3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. Some time ago I raised a question in this House in regard to the Fremantle Municipal Tramway loan, and the honorable member for Fremantle, acting, as I believe, in good faith and quite conscientiously, denied that my statement was correct. I am now in the happy position of being able to show that it was, by quoting the. following paragraph from the Perth Truth of 27th ult. -
Most Truth readers will remember that some time ago this paper contained a paragraph-
I took my information from the Financial . columns’ of the Age and the Argus - indicating that the statement made by King O’Malley, M.H.R., on’ the occasion of the raising of the Fremantle Tram loan, to the effect that the flotation had proved a failure was, despite denials by interested parties, absolutely correct. At the recent tramway social held in Fremantle, Mayor Thomson of the eastern suburb of the Port stated emphatically during the course of a speech that he knew O’Malley was correct at the time the statement was made, but from purely local reasons he, Thomson, could not then bear testimony to the truthfulness of the utterance of the Federal legislator. Thomson added that before relinquishing his present Mayoral position he hoped to more publicly vindicate O’Malley who had been unjustly treated in the matter.
You will thus see, Mr.. Speaker, that once more are the righteous vindicated.
Delay in Dealing with Applications at Maryborough.
– Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition referred to the delay in dealing with old-age pension claims at Maryborough, Queensland, and I have pleasure in reading the following letter on the subject, which has been received from the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions at Brisbane : - 1st December, 1909.
In further reference to my letter of 29th October last, regarding the delay in dealing with old-age pension claims at Maryborough, and my letter of the 17th ultimo, advising that as no satisfaction could be obtained from the Registrar, Maryborough, I had written to the Under-Secretary for Justice, asking him to move in the matter, I have to report that I am now in receipt of a letter from such official advising that Mr. W. Harris, relieving police magistrate, acting under his instructions, has proceeded to Maryborough for the purpose of attending at once to pension matters, so that the claims on hand at that place will be dealt with immediately.
– Last evening we had suddenly an opportunity of expressing, however inadequately, our sense of the loss that the House has sustained by the untimely decease of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. In order that the records of Parliament may embody in a moredistinct form that testimony on the part of his fellow members, I desire by leave to move -
That this House desires to record its regret at the loss which the Commonwealth suffers in the death of the late member for Hindmarsh, the Honorable James Hutchison, and expresses its sincere condolence with his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
Honorable members rising in their place’s,
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- This is a convenient opportunity for the Prime Minister to indicate the extent of the; adjournment which he proposes to move in order to enable honorable members to pay their last tribute of respect to the deceased gentleman.
– I should like to have an opportunity to consult the honorable member before making an announcement.
– May I express the hope that we shall adjourn at least from 1 p.m. until after dinner. Every facility willbe given the Government forthe transaction of business.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Prime Minister. - I have to inform the House that 1 have received the following telegram from the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Peake : -
Government sympathize with Commonwealth Parliament in heavy loss by death Representative Hutchison, and express appreciation of his valuable services as a representative of South Australia.
– May I add that I have also received a telegram from the. honorable member for Hume in similar terms, and expressing sympathy with the Parliament and the widow and family.
Bill returned from the Senate, with a message that the Senate had agreed to the amendment made by the House of Representatives.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that the Senate had agreed to the House of Representatives’ amendments upon its amendments.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message- intimating that the Senate had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– The honorable member for Corio, on 30th November, asked the following questions : -
Christianson was employed in 1906 as temporary storeman, relieving Lowe (permanent), whose pay was equal to 8s. per diem. The Public Service Inspector ruled that a temporary employe” should not receive more than the permanent officer he relieved, and gave certificate for employment accordingly.
Severin was employed in.1908 as temporary storeman, relieving Hartley (permanent), whose pay was equal to 7s. per day. Public Service Inspector again gave certificate for employment at 7s. per day.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
In the State. - Permanent officers - 2 over 22 years ; 1 over 20 years. Temporary officers - 2 over 25 years ; 3 over 21 years ; 1 over 20 years ; 2 over 19 years ; 1 over 10 years ; 1 over 8 years ; 1 over 1 year.
They have had nine months’ service in the Commonwealth.
Victoria.As previously intimated, the whole question of the status and pay of the employes, is to be reviewed when the Commonwealth has had twelve months’ experience of the work and its requirement!.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay on the table of the House a copy of the return which enabled Mr. Hesketh, when giving evidence before the Postal Commission, to state that the average of all subscribers to the Bendigo Exchange was 2.334.
– I shall be happy to comply with the honorable member’s request and to place the figures at his disposal .
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The. answers to the honorable member’s questions are : - .
Several tenders have been received. None have been accepted as the conditions were not favorable, and those received for Australian manufacture were considerably above the estimate. It has been decided to re-advertise.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiry will be made, and the desired information furnished, as soon as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I rise to a point of order, my point of order being that this question does not represent in any way whatever what I said. The statement that I did make was uttered during the consideration of the Surplus Revenue Bill, but not in the connexion inwhich the honorable member has put it. In other words, the matter I spoke of had little to do with the particular matter mentioned in this question.
– The honorable member said that Victoria would take . £150,000.
– A misunderstanding.
– The Minister of Defence has risen to a point of order with regard to the accuracy of a statement made in a question. I have to point out that the Chair and the House always hold an honorable member who puts a question upon the notice-paper responsible for the accuracy of the statements made in that question.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
– In view of the point of order raised by the Minister of Defence on my question, I think an explanation is due from me. I placed the question on the notice-paper for the reason that, when we were discussing the Surplus Revenue Bill, the question arose as to the fairness of calling upon Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland to contribute in the proportion of 3s. to 2s. I then stated that, in my opinion, such a proposition was unfair and unjust; and the honorable member for Yarra, with me, objected to Victoria and the States mentioned, being thus penalized. The Minister of Defence then said, “ I hope you will not forget also to mention the fact that, under this provision, Victoria gains£150,000 a year.”
– I meant under the financial agreement with the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member for Calare then rose and asked whether, if Victoria was to gain , £150,000 a year, the Minister of Defence would kindlly say what State would make up that amount. The Minister for Defence replied that all honorable members had to do in order to get the information was to look at the Budget Papers. I asked the Treasurer if he would be good enough to give us the information, but he said, he could not do so off hand, but would endeavour to obtain it if I gave notice of a question. I’ ‘gave notice of a question, and the Treasurer has given a reply.
- Mr. Speaker-
– I am afraid we are going to have a discussion on a Question which has already been settled by the House. I do not think that any statement of the honorable member for Yarra has been called in question, , and that, therefore, there is any need for him. to make an explanation. If there is that need on the part of the honorable member, I hope that other honorable members, whose names have been mentioned incidentally, will not also find it necessary to make explanations. If the honorable member for Yarra feels that he has been mis represented or misunderstood, I shall be glad to hear him.
– It was the statement by the Minister of Defence, as to the gain which he said would accrue to Victoria, that has given rise to this discussion. The Minister now says that he was referring to the financial agreement, but I point out that that agreement was not mentioned in the course of the debate.
Motion, (by Mr. Thomas Brown) agreed to-
That a Return be laid upon the Table of the House, showing : -
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 6th December, vide page 7119):
Department of Home Affairs
Division 21 (Administrative Staff), £11,630; division 22 (Electoral Office), £6,077; division 23 (Public Service Com missioner), £11,042; division 24 (Public Works Staff), , £25,828; division 25 (Census and Statistics), £15,251.; division 26 (Meteorological Branch), , £19,935 ; division 27 (Works and Buildings), , £120,665; division 28 (Governor-General’s Establishment), £9,157 ; and division 29 (Miscellaneous), , £86,260, agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs
Division 40 (Central Staff), . £26,852 ; division 41 (Fisheries), £6,944; division 42 (Quarantine), £25,040; division 43 (Analyst), £2,124; division 44 (Patents, Trade Marks, Copyrights, and Designs), £19,713; division 45 (New South Wales), £79,031; division 46 (Victoria), , £63,371 ; division 47 (Queensland), £56,316 ; division 48 (South Australia), £30,966; division 49 (Western Australia), £31,671; division 50 (Tasmania), £9,186, agreed to.
Department of Defence
Division 51 (Central Administration), £40,529
.- There is a foot-note, which I think has crept in under a misapprehension, and I desire to have the matter cleared up, so that no injustice may be done. The footnote is to the item of £800, for “ Representative in England,” and reads as follows : -
This salary is paid to Colonel Bridges - his place in Australia being taken by an Exchange Officer from the Imperial Forces.
I am not seized with the facts, but I understand that Colonel Bridges was formerly Chief of the General Staff in Australia, an appointment with a duration of three years. He, however, resigned that office to go to England, to what would generally be regarded as a more important office, namely, that” of the representative of Australia on the Imperial General Staff. The foot-note informs us that an Imperial officer is now occupying Colonel Bridges’ position in Australia; but that Imperial officer is under the Chief of the General Staff here, who is, since Colonel Bridges’ departure, General Hoad. In other words, unless this foot-note is an error, it shows that Colonel Bridges will have taken a step down, and I do not think that any of us would wish to do an injustice to a public servant, especially a public servant of the character, attainments, and reputation of Colonel Bridges. It ought to be perfectly clear that, when Colonel Bridges returns, the fact of his absence will not penalize him in any way. At present, however, he, apparently, is to have a step down, owing to a little foot-note made in the Departmental office, perhaps by some one who steps over - I do not know - that may or may not be the case.
– I hope that there is no stepping down so far as Colonel Bridges is concerned. Whatever has been done is with Colonel Bridges’ concurrence, and, at the time of his leaving, I know that the arrangement was eminently satisfactory to himself.
– Does Colonel Bridges know about the foot-note?
– I do not know whether he knows anything about the footnote, but he did know about the exchange officer.
– Thefoot-note is the whole thing.
– The foot-note is nothing without the fact. I should like to say, further, that no exchange officer is doing the work in place of Colonel Bridges.
– Then we should strike out the foot-note.
– I have no objection, but is it worth while, after the explanation ?
Amendment (by Mr. Kelly) agreed to -
That the words, “ his place in Australia being taken by an Exchange Officer from the Imperial Forces “ be left out.
Proposed vote, with amended foot-note, agreed to.
Division 51A (Chemical Adviser), £1,752 ; division 51B (Cordite Factory), £1,647; division 52 (Australian Intelligence Corps (Head-Quarters)), £657 ; division 52A (Australian Intelligence Corps (Military Survey Staff)), £2,118; division 53 (Grants to Cadets), £500, agreed to.
Naval. - Divisions 54 to 56 (New South Wales), . £6,656; divisions 57 to 60 (Victoria), . £30,797 ; divisions 61 to 63 (Queensland), £19,007 ; divisions 64 to 66 (South Australia), £11,455; divisions 67 to 67B (Western Australia), £393; division 68 (Tasmania), £235, agreed to.
Divisions 69 to 77 (Thursday Island), £17,064; divisions 78 to 83 (King George’s Sound), £3,028, agreed to.
Military. - Divisions 84 to 95 (N ew South Wales), £145,983, agreed to.
Division 96 (Camps, New South Wales), £19,930
– This would be a fitting opportunity for the Minister to indicate the number of camps and the special training it is proposed to provide for during the current financial year. . About Christmas time last year there was a considerable amount of friction and dissatisfaction on account of cadets being excluded through want of funds.
– Provision is made on these Estimates for a full camp throughout the States. These items have been cut down in previous years for one reason or another, but this year for . the first time for some time past it is proposed to have a full camp. The more I see of the forces and arrangements, the more it seems to me to be absurd to have a camp at all, unless it is adequate. I have therefore put on the Estimates sufficient money for an eight-day camp throughout Australia, and I hope we shall be able to get the men for that time. This has always been the case in two or three of the States, but in the others it has never been possible to get a full eight-days’ camp. I am going to do my best to remedy that, and to see that all the State forces, as far as possible, will go to camp for eight days. The provision for an extra nine days’ training is for the technical arms of the service, as has already been decided upon. In addition to the sixteen days which the infantry and horse sections of the forces get, they are to get nine days, bringing their total training to twenty-five days per annum. The third item is for vehicles. We are seeing if we cannot improvise our transport, or the non-technical part of it, and so save ourselves hundreds of thousands of pounds, by making arrangements with owners of private vehicles which are suitable for this class of work. We shall make a test in that direction in this year’s camps. Three thousand pounds appears on the Estimates for the purpose, of which £850 represents the portion allotted to New South Wales.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 97 to 102 (New South Wales Military Forces), £103,898, agreed to.
Division 103 (Rifle Clubs and Associations), £22,865
– I wish to call the attention of the Minister of Defence to the fact that a sum of money was placed on the Estimates to be spent on a hall at Wyong in his electorate, but that there is no corps there, whereas we have a very virile corps forming at Cessnock, in my electorate. Will the Minister transfer the money which was to be spent at Wyong to Cessnock?
– I have been asked about this matter already, and if the facts are as alleged, I see no great objection to the transfer being made. At any rate, I shall have none.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 104 (Victorian Military Forces, District Head-Quarters Staff), £3,645
– I notice that the cost of the Head-Quarters Staff is considerably increased. That does not confer any benefit on the great multitude of the people. The vote for the Permanent Forces for Victoria is increased this year from £59,215 to £63,278.
. -The crease referred to is rendered necessary by the special provisions that we are making this year for a Military College, and the general instruction which will necessary for the training of the new arms of the forces, amounting altogether to £7,000 or £8,000. This increase represents the portion of it allotted to Victoria.
– I notice that £25,769 is voted for rifle clubs and associations for Victoria for the current year, as against £26,707 voted and £26,791 spent last year. Does the Minister anticipate a considerable reduction on this item? There has been a great deal of complaint in country districts for several years past about the absence of facilities for rifle clubs. One cause of trouble is the difficulty of getting range sites. In some of the older settled districts sites that have been used for a number of years have been condemned as unsafe, and there is a difficulty in obtaining others. There was a case at Molong, where a site which had been used for a number of years was condemned. Arrangements were made with a large land-owner to secure a piece of suitable ground, but it was nearly two years before the matter was finally settled, and the new range was opened for practice only so late as last Saturday week. According to the local opinion, the long delay was largely due to the unbusinesslike methods of the Department. A similar complaint has been made, with reason, in other cases. For years the Forbes Rifle Association was using a ground in regard to which no trouble was experienced until a Departmental officer condemned it. Efforts have been made to secure an extension of the area by adding part of the travelling stock route or common, but that is opposed by certain interested parties, with the result that the members of the local rifle club, Australian Light Horse, and other bodies are now without opportunities for practising shooting. It is a difficult matter to obtain an altogether new site. . If an area removed from the town were acquired, those who desire to practise shooting would be considerably inconvenienced, and possibly put to expense, because of the distance. The desirability of providing suitable sites for rifle ranges near centres of population should be dealt with by the Department; with a view to devising something better than the present slipshod method of dealing with the difficulties which arise. I suggest, too, that the Minister should inquire as to the efficiency of the Sydney office. As I have pointed out, the delay in the Molong affair was thought to be due to the unbusinesslike manner in which negotiations were conducted by his officers, and complaints have come from other places as to the long delays which occur between the sending in of applications and the making of inspections. Apparently matters would frequently be lost sight of altogether were not the notice of the authorities called to them repeatedly. These applications should be dealt with as speedily and effectively as possible. If we throw difficulties in the way of the formation or practice of rifle clubs, the enthusiasm of those who wish to fit themselves for the defence of the country will cool Clown. At the present time, rifle clubs are ridiculously short of weapons. In some cases only five or six rifles have been supplied to a company of fifty or sixty men, which is disheartening. No doubt this deficiency will be remedied by the small arms factory. I hope that, in justice to my constituents, and in the interests of the Department, the Minister will give careful consideration to the matters which 1 have brought under his notice, and remedy what are very real and serious grievances.
Mr. AGAR WYNNE (Balaclava^ [11. 51]. - Prior to the Commonwealth taking control of Defence, mounted riflemen were in many of the States supplied , with saddles, and I understand that the practice is still being continued in some cases. There is ;i large number of mounted riflemen in Victoria, and they would like to be placed in the same position as those in other States who have been favoured by being supplied with saddles. I ask the Minister whether, when he has sufficient funds in hand, he will see that saddles are supplied to the mounted riflemen in this State.
– 1° reply to the honorable member for Calare, i may say that I am not at all satisfied with the business side of my Department. I make that statement frankly, and in doing so am not saying more than my Department is already well aware of. When I have a .-little more time, as I hope to have after the House rises, I shall go particularly into this matter. I do not know why soldiers charged with administrative duties should not discharge their duties with the same celerity as an outside business man. At present considerable delays often take place, though I am not prepared to say where the trouble arises. After a matter leaves the Central Office, it passes through so many channels that it is difficult to sheet home responsibility ; but the honorable member may accept my assurance that I intend to trace out causes of delay and to endeavour to remove them. I shall have the question referred to by the honorable member for Balaclava looked into, with a view to doing what he suggests, but the consequent expenditure will be large. A sum was placed on the Estimates to provide saddles, but it was so large that the Department was reluctantly obliged to strike it off, to make provision for things that were even more urgent. I hope that it will not be long before the matter can be attended to.
– In my opinion, the delay referred to by the Minister occurred in this way. It is thought that no document can be properly delivered in his Department until it has been passed from rooster to rooster, through quite a number of hands.
.- In my opinion, the honorable member for Darwin has shortly put the real cause of the trouble which has been referred to by the honorable member for Calare. I indorse what the latter has said, and am convinced that the Minister firmly intends to remedy the ( existing abuses. The matter which I wish to bring under his notice is this. Guns and ammunition, sold by the Department as useless, have been sent to India, and used by the frontier tribes there against British troops. If the ammunition was good enough to be fired at British, soldiers, it was surely good enough to be used for practice purposes here. If the Minister makes inquiries, and ascertains the names of those who purchased this material, the thing will never occur again, because if it be ascertained who bought it, it will be easy to discover how it came into the hands of the frontier tribesmen. I hope that tomorrow I shall obtain answers to my questions concerning Major Carroll; but if there should not be an opportunity then, I ask the Minister to permit me to send them to him direct. Major Carroll had his rank conferred by a greater soldier than Australia has ever possessed. He earned it by actual service with the Imperial Forces, and it would ill become the people of Australia to allow red-tape and petty jealousy to prevent him from using here a title which he could use in any. other part of the British Dominions. 1 know that there is an answer, but it is really a legal technicality. A few officers may became “curled darlings” if they remain top long in one community, or because they have influence with the press. If any of our officers have press influence, we must know how they have obtained it. It is recorded in the annals of the French Department that certain men there were able to keep themselves in high positions bv giving to the press information which even the Government did not obtain. I hope that such a thing will not occur in connexion with the Commonwealth Defence Department; and am sure that the Minister of Defence, whether in office or in Opposition, would do his utmost to prevent an officer remaining in the service after it had been proved that he was improperly supplying information to the press. We insist upon discipline in the ranks, and there must be discipline amongst the officers. If an officer forgets his duty, whether it is to obtain popularity, or for any other purpose, he must be dealt with by the Minister of the day. It is for the honorable gentleman to see fair play
– I desire only to say, in reply to the honorable member, that no ammunition has been sold ; but that, four or five years ago, some guns were disposed of. Whatever may have taken place in the past in that respect, such a thing is not possible to-day under the regulations of the Department.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Victoria. - Division 105 (Royal Australian Artillery), £26,453 ; division 106 (Armament Artificers), £1,881 ; division 107 (Royal Australian Engineers), £9,306; division 108 (Australian Army Medical Corps), £[1,019; division 109 (Ordnance Department), £5,817 ; division no (Rifle Range Staff), £1,098; division lit (District Accounts and Pay Branch), £1,515; division 112 (Instructional Staff), £12,550; division 113 (Militia), £55,117; division 114 (Volunteers), £3,350, agreed to.
Division 115 (Camps, Victoria), £[15,286.
.- In connexion with this division I think that we ought to have from the Minister of Defence a statement with regard to the Kitchener camp to be held at Seymour early in the year. According to this morning’s newspapers, it is expected that the camp will be a fiasco, because of the inability of the majority of the militia and volunteers in this State to secure the necessary leave to enable their attendance. It would be far better to abandon the project than to allow it to be a farce. Unless we have a good attendance the camp will not be useful for training purposes, and will certainly not convey to’ Lord Kitchener an adequate idea of the strength or capacity of the forces in Victoria.
– I have no information beyond that which I have already given, namely, that we are going to have in Victoria a Kitchener camp just as we shall have Kitchener camps in other States. More is being made of the matter in Victoria than in any of the other States. I do not observe in the other States any such criticisms as appear in the press of Victoria from day to day. In Victoria the usual period of encampment has been four days, whereas in other States it has been eight, and the adjustments that have been necessary to bring about the change in this State from four to eight days do not appear to be regarded very favorably in some quarters. But I cannot permit little inconveniences to interfere with the effective training of the troops. I deeply regret to hear that many of the men are not likely to go into camp in Victoria. I hope that the information is incorrect, and can only say that T know nothing of Head-quarters being averse to these camps. The opinion at Head-quarters, so far as I know, is favorable to their taking place.
– Is not the time inconvenient, having regard to the fact that the camp will take place very shortly after the Christmas and New Year holidays?
– I admit that it is ; but owing to the period of Lord Kitchener’s visit, we could not hold it at any other time. Next year the camp will be held in cool weather. I should have been delighted had Lord Kitchener proposed to visit Australia at a cooler and better time of the year.
– Will the men who are going to be our soldiers refuse to go into camp because of the hot weather?
– In all countries the training of troops is timed to take place, as far as possible, in cool weather.
– Then we must ask the enemy to attack us in cool weather?
– In the event of an attack being made upon Australia during the summer months our troops would have to turn out and take the consequences. The honorable member well knows that, in hot weather the casualty list is greater than at any other period of the year. I admit the inconvenience of the time, but I hope that our forces will make the best of the situation, and that we shall have in Victoria as good a muster as in the other States.
– I arn confident that the members of the Defence Forces in Victoria are quite as willing as are those in the other States to go into camp irrespective of whether the weather is warm or cool. The point which the Minister of Defence has missed, however, is that most of our Militia men have already put in the requisite number of drills, and that if they are required to go into camp for eight days early in the year, they will have to serve for four days without pay. It is well known that our Militia men are for the most part working on wages. Many of them are breadwinners, and they can ill afford to suffer the pecuniary loss which four days in camp without pay would involve. There are many employers who will treat their men liberally, but there are others who will not make good any part of the loss sustained by their employes in attending camp.
– I understand that they will be paid for the extra service.
-I should like the Minister of Defence to give us a definite statement on the point.
– The honorable member is speaking of the Militia?
– Yes ; will they be paid for the extra four days?
– Yes, I take it that they will.
-I should like a more definite statement from the Minister. I am not here to belittle the volunteers, for I know that they have done excellent work, but the Minister should inform the Committee whether or not the Militia who go into the Kitchener camps are to he paid.
– It is strange that in Australia men should have to be conveyed by rail a distance of a few miles to reach camp. In America the troops march to the camping ground.
– Australians can do quite as well as the Americans can do in that respect.
– I think so; but there seems to be a disposition to “ mollycoddle” some people. One feels inclined to suggest that there should be plenty of molasses and pop corn at hand. The battle of Gettysburg could not have been fought on that sort of “ pap.” In the United States the Militia, spend three or four weeks every year in engaging in sham fights on the mountains, and they receive no pay- They say that all they desire is that their fares shall be paid, and’ that they shall have a good time. Surely men must have a holiday once a year. The whole community cannot consist of public servants on permanent pay. but I urge the Government to so arrange the encampments as to enable them to fit in with public holidays. If we want to have a powerful fighting force we must do away with the carrying of our troops to the camping ground.
– But our men need to be paid when they are taken away from their w work.
– The workers want their tucker and clothes, but they do not ask for “boodle.” Imagine the great German army wishing to be “ mollycoddled.”
– Patriotism will not pay the rent, or the butcher, or the baker.
– Never mind that. When President Roosevelt ordered his officers to ride, it was found that very few could do so; they had been so pampered in the cities as to become dancing masters, like the officers of the French army. ‘ If we are entering on the business of war, we must have men to fight, but I am afraid that the descendants of the British are deteriorating. Our military men will require some one to assist them in putting on their uniforms next, and to load their guns for them.
– I hope that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will allow the vote to pass, relying on my statement that the Government will endeavour to do the fair thing to the men referred to.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Victoria - Division 116 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £12,395 ; division 117 (Ammunition), ,£10,371; division 118 (General Contingencies), £10,625
Division 122. (Rifle Clubs and Associations), £25,769.
.- Can the Minister give us some information as to what has been dope in connexion with the small arms ammunition factory in Victoria?
– Nothing has been done so far as the factory itself is concerned. At present we are getting our small arms ammunition from the Colonial Small Arms Ammunition Company, at the same rate at which the War Office is supplied, plus the extra cost of manufacture here. Arrangements are in progress in Victoria to begin the manufacture of cordite, which is the basis of small arms ammunition. The manufacture of ammunition is not in immediate contemplation, but it will certainly be one of the developments in the future.
– About what time is it expected the manufacture of cordite will be commenced ?
– About eighteen months hence.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Queensland - Division 123 (District Head-quarters Staff), £3,025 ; division 124 (Royal Australian Artillery), £11,443; division 125 (Armament Artificers,), £338; division 126 (Royal Australian Engineers), £1.900; division 127 (Ordnance Department), £2.991 ; division 128 (Rifle Range Staff), £522 ; division 129 (District Accounts and Pay Branch), £1,190, agreed to.
Division 130 (Instructional Staff), £9.000.
– Do the members of the instructional staff travel round to the military organizations in the various small towns, or are they located in some specific place?
– These officers are attached to the forces in Queensland, and are used for instruction in that State only.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 131 (Militia), £27,580; division 132 (Volunteers), £739 ; division 133 (Camps), £9,890 ; division 134 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £5,185; division135 (Ammunition), £4,332 ; division 137 (General Contingcncies), £5,177; division 138 (General Services), £797 ; division 139 (Postage and Telegrams), £550; division 140 (Cadets), £28,991 ; division 141 (Rifle Clubs and Associations), £13,292. South Australia - Division 142 (District Headquarters Staff), £2,005, agreed to.
Division 143 (Royal Australian Artil- lery)> £2,451.
– I see a great many “contingencies “ provided for in these Estimates, and they may cover up more than would, perhaps, be approved of if the details were known.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division ‘144 (Armament Artificers), £188; division 145 (Royal Australian Engineers), £313; division 146 (Ordnance Department), £2,043; division 147 (Rifle Range Staff), £252 ; division 148 (District Accounts and Pay Branch), £740 ; division 149 (Instructional Staff), £4,135; division 150 (Militia), £15,689; division 151 (Volunteers), £1,771 ; division 152, (Camps), £3,817; division 153 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £2,615 1 division 154 (Ammunition), £3,026 ; division 155 (General Contingencies), £3,960; division 156 (General Services), £300; division 157 (Postage and Telegrams), £225 ; division 158 (Cadets), £21,308; division 159 (Rifle Clubs and Associations), £7,110. Western Australia - Division 160 (District Head-quarters Staff), £2,105 ; division 161 (Royal Australian Artillery), £[4,296; division 162 (Armame.pt Artificers), £206 ; division 163 (Royal Australian Engineers), £502 ; division 164 (Ordnance Department), £1,191 ; division 165 (Rifle Range Staff), £138 ; division r66 (District Accounts and Pay Branch), £575 ; division 167 (Instructional Staff), £3.820; division t68 (Militia), £10,384; division 169 (Volunteers), £2,089; division 170 (Camps), £4,781 ; division 171 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £2,055; division 172 (Ammunition), £3,016; division 173 (General Contingencies), . £3,780; division 174 (General Services), £528 ; division 175 (Postage and Telegrams), £250; division 176 (Cadets), £74,898; division 177 (Rifle Clubs and Associations), £6,211, agreed to.
Tasmania - Division 178 (District Headquarters’ Staff), £2,345.
– I do not see any great increase in the vote for rifle clubs. I have been applied to on several occasions to endeavour to have a rifle range provided at Burnie, which is the third town of importance in Tasmania and the centre of a great agricultural district, where there are a great number of enthusiastic fighting warriors.
– There is an increase of 15 per cent. in the vote for rifle clubs and associations in Tasmania.
– Yes ; but the votes are for the wrong places. What chance is there of having a rifle range at Burnie? One of the land-owners has offered a site at a great deal Jess than its value, in order to encourage the movement.
-How much has he offered to take?
– I sent the statement to the Department last week; but the price is only a trifle ; in fact, I thought of buying the land myself and lending it to the Department. The young men are very anxious for a range. .
– And we are doing our best to get one for them.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 179 (Royal Australian Artillery), £1,923; division 180 (Armament Artificers), £206 ; division 181 (Royal Australian Engineers), £646 ; division 182 (Ordnance Department), £1,095; division 183 (Rifle Range Staff), £264; division 184 (District Accounts and Pay Branch), £520; division 185 (Instructional Staff), £3.700; division 186 (Militia), £12,172; division 187 (Volunteers), £2,315; division 188 (Camps). £4,550 ; division 189 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £[3,031 ; division 190 (Ammunition), £5,087 ; division 102 (General Contingencies), £[2,240 ; division 193 (General Services), £151; division 194 (Postage and Telegrams), £1 bo ; division 195 (Cadets), £11.023, agreed to.
Division 196 (Rifle Clubs and Associations). £2.068.
– Will the Minister kindly tell us what is the position in relation to the small arms factory at Lithgow? When is it likely to be completed? I also desire to know what is being done towards the resumption of land for a camping ground in the county of Cumberland?
– Tenders have already been called for the motive power for the small arms factory, and the machinery is in process of completion. In about six months we hope to have the factory ready, or nearly so ; at any rate, every effort is being put forward to have the work completed within contract time. The matter of the camping ground is also in train, and I hope the negotiations will lead to the acquirement of the site.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Postmaster-General’ sDepartment .
Division 197 (Central Staff), £13,127.
– I understand from the newspapers that this is probably the last year Sir Robert Scott will act as Secretary to the Department. I should like to take this opportunity to say that I, personally, and, I feel sure, all honorable members, regret that the time has arrived when we must lose that gentleman’s valuable services. Although the Department will go on after Sir Robert Scott has left it, I think it will be difficult to find one to fill his place adequately, and I do not envy the PostmasterGeneral when the time comes to appoint a successor to the present secretary. If it be an honour for a person to cease to be plain Mr. and become a Knight, I am very glad that that honour has been conferred upon him. It was a very nice compliment, not only in view of the work that he has done, but also as an answer to a great deal of unjustifiable criticism that has been hurled against the Department generally. I should like to say a few words with respect to what I consider to be the very unsatisfactory position of the telephone rates. When the Fisher Government were in power, a regulation was issued abolishing the flat rate, and making it compulsory for all subscribers to come under the toll telephone. When the present PostmasterGeneral took office, he suspended that regulation, and went back to the system previously in force, which was that all new subscribers came under the Chapman toll rates, while those already on the flat rate could remain on it if they so desired. I spoke at considerable length on the matter soon after the House met this session, and do not desire to cover the same ground now ; but, when speaking in reply to what I then said, the present Postmaster-General stated that one reason which had decided him to revert to the old rates was the necessity of appointing a Committee to fully investigate the financial aspect of the question, and that immediately the Committee reported he would deal with the whole matter. Some honorable members thought al the time that the Committee was to be a mere shelving body, appointed simply to give the Minister an opportunity to do nothing, but the Minister indignantly replied that it was not a shelving Committee, and that instructions had been given to it to report in three months. It is now between five and. six months since the Committee was appointed, and up to the present we have received no report. The Minister, when replying to me, said that he was supported in his opinion as to the necessity tor the Committee by the advice of Mr. Hesketh, the Electrical Engineer. These were his words -
The course that I have adopted is confirmed by the recommendation of the officer, Mr. Hesketh, upon whose advice, no doubt, the honorable member, when in office, based his regulations. Mr. Hesketh, after I had discussed this matter with him fairly and squarely for two or three days in the Department, going over the whole of the ground, and examining the regulations which had been framed, frankly admitted that the problem was one which should be investigated by a Committee.
When I heard the Minister make that statement, I thought he had unfairly dragged one of the officers of the Department into the discussion, because I felt that a Minister ought to be responsible for his own actions, without falling back upon any support given by an officer. When that statement was made, I did not care to bring Mr. Hesketh’s name into the discussion, but I felt that if such advice as that had been given by him to the present Minister, it was very different from the advice that he had tendered to me only a. little while before. Since that utterance of the PostmasterGeneral, Mr. Hesketh has given evidence before the Postal Commission.
– Since the appointment of the investigating Committee?
– Yes; and he gave the following evidence in answer to questions put to him by the honorable member for Gwydir - 47173. Can you tell this Commission whether the Government is likely to arrive at any more definite figures on the data available ?- -In my opinion, no other conclusion can be arrived at, if. the facts are fairly faced, whatever actuarial investigation is made, if made with proper knowledge and on a fair basis. 47174. Have you any knowledge oi the task that was set the Committee of Accounts who were appointed to investigate this matter? - I have seen the instructions which were issued. 47175. In your judgment, are those instructions practicable? - Everything depends on how they go about the work. 47176. Is it practicable for them to obey those instructions and obtain what the Department requires? - If they went the right way about it, I think they could. 47177. How long would they be over the matter? - lt altogether depends whether they ure prepared to take the Department’s figures as now existing, and subject them to such scrutiny as they care to give, and check, so far as they are able, the methods of keeping the accounts, and that sort of thing ; or whether they wish to have an entirely new basis for calculating their results. So far as I can gather, they have asked for the figures in a form in which the Department had never conceived it necessary to keep them, and therefore cannot furnish them at once. 47178. Can the Department furnish the figures required at any time? - In my opinion, it cannot at any time. ‘ 47179. Am I to take it that the Government has set the Committee of Accounts an impossible task? - That is my opinion. As the figures went out at fust, it was an impossible task to furnish the information, and a task such as nobody conversant with telephone accounts as they are kept by the leading telephone companies at the present time would have set. 47180. Would you say that that was due to lack of knowledge on the part of those who issued the instructions? - No, I would not suggest that for a moment. 47181. Whether that be the case or no, is the fact as you have stated? - Yes. It will be within the memory of the Commission that I furnished it with statements, when giving evidence before, showing how the telephone companies in other parts of the world analyze their accounts, and the forms in which they kept them.
It is apparent, therefore, that Mr. Hesketh thinks that the Committee can give the Minister practically no more information than he has already received.
– If the honorable member will allow me to intervene, I should like to read a letter which I received from the investigating Committee a day or two ago.
– The information contained in the letter may be useful to the honorable member. I consulted one of the Committee this morning to see if they could give me anything more formal or anything additional to what is contained in this letter, but they could not. It is as follows -
Melbourne, 3rd December, 1909
We have the honour to inform you that we have to-day completed our examination of the Telephone Accounts of the Victorian System, and have ascertained the capital cost of the Metropolitan network and each Country Exchange. Statements are in course of preparation, and will be forwarded to you with our report. These will show the capital cost of each network or exchange, the number of subscribers, and the cost of each subscriber’s lines at the end of each financial year.
We have also prepared a draft working account for each network or exchange, which will show the cost of working such network or exchange under the following heads : -
These accounts will supply you with the par ticulars necessary to enable you to review the rentals charged to subscribers.
We have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servants, (Sgd.) Percy Whitton.
I saw Mr. Whitton this morning, and asked him if he was in a position to furnish any supplementary information. He replied that he had nothing to add, except that the figures which he and Mr. Holmes had given applied to the working of the metropolitan area of Melbourne, and that he thought that it would be found that ‘ there was a slight profit in the working of Victorian country exchanges which would reduce the total loss on the Victorian system. The estimated loss of £7,000 for the year 1908-9 amounts to about 8s. a subscriber, but it ought to be averaged over the number of lines and in struments, and I have not yet been able to ascertain what it is, arranged on that basis. This loss, according to’ the accountants, is due to the sudden reduction of the fixed rate for business telephones from £9 to £5 adopted when the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was Postmaster-General. But the defective and imperfect method of recording calls under the toll system is another large source of loss. ‘ 1
.- I am pleased that the Postmaster-General has furnished an interim report from the accountants who are investigating the affairs of the telephone branch. Part of it, at any rate, bears out strongly what has always been my contention. When I first spoke on telephone matters in this Chamber, I drew attention to the unfairness of the flat rate, under which all business firms were charged £9 and private persons £5 per annum, the number of calls being unlimited.
– We are all agreed as to that.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say so. As the result of my speeches and those of others, information being placed before Parliament as to what is done in other countries, the Postmaster-General of the day, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, instituted a partial toll system. His toll rates, however, were too low, and a further objection to his system was that it permitted the subscribers of the day to choose between remaining on a flat rate and coming under the toll rate. This undoubtedly resulted in loss to the Department, because, of course, every business man made a calculation, and when he found that it would be cheaper to remain on the flat rate, did so, while if he thought that he could save by changing to the toll rate, he did that. Men who were in a small way, using their telephones only a few times a day, paid as toll subscribers, and instead of paying £9, paid £5 a year for the rent of their instruments. Nearly 6,000 subscribers in Melbourne alone did this. Other business men, who would have had to pay more under the toll rate, remained on the fiat rate. Mr. Alcock, a member of a deputation which waited on the PostmasterGeneral to protest against the rates which the Fisher Government wished to bring into force, stated that, had he to pay those rates for his telephone service, he would be charged £2810s., whereas under the flat rate he was paying only £9 a year.
I ascertained from the Department that his telephone is used on the average fifty times a day, and under the Chapman rates he would have to pay £2410s. a year. Of course’, like other smart business men, he declined to change from the flat to the toll rate at a loss. There are other larger users of the telephone than he is who have remained on the flat rate. Where a telephone is used a hundred times a day, the subscriber, if on the flat rate, pays only £9 a year. The mistake made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro wasin not compelling all to subscribe under the toll rates. To placate large users, however, the option which I speak of was given. The honorable member for Richmond, who was Acting Postmaster-General while the honorable member for EdenMonaro was attending the Postal Conference, said, in reply to a deputation protesting against the flat rate, that the option I have spoken of would be given, and the agitation against the flat rates immediately ceased. I understand that there are some subscribers who use the telephone on an average 105 times a day. If they paid under the toll system, the charge for their service would be about £40 a year, but, being under the flat-rate system, they pay only £9 a year. There are in Victoria . 5,725 subscribers under the flat-rate system, and it may fairly he inferred that, as they had the option between remaining on the flat rate and changing to the toll rate, they chose ‘to remain under the flat rate because they saved money by doing so.
– That is not admitted. A number of subscribers whose calls do not amount’ to the maximum chose to remain under the flat rate.
– No doubt some remained on the flat rate who would have to pay less on the toll rate, as in some cases men who, had they changed to the toll rate, would have had to pay £8 a year, preferred to remain under the flat rate and pay £9, because they thought that their business would increase so quickly that it would not be long before, under the toll rate, they would have to pay £10 or £11 a year for the use of their telephone. Perha; ? in 725 cases there has been no loss of revenue, but undoubtedly in the remaining 5,000 cases less is paid under the flat-rate system than would be paid under the toll system.
– Under the flat-rate system the Departments are not put to the expense of recording and checking calls.
– That is so. It isstrange that there has not been a heavier loss under the toll rate, seeing that the charge for telephones is £5 a year, with, 2,000 free calls.
– The 2,000 calls are paid for with the subscription of £5.
– I understand that it is the pleasure of the Committee that,, instead of suspending the sitting for luncheon, we should sit on until the discussion of the. Estimates has been finished.
– I offer no objection to that course, though I see no prospect of concluding their consideration in half-an-hour..
– We desire to send the Appropriation Bill to the Senate as soon as possible. Honorable members will have another occasion to discuss the finances in connexion with the statement to be made by the Treasurer.
.- I wish only to say that the division now before the Committee is an important one, and that I desire, on. the Appropriation Bill, to make a few remarks. I know nothing of the urgency of the matter. It does not arise from the event which has just happened?
– I do not wish to oppose the Prime Minister’s desire that we should sit on for a. time, but I cannot undertake that the debate on the Estimates will be concluded within half-an-hour.
.- I do not think that I have unduly occupied the. time of the Committee in dealing with this question. It is undoubtedly an important matter, and it is possible that I may desire to speak for half-an-hour or an hour further.
– Very well, then I shall not ask the Committee to sit on. I propose to ask the Chairman, with the consent of the Committee, to suspend the sittings, on his leaving the chair, until the usual time of meeting after dinner.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– With the consent of the Committee I shall resume the chair at 7.45 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 1.6 to 7.4.5 p.m..
.- I am rather pleased that the report of the expert Committee made clear what I have been endeavouring to emphasize for some time past, namely, that thesystem introduced by the honorable member for EdenMonaro, when Postmaster-General, permitting those who desired to do so to remain on the flat system was absurd. In an interview with the Postmaster-General, a Mr. Alcock said that some years ago the telephones paid in Victoria. That statement is borne out by the report of the expert Committee; but I point out that, when the telephones were paying in Victoria, and, probably, in the other States;the whole of the subscribers were under the flat rate, and each one had to pay £9 per annum.
– The rental was £5 for private subscribers.
– I am talking of the business people ; and I believe that in Adelaide the rental was £10. A man like Mr. Alcock, who used his telephone fifty times a day, would naturally elect to remain on the flat rate, seeing that, even under the toll system of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, the charges would have come to £24. a year. Another absurd idea was to permit subscribers, under the toll system, 2,000 free rings, and, at the same time, give them the privilege of charging a penny per ring to any person who wished to use the telephone. Of course, I do not know what was in the mind of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro at the time, but I take it that the 2,000 free rings were allowed on the basis that the average number of rings per day was six. It will be seen, however, that, if 2,000 free rings were permitted, and a subscriber allowed to charge a penny per ring to nonsubscribers, he would receive for the 2,000 free rings £8 6s, 8d., while he was called upon to pay only £5 to the Department. Such a system, if universally acted upon, must result in a loss. Not long ago, a friend of mine started in a small way in a grocery business, and, when I suggested that he should have a telephone, said he could not afford the £5. I advised him to scrape the money together, and he did so, with the result that, on the first day he had eight rings paid for by nonsubscribers, on the second day ten rings, and on the third day seventeen rings. At that rate, it can be seen that in a very short time he would receive more than he was called upon to pay the Government, and really got his telephone free.
– The honorable member did not think he was assisting in defrauding the revenue?
– Not at all; because the practice is resorted to all round. I asked a question in the House as to whether this was permitted, and the official reply was in the affirmative, the justification being that the privilege resulted in more business. If there were no free calls allowed, it would only be fair to permit a subscriber to charge a penny per ring, because, then, the more rings there were the more profit to the Government. It is only fair that we should have a statement from the PostmasterGeneral as to whether he intends to estab lish the toll system or the flat rate systemIn the Age of 12th June, 1909, the PostmasterGeneral, speaking in reply to a deputation, is reported to have said -
But of one thing he was convinced - the time had arrived for the abolition of the old fixed rate system and the substitution of a system that would charge for services rendered. The Government had a right to review the rates and regulations with a view of equalizing them. The toll system had come to stay.
– He did not know so much then as he does now !
– The toll system is the more scientific, but difficult to bring into operation.
– The Special Committee, though it consists of only two persons, has already cost £1,500.
– One of the Commissioners is a regular servant of the Commonwealth.
– And his salary is debited to the Commission.
– Supposing this public servant receives £400 per year, his share of the cost means only £200 for the six months, so that, at any rate, the other Commissioner has drawn over £1,000. I do not particularly object to the expenditure ; but we know that, when Parliamentarians are on a Committee of the kind, and are allowed £1 per day for expenses, there is a hue and cry in the press. Whilst the figures of Mr. Alcock are no doubt correct
– I think they were a little wide.
– In what way? We are told that, up to a certain time, the telephones in Victoria paid, but that only means that the persons who did not use them up to the extent of £9 per year made them pay. We are told that, in the case of a person who has fifty rings a day, the cost of attending to them in the’ exchange amounts to £10, so that such a subscriber did not in any way help to make the system pay. I still believe that the rates I suggested were fair and equitable.
– The expert Committee may sustain the honorable member’s contention.
– I am not asking the Postmaster-General to accept those rates, but merely to tell us whether he proposes to adopt the toll system, or, if he has abandoned that idea, what are his reasons for doing so. ‘ The Sydney Daily Telegraph, in its issue of 5th March, 1909, said -
It has been made plain several times that this journal is in thorough accord with the idea that justice in the method of charging for the use of the telephone must be part of the satisfactory solution of the departmental problem. Subscribers who, as Mr. Thomas points out, make from 76 to 105 calls per day on a single instrument, are getting a measure of service for which other subscribers whose need of the apparatus is less insistent have to pay. What Mr. Thomas should guard against is any desire on the part of the officials to evolve some fancy model system, which may cost so much that the more general use of the telephone will be discouraged rather than encouraged.
I quote that to show that whilst the Melbourne Age and Argus have been opposed to the toll system in any shape or form, the Sydney Daily Telegraph thinks it is fair and just. I admit that the charges may be too high, and that the question depends a great deal upon what is charged for the services rendered, but that paper believes that the system itself is the fair and proper one. The Sydney Morning Herald of the same date wrote as follows -
And to better the machine -
This refers to the Postal Department - is a matter of funds. Those funds Mr. Thomas proposes to get in part by raising the rates against telephone users. As to this, we may say that it is fair enough to require payment in proportion to service rendered. People who use the telephone a great deal should be willing to pay more than those who use it only betimes.
I shall be glad if the Postmaster-General will tell the Committee in his reply whether he proposes to adopt the toll system or to revert to the old-fashioned flat rates. Passing away from the question of the telephone, I may say that I have come to the opinion that the Postal Department should have the right to build its own post offices of other works. In times past some honorable members have said that there was a great deal of circumlocution in this matter, and that with the Home Affairs Department on the one hand and the Postal Department on the other people hardly knew what was being done. Although I did not favour. the idea some months ago, I am rather in favour of it at the present moment.
– Would not that mean a Postal Public Works Department?
– Very likely it would.
– With architects, engineers, clerks of works, &c. That is a beautiful proposition !
– It is open to debate.
– It might be open to debate at Yarra Bend.
– That may be, but a great deal of the blame that has been attached to the Postal Department in times past has been in many instances due to the fact that promises have been made by the Postmaster- General, and works have been sent on, but have ‘been delayed or held not to be urgent by another Department.
– Not only that, but promises have been made which another Department has attempted to completely upset.
– And there may be a very good reason for it.
– Possibly ; but it is the Postal Department that “gets the blame. The Postmaster-General promises a post office, his Department says it ought to be built, and the question is sent on to the Home Affairs Department, so that the work may be done. It is delayed there, but the Postal Department and not the Home Affairs Department gets the blame. That is somewhat unfair. I admit that the formation of a Works’ Staff might mean such an added cost that it would be better for the Postal Department to put up with a certain amount of unfair and unjust criticism, but at present I rather favour the idea of the Postal Department having a works branch of its own. I think that it is a mistake for postmasters to be mixed up with electoral work. I have always felt that no postmaster should be compelled to act as returning or deputy returning officer against his will, and that it was a mistake to thrust that work upon those officers.
– Who can be got amongst, the staff equally suitable?
– I have never held that it is necessary to appoint Government officers. I do not see why we should not go outside the service altogether for deputy returning officers.
– A man in the service can be disciplined.
– He can be disciplined, and he can also be made to do work that he does not want to do. At Gawler some time ago we had the case of a postmaster who was a most excellent officer, and had this work thrust upon him against his will. He made a big bungle of it, and the consequence was that a vote of censure was passed upon him by his Department. I do not know whether he did not lose some of his pension also. This was rather a hard case, because he had not been accustomed to the work ; he was an old man, and had almost finished his work so far as the Postal Department was concerned. I have a similar case in my own constituency. I know that the postmaster at Broken Hill does not desire to have thi. work thrust upon him. He is a very capable officer so far as his own Department is concerned, and has endeavoured to. do his work under many difficulties, and has done it well; but he has arrived at an age at which he feels. that electoral work would be new for him, and interfere with his postal work. It is unfair to ask men who have devoted the whole of their life to another kind of work to undertake electoral work. I shall be glad if it is found possible to dissociate it altogether from the staff of the Postal Department, for most of the men in the postal service already have quite sufficient to do.
.- I wish to direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the items aggregating £26,860 for the conveyance of mails to Europe via Vancouver. If the present Government had been responsible for the contract I should have felt inclined to move for a reduction of the vote, with’ a view to preventing a recurrence of what has happened ; but, in the circumstances I shall content myself with drawing the attention of the Postmaster-General to certain facts that have come under my notice. I do. not pretend that it is the duty of the Government to provide for the carriage of produce on mail steamers, but when we pay such large subsidies to steamers to carry the mails, their space should be available for the benefit of the whole of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. Just before the contract was entered into, I wrote to the then Postmaster-General, the honorable member for Barrier, pointing out that a firm in Sydney had a monopoly of the whole of the refrigerating space in these boats. I naturally expected the honorable member to put his foot down very firmly on anything in the shape of a monopoly. I informed him that several Brisbane shippers who had tried to secure space in the Vancouver boats had been absolutely refused. The firm that had secured the monopoly of the space, offered to buy our produce but would not accept our cargo at double the rates which they were themselves paying. The reply which I received from the Postal Department was as follows : -
I have the honour to inform you, inquiry has been made into the matter, and attached hereto for your information is a copy of a letter received from the manager of the CanadianAustralian Royal Mail line in regard thereto.
I am to add that there is no provision in the contract in connexion with the service in question which would enable this Department to allot cargo space.
I was rather surprised that the PostmasterGeneral should have gone to the shipping company only for information as to whether certain things did exist or not, but it was pointed out to his evident satisfaction by the company that there was no remedy for what was complained of. I am exceedingly surprised that the honorable member took up this attitude seeing that he had tried very hard to burst up the shipping combine that existed some time ago. I wish to refer also to the service in country telephone exchanges. In many country districts the lines are overcrowded with work. The Department are not in a position to erect new trunk lines, and in many of the fairly large centres the work cannot be coped with. I have suggested to the Department that they should extend the service from eight to twelve or sixteen hours a day. This would give more time for the working of the lines, and effect a great saving to the Department at a very small cost, or if a saving cannot be made, the public would be convenienced by being given twelve or sixteen hours in which to do their work. It seems to be at present a hard-and-fast rule of the Department that where a twenty-four hours’ service cannot be granted, only an eight hours’ service will ‘ be given. A departure from the rule has been made in connexion with the Esk exchange. There has been a slight loss, which the Esk residents have borne, but the district has benefited immensely by the service, and the increased return from other centres using the same line would have more than compensated the Department had it had to bear the loss itself. There are other items to which I should like to refer, but as time presses I shall not further detain the Committee.
– I regret that the Estimates are being considered under conditions which do not allow reasonable discussion. They have been presented at the end of the last session of the Parliament, and another place is waiting for the Appropriation Bill. Therefore, if - we are to convenience honorable senators, it will be impossible to properly discuss the one hundred and one items which deserve consideration. There are, however, two or three matters to which I should like to direct the attention of the Postmaster-General, in the hope that, after the session is closed, he will be able to do something to rectify what are substantial grievances. Ever since the inauguration of Federation, and particularly within the last two or three years, the Department of the Postmaster-General has been starved. The criticisms brought to bear on .its administration resulted in the appointment of a Commission to investigate its workings, which is still sitting. A great source of complaint is the delay in carrying out urgent works, either in the nature of additions or alterations of present accommodation. Even when works have been approved of, and money voted, members are told, in reply to their representations, that they must await their turn. When we ask in what order a work will be attended to, we cannot get a satisfactory answer. The public cannot understand why, when a work has been approved, there should be delay in carrying it out. The explanation of the authorities is that the supervising staff is not sufficiently strong, and that, from this, congestion has resulted which cannot be relieved until the Estimates have _ been passed and additions to the staff made. I understand that some temporary appointments have been made, but, apparently, the. great body of work which has to be done is being held back pending the appointment of more officers. There are several important works in my electorate which have been under consideration for two or three years past, and, although I have at last got approval for them, I have been told by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Sydney that they must wait their turn, there being others of more importance, or which, having secured earlier approval, must be dealt with first. Let me mention one or two specific cases. By dint of constant representation, I have got the Department to agree to the linking up by telephone or telegraph of Manildra and Cudal, two centres within 10 miles of eachother. This work would greatly benefit local residents, and facilitate the operations, of the Department. It was approved of last year, but I was told that provisioncould not be made for it until the present Estimates had been passed. The Estimateshave been awaiting consideration for nearly six months. I am told now that the work must await its turn, and that the supervising, staff is engaged on other work, which must, be completed before it is taken in hand. No estimate can be given as to when it will be dealt with, and it seems likely that the vote which is being asked for willhave lapsed before anything can be done ;. that is, if we are to judge by the past performances of the constructing authorities. A similar work is the’ erection of a telephone or telegraph from the farming district of Bombaldry to the Greenethorpe railway station. A great deal of wheat is sent away from the district, and, necessarily, a good deal of telegraphic business has tobe done there. The Department recognisesthe need for this work, and has approved of it; but it, too, must wait its turn. T do not know whether other districts aresimilarly treated ; but in Calare agricultural settlement is rapidly increasing, and! these delays mean great inconvenience. I hope that directly the Estimates are passed, the present temporary officers will be madepermanent, and that more permanent supervisors will be appointed. I have a word! to say, too, regarding appointments to theDepartment. Some time ago, the Public Service Commissioner held an examination! to test the qualifications of applicants for appointment, and a number qualified. Someof them were appointed to temporary positions, and have been so employed for months past ; but it is said that they cannot be permanently appointed until the Estimates have been dealt with, and that, if they are not so appointed by the 1st of January, they will have to re-submit themselves to examination.
– The same thing happens in Victoria.
– This seemsto me an unbusiness-like way -to proceed- If the Department needs thirty or forty more men, which I understand to be the. case so far as New South Wales is con- cerned, those who prove themselves capable for the work to be done should be appointed permanently. I hope that the Postmaster-General will see that the men to whom I refer are permanently appointed before the end of the year. The honorable member for Barrier spoke of the delay in carrying out Departmental work. He suggested that the Department should do its own supervision, instead of depending on the services of another Department. That is a question of policy into which I shall not enter. It is a real grievance that country people have in connexion with the operations of this Department. Works are promised, but the delays in carrying them out are heart-breaking. When one endeavours to ascertain the cause of the delay one is shunted from one Department to another until it becomes almost impossible to discover where the real trouble lies. Here is a case in point : About eighteen months ago the Department decided that a. staff office should be established at the town of Koorawatha, and it was then discovered that a site for a building must be secured. Negotiations were at once entered into with the State Government for the acquisition of a site, but they are still proceeding, and the Department does not know yet whether or not it is to secure the site which it has selected’. When asked to make provision on this year’s Estimates for the erection of the office, the reply of the Department was that it could not do anything until the site had been actually secured. Instead of preparing to take the work in hand under these Estimates, the Department states that if a site is secured in lime provision will be made on next year’s Estimates for thebuilding. That means that nothing will be done for twelve months or more. These are real grievances which ought to receive the attention of the Minister, and if he can improve the conditions to any material extent he will confer a great benefit upon residents of country districts. Last year there was an outcry in respect of an alleged attempt on the part of the Department to curtail country mail facilities. We were eventually assured that no general policy of curtailment was to be adopted, but apparently the Department is gradually working in that direction. If tenders for a country mail service are considered too high, having regard to the revenuewhich that service yields, fresh tenders are called, with an alternative condition for the supply of a reduced service. I have made several representations to the Department in this connexion. One case will illustrate my point. Tenders were recently invited for a mail service three times a week between Canowindraand Toogong, both of which are rapidlygrowing centres of population. Settlement there is increasing instead of diminishing, so that the position must be much better than it was a few years ago. The tenders received were considered too high, and the Department invited fresh tenders for a service three times a week, with an alternative offer to supply a mail service twice a week. It thus seems reasonable to assume that the Department is prepared to reduce the service to twice a week, although for seventeen years or more there has been a tri-weekly service. I do not think the Department would be justified, however, in making such a reduction. I do not say that the Department ought to incur heavy expense in respect of mail services that produce but little revenue, and give little or no promise of improvement : but mail services should be considered in the light of helping to develop the country. If the backblock districts are to be made attractive, some encouragement must be given to the people to settle there, and no better encouragement could beoffered than the granting of reasonable mail and telephone services. In that way the Department can contribute very materially to the solution of the problem of how to settle the waste places of Australia. Recently there were brought under the notice of the Postmaster-General complaints in regard to the internal working of the service, which I hope will receive his attention. One emanated from officers who are classified to receive £156 per annum, and who must pass an examination to reach the £162 per annum grade. I believe that representations have been made with regard to this matter in connexion with the Melbourne General Post Office ; and I know that officers in the General Post Office, Sydney, consider that they have a very legitimate grievance.
– The Public Service Commissioner must deal with that matter.
– Such complaints must come first of all before the Postmaster-General. He has received deputations with regard to them.
– And I have to pass on the matter to the Public Service Commissioner.
– I take this opportunity to draw the honorable gentleman’s attention to the complaint, feeling satisfied that if he thinks a good case has been made out, and makes a favorable recommendation to the Commissioner, the matter will receive fair consideration at his hands.
– I have already done so.
– I was under the impression that the honorable gentleman was not prepared to make favorable representations in respect of it. The grievance is a legitimate one. Officers in the Clerical Division start, so to speak, from scratch, and are thus placed on an equality ; but in the General Division, the position is different, lt appears that an examination is held in one branch of the Department te enable officers in the General Division receiving £156 per annum to qualify for the higher grade, the salary in respect of which is £162 per annum, and that the men in that particular branch thus obtain an advantage over men in other branches. Trouble is experienced in obtaining a transfer to that branch. A man who happens to be in it and succeeds in passing the necessary examination secures seniority over a number of men in other branches who are equally effective workers. It is said that one man is kept in the newspaper sorting branch because of his expertness, and his application to obtain a transfer to the despatch branch, in order that he may pass the necessary examination, is disallowed by his superior. His expertness and his ability in the newspaper sorting branch count for nothing, and Ihe is gradually becoming junior in the service to many who, while not possessing his special aptitude, are able to pass the prescribed examination by reason of special training, and secure higher pay. The matter has been placed before the Postmaster-General, and I ask him to do what he can to help these men, and to bring about a better state of affairs.
– I have already asked the Public Service Commissioner to consider their case favorably, if possible.
– Then I shall be satisfied to leave the matter at that stage for the present. I hope that before a new Parliament has to deal with it, it will have been cleared up to the satisfaction of all concerned. There are ‘many other questions calling for consideration ; but, as I know that the Postmaster-General desires that the Estimates shall be disposed of, and the Appropriation Bill sent to another place, which is waiting for it, I shall await a more opportune time for their discussion.
.- Time is pressing, and I shall, therefore, curtail my remarks as much as possible. In the first place, I desire to point out to the Postmaster-General that there are two postoffices that ought to be built in my electorate^ - one at Seymour, and the other at Lilydale. .
– Is not the Seymour Postoffice built yet?
– No; although it has been on the stocks for three years. I shall not enlarge upon the matter; but I ask’ the Postmaster-General to give it his attention. I desire now to refer to the position taken up by the ex- Postmaster-General, the honorable member for Barrier, who to-night has urged the virtues of the toll-rate system in connexion with the telephone service. I am glad to say that when I dealt with the subject on the 1st September last, I accurately gauged the position, and showed clearly and unmistakably that there was no reason for raising the telephone rates iri Victoria, as had been done by the exPostmasterGeneral. I then pointed out that, from my reading of the figures, the telephone system in that State had been created out of its own proceeds. Instead of losing money, as the public have been led to believe, the telephones have been a continuously paying concern, and have accumulated a profit of something like ,£300,000 - that is, the whole telephone system of Victoria. To-day we have the report, or a portion of the report, of the Committee of inquiry, in which my statement is absolutely borne out. I am anxious that this should be known, so that the question may, before another Parliament meets, engage the attention of the Postmaster-General and the Government, and they may be prepared to put the system on a satisfactory basis. My statement was that, during twenty-two years, nine of which were under the administration of the Commonwealth, the profit I have mentioned has been made. The report tabled to-day contains the following passage -
The telephone system in the metropolitan area alone has, under the Commonwealth, returned the net profit of over ^100,000.
That is, for nine years -
This profit has been made chiefly in the years 1901 - 7. The results for 1907-8 and 1908-9 respectively were a small profit of about ^4,000 and a loss of about ,£7,000. The decrease in 1907-8 and the loss in 1908-9 are entirely due to the introduction of the measured rate system.
– Decidedly. Of ite Chapman system.
– I am not referring to the Chapman system, or to the system of the honorable member for Barrier ; I am reading the report, which clearly shows that the telephones were paying well. I hope tl.at the measured rate system is dead and buried. This is a business Department ; and the honorable member for Barrier, who is always quoting Mr. Alcock, does not deal with it as a business man would do in any large concern, and take the little and the big together. I wish to say that the telephones on the old system were paying well.
– Because a number of people paid £9 who ought not to have done so.
– There were no complaints on that score. The report goes on to say -
In the meantime we may remark that the work at the Exchanges of recording the calls registered by the attendants costs in the aggregate more than the revenue received from the measured rate.
That is to say, the number of employes requited to record the calls absorb the money received from the measured rate.
– The honorable member must allow for the 2,000 free calls.
– I am pointing out the results. We see, first of all, that the telephones in Victoria have paid, and can be made to pay ; and 1° presume that, if separate accounts were also kept in the other States, the result would be similar. In Sydney, where there is a better telephone circuit, I think the system would be found to be a paying one. I have now said all that is necessary to show that the PostmasterGeneral did a wise thing when, on entering office, he suspended the operation of the new rates, and reverted to the old system.
Mr. JOHN THOMSON (Cowper) [8.52L - I desire to draw the attention of the Postmaster-General to a few items on the Estimates in the hope that he will take some action. First of all, I see that for rent, repairs, and so forth, under the heading of works and buildings, there is set down a sum of £52,478, and my objection to the amount is not only that it is large, but also that last year we voted £6.600 for new sites, only .£3,500 of which was spent. When the Department is given a certain amount of money to expend on new sites, Parliament expects that money will be used. In the purchase of sites the wisest plan has not been followed, inasmuch as steps are not taken in time to secure suitable allotments, with the result that larger prices have to be paid than would otherwise be the case. When a man proposes to erect business premises he generally secures a site before he is prepared to build, and the Department, ought to follow the same course Unfortunately, however, it seems to be the business of two or three Departments - certainly not less than two - to deal with this business of securing sites, and there should be some system initiated by the Department of Home Affairs to secure suitable areas in anticipation. If this suggestion were acted upon, the work of the Department would be ^facilitated, and certainly the public convenience would be better served. The next matter I should like to refer to is connected with the postal inspectors and their duties. I notice that no increase of salary for these officers employed in New South Wales is proposed, though their work is certainly most onerous and responsible, and worthy of higher remuneration. In New South Wales, considering the area to be covered, the number of officers is too small, and the result is that many important works are postponed from time to time, until, very often, the year passes without anything being done. These inspectors are not only expected to do what may be regarded as their ordinary work, but are also required to generally supervise officers. The only information that the Public Service Commissioner receives is through these postal inspectors, and that imposes on the latter more responsibility than they should be called upon to bear, and, of course, the efficiency of the service suffers. They are also expected to see that the premises are kept in proper condition, although they are not architects. This is work which, in my opinion, should be undertaken by the Department of Home Affairs, by means of either Commonwealth or State officers. Some of the reports prepared never reach the Department of Home Affairs, though the inspectors do the best they can. Further, I find that, when postmasters look after their premises properly, they get no more than a passing reference, while others, who are not particular in this respect, are allowed to escape without comment. Further, the inspectors are the only men who exercise any supervision over the lines, and
I do not suppose that there has been any inspection in my district until a few months ago. If one of these officers inspects a line from the windows of a coach at midnight, it is about all that is done. The business of the Department is not done in a business-like way, and the conditions under which the inspectors are asked to work is satisfactory neither to themselves nor to the Department. As a. matter of fact, the salary offered is not sufficient to induce men to leave comfortable post-offices in order to undertake the work; and several postmasters have declined the position. As to semi-official offices, they are created very often in a very back-stairs sort of way. There are a number of official offices which are, perhaps, not so remunerative as we should wish ; and the next thing we see, without any notice being given to the member for the district or anybody interested, is a notice in the Gazette reducing them in status. Before such a change is made I think that, at least, six months’ notice ought to be given, and that, after the reduction is made, better remuneration ought to be paid to those in charge, because at present the system is simply a sweating one, considering the responsibility of the work. I have in my mind the case of a man in charge of a semi-official office, whose weekly returns show an average of nineteen telegrams transmitted and twenty-one received, 384 letters posted, six: money -order transactions, three savings banks transactions, four postal note transactions, twelve mails received and despatched daily, with no fewer than 10,722 cross messages in the year. mention these figures to show that this officer is conducting an office which has all the branches of an official office, including as it does telegraphic, postal, money order, and savings bank work, and that for this he receives the handsome salary of £78 per year net for himself. He is actually charged £32 a year rent for the premises that he occupies. If it is fair to charge permanent officers only10 per cent, on their salaries for quarters, it is equally fair to charge men in this position only 10 per cent. I ask the Minister to look into these matters.
.- Will not the Postmaster-General state whether he advocates the toll or the flat rate?
SirJOHN QUICK(Bendigo- PostmasterGeneral) [9.1]. - The honorable member for Barrier is pressing me on this point, but time is very limited, and he could not expect me to discuss or pronounce any opinion upon the possibilities of the future while the present inquiry is in progress.
– Only on the principle.
– I would not even discuss the principle, because I must keep a clear mind and independent judgment to deal with the report of the Committee when it is presented. If I were to commit myself now I should not be in a position afterwards to deal with the report independently. I have every faith in the Committee, and am confident that they will report on the question in an able and independent manner. When the report is . presented it will be dealt with, not only by me, butby the Government as a whole.
.- It is to be hoped that during the recess the Government will carefully consider the principle which has hitherto been adopted by the Postal Department of expecting all outback telegraphic, telephonic, and mail services to pay their way. I should not complain so much if that principle were universally observed by the Department. But it is not applied in the case of the oversea mail contracts, the South Seas mail contract, the Canadian mail contract, or the Melbourne to Sydney telephone line. It is beyond my comprehension why Government after Government should be content to allow those services to be carried on at a loss, while expecting every little remote country service to pay its way. The question is well worthy of reconsideration by the Government, and now that they have leisure to do so, I hope the Postmaster-General will insist on the Cabinet going into it again. If the principle is sound, let them apply it all round ; if it is not, let them make some exemptions and allowance for remote country districts, so that the Postal Department shall do what it did under the States - assist in the development of the country.
– I feel that I have a right to reply to the honorable member for Mernda, who referred to the statement in the report of the Committee of investigation that the amount received from the measured rate does not cover the cost of recording the calls. Do the Committee say that it is more than is received from the toll telephones? Supposing, for the sake of argument, that every one with a tolltelephone used his full 2,000 free rings, which he does not, and seeing that in Melbourne alone there are 11,800 subscribers under the toll system, it would mean that the Department has to record 22,780,000 free rings before it received a single penny of revenue. Under such conditions it is obvious that it would cost more to record the calls than the amount received from the calls.
– It cannot be said that those rings are free. They are covered by the ground rent.
– Do the accountants say, when making that statement, that the ground rent is included ?
– Oh, no.
– That is whatI want to know. I have no objection to the remainder of the Estimates being passed en bloc, but I shall be glad if the Postmaster-General will answer a question regarding the Pacific line. Since he has been in office, has he, or have the Government, endeavoured to take steps to have the line through Canada State-owned? The Pacific line is at present not paying us as it ought to, one reason being that the line through Canada is not State-owned. This is an important matter, upon which we ought to have had some discussion, but in the circumstances I shall be content if the PostmasterGeneral will say whether he is in favour of proposing that the Canadian line should be State-owned, or has done anything to bring that about.
– I have already had under consideration information from the commercial community as to the inadequacy of the present land line through Canada, and the desirability of great improvement in it. I propose to communicate with the Prime Minister at an early date, and to submit suggestions for presentation to the Government of Canada on the subject.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 198 (New South Wales), £1,145,873; division 199 (Victoria), £787,825 ; division 200 (Queensland), £506,013 ; division 201 (South Australia), £291,695; division 202 (Western Australia), £327,032 ; division 203 (Tasmania), £135,231, agreed to.
Postponed division 1. (The Senate). £6.782, agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
Resolution of Ways and Means, covering resolutions of Supply, 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 passed through all its stages.
.- I have to submit. Supplementary Estimates for the financial year ended 30th June, 1908. These represent excesses on the various items in that year, and, 1 am glad to say, are very small. They refer to a year when the present Government was not in office. The ordinary votes total £21,905, and the votes for additions, new works, buildings, &c, £2,459, or, in all, £24,364. Although the sum of £200,000 is at the disposal of the Treasurer for unforeseen and extraordinary expenditure, only £24,364 has been spent from that fund. I should like to take this opportunity to fulfil a promise made to honorable members, to give a short account of the present financial situation of the Commonwealth.
– As the course which the Treasurer proposes to takeis irregular, I ask if it is the pleasure of the Committee that he be permitted to do so?
– And other honorable members.
– Of course. I refer to the matter lest what is done now should be taken as a precedent. Is it the pleasure of theCommittee that the Treasurer have leave to proceed?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– When, on the 1 2th August, I’ delivered my Budget speech, I estimated that at the end of the financial year there would be a shortage of £1,200,000. Since then the financial’ agreement between the Commonwealth and1 the States has been approved bv Parliament, and if it is indorsed bv the people, the Commonwealth will be entitled to retain this 5’ear, not only the one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue which is its share under section 87 of the Constitution, but £600,000 in addition. That in itself reduces the estimated shortage to £600,000, but probable increases in revenue and savings in expenditure will reduce it still ‘further. It was estimated that the Customs and Excise revenue for the current year would amount to £43.985 less than ‘hat received during the last financial year, but I am glad to say that up to the 30th November last we had received £289,328 more than we received during the first five months of last year, so that probably the receipts of this year exceed the estimates thus far by£333,313. Of course, one cannotbe certain in these matters, but it must be remembered that Australia is at present enjoying one of the best seasons that she has ever’ had, and good seasons result in increased revenue. On the other hand, we have the unfortunate coal strike, and it is impossible to say what effect it may have on business. Still, I hope that my present forecast will be realized. I estimated in the Budget that the revenue from the working of the Postmaster-General’s Department this year would be £141,000 more than last year, and up to 30th November last the increase was £108,202, so that if the same increase continues for the year the increase will probably be £259,000, or £118,000 more than the Budget estimate. I wish also to say a word or two regarding the old-age pensions. This is the first year that they have been paid by the Commonwealth, and the Budget estimate of the cost was £1,505,800, of which £850,000 is chargeable against this year’s revenue, the balance of £655,800 being provided by savings made in the two previous years. My officials estimate that the expenditure next year will amount to £1,750,000, even without invalid pensions. As the whole of the Commonwealth revenue does not amount to more than £2.800,000, it is impossible out of that sum to provide for the payment of all our needs, and spend £1.500.000 on old-age pensions.
– What will old-age pensions cost this year?
SirJOHNFORREST.- I still think that the cost will be at least £1.500.000. Therefore, the arrangement contained in the financial agreement was imperative. Without it there would have had to be a large increase in taxation, as I said when delivering the Budget speech. But re membering the increases in revenue and the savings in expenditure to which I have just referred, and the £600,000 which we shall receive under the financial agreement, if it is approved by the. people, the probable shortage at the end of the year will be only £300,000, instead of £1,200,000, as was originally estimated. Some persons may think my present estimate somewhat sanguine, but taking into consideration the good season which we are having, I think that it is justified. Under these circumstances, the Government do not propose to ask Parliament for authority to issue Treasury Bills, but will make temporary arrangements for meeting any shortage at the end of the financial year should it be found necessary to do so. The revenue and expenditure for next year will depend on many things, and particularly on the policy to he pursued. While I am, perhaps, in as good a position as most persons to give a forecast of the future, I see no need for doing so now. I have only to add that when the financial agreement becomes law - which I hope will be the case - the bookkeeping system will end, and the finances of the Commonwealth and the States will be independent. After this year the Commonwealth will have control of the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue, subject to the payment of 25s. per capita to the States, and the Inter-State certificates which have been the cause of so much irritation will be no longer needed. I am sure that we all hope that financially, and in all other respects, there is a bright future before Australia. I wish to express the hope that we may return from the elections in good health and spirits, and that next session we may be able to set to work in good earnest to carry out the mandate of the people, determined to make the Commonwealth a prosperous country, in which there will be both contentment and happiness.
.- I am sure that honorable members will reciprocate the hope expressed by the Treasurer in regard to the welfare of the Commonwealth. I trust that the Commonwealth will have a prosperous future ; but I think that it has made a bad beginning under the Treasurer. The right honorable gentleman, and the Government of which he is so distinguished a member, have, in mv opinion, launched a loan policy in opposition to the mandate of the people, and propose to make the sovereign Government of the Common- wealth a borrower before the State debts have been consolidated. The Treasurer was more ingenious than correct in his statement that the financial agreement would enable the book-keeping provisions of the Constitution to be abrogated. As a matter of fact, the Braddon section left it open to this Parliament to determine, at the end of 1910, whether or not they should be continued, so that no special virtue in that respect can be claimed for the financial agreement. Parliament would have been absolutely free, in the absence of such an agreement, to do what it pleased at the end of 1910.
– But we shall be able to make this change six months earlier than we should otherwise have been able to do.
– I heard nothing in the speech just made by the right honorable gentleman that conveyed that impression. The statement to which I have just referred was put forward as a reason to commend the financial agreement to the people. The right honorable gentleman asks the electors to indorse the agreement which his Government has entered into with the States. I shall ask them not to do so. I shall make that appeal to them in the interests of constitutional government ; but I shall, at the same time, ask them to give this Parliament power to take over the whole of the debts of the States, and to deal with them as the National Parliament ought to do. The money of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth can be saved only by means of a nacional scheme for the consolidation of the State debts, and which will enable the States to borrow through some authority that may be set up. The Treasurer said that a distinct advantage had been gained in connexion with the financial agreement by the action of the States in agreeing to allow the Commonwealth to retain £600,000 which, under the Constitution, would otherwise have been returnable io them. I ask the Government whether they consider a dole of that kind a justification for giving away the absolute rights of the Parliament.
– If we were giving them away, it would not be.
– That is what the Government are doing.
– We are trying to do the honest thing; that is all.
– Not one honorable member, whose speeches on the hustings I have been able to examine, gave the electors at the last general election a hint of such a proposal as this. I believe that had such a financial agreement been suggested, it would have been scouted by the people.
– The honorable member voted to give it a duration of fifteen years.
– I supported a proposal made by the honorable member for Mernda that would practically have given the agreement a duration of fifteen years, and I actually supported an earlier proposal by him which would have been in operation for twenty-five years. But there was associated with that proposal a scheme for the transfer of the State debts, and that, in my opinion, is the only right way to safeguard the financial interests of the Commonwealth. We find that the Government desire, however, to distribute among the States the powers of the Federal Parliament. They came into office with the constitutional powers of this Parliament intact ; after the work of one session, they will leave the Parliament crippled in its finances, and, indeed, in every other way.
– We have to trust the people as to that matter.
– In what way? The Government admittedly made a political compact with the State Governments. They said, in effect, to the State Governments, “ If we make this bargain with you for financial reasons, we expect you to support our proposals and our party.” In that respect, they have succeeded. At least, one State Premier, I am informed, has issued a manifesto against every honorable member who voted against the financial agreement.
– That is right.
– The Prime Minister will be telling us presently that he hopes that no State Government will intervene in Federal elections. How are we to reconcile the two statements?
– Federal Labour members are always interfering in State elections.
– The action of a Federal member in intervening in a State election is altogether different from a combination of State Governments co-operating and working politically to assist a Federal Government at a general election. May I remind the right honorable gentleman that this new departure will work both ways? The present Government will not always be in office. Changes must come about sooner or later; and the point I wish to make is that in this connexion the present Government have gone as low as they could go.. They have set as low a precedent as possible for their successors. Their successors may have a cleaner record ; but they cannot descend lower than this Government have done. The Treasurer admits now that it is right for the State Governments to co-operate with the Federal Government in a general election.
– I have said nothing of the sort.
– The honorable member said, when I referred to the matter just now, “ Quite right.”
– The State Governments may do what they please.
– It is mere surplusage for any one to say that the State Governments may do as they please. They have actually compelled this Government to bow before them. The Prime Minister, before the recent Conference of Premiers took place, wrote to the Premier of New South Wales a letter, in which he said it would be unnecessary to insert in the Constitution any of the proposals that he intended to submit. He entered the Conference as the guardian of the Commonwealth Constitution. He left it, having thrown aside the principles of constitutional government, and he has divided, with the States, the powers of the Commonwealth. It is for that reason that I shall advise the electors to refuse to ratify the financial agreement. I shall not discuss the difficulty of amending the Constitution once the agreement has been embodied in it. Those difficulties are well known to honorable members, and will be known ultimately, I trust, to the people. The Treasurer tells us of an expanding revenue, and of an expanding expenditure. Notwithstandig that, he is to receive a gift of £600,000 from the States, he anticipates that at the end of the financial year he will have a deficiency cf £300>000-
– At the beginning of the financial year we anticipated a deficiency of £1,200,000.
– The right honorable gentleman came into office with a surplus of £600,000 in the Treasury.
– For old-age pensions.
– It was ear-marked for a special purpose.
– I am stating either what is a fact, or what is not a fact.
– It is half a fact.
– That accumulation of £600,000 was the result of savings madeduring two financial years. In one year, something like £183,000 was saved, andi in the eleven months of last financial year there was a saving amounting to about £500,000.
– Not as much asthat.
– The right honorablegentleman cut into it.
– I was only in officefor twenty-eight days during the last financial year.
– But even in that short time the right honorable gentleman madea substantial cut into that amount.
– How could T? Why be unfair?
– The right honorable gentleman expanded the expenditure.
– I did not. If the honorable member had been there he would have done just the same.
– We will leave it at that. When the right honorable gentleman took office a. saving of at least £450,000 had been made, during the eleven months of the financial year, while other Governmentswere in office. Assuming that those Governments wei e able in eleven months to make such a saving, the present Government ought to- have been able to save £450,000 during the present financial year.
– What has the honorable member to say with regard to the increased expenditure of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and the defence expenditure ?
– The right honorable member is trying to side-track me. If other Governments were able, with a view to providing foi old-age pensions, to save £450,000 in eleven months, surely this Government, had they been equally anxious to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth, could have arranged to make a saving to the same extent- during the present financial year. Had they done so, they would have had a sum of £900,000 to provide for the payment of old-age pensions. The Treasurer admits that our expenditure on old-age pensions this year will be something under £1,500,000.
– I do not think it will.
– It will be either under or about that amount. That being so, there would have been a difference of only £600,000 to make up, and with the gift of £600,000 from the States, the Treasurer would have been able to balance his accounts. But what is the position? The right honorable gentleman tells us - and we are all pleased to hear it - that there is a great increase in the Customs and Excise revenue during the present financial year, and that the revenue of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, as compared with that for the corresponding period of the last financial year, there is an increase of about £108,000, the whole of which the Commonwealth can use. Yet, with all these increases and anticipated increases, the Treasurer is the first occupant of his office to celebrate the end of the financial year by going to “ my uncle.”
– We shall require over £850,000 for old-age pensions.
– How can the Treasurer maintain that this obligation of £850,000 accounts for a deficit of £1,200,000?
– I have before told the honorable member’ the reasons.
– If old-age pensions are to be made the excuse for extravagance, it is most degrading on the part of the Government. Surely the Government are not in earnest in making old-age pensions the plea for the deficit? The fact of the. matter is that the deficit of £1,200,000 arises from the mismanagement of, the Government - from a want of due care in the management of the finances.
– It is very soon to, have caused such a deficit, seeing that we have been only a few months in office.
– I am surprised that the deficit did not occur in a month. We know, however, that the Treasurer is a man of expanding ideas, who has always regarded borrowing as the road to prosperity; and he ought to be satisfied that now he has been able to carry his views into effect. There was one singular omission in the statement of the Treasurer tonight. We had no reference made to new Protection, on which subject there is a singular silence on the part of the members of the Government.
– Honorable members opposite describe the new Protection as a sham.
– It is a sham when we see that any attempt to safeguard the interests of the toilers is hedged with legal technicalities and difficulties, which . prevent their reaping the reward to which they are entitled. The late Sir Charles Lilley, Chief Justice of Queensland, once de scribed the Trades Union Act of that State as a delusion and a snare; and the same words would apply to the new Protection proposals of this Government. The Prime Minister was absolutely pledged to the policy at the- last election, and further pledged by the memoranda he issued.
– And the Leader of the Opposition would not permit the Prime Minister to remain in office and carry the policy through!
– Why, it was the honorable member for Parramatta who then put the Prime Minister out of office - nobody else could have done so!
– But the honorable member for Wide Bay submitted the noconfidence motion.
– Quite so, and for good and sufficient reasons, which were explained at the time. The Prime Minister then said that he was ready to work with any party ; and yet the honorable member for Parramatta put him out of office. I made no agreement at all with the honorable member for Ballarat, who can vouch for the truth of the statement if he so desires. I should like to read what the honorable gentleman said in his first memorandum. ‘
– We have all read that.
– I do not propose to trouble the Committee with the whole of the document, but merely the preamble. The memorandum was issued on the 13th December, 1907, and contained the following -
– That is what honorable members opposite voted out of court !
– The quotation I have read is ample for my purpose. The Prime Minister will issue memoranda of the kind as often as is necessary ; no one is better able to tell us what we ought to do, but I do not think the honorable gentleman is always so ready to act on- his own advice. No serious attempt was made to give effect to the views then expressed; and in the meantime manufacturers received the advantage of high duties - practically prohibitive duties - on agricultural and industrial machinery generally. The workmen engaged were not paid fair and reasonable wages ; and on the faith .of the legislation of this Parliament, they appealed to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and won the position for which they contended. The employers, however, appealed to the High Court on a point of law, and the verdict that had been won on equity and justice, was upset - the fruits of the victory were wrested, stolen from the men on the legal technicality that this Parliament had not the power to compel a fair and reasonable wage. Our industrial powers are certainly all too limited to enable us to protect the workers of the Commonwealth. In the absence of the Prime Minister on Friday night last, the Minister of Defence stated that the Government had no intention whatever to alter the Constitution so as to give this Parliament the power which I regard as necessary.
– I did not say any such thing.
– In reply to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, on Friday night last, the Minister of Defence stated that if the proposal was to ask the electors to endow this Parliament with powers equal with those of the States to protect the workers of the Commonwealth by means of industrial legislation, the Government would not have anything to do with a matter of that kind-
– I did not say any such thing - it is an entire misquotation !
– The following is an extract from the Hansard report of the proceedings of Friday last : -
With regard to the question put by the honorable member for Dalley in connexion with the new Protection, I am afraid that there is not much chance of our being able to get the InterState Commission Bill through this session, as we should very much like to have done.
– It is perfectly useless for the purpose for which it was introduced.
– There is his answer for the honorable member for Dalley.
– But what about the referendum?
– This Government is not in favour of such a referendum as the Leader of the Opposition has proposed. I hope that statement is quite plain.
– The Government are not in favour of trusting the people to express an opinion on the subject of industrial legislation.
– The Government are not in favour of such a referendum as that proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. That is to say, they are not in_ favour of the Commonwealth taking over the whole of the industrial power of the States.
– They are not in favour of protection for the workers.
– We say that it is not necessary to do that in order to protect the workers. I hold a very strong opinion on the point, as the Leader of the Opposition is aware.
– Are the Government in favour of the new Protection ?
– The honorable mem- . ber for Dalley now has his answer. It is impossible to pass the Government proposal for new Protection in this Parliament in consequence of the uncompromising and bitter opposition and repudiation of the Leader of the Labour party in this House, amongst others.
– Has the Government not a majority without us ?
– Unfortunately in the Senate, as in this House, there are one or two of the Government party who have a way .of going on their own, and the honorable member who interrogated me on this subject is a very fair example of them. The honorable member for Dalley exercises his own individuality very freely.
– There is much more to the same effect. The Minister of Defence said that he was not in favour of a referendum.
– I said I was not in favour of a referendum to take “over the whole of the industrial powers of the States, and I repeat the statement.
– The Minister of Defence distinctly said that he -was not in favour of a referendum. But he is in favour of a Government scheme which does not need a referendum at all. He is in favour of the Government scheme as indicated in the agreement with the State Governments, and set forth in the Inter-
State Commission Bill. There is no referendum in that. My contention is that there is no possibility of the worker getting justice unless this Parliament has concurrent industrial powers with the States, and the Minister says that there will be no referendum as we desire it submitted by this Government.
– It is disgraceful for the honorable member to quote only half of what I said.
– I shall quote it all. I said -
The Inter-State Commission Bill is but a sham for the purpose for which it was professedly introduced.
I say so still. It is a proposition that would simply embarrass the workers in their desire to get justice.
– Is that why honorable members opposite want it passed?
– I do not ask that it should be passed. I should vote against it, because if there is one way of killing the man who is getting a mere pittance for his toil it is by having five or six Courts intervening between him and justice, and that is the proposal under the InterState Commission Bill. There has to be disagreement between the States; if they cannot come to an agreement, and there is unfair competition, the Inter-State Commission can intervene, and then the question may go to a law Court. There might be five or six interventions before any citizen who was aggrieved could get justice.
– It is not so at all.
– Speaking from memory there are four distinct stages before a worker could get justice under the Government proposal. The present disastrous strike in New South Wales could have been settled had the Commonwealth had concurrent industrial powers with the States. What is it that is hampering the settlement of that dispute, but the mere fact that the Federal Court cannot intervene until the dispute extends beyond the boundaries of one State?
– Did the Federal Court settle the Broken Hill strike?
– Undoubtedly. After all the other Courts had absolutely failed, friendly intervention by the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court finally and amicably settled the strike. The honorable member’s interjection is unfortunate from his point of view.
– I was simply asking for information.
– Further, the question went before that Court by mutual agreement between the parties. The employers at Broken Hill agreed that if the workmen went back to work they would pay the Court award from that time, but as a matter of fact they did not accept the award after it was given. They appealed on a point of law to the High Court, and tried to set the award aside. The High Court varied the award, but did not set it aside. The miners were not satisfied with the judgment, and did not think they got justice. The employers did not think that they had got the judgment which they ought to have got, but both parties agreed to it. That is not the only case. What about the great shearers and bush workers’ case ? Previously there had been constant disputes of a grave character in the pastoral industry through the whole of the bush, but by mutual arrangement both sides were able to take their case to the Federal Court, when Mr. Justice O’Connor was President. They obtained an award which has worked exceedingly well and almost without a hitch for nearly four years.
– What about the dozens of disputes that have been settled by the local Courts?
– The honorable member cannot point to a single dispute of any magnitude that has been settled by a local Court. It is not possible. All the larger industries are now federated; in fact, there was a federation of labour long before there was a political federation in Australia. Labour was federated in many industries in 1889 or 1890, and I believe there are now thirteen different industries practically federated in every State. It is unfortunate that the coal-miners were not federated. Had they been they could also have gone to the Federal Arbitration Court if they did not care for the State Courts. Does the honorable member for Parramatta ask me to believe that it will mean the destruction of Australia if the coal-miners can take their case to a Federal Arbitration Court as well as to a State Court ?
– For goodness sake say a sensible thing. Why make an idiotic remark of that sort?
– All that I am contending for is that the Federal Parliament should have in industrial matters powers equal to those possessed by the
States. No sane man would contend that all the industrial powers should be possessed by the Commonwealth to the exclusion of the States. This Parliament would never attempt to deal with the smaller matters, or in fact with any matter that could be effectively dealt with by the State ‘Courts.
– Such as early closing.
– Yes, or the regulation of factories, or other subsidiary matters that could be dealt with effectively and expeditiously in each State. But the National Parliament, representing the whole of the people, should certainly be in possession of such industrial powers as would enable it to do justice to every toiler in Australia. The State of Tasmania is absolutely without industrial Courts.
– I believe they are moving now for a Wages Board system.
– They cannot get it too soon for me. I am not reflecting upon’ that State, but am using it simply as an illustration. Trade- and commerce and intercourse are absolutely free between the States. If, therefore, we have in one State Wages Boards and Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration, which increase the wages and improve the conditions of the workers, and that State comes into competition in, trade and commerce with other States which have not those higher wages or improved conditions, the economic effect will undoubtedly be to drag down the higher-paid workmen in the State which gives them protection. It is absolutely impossible to deal equitably with all these classes of labour unless the central power is in a position to enforce an award. Is that a power which any one should hesitate to ask the people to give to this Parliament? Why does the honorable member for Parramatta mistrust this Parliament? Does he think it would be aggressive ?
– So far from that, the honorable member has for the last two minutes been outlining the very thing that we propose to do, and does not seem to be aware of it.
– It is difficult to take the honorable member seriously. The High Court stated distinctly that the only way bv which the Federal Parliament could get that power was by a referendum. The Attorney-General and the Minister of External .Affairs know that by no process of manoeuvring with the present powers given to this Parliament under the Constitution can it get direct authority to deal with industrial disputes within a State. That can be done only by obtaining increased powers from the people by means of a referendum.
– Or by delegation by the States.
– If the honorable member for Darling Downs prefers to invite six States-
– I was referring only to the question of power.
– The honorable member raises the point that if the six States are agreeable to delegate increased powers to this Parliament, this Parliament could accept them under the Constitution. But the whole of the six States would have to be in agreement to make that delegation effective. What does this mean? What is the contention of the Government? They say, “We will get from the States that which we consider would be wrong if we got it from the people.” Surely that position is illogical and absurd. If the State Governments are willing to give the required power, why do not the Government put their sincerity to the test, and invite the people, by a referendum, to give this Parliament the power to do like justice in a ready, efficient, effective, and speedy way? Surely one would expect a Government sympathetic with the workers to take the shortest road to do the right thing.
– To ask for a thing when you. have already got if?
– If we have got the power, why do not the Government exercise it ? If they have that power, why do they not bring in effective protection for the workers ?
– As I told the honorable member the other night, because of the uncompromising and bitter opposition of the honorable member’s party.
– There is a time limit to mere assertion. There are certain classes of individuals who protest too much, and always try to screen their turnings and windings, not to say shufflings, by a multitude of words and insinuations. I am not speaking as an individual, nor am I concerned whether this is a popular matter or not. I have not changed my view on the subject since I first stood for this Parliament. I believed then as I believe now, that the only way to secure industrial pence and prosperity is to endow this Parliament with the full industrial powers possessed by the States - not to monopolize or use them all, but to leave the States concurrent powers, and to have the larger powers exercised in the Federal Court. I believe the one safe way to industrial and commercial development is to clothe our Conciliation and Arbitration Court with power to do justice to the worker toy providing for cheap and expeditious decision of the cases submitted, so that it may prescribe the conditions of labour and the remuneration that each worker shall receive. Speaking generally, there are two schools of thought on the subject in Australia to-day. One is the very large and intelligent body with which this party is associated, and which says, “ Let us remedy all these difficulties and dangers by law.” The other, amongst the Conservatives and the extreme wing of either party, declares that things are all right, saying, “ Leave them alone. Let the parties fight it out amongst themselves. Let the capitalist and monopolist do as he pleases with his own. Let him shut up his industry, and starve the workers into subjection if he pleases. Do not interfere with capitalists who can continue to live comfortably for a year, even if no work is being done.” In this memorandum it is stated that protection had been provided for manufacturers against the competition of capitalists from other countries. But no provision has been made to protect workmen in their competition with capitalists. Many of the best workers in Australia have not a month’s reserve, and most not a week’s provision against unemployment. They are unprotected, and the Government proposes to leave them unprotected, because it will not allow the Federal Parliament to obtain the powers necessary to protect them. This is a wrong position. On the 28th October, 1908, a second memorandum was issued by the Government of the day, as an attempt to conciliate those who had voted for Customs duties, and found that protection had not been given to the workers. Paragraph 2 of that memorandum says -
The electors will be invited to empower the Commonwealth to determine the employment and remuneration of labour in protected industries, in view of the protection granted to the manufacturer under the Commonwealth Tariff. In some industries the existing protection may enable the payment of fair and reasonable rates of wages; in other industries, not sufficiently protected to enable the full standard of remuneration to be paid, the payment of at least a minimum wage can be required pending the enactment of effective protection. Unprotected industries will not be affected.
I took exception at the time to that statement.
– Did not the Government go out of office immediately after the memorandum was issued ?
– Soon after.
– The contention that there are industries in Australia which cannot pay fair and reasonable wages is one with which I do not agree, and to which no honorable member will on reflection subscribe. Am I, as a representative of Democracy, to say that there are industries in which fair and reasonable wages are not to be paid, that those employed in unprotected industries are not to be protected, so that they may receive reasonable wages?’ Are those who are employed in the great mining or bush working industries not to receive protection? The opinion expressed in the memorandum is that they should not be protected. The members of the Government may boast of this.
– They do not boast of it. The honorable member is absolutely misrepresenting us.
– When I first saw the memorandum, I told the Government that I would have nothing to do with a proposition of that kind.
– The honorable member refers to the late Deakin Government.
– Of which the honororable member for Maribyrnong was Minister.
– I stand by the memorandum.
– I am not concerned with that. I do not stand by it.
– Because the honorable member is a Free Trader.
– This is the kind of Free Trader that I am: I wish to secure to every one the product of his labour, and, at least, a fair and reasonable wage.
– Every one says that.
– This memorandum does not say it.
– We are all in favour of the payment of reasonable wages.
– But we who are Protectionists have always said that without effective Protection there cannot be good wages.
– That means that the miners are not to be protected, and that the bush workers are not to receive consideration.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The language of the memorandum is clear. Those employed in unprotected industries are not to obtain protection from the Government.
Colonel Foxton. - Was the memorandum issued by this Government?
– It was issued by the previous Deakin Administration.
– Which the honorable member supported.
– I supported it in the public interest until it issued this memorandum, and did other things to which I need not now refer. That Government, in which the honorable member for Maribyrnong was a Minister, was very carefully nursed during a period of two years, when it had a very small following. It was absolutely held up at times, and nothing was asked in return.
– Why was nothing asked in return? Surely there was an arrangement.
– Whatever was done, it was not done to please the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
– As I have said, what was done was done in the public interest.
– Then why make a favour of it?
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong says that my contention is not correct. I say that it is. The. memorandum states that unprotected industries will not be affected. The Government does not propose to ask for power to protect these industries. This Parliament should have the power to pass legislation protecting every worker and to insure to every worker fair and reasonable wages, as denned by Mr. Justice Higgins in air illuminating decision in which he said that the remuneration of a white man should be sufficient to keep him, his wife, and his family in a reasonable state of comfort, as human beings living in a civilized community.
– Surely every one subscribes to that.
– Then why should we not proceed to obtain powers which will enable such wages to be paid?
– Cannot the State Parliaments look after the people of the States ?
– The State Parliaments have Upper Houses, some of them nominee Chambers, and others Chambers chosen by privileged electors. Again and again advanced legislation has been brushed aside, or seriously amended.
– What about the Arbitration Courts of the States?
Colonel Foxton. - And the Wages Boards ?
– For some time back the honorable member for Wide Bay has been speaking to the accompaniment of interjections. I ask honorable members to allow him to proceed without interruption.
– Obviously honorable members opposite have a bad case, and wish to create confusion. Australia at the present time is in the throes of an industrial struggle, of which no one can see the end or the consequences. The industrial warfare in New South Wales may spread to the other States. I am advised that, even if that happens, it may be difficult to create an Inter-State dispute in the constitutional sense of the term. Had the coal miners of the States been federated, and had there been disputes in more than one State, the case could have been tried before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. I am advised, however, that it is doubtful, even if strikes occurred in other States, whether the original dispute could be referred to that Court. I hope that it may be so referred, and that the intervention of the Federal authority will prevail to effect a settlement, should the dispute spread further. But this is not the last dispute of the kind that we shall have. We must be guided by common sense, and the facts of” history. When men leave their work, or employers close up their industries, a day must come for resuming operations. Sooner or later after a strike the men must return to work. On what conditions they will go back, no one can tell. The same thing applies to a lockout on the part of the employers ; industries must cease or they must resume operations. We must continue to have strikes with starvation on the one side and the power of capital on the other, or we must have a law which will enable all the parties to a dispute to go before a Court presided over bv a judicial officer capable of investigating the whole of the facts, and of coming to a determination upon them.
– Does the honorable member assume that the awards of such a Court would be respected?
– Just before the honorable member entered the chamber, I cited the two big cases that have been before the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration
Court. I referred to the case, for example, of the shearers and the bush workers.
– I merely wish to know why the honorable member discriminates between the big and the small cases? The same principle is involved in both.
– Has there been any failure to observe the decision of the Federal Court in connexion with any case yet brought before it?
– They have all been in favour of the men.
– There was a failure in Western Australia.
– One honorable member makes one statement, and another quite a different one. As a matter of fact, the award in the case of the shearers has stood the test of time, and there has never been a period of greater peace and prosperity than has been experienced since that award was made. In the case of the Broken Hill strike, neither party to the dispute favored the award. The employers appealed, on a point of law, to the High Court. The Justices of the High Court varied the award ; but, while neither party agreed to it, both accepted it. The mere fact that we had a Court clothed with power to bring together the parties to a dispute would mean the bringing about of great and good results.
– Why should a Federal Court be more effective than a State Court?
– No one knows better than the honorable member that trade between the States is now absolutely free, and that an industry in one State is exposed to the competition of the same industry in another State. Some of the States have temporized with the Wages Boards and the Conciliation and Arbitration Court systems in relation to industrial matters; and the awards of those tribunals are confined to the boundaries of the States in which they exist. There is at least one State . where there is not even a Wages Board system in operation, and industries in that State can compete with the same industries in other States that are subject to the decision of a Wages Board or a Conciliation and Arbitration Court. There is, consequently, a dragging down instead of a building-up process going on.
– Look, for instance at the boot trade case.
– The coal miners’ strike is practically confined to New South Wales.
– In one respect, I am sorry that it is. I wish it had extended to two or more States, because I feel sure that if both parties could be cited to appear before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court - and in such circumstances employers willingly or unwillingly could be cited to appear before the Court - and could be examined as to the terms of the dispute, the learned Justice would be able to investigate the facts, and upon them base a decision which, whether it pleased or displeased either one or both parties, would yet be an award of the Court. In that way, we should have a competent and just tribunal determining the disputes which, I am sorry to say, are inseparable from all industrial enterprises. I believe in law ; I believe in lawfully settling industrial disputes, because, unless they are so settled, I fear that they may be settled in a way that will be disastrous. There are some people who believe that it is well to let the two parties to a “dispute fight it out ; in other words, they would allow starvation on the one side and wealth on the other to fight to a finish. I am not one of those who hold that view ; I believe that where that course is followed, only disaster can be expected.
– The honorable member talks about the coal mines as if they were in the hands of a. few. There are hundreds and thousands of shareholders in the coal mining companies.
– The honorable member has not heard me, or he would know that I am attacking no one, save the Government, whom I blame for failing to ask for an enlargement of the industrial powers of the Commonwealth, so as to enable the only Court which can effectively deal with these matters to have the constitutional power to deal with them.
– The honorable member speaks of the coal mine-owners as the, wealthy and the capitalists. Hundreds and thousands of poor people own shares in coal-mining companies.
– I am in favour of practically everything worthy of being described as wealth. The production of essential commodities, if properly distributed, must be for the benefit of the people of the country where they are produced, and the stoppage of their production must prove injurious. That is the present position. I should like, at this point, to refer to an interjection made a few moments ago by the honorable member for Cook in regard to the bootmaking trade. Some time ago those engaged in the industry in Victoria and New South Wales both asked for an award. I think that in the case of the industry in New South Wales, the learned Judge held that because of the competition from Victoria he was bound to award the men 6s. per week less than he thought they were entitled to receive. The manufacturers in Victoria were paying under the award of a Wages Board in this State 6s. per week less than the amount which he thought the men in the industry in New South Wales ought to receive. Do honorable members stand behind such a state of affairs, and desire that it shall be continued?
– Does the honorable member think that that matter has any Application to coal ?
– I ask the honorable member to allow the Leader of the Opposition to make his speech in his own way.
– Our opponents are in a bad way. I would point out to the honorable member for Parkes that after all the name of the commodity affected or the persons actually involved! has nothing to do with the principle at stake. The sole point involved is that those who are entitled to a fair remuneration should receive it. If a Judge, after examining all the facts of a case brought before him, says that the workers concerned should receive a larger remuneration than they are getting, then we, as the representatives of the people of the Commonwealth, ought to provide the necessary machinery to enable them to receive that increase. The capitalist will see that he gets his share; he is entrenched in every possible wax-. Those who have money can secure the best legal advice in presenting their cases to the Court, and have every means of protecting their interests. The time has come when those who are less fortunate should have the assistance of the law, and that assistance can be given only bv an enlargement of the power of the ‘Commonwealth Parliament to pass industrial legislation. I wish now to refer to the question of old-age pensions. A great deal has been said as to the difficulties of financing the system. Those difficulties were obvious from the outset. They were foreseen by all Governments. It is an expenditure of a social nature that must be undertaken by every Commonwealth Government, and we must look forward to an increase in that direction. I trust, too, that the States will be able to intervene, and pay invalid pensions until the Commonwealth is able to take over the system. I hope that the old-age pension system will be administrated in the most kindly and liberal way. I look forward to that being done, and, indeed, I think that, but for a. few jarring cases, it is being attempted at the present time. There are some features of the administration of the present Government that I must wholly condemn. [ condemn, for instance, their action in regard to the telephone rates. In altering the rates fixer] by their predecessors, they were actuated by purely party motives. The alteration was not made on equitable and just grounds. As for the naval loan proposals of the Government, I’ think that the Ministry are proceeding on wrong lines to provide money for the naval defence of the Commonwealth. If they had had the courage to face the people, and to ask them to provide it, they would undoubtedly have been in a better position than they are to-day. It will be quoted against us that we entered upon the naval defence of the Commonwealth by borrowing from the poor people of the Old Country. It is but yesterday that some members of the present Ministry said that Great Britain was a poor country in need of money to provide for its defence. The same people now ask this Parliament to give them power to borrow in some other country £3,500,000 to provide a navy for our own defence, and to assist in the defence of the Empire. I believe that the people of the Commonwealth would have been pleased and willing to subscribe annually the amount necessary to provide for that defence. In two or three years we should have raised the whole amount requisite for the purpose. If the people are not prepared to do that, then they are not ready for the defence of the country. The Naval Loan Bill, as it left this House, was an improvement on the Bi’l as introduced. It originally provided for the flotation of a. loan for forty years, or any longer period. ‘ In Committee we were able to reduce that term to twenty years ; but according to expert advice the whole of the flotilla will be practically useless at the expiration of that .period, so that we shall be no better off then than we are now.
The financing of the Government has, in my opinion, been bad from the first, and I believe that it will be worse in the future. They are tiding over temporary difficulties, and not facing the position as it ought to be faced. They have laid tribute on people who have little means. They propose to raise by Customs and Excise duties all the revenue necessary for defence and other Government purposes ; and they propose to tax the toiler with a large family as heavily as they propose to tax the wealthy - a policy which is contrary to the opinion of every economist worthy of the name. The Government propose to levy taxation equally on all, whether they have much or little; indeed, the wage-earner will have to bear the burden, not only of the general expenses of Government, but also of the defence of the country. There ought to be a larger contribution from the wealthy towards the cost of defence, and, indeed, towards the cost of al! the other services. However, it is too late in the session to discuss the matter. I hope that the optimistic views of the Treasurer will be fully borne out. Whatever may be the movement of parties from one side of the House to the other, my great desire is to see the Commonwealth prosper; and it is more likely to prosper under an energetic and progressive Government than under a Conservative and borrowing Government. The principle of paying our way commends itself to every one; and a Government, who began their operations by breaking their pledges to their constituents, and by entering on a policy of borrowing, do not commend themselves to mv favorable consideration.
Mr. HARPER (Mernda)’ [10.48V- I am pleased that the Treasurer has given us a supplementary statement as to the financial position ; and I am sure honorable members are gratified to hear that present prospects are so favorable. The honorable gentleman indicated that during the first five months of the financial year, the Customs receipts have exceeded his estimate by something like .£330,000.
– It is .£318, 000, I think.
– The honorable the Treasurer also said that the Post and Telegraph Department, in the same period, showed a surplus of .£108,000, the two sums I have mentioned showing a total increase of about £450,000. From this the Treasurer augurs that he will end after allowing for the receipt of ,£600,000 under the new agreement with the States. The Treasurer has not made a sanguine estimate, at any rate. In view of the fact that we have a good season, and that the only drawback is the unfortunate coal strike, I think he has a good chance of ending the year without any deficit.
– I hope so !
– I think that that result is exceedingly probable.
– Treasury officials are not too sanguine, as the honorable member knows !
– It is better not to be too sanguine; but, as I have not the responsibility, I may be allowed to express my opinion. If, in the first five months of the year, there is an increase of £[450,000, it is quite probable that for the remainder of the year there will be a proportionate increase.
– We get only onefourth of that for ourselves.
– Of course; but we must look to the new arrangement that has been made. I particularly desire to deal with the assumption of the Treasurer that the agreement with the States will be adopted by the country. As a prudent Treasurer, while reckoning on that result, he ought to have regard to the alternative. It is possible, to say the least, that the electors will not accept the agreement. I have told the honorable gentleman before, and I tell him again, that I shall, to the best of my ability, try to persuade the country not to adopt it; and I believe that many honorable members will do the same. As the country becomes accustomed to the proposition, and to understand its real import, it becomes quite an open question whether the agreement will be ratified; and I am going to assume, for the sake of argument, that it will not. It is assumed as settled by the Treasurer that the agreement will be accepted’.
– I did not assume that at all.
– Honorable members will observe that this matter of the agreement is not now a party question. It has, as I think, improperly been remitted to the country ; but the decision, given will be binding on all parties. Under the circumstances, members of all parties may be for or against the agreement, so far as their personal influence is concerned, without in any way impairing their position as party men; and this is a point to be kept clearly in mind. That being so, those of us who. do not believe in the agreement ‘ are at perfect liberty to take the course I have indicated. When 1 use the words, “ do not believe in the agreement,” I wish again emphatically to say that, so far as the essence ot the agreement is concerned - that is, the 25s. per capita, and the subsidiary conditions, including the payment of £600,000, and the shortening of the Braddon period by six months - we are all prepared to accept it. Without exception, I believe that every honorable member of the House is willing to concede to the States the assistance necessary to enable them to insure, for a sufficient length of time, their financial stability. The point on which we do not agree is one which has really nothing to do with the agreement, namely, the proposal to embody it in the Constitution, so that it cannot be altered except by another referendum. That is not necessarily a part of the agreement, but is a pure imposition, on this Parliament of the individual opinion of six Premiers, who, in my humble judgment, have utterly gone beyond their powers, in using their influence to that end. Assuming that the electors do not ratify the agreement, what is our position, how will the finances be affected? That is a question the electors are verylikely tq ask. It may be, and I believe that through press influence it will be, found that the average elector will be led to believe that the embodying of the agreement in the Constitution without any limitation, is a necessary condition, whereas that is not so. If the agreement is not adopted, the Braddon section will continue to operate until the end of 19 10, and the States will continue to be entitled to three fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue- In 1910 a new Parliament will meet; and, assuming that the electors do not ratify the agreement, but leave the Parliament in its rightful position, Parliament will be able for fifteen years, or such period as mav be considered advisable in lieu of the Braddon section, to place in the Constitution a provision giving to the States everything they require, while, at the same time, saving the position and prestige of the Commonwealth Parliament. I think that honorable members ought not to lose sight of the fact that that is the true position. If the electors do not see their way to ratify the agreement, no harm will ensue either to the States or the Commonwealth Par- liament ; in fact, good will result to the Parliament, because it will then retain the rights, duties, and obligations originally imposed by the Constitution. The people may say, “We hand you back those powers and duties, and we expect you to carry out our wishes as intended by the Constitution.” I feel strongly that thi? is a most serious question for the future. Honorable members have asked me why I propose to tie up the Commonwealth finances for fifteen years.
– The honorable member once proposed thirty-five years !
– The Minister is wrong, because my original proposal was for twenty years.
– With an interregnum of five years.’
– That was an addition by Sir William Lyne. My original suggestion extended over twenty years. It was never intended that to accomplish that object we should necessarily take away all future claims by the States to share in the Commonwealth revenue. That was a matter for the Parliament to settle, but the scheme had the effect of assuming the State debts, which I insist upon regarding as one of the main objects of Federation. It has, however, been dropped for the last four years as if it were not to be talked about at all,’ although it was insisted upon up to that time day after day and week after week, and although the fact that the debts had not been assumed was referred to as a reproach upon this Parliament. Whenever suggestions were propounded which would have the result of attaining that object, press and politician, as if by one consent, became dumb, and you could not get them to talk about the question. I shall not go into the subject of the debts now. That will come in good time. But the first step necessary is that the people should insist upon this Parliament doing that for which it was elected, and retaining the powers that were intended to be conferred upon it. The State Rights were protected in the Constitution by the election of a Senate representing the six States. The whole of the people are represented by this House also on a different arrangement of constituencies, and the intention of the Constitution by the Braddon section was that at the end of ten years, if any difficulties arose between the States as to the manner in which . their finances were affected by the Commonwealth and by Commonwealth transactions, the
Commonweath Parliament, which represents the people of Australia, as a whole, in this House and the States as individual States in the Senate; and which is the onlybody to bring together and control the affairs of the whole of Australia by the votes of the majority of the people - it was intended, I say, that this Parliament should be vested with power to settle the matter. That was the intention of the Constitution, but we have departed from that intention, an,d I do trust that the people will refuse to allow us to do so. I am told that it is easy to unlock the door again, seeing that we have once opened it. Such an assertion only makes me smile. It is very much as if I had a safe with an ordinary lock upon it which I could open at will. If I put on one of those mysterious locks with a number or combination word, and lost the key or forgot the word, I might know that I could open the safe quite well if I could find the word. But what should I do if I could not find it? The position that this Parliament will be in if the country adopts the Premiers’ agreement is this : While it was intended that we, as a Parliament, should meet financial and other difficulties, and look after the interests of the States as representing the whole people, and should have the power to legislate at any time according to circumstances, yet, however urgent the necessity, however great the occasion, instead of being able to pass an Act to meet that occasion, we shall have to wait for a referendum. We may have to wait for three years unless a special referendum is taken. We know the difficulties about a special referendum, and how hard it is under exciting circumstances to get the people to vote upon an abstract question. If we do take a referendum, and the result is favorable, we can legislate, but to get a favorable ‘result from that referendum will be about as difficult as to open the lock after having lost the key. To secure a majority of the States and also a majority of the whole of the electors in Australia is, in easily conceivable circumstances, an impossibility. Why should we put ourselves in that position and mix up our finances at this time, which is really the first time that we ha.ve been in a position to exercise our powers? Every one felt that until the Braddon section expired it was idle to think of ‘exercising those powers. We ought to have been talking the matter over and preparing for it, but the fact remains that until the end of 1910 the Com monwealth was not in a position to exercise the supreme financial powers conferred upon it by the Constitution. The first time that we have the opportunity, what does this Parliament do but say : “ We shall get out of this position altogether, and allow the control of the finances of Australia te pass from us at the dictation of six men.”
– It was not dictation.
– It was absolute dictation.
– There was no dictation in it. I was there, and ought to know.
– Of course, I was not there, and I do not know whether, according to the dictionary meaning of the word, there was dictation, but there’ was practically a stand and deliver attitude, as much as to say : “ You are short of money ; we will give you £600,000 ; we will shorten the term of the Braddon section by six months, and take 25s. -per capita, conditional upon your putting that into the Constitution, not as a terminable arrangement like the Braddon section, but as an absolutely binding provision until the Constitution is again altered.” I call that dictation.
– That is not the fact, though.
– Perhaps the right honorable member’ will describe what the position is. I believe that I have stated the position, but if I have not I shall wait with some interest to hear what it really is.
– Surely we have discussed this enough already?
– We cannot discuss it too much. The discussion is only beginning. The people are only beginning now to wake up as to what is meant.
– The honorable member misrepresents and insults every one, as he did me the other night.
– I have repeatedly asked the Treasurer to refrain from interjecting. I ask him again not to interject.
– I was insulted before.
– I should like to ask when I insulted the honorable gentleman. Did I insult him just now ?
– No. The honorable gentleman did so a few days ago in this House, when speaking on the same subject.
– I cannot follow the right honorable gentleman. He said that 1 insulted him just now, and did so before. How did I insult him?
– I shall show the honorable member in Hansard-
– Did I insult him by putting my view of the case? I have not alluded to him for the last twenty minutes. I deny having insulted him.
– I shall find where the honorable member did.
– I am talking of tonight. While the right honorable gentleman is finding the insult on another occasion, of which I was not aware, I want him to understand that 1 have not insulted him to-night, although that was his first assertion.
– The honorable member said we did things that we never did.
– Is that an insult? I simply recited the conditions of the arrangement. The right honorable gentleman told me that my recital was not correct, and I courteously intimated that I should be glad to have a correction. Apparently that is an insult. To go back to the subject, at the only time we had the opportunity and the power to deal with this question as a Parliament, we have deliberately and voluntarily sought to denude ourselves or our successors of the powers conferred upon us by the Constitution. Perhaps the right honorable gentleman will deny that, f am giving my views, and while 1 remain here I hope to be able to do so in courteous terms. I shall be very sorry if I insult any one. If it happens, as I fervently hope it will, that the Commonwealth electors do not concur in this arrangement, I do not wish it to be said by the Treasurer and others, as I am afraid it will be, that the effect, if the agreement is not carried, will be to interfere detrimentally with the affairs of the States, or that the position will be in any way affected. We shall be then simply in the position that we were in until the other day. We can pass an Act to give the States all that they want, all the essential parts of their bargain, and we can put it into the Constitution as the Braddon section is in it now. We can pass an Act to enable that to be done by Constitutional amendment at the next election three years hence, and in the meantime this Parliament can act in good faith and carry out the arrangement to the letter, and it may never be necessary to put anything into the Constitution at all. Still, as I say, it can be put into the Constitution by referendum three years hence, after this Parliament has acted on it for two or three years. Let no honorable member be under the misapprehension that refusal on the part of the people to put the agreement into the Constitution without any limitation as to time will mean breaking faith with the States in- any way or acting detrimentally to their interests. . We are prepared to carryout the agreement in all its essential particulars, but we are not inclined to laydown the rights and privileges of this Parliament. That is the whole issue.
– And the agreement floes not require it.
– It does not require it at all. Its essential parts could be carried out without that. It is provided that the agreement shall be put into the Constitution, but there is no need for that. The Parliament would loyally carry, out any undertaking entered into for the protection of the States for fifteen years, or any other period. But I and those who thought with me were willing, as the Premiers desired the protection of a constitutional amendment, to provide for the embodiment in the Constitution of an agreement for a period of ten or fifteen years. I trust that the agreement will not be ratified by the people. It never was a party question, and certainly cannot be said to be one now, so that I can speak upon it freely.
– That is admitted.
– When we go to the people we can put our views freely before them. I am sorry that the Treasurer should regard what I have said as personal. I have the greatest respect for him, but he has been for so long accustomed to uncontrolled power and freedom from criticism, that he mistakes criticism for insult, which is a dangerous frame of mind. I shall make’ my most humble apologies if, in the statement of my opinions, I have said anything which has insulted him.
.- This is not an Address-in-Reply debate; it is more likely to- be the concluding debate of the session. The financial question has been dealt with by the honorable member for Mernda, and, as he said that it is not a party question, I wish to know whether the Government will run against me a candidate supporting the agreement. I hope that they will. He may save his deposit, but it is doubtful. I should like the Treasurer, or some strong man who favours the agreement, to speak in its favour in Richmond, Col lingwood, or Footscray, so as to see whether or not the workers are opposed to this agreement. An equally important matter is the position of the Commonwealth with regard to industrial legislation. The Minister of Defence stated on Friday that he does not favour the Commonwealth obtaining sole power to legislate in industrial matters. No one advocates that it should have that power. But it has been advocated by honorable members on this side that it should have concurrent power with the States in industrial matters. Honorable members opposite looked to the Inter -State Bill as a way out of the difficulty, but it was well known that directly the Chamber of Commerce here intimated its objection to the measure, the Bill was doomed.
– Is that why the Labour partv opposed it?
– Our speeches in opposition to it were made five days before the letter which the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce sent to each honorable member was received.
– The Adelaide Chamber of Commerce supported the Bill.
– Could any industrial organization have appealed under the Bill? If the Queensland bootmakers had desired to get their rates of pay raised to the Victorian level, could they have used the Bill for their purposes? Clause 23 provides that among the organizations which can appeal shall be associations of traders and freighters, chambers of commerce, of manufactures, and of agriculture, but no provision is made for associations of workers. No body of workers could apply under the industrial section, even. Practically, only Wages Boards could appeal. The whole Board would have to appeal to the Court of a State, and the State industrial authority would have to appeal to another court, while appeals could be made only where a trade was injuriously affected. There was no provision for appeals where men were being sweated. The workers had no redress under the Bill. I said months ago that the measure was a fraud and a sham, from which the workers could not expect anything. Although the Minister of Defence to-night gave us to understand that he believes in new Protection, he told the people in Bendigo in April last that new Protection was a madcap scheme.
– He did not say anything of the . kind. He said that Socialism was a madcap scheme. I was present at the meeting.
– The honorable member for Parramatta was reported in the Melbourne newspapers as having referred to new Protection as a madcap scheme, and many times, when speaking on this side of the chamber, he has expressed himself as opposed to it, root and branch.
– He might well do that, so far as the Excise provisions were concerned.
– The honorable member for Fawkner on one occasion, in company with Senator Dobson, addressing a women’s meeting in Heidelberg, said that he believed in voluntary, not compulsory, legislation. He would have every one please himself. No doubt he would like to please himself as to which side of the road he wouldtravel in his motor car.
– My speech was made in the days before motor cars.
– Surely no sensible man would preach compulsion to the ladies.
– The honorable member for Wentworth is an authority in that matter. The speech to which I refer was made six or seven years ago. When the Fisher Government were in office, several honorable members opposite objected to a dissolution because it was not then possible to refer to the people a proposal for extending the industrial powers of the Commonwealth, but even the Bill which the Government introduced did not propose that. The Government measure was not to become operative Unless the States were prepared to hand over their powers to the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Wide Bay quoted to-night a decision by Mr. Justice Higgins, arising out of a dispute in the . boot trade, when he tried to level up the wages paid. In Queensland the men were receiving £2 per week, in South Australia £2 2s., and in Victoria £2 8s. In New South Wales Mr. Justice Heydon thought that the trade could afford to pay £2 14s., but did not fix that rate because the Victoria wage was 6s. lower.
– In New South Wales the men were receiving the old Free Trade rates of pay.
– Under Free Trade there was neither an arbitration court nor a Wages Board for the boot trade in
New South Wales. The Government have not provided for giving to the workers protection similar to that given to the employers. I candidly confess’ that at the last general elections I told the electors that they could not expect anything from the Deakin Government. I warned them that the promises which that Government had published in their official memorandum were in the nature of political placards; that they were designed to fool the people, and that the longer the people were prepared to be fooled the longer the Deakin Government would fool them. Previous to the decision of the High Court, in which the new Protection legislation was held to be unconstitutional, the Prime Minister said -
Personally I do not apprehend any difficulty whatever in dealing with this as a Federal matter. For the purposes of argument I have been speaking of cases which might arise in a single State. We must remember, however, that all the employers and the employes in this industry throughout the Commonwealth will have a common interest, and the natural and obvious means of protecting that interest will be by joint action all round.
That statement was made by the Prime Minister in this House on 21st September, 1906, about a fortnight after the honorable member for Boothby had succeeded in carrying an amendment applying the principle of the new Protection to those engaged in the harvester industry. I do not propose at this late hour to discuss at length the necessity of giving the workers some share of the protection that has been granted to the manufacturers, but I unhesitatingly say that the workers in that industry were promised that they would secure a share of the protection granted to the manufacturers, and that they have been robbed of what the Parliament in. tended they should receive. In addition they have had to pay heavy law costs. 1 do not think it was intended by this Parliament that they should be put to that expense. If complaint is made to the Department of Trade and- Customs that an importer is evading the payment of a duty the complainant is not expected to take action to enforce the law. The Department does not expect a private individual to take action in such a case, and I say that in the case of the agricultural implement makers the Department had a right to see that the employers obeyed the award of the Court, or else paid the Excise duty. The men, however, were compelled to appeal to the Court to enforce the payment of wages to which they believed they were entitled. They fought really on behalf of the Commonwealth, because it was on the decision given by the High Court in their case that the new Protection legislation passed by the late Deakin Government was held to be unconstitutional. In the circumstances the men who were robbed of their rightful wages by unscrupulous employers should have been reimbursed their legal expenses by the Government. The employers have denied to the men the advantages which they said they would confer upon them if they secured the benefit of increased duties. They said that the men would be treated fairly, but they have ignored that promise, and we have a right now to see that justice is meted out to them.
– The manufacturers of harvesters secured the high duties by the assistance of some Free Trade members of the Labour party.
-! distinctly stated my attitude upon the question. I said that I should do my best to have the industry carried on in Australia, believing that we could legislate for it.
– I am referring not to the honorable member, who is a Protectionist, but to the Free Trade members of his party.
– Nearly half the members of the honorable member’s party are Free Traders.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. As a matter of fact when the Tariff was under consideration the honorable member for Grampians cast more Free Trade votes than did any five members of our party. I hope to have an opportunity of visiting the honorable member’s electorate later on, and putting before his constituents some of the votes for Free Trade that he gave. The honorable member for Parkes said that the harvester duties were obtained under false pretences.
– No, I said that Free Trade members of the Labour party, such as the honorable member for West Sydney, voted for the high duties.
– On a promise given by the Prime Minister as to the new Protection. I am another who was deceived.
– The honorable member for Parkes said that certain Free Trade members of our party gave votes which they would not have given-
– The honorable member must not deal with that matter. I ask the honorable member for Parkes not to interject continuously.
– The Chairman will not allow me to reply to the interjection made by the honorable member for Parkes, but 1 say distinctly that members of the Labour party voted for these duties only to establish the industry in Australia, believing that an opportunity would then be afforded them, as promised by the Deakin Government of that day, to see that the workers in the industry received a fair share of that Protection. The Minister who was in charge of the Tariff Bill,’ has stated distinctly that he made that promise and that he intended to carry it out. The Prime Minister has also stated since the decision of the High Court that he intended to carry out the policy of the new Protection, and the right honorable member for East Sydney said that he was heartily in favour of it. Many of the electors who at the last general election were promised that legislation would be passed to provide for the new Protection will require to know why they have been deceived by their representatives, and I admit that I shall do my best to enlighten them. I am confident that if the question were referred to the people a majority in each of the States would declare in favour of the Commonwealth Parliament having concurrent powers with those of the States to pass industrial legislation.
– They would vote if they could to shut up the Federal Parliament for ten years.
– The honorable member’s constituents might be inclined to do so, having regard to the way in which he has represented them. I trust, however,, that instead of urging anything of the kind they will try a change in their representation. It is ‘hopeless for the. Government to believe that the people can be fooled any longer. They were promised the new Protection on more than one occasion, and they will want to know why that promise has not been carried out. If the question were referred to them to-morrow they would decide by an overwhelming majority in favour of a considerable enlargement of the constitutional powers of the Federal Parliament to legislate with respect to industrial matters.
– I have the honour to present to the House a report from the Joint Library Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Papua - Annual Report for the year 1909.
Ordered to be printed.
Census and Statistics Act - Population and Vital Statistics for the year 1908- Bulletin No. 14.
Public Service Act - Recommendation in connexion with the promotion of Mr. William Williams to the position of Postmaster, Geelong.
The Clerk laid upon the table
Telephone - Business and Working, &c. - Return to an Order of the House made this day.
Ordered to be printed.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I express the hope that honorable members will give the Government their assistance to-morrow morning in disposing of the remaining business.
.- Some time ago, the Minister of Home Affairs promised to obtain figures showing what would be the cost of giving effect to a proposal made by me that the Commonwealth should grant yearly to each municipality an amount equal to the municipal rates and taxes which itwould have to pay were it not exempt from taxation. I wish to know whether those figures have yet been obtained in a complete form, . and, if so, what action the Government intend to take ?
– I have obtained some of the figures ; but the returns are as yet in a very rough form. As soon as they have been completed, I shall bring the matter under the consideration of the Cabinet.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether steps are being taken to supply the electors with copies of the Constitution, and of the financial agreement made between the States and the Commonwealth, which it is proposed to embody in the Constitution. If the people are to be appealed to, to say whether or not the Act which the House has passed shall be adopted, we ought to pay them the compliment of believing that they will look into the question intelligently for themselves, and not rely merely on what they are told by members of Parliament.
.- Will the Prime Minister, when replying, state whether he is prepared to make available a number of copies of the memorandum on the new Protection which he issued in December, 1907, so that the public of the Commonwealth may know the promises on which a certain number of honorable members voted for the Tariff?
– In answer to the honorable member for Parkes, I have to say that the agreement is embodied in the Act submitted, which will be widely circulated. If, at the same time, honorable members can suggest, on consideration, any other material not too cumbersome, we shall take steps to make it available. In the same way, I may reply to the honorable member for Cook that, so far as the supplies in our printing office permit, he can make himself a means of circulating the memorandum to which he refers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.47.p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 December 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091207_reps_3_54/>.