.
– I do not believe it.
– Had it not been for the advent of the Labour party, the oldage pensions scheme would have been scouted. I know personally many of the members of that party, and the man who has done more than any one else to make it what it is. It is but yesterday that the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared that it would be impossible to finance an old-age pension system for Great Britain. But when the Labour party had enlightened the electors as to the wisdom and justice of the measure, it was at once brought forward by a Liberal Government.
– The honorable member misrepresents what I said in declaring that I stated that the Labour party had tried to destroy the English Old-age Pensions Bill.
– The honorable member tried to convey the impression that they would have destroyed it, whereas the truth is that without them such legislation would not have been introduced. I did not enlighten the public regarding the measures which the late Government would take to finance the old-age pensions system, because I was not called upon to do so.
– I merely suggested that the honorable member might explain his change of front.
– There has been no change of front. That is an old parliamentary gibe. Were I to make the retort courteous, I would say that the honorable member is an authority on changes of front, by word and deed. I have refrained from asking this Government how it intends to finance the scheme. But when, after my Gympie speech, the honorable member for Ballarat said that the fund was in danger, I at once replied that it was not.- That was true. The present Treasurer was in error regarding the situation. Although, at the time, my relations with the honorable member for Ballarat were most amicable,_ I did not consider it necessary to inform him of the intentions of the Government in regard to the matter. Ministers must be allowed to declare their policy at what they conceive to be the proper time.
– The statement I made was uttered outside the chamber, and the honorable member came in here and repeated it.
– The Treasurer made it in this chamber, and on the following morning I met him outside, and explained the matter.
– What I said was not that there was no money, but that there had been no appropriation.
– The press is absolutely at the command of the Government, but the Opposition can only correct false im- pressions by getting its statements published in Hansard. Ours is a young party, of the soundness of whose actions many persons are apprehensive. But, believing our principles to be sound, and our policy just, it is our bounden duty to take every opportunity to state our case in such a way that it may be understood by every honest man. The Treasurer said, earlier in the evening, that, if the Opposition carried a certain amendment, the Bill would be killed.
– I said that it must take the responsibility if it so amended the Bill that the Government could not proceed with the measure.
– No self-respecting Minister would make that statement. If the Government cannot carry the Bill, it should make way for another. The honorable member for Parramatta said that serious embarrassment would be caused to the Government if the amendment were carried, a watering down of the original statement which was due to the fact that Ministers now feel their position a little more secure.
– Why is the honorable member “stone-walling”?
– So far from wishing to delay the Bill, I have done all I could to facilitate the passing of it. The Government should be grateful for the assistance which it has had from the Opposition. Only two years ago many honorable members thought that we were going too far, and the honorable member for Parramatta expressed the view that an old-age pensions system could not be financed by .the Commonwealth.
– I think not.
– The honorable member said that the motion meant nothing.
– I mav have said that. A lot of the kite-flying done by the honorable member’s party meant nothing.
– In this case something has been done, and we wish now to make a second step forward., In any case, it will be only a short time before what we desire will be done.
– Have I not promised to do it as soon as I can?
– Any reasonable Opposition would be satisfied with that promise.
– We are glad to have it, but when it was proposed to bring cer tain provisions into operation within six months, the Treasurer took a point of order.
– Honorable members will not trust the Government.
– It is not a question of trusting the Government. Ministers wish to deprive the Committee of the right to say that, certain provisions shall come into operation on the ist January next. We cannot do more than press the amendment to a division, but no adverse vote will affect my attitude on the question.
– We are anxious to do it as soon as we can.
– Some honorable members profess to believe that these advanced views in regard to old-age pensions are very popular. I do not agree with that idea. If direct taxation has to be imposed to enable them to be carried out, I maintain that they will be anything but popular. But public men have a duty to discharge to the country, and I am glad to say that the party with which I am associated is one which will never pause to consider whether a thing is popular or unpopular .sa long as it is right.
– So far, I have assisted the Government to push this measure through by refraining from speaking. But when they deliberately refuse to advance a few thousand pounds for the purpose of relieving the cripples - the unfortunates of Australia - it is more than I can tolerate. I must, therefore, crave the indulgence of the Committee whilst I say a few words upon this question. The Government have chided the Leader of the Opposition with not having brought down a better measure than that which is now under consideration, although they know full well that they denied him the opportunity of bringing down any Old-age Pensions Bill. Had he introduced this measure, I can assure them that the same fight would have taken place upon its provisions. Members of the Labour party are free men, and they have the right to act as individual members of a party. I am astonished that honorable members opposite should imagine that we, the watchdogs of the people who require assistance, would sit silent while injustice was being perpetrated. It was paltry in the extreme for the Treasurer to rise time and again to assure us that there is no money available with which to pay invalid pensions. The right honorable gentleman even went so far as to endeavour to shelter himself behind a standing order. All I have to say in that connexion is that if he can successfully shelter himself behind that standing order, the sooner it is rescinded the better. I have a very vivid recollection of the opposition offered by the Minister of Defence to the Surplus Revenue Bill. He is the very last man who should have attacked the honorable member for Wide Bay, seeing that he himself “stonewalled” the first attempt made to provide the means with which to pay old-age pensions. The men who to-day refuse to provide additional revenue with which to pay invalid pensions are no more censurable than are those who fought that Bill. For the Government to urge that they cannot obtain the necessary funds with which to give effect to measures of urgency is exceedingly paltry, especially in view of the fact that, so far, they have not attempted to obtain revenue from any source other than the Customs House.
– Two or three years ago, the honorable member for North Sydney and myself suggested a means by which old-age pensions might be paid.
– What was that method ?
– The honorable member would not understand it if I explained it to him.
– The statement of the Minister of Defence is on a par with his other professions. At present he is a member of a Government which has brought down this Bill. If he has a scheme for the payment of old-age pensions, why does he not bring it forward?
– We have an oldage pensions scheme.
– Yes; a .half-and-half scheme of which the Government ought to be thoroughly ashamed. They ought to be ashamed of the fact that they cannot provide sufficient money to adequately meet the claims of the poor. The payment of 10s. a week is altogether insufficient. . So far, honorable members have not complained of that, because they wish to relieve the wants of the cripples as well as of the aged. Where the proposals of the Government accord with my views, I shall give them my support. I shall not be guilty of factious opposition ; but when they refuse to ma.ke this Bill an effective one, I say it is high time that they were sent to the country.
– I wish the Government would agree to the amendment proposed, which isa very simple one. They need not give effect to it until it suits them to do so. It is not money that they require, but merely credit. The trouble is that we have no machinery in the Commonwealth for utilizingcredit, which is the new factor in the progress of civilization. I may remind honorable members that, on 2nd August, 1901, I suggested a means of securing the necessary revenue with which to pay old-age pensions. I pointed out the desirableness of levying an absentee tax, and a progressive land tax. I also stated, in reply to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Barton, that if we were threatened with an invasion by Japanese, we would scarcely sit down anc? say that we could not “finance an army until the expiration of the Braddon section of the Constitution. I suggested that we would1 be more likely to at once devise ways and means with which to equip an army to drive back the enemy. The motion which I moved on that occasion reads -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable, in the interests of the deserving aged* poor, that the Government should, without unnecessary delay, formulate a national scheme for the payment of old-age pensions, and that thismotion, when carried, be an instruction to the honorable the Attorney-General to draw up the necessary measure.
Then, on 3rd October, of trie same year, I asked the Prime Minister, Mr. Barton, the following question : -
I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, if he will be able to set apart a day next week for the discussion of the motion I have on the notice-paper dealing with old-age pensions ?
To which Mr. Barton replied -
I cannot at the present moment give ar* answer to the honorable member’s question, but I shall be glad to do so if he will place it upon the business-paper to-morrow.
In passing, I may mention that I am a great believer in the idea that a critic should be constructive as well as destructive. I once saw a mule in Texas kick down a whole crockery shop. Yet he was a hybrid with no pride of ancestry or hope of posterity. But, whilst that mule was able to kick the shop to pieces, he was not able to replace a single saucer. This was the proposition I made for financing the proposal. I suggested that the Prime Minister should enter into negotiations with the Premiers, of the States, with a view to procuring the passing of State Acts authorizing the Commonwealth Treasurer to retain the full amount of the revenues raised by special Customs taxation for the purpose of providing for Commonwealth old-age pensions. This was on 17th November, 1904. I wish to show that I am one of the statesmen of this House, and not an ordinary £400 a year politician. I said further that if what I proposed were done, I should be willing to vote for the imposition of duties on tea and kerosene, and for a tax of sixpence per quart on champagne. I mentioned also an inheritance tax, a progressive land tax, and a progressive income tax or wealth tax to meet the expenditure involved. In 1903 I asked Sir Edmund Barton whether he was in favour of the large surplus of Commonwealth revenue being utilized for the payment of old-age pensions. This was the answer I got to that question -
The surplus mentioned by the honorable members has been distributed among the several States as mentioned by me yesterday, and it is believed that without it embarrassment of their finances would have taken place. Moreover, if the large sum mentioned could have been withdrawn from the above purpose and applied to the carrying out of a system of old-age pensions it is more than doubtful if it would have proved sufficient to pay throughout the Commonwealth pensions on the lines adopted in New South Wales and Victoria.
So that whatever honorable members may say it must be admitted that the first proposal for the -payment of old-age pensions came from the party on this side of the House. I believe that the present Government desire to do what is right, but, * unfortunately, they are like persons searching for a path through the wilderness with a tallow dip. They seem to me to be at present in an impenetrable financial jungle. All these financial questions could be readily taken in hand if we had a natural banking, system to enable us to deal with them. By every attempt we make to settle these financial questions in other ways, we shall only be getting deeper into the quicksands, and the time will come when Mr. Cohen will foreclose his mortgage. I am warning honorable members now not to put off the establishment of a State Bank. Let them establish it as quickly as ever they can, and I shall be prepared without pay to run it for a year for them until it is properlystarted. We cannot hope to face our finan cial obligations without the factor of credit. Under existing conditions we can deal only with actual capital, and until we discover a means of financing our systems of invalid and old-age pensions, it is a mere waste of time to be talking about amendments or anything else.
.There is a difference between this amendment and that moved to bring into force the provision referring to women. At the same time, I do not think that it is more than a technical difference. As I said to-night, the idea of providing that these two parts of the Act should be brought into force by proclamation was to allow time for reasonable inquiries to be made with a view to ascertaining what amount would be required to meet old-age pensions, what amount would be required to enable women of sixty years of age to obtain pensions, and also the amount required for the payment of invalid pensions. In my opinion, the provision for invalid pensions is the most important in the Act, and the one with which I am sure honorable members have most sympathy. No matter at what age a person becomes an invalid, his case is much more desperate, especially where a wife and children are dependent upon him, than that of any person who, though sixty-five, or even seventy years of age, is in possession of good health. In making provision for the lapse of a sufficient time to enable inquiries to be made, I do not think the Committee can consider that six months would be sufficient to secure all the information necessary. I think, however, that twelve months would be ample, and if I have the honour of a seat in this House twelve months hence, I shall be prepared then and there to support any proposal to compel the Government of the day to proclaim these provisions forthwith. I say so now, because I wish to bind myself to that, and because I think it would hardly be possible within a shorter time to obtain all the information that would be necessary to justify Parliament in insisting upon the proclamation of those provisions.
Question - That the proposed new clause (Mr. J. H. Catts’ amendment) be agreed to - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added -
In section 45 of the principal Act, in the second line, the words from “without” down to the end of the section are omitted, and the following inserted in lieu thereof, “ after he has been four weeks resident therein be paid in whole or in part as may be provided by regulation to the managing body or controller of such institution and thereafter so long as he remains an inmate, and he shall be entitled on discharge to the payment of the four weeks accumulated pension.”
Section 45 provides that if a pensioner becomes an inmate of an asylum for the insane or a hospital his pension shall be deemed to be suspended. A number of those controlling asylums in Victoria have just held a Conference and considered that section and section 47 in the light of the experience of the Victorian Act. They unanimously decided to make an effort to secure for these institutions at any rate a share of the pension which would be given to the pensioner if he remained outside. It is felt to be a great hardship on these institutions, over 60 per cent. of the support of which comes from the charitably disposed. In fact the proportion contributed in Victoria by the public is to the contribution by the State as three to one.
I am emboldened to submit this amendment by the very sympathetic hearing that honorable members gave to my previous remarks on the subject, and also to the remarks of the honorable member for Coolgardie and the honorable member for F remantle. I ‘submit it, however, in some trepidation in face of the ruling which you, Mr. Chairman, gave last night, but which I also frankly admit that I supported.
– I rise to order. In view of the ruling which you, sir, gave lastnight, and which the Committee upheld, I submit that the amendment cannot be moved by a private member, as it involves an increase of expenditure.
– As the people to whom the honorable member proposes that the pensions shall be paid are not already included in the Act his amendment would certainly mean an increase in the charge upon the revenue, and I must, therefore, rule it out of order.
– May I indicate to the honorable member for Laanecoorie a method by which he might achieve at least part of his object without increasing theexpenditure? I understand that he desires that the pensioner should not be altogether deprived of his pension because he happens to be in an hospital or an asylum for the insane. So far as asylums are concerned, I am not prepared to follow the honorable member, because I understand there are private asylums in Victoria, and as there is no definition of the term “ asylum “ in the Act, any asylum, private or public, would be entitled to the payment.
– No one who is able to pay to go into a private asylum would be likely to apply for an old-age pension.
– In any case, I do not believe in institutions of that kind receiving pension money from the Government. But if a pensioner desires to go into a hospital he should still be allowed to receive his pension. If the honorable member moved to strike out the words “or a hospital “ from section 45 of the principal Act, there would be no increase in the charge upon the revenue. The pensioner would simply continue to receive his pension, just as if he were not in the hospital.
– I desire to propose a. new clause, of which I have given notice, to amend section 24 of the principal Act. That section provides that when a pensioner has accumulated property the amount of a pension shall be subject to the deduction of £1 for every complete £10 by which the net capital value of the property exceeds £100, where the property includes a home. It is cruel to take away from an old-age pensioner the home which he and his wife have, perhaps, struggled for a life-time to get together. No kind of a house can be secured in the cities for £100. If old people have a home worth, say,£300, and £1 has to be deducted from their pensions for every£10 in the value of their property over £100, it will practically mean that the pension will be useless to them.
– I rise to order. I submit that this amendment also involves an increased charge upon the revenue.
– The honorable member for Cook has not yet formally moved the amendment.
– Whatever a house may be worth, if it is a home with which the occupant has, perhaps, life long associations, he should be permitted to continue to enjoy its comforts. Of course, a person holding property producing an income would not be able to claim a pension.
– What is the amendment?
– I propose to move -
That the following new clause be inserted - “ 13A. Section twenty-four of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting clause (b) from sub-section (2), which is hereby repealed ;
by omitting from sub-section (2), paragraph (b), the following words, at the end thereof : - and paragraph (b) shall be read with the substitution of Fifty pounds for One hundred pounds.’ “
The provision in the principal Act practically prevents persons who have homes of their own from becoming pensioners. Whatever maybe the case in country districts, in the cities no home worth only £100, house and land included, would be secured such as one could live in. The existing law may do violence to the sentiments of a life-time, and these ought to be safeguarded. The amendment I propose in the principal Act will leave the pensoners’ home to them without penalty as regards their pensions.
– I take the point of order that the amendment, if carried, would involve an additional charge on the revenue.
– My view is that the effect of the amendment would be to increase the charge on the revenue, and, therefore, it would be out of order for the honorable member to move it.
– Then I wish to put before the Committee reasons why a Minister should move it.
– The amendment would destroy the whole scheme of the Act.
– The honorable member cannot in any way debate a proposal which has been ruled out of order. If the Government likes to take the matter up, it is at liberty to do so.
– I wish to move -
That the following new clause be inserted - “ Section 26 of the principal Act is amended by the omission of paragraph (a).”
The provision to which I refer enacts that in the computation of income the actual or estimated value or cost of board or lodging, or board and lodging, not exceeding 5s. per week, shall be included. That provision prevents pensioners from enjoying homes provided by their friends or relatives.
– What would the proposed change cost?
– Under the Act, the Government takes advantage of the charity which is extended to the aged. It has been contended by quite a number of honorable members that the support of the aged should not be regarded as a matter of charity, and that they are entitled by right to pensions.
– If the Government takes advantage of the charity of private persons, it must do so to save money.
– That is not the effect, though, no doubt, saving is intended by the present arrangement. I wish to do something to add to the comfort of a few aged persons of whom I know, and of quite a number with whom I am not acquainted.
– The amendment of the honorable member is similar in purpose to that of the honorable member for Cook, and, therefore, not in order.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that certain honorable members are now trying to gain kudos by moving amendments which cannot be put, because they voted yesterday that such amendments should be considered out of order. I propose to move the insertion of a new clause having for its object the omission of section 47 of the principal Act.
– Read that section.
– The honorable member would understand it better if he read it himself. It seems to me absurd, and to lend itself to petty deception which ought not to be encouraged.
– Were I to accept the amendment, I should reverse the decision which I gave when dealing with the proposal of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, which I ruled to be out of order. The honorable member’s amendment would also be out of order.
– I propose to show that it would not.
– I have ruled that it is out of order.
– Perhaps you, sir, will explain why. It cannot be out of order for the reason for which the two preceding amendments were ruled out of order.
– The honorable member cannot debate my ruling. He must either allow .it, or move to dissent from it.
– I must move to dissent from it, if you, sir, rule that I cannot move for the repeal of section 47 of the principal Act.
– Does the honorable member think that that section does not express what is intended?
– Certainly. I move-
That the Committee dissent from the Chairman’s ruling.
I am taking an extreme course. May I be permitted to explain why? I am of opinion that the proposed omission makes no charge of any kind upon the revenue. The repeal of that section will merely permit persons who are inmates of certain institutions to become successful applicants for pensions. In this connexion, I desire to draw attention to the difference between the wording of section 45 and section 47. The latter reads -
If a successful claimant of a pension is an inmate of a benevolent asylum or other charitable institution, the pension shall become payable as from a date not more than twenty-eight days prior to the pensioner being discharged from or leaving the asylum or institution, but no payment on account of pension shall be made to him so long as he is an inmate of the asylum or institution.
The former clearly contemplates that a person must be a pensioner before he becomes an inmate of either of the institutions therein set out. On the other hand, section 47 declares that if at the time of making his claim he is an inmate of any such institution, he cannot receive a pension. He can become a successful claimant, but only from a date not more than twenty-eight days prior to his discharge. If, however, an inmate of one of these institutions chooses to leave it, and if he becomes a successful claimant to a pension, he can then return to the institution, and continue to draw his pension without let or hindrance. It is only if he is an inmate at the time he makes his claim, that he is barred from receiving the pension. There is not a word in the section which, in the circumstances I have outlined, would enable the Government to refuse to pay his pension.
– Would he not then come under the operation of section 45?
– No. That section is distinctly confined to asylums” for the insane and to hospitals.
– That is not in accordance with the regulations.
– I do not know that a regulation can be framed which is not in conformity with the Act.
– But no payment can be made to any inmate of certain institutions, and it is obvious that if a pensioner returned to one of those institutions he would be an inmate of it.
– Certainly not. It is true that he cannot become a successful claimant whilst he is an inmate, but there is nothing to prevent him from leaving the institution, becoming a successful applicant, and subsequently returning to it. No provision in this Bill, or in the principal Act, would permit the Treasurer to stop the payment of his pension under such circumstances. The clause under consideration is an incentive to a petty form of deception.
– The construction placed upon it by the honorable member would reduce it to an absurdity, and no Court of Justice would accept that interpretation so long as a reasonable construction could be placed upon it.
– I contend that the clause is an absurdity. It is for that reason that I ask for its deletion from the Bill.
– If it were deleted the honorable member would injure the poor man. He must recollect that under it the successful claimant will get four weeks’ back pension.
– Perhaps the Treasurer does not grasp the meaning of the clause as it has been interpreted by the Attorney-General. I do not see why the provision should be retained. I repeat that if an inmate of one of the institutions which I have mentioned chose to remain an inmate of it whilst making his application for a pension, he would be debarred from receiving one. But if he left that institution and then made a successful claim, the pension must continue to be paid to him, irrespective of whether he returned to the institution or not.
– Then there would be a greater charge imposed upon the revenue.
– It would rest entirely with the individual whether he made his application whilst he was an inmate of an institution or whether he first left it and then made his claim. Under the circumstances, I feel justified in disagreeing with the ruling of the Chairman. I enter my emphatic protest against paying over any moneys to public institutions. If the application of a claimant be granted, his pension ought to be paid to him, irrespective of where he may live. As in ‘my view the clause is an absurdity, and can be evaded without increasing the charge upon the revenue, and as it offers an incentive to a petty form of deception which we ought not to encourage, I. trust that the ruling of the Chairman will be disagreed with. I have no desire to suggest any amendment which would involve an increased charge” upon the revenue, but I think we are justified in seizing the opportunity afforded by this Bill to amend the principal Act in a way which will at least make it more workable and intelligible.
.I confess, that I am not very clear as to the meaning of sections 45 and 47. Section 47 refers to a benevolent asylum or other charitable institution, whilst 45 refers to an asylum, for the insane or art hospital. Section 47 provides specifically that no payment on account of pension shall be made to a person who is an inmate of a charitable institution or benevolent asylum. It seems clear to me that if the concluding sentence of section 47 is repealed it must involve an increase of expenditure, as it would involve the payment of pensions which, if the section is not repealed, would not be payable,
– Section 45 deals with an inmate of an asylum for the insane. It must be clear that he could not be a claimant,, as a man who is out of his mind could not make an application for an old-age pension. Similarly, inmates of hospitals are understood to be persons incapacitated from attending to their ordinary duties, and so a person is not assumed to make an application for a pension, or he cannot receive a pension, while in a hospital. We are, however, dealing with normal people when we come to the successful claimants who are referred to in section 47. Where a sue- *cessful claimant under that section makes an application for a pension, it is provided that it shall become payable as from a cer- tain time. I take it that that means that it shall become payable in the sense fixed by section 33, which declares the date for its commencement. It does not commence forthwith, but from a time which is not to be more than twenty-eight days before the successful claimant leaves the institution. It might be from the day before he leaves it, when he would get practically, nothing ; but if it is fixed for a date a fortnight or three weeks before he leaves the institution there would probably be some accumulation, and, no doubt’, the Minister would take the circumstances of each case into account. One construction of the words at the end of section 47 would deny the right of any one who had successfully made an application for a pension, while he was an inmate of a charitable institution, to be paid the pension while he remained an inmate of it. But if lie is about to be discharged the pension might begin to be payable from twenty-eight days before his discharge, or from only one day before his discharge, as decided 6y the Commissioner. Throughout the Act, where people live at home the intention clearly is to debar them from full pensions. For instance 5s. per week is -debited agains!: the pensions of such persons on account of board and lodging. If they are supported by their children they do not get any pension, if the support is adequate - as good as the pension. Similarly, the intention must have been that thoSe who are supported in benevolent institutions should be paid no pensions.
– That is what I understood.
– But the honorable member now wishes to strike out that provision, and thus to increase the burdens on the public. The thing is absurd. The moment that provision was repealed the persons dealt with in section 47 would become entitled to pensions, and, in the circumstances, I think that the Chairman’s ruling must be admitted to be correct.
– But they would get a pension on leaving the institution.
– The honorable member contends that they could get a pension on leaving the institution, and could then go back to it again. Assuming that that construction is correct, if they did not leave it they would be a greater burden than if they did, and we are not to assume that they would leave the institution. Are we to decide whether or not this is a money Bill, and would involve an increase of the burdens on the public by a mere supposititious case such as the honorable member for Adelaide has put? I do not care what construction of the section is adopted, its repeal would involve an additional burden on the public.
– Section 47 is itself as ambiguous as some of the arguments that have been heard in connexion with this amendment. For instance, a pension is payable to a man up to twenty-eight days prior to the time he is discharged from a benevolent asylum or charitable institution, yet, inthe same section, it is stipulated that he can get no pension while he is an inmate of the institution. If a person is twenty-eight days in a charitable institution, surely he is an inmate of the institution during that period? How is the Chairman of Committees to decide that the repeal of this section would involve an increased charge on the people ? Has he been supplied with any statistics as to the number of people in these institutions who are entitled to pensions for twenty-eight days prior to their discharge? Has he any idea of the number of people who would be qualified to receive pensions and are not inmates of these institutions? And, if he does not possess this information, how is he to say that the amendment will involve an increased charge on the people? With all clue respect, I contend that the decision of the Chairman of Committees is an arbitrary one, and it should not be upheld. I mean to say that it is arbitrary inasmuch as it has been given without any assigned reason. If we had any figures before us to show that the repeal of section 47 would involve increased expenditure, we should have to yield to the logic of facts ; but it is mere guesswork for any one to say that the repeal of that section would increase the charge on the public. Perhaps the mover of the motion to disagree with the Chairman’s ruling might agree to withdraw it temporarily, in order that I may move an amendment affecting section 45. I make the request because I presume that, after we have dealt with an amendment affecting section 47, I should be precluded from doing what I desire to do.
-i ask leave to withdraw my motion.
– I object.
Question - That the Committee dissent from the Chairman’s ruling - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended so as to allow the Bill to be passed through its remaining stages without delay.
.I desire to have the Bill recommitted in order that section 45 of the principal Act may be further considered.
– It will be necessary for the honorable member to move a new clause to amend section. 45 of the principal Act. If that is what the honorable member desires, it will be competent for him to move to recommit the Bill for that purpose after the motion to suspend the Standing Orders has been agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I propose to move for the recommittal of the Bill, in order to reduce the age at which pensions are payable under section 15 of the principal Act, as amended by the Bill now under discussion.
Motion (by Mr. Mahon) put -
That the Bill be recommitted for the consideration of a new clause amending section 45 of the principal Act.
The House divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. J. H. Catts)proposed -
That the Bill be recommitted for the consideration of clause 10.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. J. H. Catts) proposed -
That the Bill be sent back to the Committee, for the purpose of reducing the age at which pensions are payable under section 15 of the principal Act, as amended by clause 10.
Question resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.As there has been some criticism of the administration of the principal Act, I feel bound to express the opinion that the Government will administer both the Act and the amending legislation in the most sympathetic spirit. It should be made known as widely as possible that every officer acting under this law has been instructed, to carry out his duties with proper regard for the feelings of pensioners and claimants for pensions. It is necessary to prevent undeserving persons from taking advantage of the provisions of the Act ; but inquiry should be made as to the possibility of withdrawing some of the questions which are now asked. I am sure that it is the desire of every honorable member, and of Ministers a well, that there shall be no harsh treatment, and that every assistance shall be given to those who need it.
– I would like to add that, in my opinion, if a magistrate goes out of his way to insult a citizen of Australia who is applying for an old-age pension, he should not have the privilege of dealing with any -case of the kind again.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s Message) :
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of money be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of One million pounds for Invalid and Old-age Pensions.
– I understand from the Prime Minister that this is the usual form, of appropriation which is designed to enable the Treasurer to set aside for the purposes of old-age pensions any surplus revenue that he may have in hand. I am glad to. hear that the amount totals £1,000,000. Things are improving.
– I should like to know whether the sum mentioned includes the £700,000 which I set aside-
– No ; it is in addition to that. The ,£700,000 in question has already been paid into the Trust Fund.
– I merely wish to know from where this £1,000,000 comes ?
– It is usual to give explanations upon the motion for the sec >nd reading of a Bill. This resolution will merely enable the Government to place money - as we receive it - to the credit of the Trust Fund for the purpose of paying old-age pensions just as the honorable member himself did when he was Treasurer.
– But where is the money to come from?
– We shall place it to the credit of the Trust Fund as we get it month bv month.
– But I know that the Treasurer is not likely to get so large a sum as he has indicated during the period that he will remain in office. What does he propose to do if he has not sufficient money to meet his engagements as they become due?
– The honorable member will hear all about that when I deliver mv Budget.
– The Budget will not be delivered for a long time. The “Ministry have made no provision whatever for obtaining a larger Customs and Excise revenue. The Prime Minister knows what I intended to do when I filled the office of Treasurer. At that time we could see our way to pay these pensions up till the last six or eight months of 19 10. When that time arrived, I intended to finance the balance-
– Bv borrowing?
– No. I might have obtained an overdraft from the banks. In addition we hoped by that time to have entered into an arrangement with the States under which sufficient money would have been available to the Commonwealth to enable it to pay old-age pensions and to undertake an adequate defence scheme. I heard statements made to-night by the Minister of Defence which were absolutely outside the realm of any ordinary brain. He said that it was impossible to collect a single penny from a land tax within the next twelve months. That was an absolute misstatement of fact. He declared that we could not get the lands assessed within that period. What is the real position? We can go to the States at the present moment, get the land valuations which they have adopted and simplylevy a tax upon them.
– There is no valuation of land in Victoria.
– There is in every State.
– It is not complete in Victoria.
– It is sufficiently complete for our purposes. Within six months we could have a land tax proposal absolutely in working order, and it would provide all the money that we require without the necessity of borrowing.
– The Government will not
Adopt that course.
– What are they going to do?
– They are going to hang on to office as long as they can.
– When we are displaced we will not squeal as the honorable member is doing.
– I am not hungering for office. I was never happier in my life than I am now, when I can kick and cuff the Government with impunity. The only thing which causes me to be unhappy is the sight of the scion of a good old man destroying his career. Surely the remains of his father must be turning in the grave.
Honorable Members. - Shame !
– Thereis no shame about the matter. All the shame rests with the man who has acted as the honorable member for Darling Downs has done.
– Order ! I must ask the Minister of Defence to withdraw that remark, and I wish also to point out that if honorable members continue to interject as they have been doing they must expect their interjections to provoke replies. I appeal to the Minister of Defence to assist me in maintaining order.
– I withdraw and apologize, but I should like to know whether we are to sit here and be continually insulted by the honorable member for Hume? I think it is high time that some notice was taken of his conduct. It seems to me that he is taking entire charge of the Chamber, and I, for one, will not tolerate it. The honorable member has insulted us time after time.
– The tone of the remarks of the Minister of Defence cast a grave reflection upon myself. During the past few minutes the whole of the observations of the honorable member for Hume were provoked by an interjection on the part of the Minister himself.
– But I say “Yes.” Although the honorable gentleman may not be aware of it, it was an interjection of his which provoked the remarks of the honorable member for Hume. Of course, if honorable members will not assist me to maintain order, it is idle for meto attempt to do so. I must once more ask them to refrain from interjecting. If they will do that, I shall keep the honorable member who is in possession of the Chair in order.
– May I remind you, sir, that I did not interject while the honorable member was speaking?
– Will the honorable member be good enough to resume his seat?
– Then I shall have to move a motion.
Honorable Members. - Move it !
– I will. I will not be insulted by any honorable member. Will you, sir, allow me to say, by way of personal explanation-
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? A moment or two agoI heard the honorable member for Cook refer to somebody as a bully. I must ask him to withdraw that observation.
– I did not call any honorable member a bully. I merely asked, “Is this bullying” ?
– Even that remark is out of order, and must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the remark, but I think that an end should be put to the attitude taken up by the Minister of Defence.
– By way of personal explanation I wish to say, sir, that you appear to be entirely unaware of the fact that the honorable member for Hume made a most insulting observation about the size of my brain before I made the slightest interjection. I made no interjection until that insult had been offered, and I must ask you to protect me from such insults.
.We all regret that a little heat has been imported into this discussion, after our long sitting. I merely wish to assure you, sir, that, whatever breaches of our Standing Orders may be committed by honorable members upon this side of the chamber, you will always have my hearty cooperation in bringing transgressors within the scope of the rules provided for our guidance.
– May I suggest, sir, that your ruling has very properly recalled us to a sense of what we owe to each other in our controversies. There is a line beyond which we are not justified in’ trespassing under any circumstances. That line is passed when not even the dead or their memory are held sacred. In justice to this Parliament, the reference made by the honorable member for Hume should be absolutely withdrawn, with an apology.
– I am not going to sit quietly and listen to this.
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. I would inform the Prime Minister that, although I heard something said about some one who is dead, I did not know to whom the reference was made.
– The honorable member referred to the father of the honorable member for Darling Downs, and said that he would turn in his grave to find his son sitting where he is.
– If the honorable member for Bourke would hold his tongue, there would be some peace.
– If the honorable member for Hume will not obey the request of the Chair, I shall be forced to adopt an extreme course. I did not catch the remarks to which (he honorable member for Bourke has referred, but if the honorable member for Hume made use of them, I now call upon him to withdraw them, and to apologize for having used them.
– Speaking to the point of order, I understood the Minister of Defence to say that what offended him was a reference to the size of his brain.
– May I ask whether the honorable member for Hume in making remarks which did not in any way reflect upon the dead can be said to be out of order ?
– What !
– It may, of course, be in questionable taste to make such remarks.
– The living can protect themselves.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Hume may have been in questionable taste, but if they did not in any way reflect upon the dead, I do not see how he can be called upon to withdraw them.
– It has been the practice in this House to ask for the withdrawal of remarks to which exception is taken, as being offensive, even though they may not have been unparliamentary. In this case, the remarks complained of were evidently a personal reflection upon the honorable member for Darling Downs, and, in the circumstances, I ask the honorable member for Hume to withdraw them and apologize.
– I did not say one word against the dead. I honoured the dead. I honoured my old friend, the late Mr. Groom.
– The words were a desecration.
– The Prime Minister is a nice person to talk to me like that. I never said one word against the dead. I applauded and honoured The dead, and I honour the memory of the dead.
– The honorable member struck at the living through the dead.
– On a point of order, I should like to know whether the honorable, member for Corio is to be permitted to continually endeavour to cause trouble in this House ? He has been doing so during the whole of this sitting.
– That is not a point of order.
– I repeat that I did-, not reflect upon or referin any detrimental. terms to my great old friend, the late Mr. Groom. I only regretted that he was. not here instead of his son.
Ministerial Members. - Shame !
-i say that if the late Mr. Groom were here, I should be prepared to follow him to the ends of the earth, but I will not follow his son. . The CHAIRMAN.- I cannot permit this discussion to continue. 1 ask the honorable member to withdraw the statement ;he made.
– I do not know what I am to withdraw.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the reference he made to the honorable member for Darling Downs.
– If the honorable member for Darling Downs wishes me to withdraw what I said, I will do so, but I shall not have the stigma left upon me that I reflected in any way upon his father, who was a man whom I honoured. I honour his memory perhaps more highly than that of any other man I have known. It is on that account that I feel so strongly the attitude adopted by the present honorable member for Darling Downs.
– When a Government asks the House to appropriate £1,000,000, surely it is usual for them to explain where they expect to find the money.
– That can be done on the second reading of the Bill.
– If we now permit the appropriation of the money, we shall practically be indorsing the Government proposal. We are entitled to learn from the Treasurer where he expects to obtain this money.
– I am quite prepared to give that information, but I do mot consider this the right time.
– I think the honorable member for Cook is absolutely right. We should have the information for which he asks when the motion is submitted for the appropriation of this money. As custodians of the people’s purse, we should know whether the money is to come out of the general revenue, or whether it is proposed to issue Treasury bills. We ought to know if there is. to be any borrowing?
– If the honorable member for Darwin will permit me, I shall give the information asked for now. I was waiting only for the second reading of the Bill to say ‘what I am quite willing to say now.- The object of the Bill is to appropriate the sum of £1,000,000, which it is intended shall be paid out of the Con solidated Revenue Fund to the Trust Fund established for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions. Up to the end of the 30th June some £650,000 was paid in to the credit of that fund. We have now entered upon a . new financial year, and it is necessary that at the end of every month we should pay into the fund any balance remaining from our one-fourth of the revenue from Customs and Excise after the ordinary services of the Commonwealth have been provided for. The reason why so large an amount is asked for is that we may avoid the necessity of asking for an appropriation more often than is necessary. The fund will go on accumulating, and Parliament will not be asked for further appropriation, until it is exhausted.
– And the money cannot be used for any other purpose?
– It can be used only for the purpose of paying invalid and old-age pensions, and it cannot be used even to defray the expenses of administering the Act. We shall probably require this year ,£800,000 or £900,000, and if the appropriation asked for is granted, there will be a little over at the end of the year, which will remain to the credit of the fund to meet payments in the following year. The honorable member for Wide Bay understands the position, and he knows that what I have said is correct.
– I understand that up to the present we have authorized the appropriation of £750,000. When I left the Treasury, 1 understood that we had £690,000 odd in the fund. What the Treasurer is asking for now is that Parliament should give him authority to appropriate £1,000,000 to be paid into the Trust Fund for invalid and old-age pensions, in order that it may not be necessary for him to come to Parliament frequently for smaller appropriation for the purpose. The right honorable gentleman has a reputation for dealing with millions, and I could scarcely understand him if he had asked for less than £1,000,000. It is perhaps a wonder that he did not ask for £2.000,000 or £3,000,000. I understand that the Treasurer does not purpose appropriating any moneys other than the balance of surplus revenue at the end of each month. I take it that when the Government intend to make any special appropriation, they will say at once how they propose to raise the money.
– That is so.
– When I was interrupted just now, I was asking the Treasurer where the £1,000,000 was to come from. I agree with all that has been said by the exTreasurer. I understood that there was about £700,000, or a little more in the fund: I got passed a vote for , £750,000 when I created the fund. Every one at the time said that my action was illegal, and I tested its legality in the High Court.
– Does the honorable member mean that he personally did so?
– I say that I did so, because the matter is one which concerned my Department. I was so convinced that I was right that I took the matter to the High Court.
– I thought it was the State Governments who took the honorable gentleman to the High Court.
– I know that the State Governments took the matter to the High Court, but I had done what I did in order that they might do so, and although I was advised not to do what I did by some of the officers in my own Department.
– A good many of us were wrong about that matter.. I confess that I was.
– The honorable gentleman thought that my action was. illegal, as did a number of other honorable members, but I persisted in it to give the States an opportunity of fighting me, and I beat the State Governments. What I wish to know now is how the Treasurer intends to pay old-age pensions until the termination of 1910? This resolution simply means that any money available at the expiration of each month will be paid into the fund. When I left the Treasury we were paying in £40,000 per month. I want to know how much of the million pounds is likely to be obtained before the fund is exhausted. That can easily be ascertained by observing the amount of money that is paid in each month. The fund must be exhausted, especially with a declining revenue, eight or ten months before the end of 1910. The House ought to know as soon as possible where the balance of the million pounds is coming from. The Prime Minister knows that when I was in office I worked out a scheme to get the money either by an overdraft for a short period, or in some other way, so as to carry us up to the end of 1910. Does the
Treasurer propose to adopt that scheme? If the money is to be provided from the surplus of the general revenue, where is the money for the Postmaster-General’s Department to come from? If the Treasurer takes too much money for this purpose - and on a falling revenue, as I am told it is, he will not have the same surplus as I anticipated would be obtained - and if he goes on increasing the amount of money for works in the Postmaster- General’s Department, he will have to find some method of making up the inevitable deficit.
– The responsibility is on the Government now.
– Unfortunately, when a Government do a thing we cannot do anything with them. We must deal with them beforehand. When I was Treasurer, I was badgered and abused because I could not provide more money for works. The Treasurer cannot find the necessary money unless he borrows it, or raises it by taxation, or reduces the expenditure on the Postmaster-General’s Department. In view of the statement that an expenditure of £3,000,000 is required to build up that Department properly, because of the way in which it was starved in the past, how can the Government reduce theexpenditure on it? I ask the Government to state, before we appropriate the money, where it is coming from.
– Mr. Chairman-
Ministerial Members. - No, no !
– I think the right honorable member might give me a reply. I did not speak in heat.
– The honorable member knows that I will give him a reply when I deliver the Budget speech.
Sitting suspended from 5.6 a.m. to 5.47 a.m., because of the indisposition of Mr. Speaker.
– Honorable members will profoundly regretto learn that the Speaker, whom we all prize and value for his devotion to duty and great ability, has evidently over-taxed his strength. The medical members of the Committee, who have been unremitting in their attention to him, pronounce his illness to be grave, though at present nothing more than the symptoms of an ordinary seizure have appeared. A specialist is now on his way to the
House, and I hope will arrive shortly. In the meantime, Mr. Speaker has been placed in his room. Under these sad circumstances, it would not be fitting to prolong this sitting, and I suggest that the motion be forthwith agreed to, and. reported.
– May I add to what the Prime Minister’ has said that we all deeply sympathize with Mr. Speaker in his illness, no doubt brought on by over-strain ? It is fortunate that the occurrence happened in the presence of gentlemen who were able to render medical assistance. I think I express the feeling of every honorable member when I say that I hope Mr. Speaker will have a speedy recovery.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Under the standing order, as Mr. Speaker is unavoidably absent, the Chairman of Committees will take the chair as Deputy Speaker.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Glynn do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next.
I think honorable members will desire the Leader of the Opposition and myself to convey to Mr. Speaker, so soon as he is sufficiently restored to be visited, an expression of our deep sympathy.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.J52 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090722_reps_3_50/>.