4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. GLYNN presented a petition from 456 taxpayers in South Australia praying the House to reject the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
Petition received and read.
– In presenting a petition from Mr. Herbert Clarke, a resident of Little Flinders-street, Melbourne, praying that the House will take steps to recompense him for the loss to which he was compelled to submit, viz., £500, in connexion with the sale of land to the Commonwealth, I wish to explain that he points out that -
I neither can nor do I make any legal claim, for this I have abandoned, but I appeal to the equity of honorable members as my ground for urging its favorable consideration. A wrong has been done me, and I am sure that the party to which you have the honour to belong will, in pursuance of the policy which governs its deal ings with all citizens, not fail to see thatthe wrong from which I suffer shall be removed, and- that such compensation be granted to me which the case requires.
The Postmaster-General’s Department offered this gentleman , £2,000 for the land in question. He was willing to accept that amount, but the amount was reduced to£1,500.Thefactsaresetoutat considerable length in the petition, and I move -
That the petition be received.
.- I should like the petition to be examined. From the statement that the honorable member read, I take it that the writer makes an appeal, not to Parliament, but to the party to which the honorable member for Melbourne belongs. If that is so, this cannot be a petition to the House.
– I understood the honorable member for Melbourne to be quoting from a letter covering the petition.
– The petition is addressed to the Honorable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives.
– Then that is all right.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– As I understand the honorable member for Coolgardie takes exception to a certain statement in the petition, I beg leave, in order to allow the honorable member to take further action, to move -
That the petition be printed.
– The honorable member is not in order in so moving.
– Then may I, in the circumstances, ask for leave to move the motion ?
– The honorable member cannot do that now.
– I heard no objection to my request for leave.
– The method of conducting business suggested by the honorable member is irregular. I do not like to be placed continually in the position of asking leave for the submission of motions without notice. The practice is getting very common, and sooner or later the House will have to stop it. If the honorable member desires that the petition should be printed, he can withdraw it now, present it again on another occasion, and move accordingly.
Chief Accountant - Contract Offices - New Scale of Allowances - Payments to Receiving Officers
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether the calling of applications for the position of Chief Accountant to the Postmaster-General’s Depar tment is a merely formal matter, to comply with the Public Service Act, or whether it is intended to deal with all applications on their merits ?
– I am glad that the honorable member has asked this question. The position is not in any way cut and dried for any person, either in or out of the Service. The position is open to any person in Australia; and we trust that there will be many applications from outside as well as from within the Department.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that a very large number of those who are doing the work of allowance officers in the smaller post-offices in country districts have received notice of a considerable reduction in the remuneration to be paid to them, amounting, in some cases, to a reduction of 25 per cent. on the payments received last year. Further, in view of the hardship that will be inflicted on these persons, will the honorable member cause the notice either to be withdrawn, or suspended until the Estimates shall have been considered ?
– I do not know that such notices have been issued, but persons in allowance offices are paid according to a schedule of rates. The payment increases or decreases automatically, as the revenue of the post-office concerned rises or falls.
– Has there not been a revision of the schedule?
– Not so far as I am aware.
– It is a bad principle.
– That may be; but the system is that which I have explained, and where notice of a reduction has been received, there must havebeen a fall in the revenue of the post-office.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that the scale of allowance for country post-offices has been revised, and that a new scale has been issued? Further, will he inquire who authorized the issue of the new scale making these reductions?
– I certainly am not aware that a new scale has been fixed.
– It is so.
– I shall make inquiries.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral know anything of the position of the contract post-offices, and, if not, will he make inquiries? Those in charge of such offices in my electorate are underpaid in every way, and a satisfactory service is not given to the public. I should like the honorable gentleman to inquire into the system, because it is about time that an inquiry was made.
– I shall be very glad to look into the matter.
– May I ask the PostmasterGeneral also to look into the question of the payment of receiving officers? I especially direct his attention to a case where, I am told, the remuneration has been reduced from something like£15 to about
– I shall inquire into the matter.
Water Supply : Contour Survey Map
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs have printed and circulated, for the information of honorable members, the readings of the official gauge on the Cotter River, from the day it was put in until the 1st September, inclusive, and also the calculation made by Mr. Hunt, the Government Meteorologist, in regard to the estimated rainfall over the catchment area of the Cotter River?
– For the month of July the gauge on the Cotter River showed an average flow of 47,000,000 gallons per day.
– I want the figures up to 1st September.
– Then I ask the honorable member to give notice of his question.
– I understand that the contour survey map of the city site of the Federal Capital has now been completed. Will the Minister of Home Affairs have lithographs struck off, so that honorable members may be supplied with smaller copies ?
– I shall look into the matter, and, if everything is all right, what the honorable member suggests shall be done.
Mr.W. ELLIOT JOHNSON. - In view of the sessional order adopted on 25th August last, by which the time for taking private members’ business will cease at half-past 3 this afternoon, and of the fact that only ten minutes of the time set apart for that business remains, does the Prime Minister propose to move, with a view to enabling honorable members to proceed with private business to-day?
– I understood, on consultation with a number of members who have business on the notice-paper, that they were prepared to move its postponement. The Government will give facilities to them to reach their motions before the session closes.
– It is stated that the destroyers which have started for Australia are to fly the blue ensign. Is that the flag that is to be flown on their arrival here?
– It is the flag under which they will come to Australia. This has been arranged for international reasons.
– When the vessels arrive in Australian waters, will they cease flying the flag under which they are travelling from England? If they fly an Australian flag in Australian waters, will they haul it down whenever they happen to go outside the territorial limits, and put up the blue or white ensign, or does the Prime Minister propose to make some arrangement to secure international rights for the Commonwealth Navy?
– That is a matter that requires consideration, and will receive it in due time. The flag mentioned is only to be used temporarily to enable the vessels to come here, this having been arranged under the best advice we could get.
– Are the destroyers insured ?
-I am unable to say at present, but shall give the right honorable member an answer to-morrow.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he noticed recently that representations were made to the British Government with a view to obtaining the abolition of reduction of double income tax on British investments in the Colonies, and that, in reply, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the Home Government was quite willing to go into this matter but must not be asked to face all the loss, meaning that the Colonies would have to meet the Mother Country fairly in the matter. In view of this reply, and the obvious advantages that would accrue to Australia by any concession made in this connexion, does the Federal Government consider this an opportune time for undertaking in our legislation the principle of the penalization of absentees?
– I have not yet seen the representations referred to it is not the policy of the Government to penalize any one.
That, in the opinion of this House, the electors of the Commonwealth should be consulted by referendum to fix the amount of allowance to be paid to Members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and that such referendum should provide for a vote to be taken by a system of preferential or contingent voting on the amounts£400, or£500, or £600, or £700, or£800 per annum?
As the time is too short to allow me to debate the matter, I ask leave to continue my remarks on a future day.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Postponement of Business - Dissent from Mr. Speaker’s Ruling.
On the Order of the Day for the resumption of the debate upon motion by Mr. Finlayson -
That, in the opinion of this House, the sale of intoxicating liquors should be prohibited within the precinctsof this House.
.- It is with much regret that I ask that this matter be postponed.
– With much regret? The honorable member has arranged it all with the Prime Minister. It is high time he stopped trifling with the question.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member for Parramatta in order in imputing motives to the honorable member for Brisbane, especially in view of the fact that there are only three minutes left for the discussionof the motion?
– The honorable member would not be in order in imputing improper motives to any honorable member.
– I imputed no motives to any honorable member. I want to explain that I made no insinuation, but simply stated afact. The honorable member on a previous occasion, when there was an opportunity of carrying his motion, agreed with the Prime Minister to postpone it.
– The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– Shall I be in order in saying that my remarks had reference to a statement made by the Prime Minister last night, that he had arranged with the honorable member for Brisbane to postpone the motion?
– With considerable regret, I move -
That the resumption of the debate be made an Order of the Day for Thursday, 22nd September.
– Mr. Speaker-
– The honorable member must not discuss the date.
– We did so the other day in another case.
– It is true that the other day I allowed a debate on a motion to adjourn the consideration of a motion to a certain date, but on looking into the matter I find that I was wrong. The honorable member will see that if I permit such a discussion I immediately afford an opportunity for 364 amendments to be moved in succession if honorable members so desired.
– An Order of the Day is the property of the House.
– The honorable member cannot discuss the date it is proposed to fix.
– I do not think that that is so.
– Is the honorable member rising to a point of order?
– I was going to refer, Mr. Speaker, to what you said just now.
– Does the honorable member intend to move that my ruling be disagreed with?
– I have no desire to do that.
– Then I cannot allow any discussion.
– I desire to refer to a point which I think, sir, you have overlooked.
– Order ; will the honorable member resume his seat? The question is that the consideration of this Order of the Day be postponed.
– I rise to a point of order.
– Hear, hear; this is a bit too hot!
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that you are introducing an entirely new practice, and, that being so, the least you can do is to give us the reasons for the alteration.
– If the honorable member objects to my ruling, he will have to move that it be disagreed with.
– Then I shall have to do so, for I think that we are entitled to know the reasons for the new practice.
– What the honorable member refers to is not the practice. Although I allowed it inadvertently the other day, I find it never has been the practice in this House.
– Yes, it has, Mr. Speaker.
– The honorable member must not use that language. I point out that, prior to the other day, it has not been the practice of this House-
– It has been done many times.
– And, under the circumstances, I cannot permit the practice on this occasion.
– Then I desire to move that your ruling be dissented from.
– Hear, hear - a new fusion !
– I beg to give notice that to-morrow I shall move -
That Mr. Speaker’s ruling be dissented from, viz., That a motion on the business paper, in debate, should be adjourned by the original mover without further debate.
– I ask the permission of the House to submit a motion to allow honorable members who have private business on the notice-paper to fix dates for the consideration of that business.
– I do not think the Prime Minister should have driven honorable members into this corner - it is not fair !
– Again the practice to which I took exception a few minutes ago is attempted. Under the circumstances, however, I shall put the question. Is it the pleasure of the House that honorable members, who have private business on the notice-paper, have leave to fix that business for future dates?
– With all respect to the Chair, I object. [Debate interrupted by resumption of Government business under sessional order.]
Debate resumed from 7th September (vide page 2789), on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– Last evening, or rather early this morning, I moved the adjournment of the debate for the purpose of eliciting some information about some items of the Estimates which had been passed, including the provision for stables and other accommodation for horses, and one or two matters of that kind, in regard to which information was not forthcoming. However, in order to expedite the passing of this Bill, I shall waive my right of speaking at the present stage.
– While I appreciate the desire of the Government to pass these Estimates in order that works contained in them may be at once put in hand, I must say that we have cause to be dissatisfied with the inordinate speed with which this business has been proceeded with.
– I am willing to postpone the measure to a later hour in the day.
– I do not wish for a postponement, but only to say a few words. I believe there was some communication with the Opposition as to the desirability of passing the Works Estimates as soon as possible, but no one could have imagined, unless behind the scenes, that it was intended to pass the Estimates at the same sitting during which the Budget Speech had been delivered. Personally, I never heard of such haste, and I see no necessity for it. It is not fair to members, either on the Ministerial side or the Opposition side, that they should be asked to deal with such important matters without opportunity for consideration. These Estimates, which were only introduced at midday yesterday, express the intentions of the Government in regard to the whole financial policy, so far as works and buildings and naval construction are concerned-; and I think the Treasurer will admit that we have not been treated quite fairly.
– I mentioned the matter to the Leader of the Opposition.
– But introducing a measure of the kind, and passing it through all its stages, are two different matters. I could well understand the desire to have a commencement made, but to force the Estimates through by means of an all-night sitting is not reasonable. Necessity, of course, knows no law, but, as I say, I see no necessity in the present case. These Estimates deal with between£2,000,000 and £3.000,000, and there are several items about which full explanation ought to be given. Personally, I take no exception to most of these items on their merits, but, at the same time, I should like to know all about them. For instance, provision is made for£10,000 for a Military College, £50,000 for the Federal Capital, £850,000 for naval construction, £50,000 for uniforms, and £15,000 for wireless telegraphy ; and in regard to all of those items full information ought to be forthcoming. The procedure adopted by the Government on the present occasion is unprecedented in any Parliament of which I have knowledge. We are not near the end of the session, and a day’s delay would not have mattered. Although the Treasurer may have a submissive and docile majority-
– They were not very docile last night !
SirJOHN FORREST.- That is not a reason why honorable members should be kept up all night. I cannot understand the cracking of the whip which has occurred. The action of the Government was without precedent. Many honorable members will recollect that the procedure of passing the Works and Buildings Estimates before the Estimates for the ordinary services of the year was first proposed in 1905. Until then it had been customary to deal with the ordinary Estimates before considering the Works and Buildings Estimates, which, of course, meant several months’ delay in carrying out public works. I, as Treasurer, proposed the course that is now followed, but it was met with a storm of disapprobation, Sir George Turner, who had been Treasurer for many years, objecting strongly to it. Eventually, it was agreed to postpone the consideration of the Works and Buildings Estimates until the first item of the ordinary Estimates had been passed. That procedure was followed thereafter, until last year, when the debate on the first item of the ordinary Estimates was very protracted, owing to the prolonged opposition of the party now in power. Finally, some weeks after the introduction of the Budget, the postponement of the discussion was agreed to, and the Works and Buildings Estimates were dealt with. I do not object to the Government getting these Estimates passed as soon as they can, but honorable members should have been given an opportunity to study them, and should not have been asked to sit up all night and forced to pass them at one sitting.
– When I arrived here from Bendigo, about11 o’clock last night, many honorable members were complaining ofthe action of the Government in trying to secure a vote on the proposal to expend £50,000 on the Federal Capital site without proper explanation. The complaint seemed justified, and I agreed to give a vote for the postponement of the work until honorable members, and especially new members, had had time to consider the whole question. I had no desire to prevent the carrying out of the Federal compact, but I told my constituents that, although I had supported the Yass-Canberra site as the best available after Tumut, I would not be a party to extravagant or hasty and ill-advised expenditure upon it. I felt that any expenditure should be in pursuance of a well-considered scheme. The proposal before us last night did not indicate adequate and sufficient consideration to justify us in passing it so hurriedly. Honorable members were entitled to fuller information, and to a guarantee that the money would not be frittered away. It was for that reason that I voted as I did. reserving to myself the right, should fuller information be given later, to support the Government’s proposals. My vote last night was a protest against unnecessary haste, and the rushing through of the matter before honorable members had had time to consider the question generally.
.- The honorable member for Bendigo is to be congratulated for his agility. He has almost managed to be on both sides of the fence at the same time. Should I be in order in moving that his apology be accepted ?
– When the Meteorological Bureau was established, we desired that its work should be of use to those engaged in primary production. The Minister of Home Aftairs knows what assistance the United States bureau has rendered to the farmers, orchardists, and rural workers of that country. In Tasmania, farmers have been saved hundreds of pounds in the past by heeding the timely forecasts issued by Mr. Wragge, when meteorologist for Queensland, and abstaining from harvesting when storms were predicted. The Meteorological Bureau, however, cannot do its work efficiently without the co-operation of the Postmaster-General’s Department. I asked the other day whether steps had been taken to have rainfall records published at important stations throughout Australia, and the honorable member for Calare asked a similar question. It was hoped that the Meteorological Bureau would assist persons travelling, or desiring to travel stock in large States like New South Wales and Queensland, by giving them the latest rainfall records for the various districts which they might wish to go through, thus preventing much loss of stock, and the suffering of dumb animals. I was informed, however, that the Post and Telegraph Department cannot make arrangements for the transmission of the necessary messages. In districts like Capricornia and Maranoa there are many large centres where weather information would be very useful, and it should be possible to transmit it from Rockhampton. The other telegraph work in that part of the Commonwealth cannot be very heavy. What 1 suggest is some system of decentralization.. Probably it would be sufficient to telegraph to different centres the reports for the districts lying round about them. In the United States, even the railways are used to signal the coming of storms and weather changes. I suggest that the Minister should get a report from the Meteorologist as to how the difficulties which have been complained of can be met. I take this action on my own initiative, without ascertaining the opinions of the Meteorologist. As I was responsible for the introduction of the Meteorological Act, and for the establishment of the bureau, I naturally take an interest in the subject, and wish the Department to be a real, practical, business concern. Queensland representatives know how well organized the weather services of that State were before Federation, and how accurate were its records. I do not think that the Minister will find the difficulties in the way of the publication of weather information insuperable. If it be necessary to remove them, to increase facilities for telegraphing, let that be done. I have some doubt as to whether the number of stations is sufficient and the publicity given to the information obtained altogether adequate. Having regard to the area of the Commonwealth, insufficient information is supplied. If we had a larger number of stations at which records were taken and made public, great good would be done. I wish also to ask the Minister to what extent Voluntary efforts are being made to assist the Department? Tn England a host of persons co-operate with the Department in making records and furnishing returns.
– The position is the same in the United States of America.
– That is so. There persons are supplied with the necessary instruments, and keep records for the Department. It is most important that correct information regarding the rainfall all ^ over Australia should be recorded. Up to the time of the establishment of the Bureau the work had been of a fragmentary character, and what we now need is a complete and thorough system. Honorable members will recognise how important it is that men who are asked to go on the land should have in advance specific information as to the exact rainfall in the districts where they propose to settle. Another point on which I desire to seek information is the extent to which the Meteorological Department is attempting- to educate the young people of our schools in regard to the importance of meteorology. In the 1907 report of the Department of Agriculture of the United States of America there is art interesting article showing what is being done there in that direction. I understand that pictures indicating the cloud formations have been distributed over a fairly wide area in Australia, and the teachers in some schools have been assisting in meteorological matters, but I should like the Department to make an effort to reach the secondary schools, and more particularly the agricultural colleges, with a view to seeing that instruction is given as to the correct recording of temperatures and rainfalls, so that our young men who are ultimately to settle on the land will have some idea of the value and importance of meteorology.
– I am afraid that it is all a matter of finance.
– The Government are now imposing a tax on unimproved land values, and that being so, they should extend special consideration in this direction to the man on the land, so as to assist him in his efforts to increase the productivity of his holding. There is only one other matter to which t desire to refer. As the Prime Minister is aware, at periods the telegraphic service between Brisbane and Sydney is not as satisfactory as one could wish. Owing to storms and other causes, interruptions take place, and I ask the Postmaster- General to obtain information as to what steps are being taken to improve the efficiency of the service.
– I wish to emphasize the importance of the matter to which the honorable member for Darling Downs has referred in regard to the distribution of meteorological information. In New South Wales, prior to Federation, some attention was given to the subject, and the more important towns in pastoral and agricultural centres were supplied every day with a report as to the rainfall, also with a general weather forecast. That system was gradually being extended, towns, as they grew in importance, being placed on the list of those to be supplied with such information. In addition, similar information with regard to country districts was transmitted to Sydney, and was shown on a chart on daily exhibition at the General Post Office. That information was of value to both country and city men. Dealings in stock and grain are materially affected by weather conditions, and this prompt supply of accurate information is of much concern to commercial interests as well as to the men upon the land. Since the Commonwealth has taken over the work of the Meteorological Department, however, progress in this direction appears to have been arrested Difficulties are experienced in getting new centres added to the list of towns in respect of which information is to be given on the weather chart at the General Post Office. At the outset it was difficult to ascertain where the trouble arose. For the last four years I have had prominently before me the case of the citizens of Peak Hill, who desire that information as to that important centre in New South Wales shall be supplied and shown on the chart. Their application has invariably been refused. In the first place the objection was that there was no room for such information, but when the Progress Association of Peak Hill, through me, offered to pay the expense of enlarging the chart, the Department shifted its ground. It then said that a number of centres had been selected as being of a representative character, and the information shown on the chart in respect of places 40 or 50 miles away from Peak Hill was considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of that town. Such information does not appeal to country or city interests. The average city man examines the chart to obtain information as to a particular district, and if he cannot find it he does not think of examining the returns relating to centres 40 or 50 miles away. Such a lack of information, therefore, is detrimental to the centres concerned. The average man either assumes, where there is an absence of such information, that the district concerned is of insufficient importance to warrant its being given, or that it is considered that if it were supplied it would be detrimental to its interests. After a further investigation, I ascertained that the Department of Home Affairs, which controls the sub-department of Meteorology, cannot obtain this information except with the cooperation of the Post and Telegraph Department, and that the plea of the lastnamed Department is that its lines are so congested, and the number of its officers in New South Wales so limited, that it would be impossible to afford increased knowledge of meteorological conditions without withholding more important information. If that is a correct statement of the position - if it is purely a question of the ability of the Post and Telegraph Department to deal with the work - then I hope that the Government will take the matter into their early consideration, for this is one of the big reforms necessary in the near future. It is a matter of great importance to country districts. We wish to fill the waste spaces of Australia, and hope that legislation now before us will help materially to that end. Anything that will assist us in that direction ought to be encouraged ; and I maintain that, by supplying this information, we shall materially help the man on the land to obtain the best results from his labour, and assist the commercial man to a better appreciation of his conditions. In New South Wales the public school teachers, without cost to the Commonwealth, except in respect of the necessary weather gauges, are prepared to make observations, to tabulate the information obtained and to place it at the disposal of the Department. The same statement will apply to country police stations and post-offices, but all these channels of information are not being utilized as they ought to be. I have put before the Department several applications which have been refused on the score, either that the Department does not require the information, or that it cannot bear the small cost involved in supplying the necessary instruments. This is a departmental matter, apart altogether from the transmission of telegrams. In that direction, as well as in the more important one of bringing the information before the public, the Minister might do something substantial to render his Department valuable to the men upon the land, and to the commercial interests of the community. It is with great pleasure that I join with the honorable member for Darling Downs in urging the Government to take action in this matter.
.- I wish to occupy a few moments on die second reading of this Bill. I speak with considerable diffidence, because I do not know what has previously been the practice when the Estimates have been submitted. I consider that on this occasion, whether a precedent already created is being followed, or a new one is being adopted, we are drifting into an exceedingly bad practice. We have been dealing with an expenditure of no less than £2.324,496, and we have been compressing the consideration of the many big questions involved in it into several hours, through a long and weary night. Yesterday the Prime Minister delivered his Budget Speech, a subject which, in most Parliaments, is considered big enough for the consideration of honorable members for the one day. Bur, immediately following on that, these Estimates were presented for the consideration of the House, with the most meagre explanation.
– Order ! The honorable member is now traversing a previous debate.
– I did not intend to do so. We have now under consideration a Bill for the appropriation of more than two and a quarter millions of money, and the consideration of that expenditure has been absolutely insufficient, because the information laid before honorable members has been entirely inadequate. If we had had sufficient information as to the items for which the Bill makes provision, they might have had proper consideration from honorable members. But the Government attempted an impossibility if they honestly intended to get their Works Estimates through the House in a satisfactory manner in one night’s sitting, because many debatable questions were raised in the consideration of the expenditure, and particularly the question of the Federal Capital. Surely the Government know that that question afforded material for debate for a night and a day, if not for two or three days, and possibly it would have taken that time had not physical exhaustion terminated the debate earlier. There is another matter requiring a protest to be made. I do not know whether any previous Government has been responsible for the same offence, because “I submit that it is a real offence to submit limited sums on the Estimates, involving enormous subsequent expenditure, anr] also big questions of policy. In that connexion I refer first of all to the provision made in this Bill for certain works to be done at the Federal Capital. No policy has been submitted by the Government, and no details have been given as to the next steps they propose to take in the creation and equipment of a Federal city. We ought to have a full and comprehensive statement of policy before we are asked to commit ourselves to a public expenditure such as that. In many details I absolutely refuse to be bound by last night’s proceedings. I do not believe in involving this country at once in a big expenditure for the creation and equipment of a Federal city, much as I desire to sec such a city as was depicted by my enthusiastic friend, the Minister of Home Affairs. We can wait awhile before we undertake that work. We ought to provide for other utilitarian requirements of -the Commonwealth before we commit ourselves to any big expenditure in that direction.
– We should spend every penny of the money on defence.
– Possibly so, and there are many other directions where the necessities of the Commonwealth for developmental expenditure are apparent, . particularly in the interests of primary production. While Federal expenditure is increasing alarmingly, we ought, as representatives of the people, to recognise our individual responsibilities in this matter. It is not only a question of the responsibility of the Government, but a question of the responsibility of individual members, and they ought not to be expected to incur that responsibility until they have the fullest detailed information respecting the expenditure, especially when expenditure is proposed in directions which are entirely new to Federation and to the House.
– The honorable member ought not to have voted for that sum of £50,000 for the Federal Capital site.
– “I have just told honorable members that I am not going to be bound by the decision of last night so far as future expenditure on the Federal city is concerned. One honorable member wanted to know why I did not make a protest then. I waited for hours to make a protest, but between a certain section of this House on one side of the Federal Capital question, and a certain section on the other, I could do nothing but sit down and listen and admire the enthusiasm displayed, and entertainment afforded, through the night. Another point of which I very strongly disapprove is the getting in of some of these big questions by a side wind. One item for which provision is made in this BiH is £5,000 for the construction of the Western Australian railway. I have no objection to raise to that, because I am a supporter of a through railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie; but I protest, in the interests of safe and sound finance, against the Government committing the House to that railway by the appropriation of £5,000. Those honorable members who assisted last night in passing that sum gave their adherence to the railway proposal, because it was indicated in a note at the foot of the page that the total estimated cost of the work was £3,988,000. Therefore, the House last night, by approving a preliminary vote, which indicated in plain terms what the total cost of the railway would be, gave its approval to the whole undertaking.
– That is not accurate. The other matter will be provided for by a Bill.
– A Bill, with all the necessary information as to route, gauge, water provision, and a thousand and one other points on which honorable members desire information, ought to be submitted to the House before honorable members are asked to commit themselves to the principle.
– As I said last night, this vote of £5,000 is to enable the information to be prepared and placed before honorable members.
– But we are taken further than that by this item, seeing that the footnote indicates the total cost of the work. If it is only a preliminary vote in order to obtain information, whence did the Prime Minister get his estimate of a total expenditure of £3,988,000?
– From the survey.
– If an adequate survey has been completed of this big railway undertaking, the fullest information regarding it ought to be placed before the House, and honorable members should be expected to commit themselves to the project only in the form of a Bill, and not by any preliminary item on the Estimates. I wish the Prime Minister to understand that my remarks are not in any sense meant to be unfriendly. I have to complain that, generally, so far as these Estimates are concerned, we have not the information before us that we ought to have, and that we have a right to expect.
– What information does the honorable member want?
– Information about the details of expenditure. We passed in one night £2,300,000 odd of public expenditure, of which honorable members all round the House knew very tittle indeed.
– Why did not the honorable member stay and get the information ?
– I should not have got it if I had stayed. For hours last night I heard requests made for information that was not supplied. I am not saying this in a spirit of factious opposition, but 1 do hold that it is essential in the early days of the Commonwealth, when we are involving the country in a big and necessarily increasing expenditure, that we should realize our responsibilities as individual members.
.- Like other honorable members, I am surprised at the manner in which this House, supposed to be composed of business men, has dealt with the Estimates.
– Well, it seems tome that we should know a great deal more about the items than we do at present, and not be compelled to remain here all night and afterwards vote, as it were, in the dark. However, I did not rise specially to protest against our procedure, but rather to comment on the fact that the Government have omitted to make any provision whatever for providing telephonic communication on one of the most dangerous parts of the Australian coast. I refer to the coast from Strahan to Port Davey, Tasmania, which would appear to be ill-starred, having regard to the number of serious wrecks there during recent years. This is a most barren part of our coast-line, and sailors who ply their calling there certainly deserve some provision for their safety. Some months ago a deputation from Tasmania waited on the Postmaster-General, who, I understand, gave an assurance that he would take certain steps if the State Government would comply with certain stipulations. The State Government, I am informed, have intimated by letter to the Government that they are willing to perform their part, but, so far, no move has been made by the PostmasterGeneral. For some weeks past I have asked questions on the point, but I have only been asked to give notice, and then the matter seemed to be shelved. If the Postmaster -General, since receiving that deputation, has altered his mind, or has some better scheme in view, we should know the facts. At any rate, I cannot let this opportunity pass without emphasizing the need there is for some action on the part of the Government.
.- Hon- 01 able members opposite have every reason to complain of the undue haste with which business is being rushed, but the extraordinary fact is that they made no protest last night.
– Some did.
– Yes ; the honorable member did, but others appeared to be dumb. There seemed to be a successful endeavour on the part of the Opposition to join with the Government in forcing these Estimates through. I am very anxious to be a truly loyal supporter of the Government, and I shall always be found assisting them to carry into effect the planks of the Labour platform ; but on all other matters I claim an absolutely free hand.
– The honorable member will get it!
– I hope so, but I did not get it last night. If it had not been for my indifferent health I should have been here all night helping other honorable members to protest against the attitude assumed by the Government in regard to the Estimates. It is certainly most singular to find the Deputy Leader of the Opposition apparently helping the Government to expedite the business in this way.
– The honorable member knows that this Bill has to be passed ; why go through this farce ?
– Anything with which the honorable member does not agree seems to him to be a farce, but I regard the passing of this vast expenditure of £2,324,496 as a very serious matter.
– Did the honorable member move a single amendment or criticise any item except one?
– I had not the opportunity, since, for the reason I have given, I left shortly before midnight. We have had no time to consider the items in this Bill, otherwise we might have helped the Government greatly. As a matter of fact, great assistance has been given to the Government by the honorable member for Darling Downs and others in the matter of weather telegrams. I shall be very glad if the Government could see their way to adopt the system of telegrams of this description which was in vogue in Queensland prior to Federation. I remember well trying to persuade the Federal Government to secure the services of Mr. Clement Wragge, in order that he might continue his meteorological observations for the benefit of Australia as a whole. Mr. Wragge’s forecasts were always regarded with a great deal of attention by ship captains and others; and I wrote to the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company, the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand Limited, the Adelaide Steam-ship Company, and Howard Smith and Company, asking for testimonials on his behalf. To that appeal, however, the answer I received was that, so far from the shipping companies considering his services of any benefit, they found that the forecasts were the means of preventing a good many people travelling by their steam ships. We all know, however, that the vessels of these companies are well insured, and that it does not matter to their owners even if storms arise and disaster follows. The travelling public take a very different view, and to reliable forecasts like those of Mr. Wragge they always pay close attention. Although) meteorology is not yet regarded as an exact science, Mr. Wragge’s opinion is that it very soon will be; and I shall welcome the time when the Commonwealth will frank weather telegrams. In the Capricornia district great danger to life and damage to property occur owing to the absence of such warnings. At present, telegrams relating to floods must be paid for at urgent rates if they are to take precedence, although we know that in the absence of any warning, the waters cause great damage in the settled districts.. Surely this is a matter deserving of some consideration. If the Prime Minister desires to go to South Africa by a certain date, let him go ; but I do not see any necessity for rushing the business through.
– The honorable member will have to be disciplined in caucus if he talks like this !
– The honorable member and others have endeavoured to persuade the people that the members of the Labour party are “ cribb’d, cabin’ d, and confined,” but it is well known that on all questions not in the Labour platform we have the utmost freedom. Honorable members opposite complain, rather late in the day, of the provision of £5,000 for the purposes of a transcontinental railway. I have never yet been able to satisfy myself that the time has arrived for such a railway as that from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, although, when a member of the Senate, I informed myself pretty extensively on the subject. This line will cost anything from £3,000,000 to £5,000,000, and, so far as I can see, the only people who will travel on it, for some time, at any rate, will be politicians and commercial travellers. We realize that, as soon as this line is constructed, the shipping companies will reduce their rates; and, if the fares on the railway are to be sufficiently high to make the line pay, the public will certainly travel by sea. What prompts my opposition to any immediate pledge for the construction of such a line is that the working classes of Australia, for the most part, will have to make up the deficit; and that I regard as most unjust.
It is said that a transcontinental line should be constructed for the purposes of defence; but anybody who has paid attention to the question knows that there is nothing in that argument. No doubt the line will have to be constructed in time; but I am of opinion that we should not build it yet. The Prime Minister said this afternoon that the item in the schedule dees not commit us to the policy of constructing the line, the £5,000 asked for being merely to pay for the preparation of information. The legislation dealing with this railway has been got through Parliament by a series of moves resembling those on a chess-board. A letter was obtained from the late Sir Frederick Holder, stating that, in bis opinion, the line should be built, and that was held to be a pledge on the part of Australia as a whole to construct the line if Western Australia would federate with the other States. By little and little the supporters of the proposal advanced, until a survey of the route was sanctioned. That survey having been made, steps have been taken to pledge the Parliament to the construction of the line. The item in the schedule reads -
Trans-continental Railway from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, to Port Augusta, South Australia - Towards cost of construction,£5,000.
We should be told definitely whether the money is required to pay part of the cost of constructing the line, or merely to pay for the preparation of information. If any of the works authorized by this measure are unnecessary, or unduly costly, I, for one, shall disclaim responsibility, because of the way in which the schedule has been rushed through. Ministers should not regard criticism as offered in any personal spirit. Past Administrations have generally been ruled by one man. assisted by a few personal friends, who has dictated the policy of the country, and Parliament has had to accept what he offered. But now that we have an elected Government, Ministers should give the House the best of their thought and ability, and not take offence when suggestions are offered, or objections made, in regard to their proposals.
– I wish to call attention to the practice of the Department in getting sums placed on the Estimates and then not spending the money, but asking in the following year for smaller sums for the same works. As an instance of what I complain of, let me say that in my divi sion is a post-office for which £4,500 was voted last year. A three-handed game of euchre was played by the Departments of the Treasury, Postmaster-General, and Home Affairs, which prevented any of the money being expended, though I do not know which Department won. This year £1,000 is being voted for the same work. That is not the way to do business.
– What became of the £4,500 voted lastyear?
– Treasurers like to economize by keeping back expenditure, so that at the end of the financial year they may have a balance to bring forward. I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if it is intended to spend any part of the £1,000 which is provided in the Bill. The present office is insufficient for the requirements of those who use it. So far as those who work in it are concerned, it is insanitary, and at busy times only about 5 per cent, of the public who want to use it can get in, the others having to wait their turn. This is only one of six or seven post-offices which have been reported upon as inadequate.
– The honorable member for Capricornia is not fair in saying that the honorable member for Parramatta did nothing last night, or rather during the early hours of this morning, to obtain information. After the vote on the Capital Site question, he assisted largely, not only in obtaining, but also in giving, information, at a time when most honorable members were asleep.
– The honorable member must not refer to what took place in Committee.
– I hope that we shall not have a repetition of the procedure of yesterday, when a Budget statement was made, and then honorable memhers were kept here right through the day, and all through the night, until breakfast time this morning, while proposals for the expenditure of nearly £2,500,000 were bludgeoned through. No intelligent constituency, and no self-respecting Parliament, would tolerate such proceedings. I hope that in future no taxing Bill, and no proposals for expenditure on public works, will be considered until the Budget has been dealt with, and that when proposals for public works expenditure are under consideration, the Ministry of the day will not do what has been done almost every year since I have been a member, that is, declare the matter to be one of extreme urgency, and ask for the voting of thousands of pounds within a few hours. The balances from last -year’s votes are still available for expenditure.
– That is not so.
– At all events, the money was available until the end of the financial year, and the Departments were either unable or unwilling to spend it. This occurs every year, with the result that we have to consider re-votes, which are generally bludgeoned through without honorable members knowing what they are passing. There has not been a quorum this afternoon since we met, and last night, in Committee, there was hardly ever a quorum, while, of those present, most were asleep. That is the way in which the voting of nearly £2,500,000 on public works has been done. Neither honorable members nor the country have had an ‘ opportunity to know what the Government really intend to do. I protest against the tendency of Governments to effect their object by side winds. A proposal for expending £100 or £1,000 is brought forward, and the Prime Minister tells us that we are committing ourselves blindly to some particular project.
– I have not said anything of the kind.
– The honorable gentleman said last night when the question came before the Committee-
– The honorable member cannot discuss that matter.
– Then I shall say that on a previous occasion the Prime Minister said that the significance of a proposed vote of £100 was that it meant that a great work was to be proceeded with. We have often been told that Parliament has committed itself to a certain principle by agreeing to a comparatively small vote. I hope that we shall adopt a more businesslike method of dealing with the Estimates. Let us first of all conclude the Budget debate, and then proceed steadily with the consideration of the Estimates, instead of attempting, as was done yesterday, to rush them through at one sitting. We sat until 8 o’clock this morning owing to the effort of the Government to bludgeon the Works and Buildings Estimates through Committee, and in the very schedule to this Bill there are items which have committed the Parliament to entirely new departures. More especially is that the position with respect to the Department of Defence, and there is practically no explanation of these Estimates. I would remind the honorable member for Capricornia that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition remained here until 8 o’clock this morning, not only seeking information, but very often supplying it when it might well have been forthcoming from a different source. Those who left for their homes at an early hour last night cannot afford to attack others who remained behind and endeavoured to elicit from Ministers information with reference to the Works and Buildings Estimates. The records of Hansard will show that in that respect we were, to some extent, successful. I wish once more to enter my protest against the present system of dealing with our Works and Buildings Estimates.
.- In connexion with the item of £10,000 towards the establishment of a Military College, I wish to express the hope that the Government will take cognisance of the splendid system in operation at West Point, where all the cadets meet on absolutely equal terms. There the son of a millionaire receives the same salary, and wears the same uniform, as the son of a poor man, and is distinguished from his compeers only according to his ability topass the examinations. Major-Genera) Hoad has presented a splendid report with regard to the work done at West Point, and I hope that in connexion with the Military College of Australia we shall have none of those distinctions, as between man and man, which unfortunately obtain at the present time amongst officers of our forces. I trust that in the Naval Training School a similar system will be observed ; and in this connexion I wish to enter my protest against any nian who enters the Naval Department being liable to be sent on service beyond Australia. I as an Australian, loving my country, object to any naval man being sent from this continent without his consent; and I think that in that respect I have the support of the majority of the Ministry. With respect to the question of the Federal Capital, I certainly regret that there has been, seemingly, undue haste in arriving at a decision. I shall always be loyal to the provision inserted in the Constitution, as the result of a fair compromise, that the Capital should be in New South Wales ; but I object to the establishment of the Capital on a site where an adequate water supply can be obtained only by pumping. I should care not if the site chosen were a barren waste, provided the climate were healthy and the water supply abundant. We are only on the fringe of scientific discoveries, and a genius of chemical analyses may yet discover a formula whereby a granite hill may be made as productive as a rich alluvial flat. The Minister of Home Affairs will not deny that at Yass-Canberra the water supply will have to be pumped 800 feet, and I have yet to learn of any great city that labours under such a disadvantage. Shall I remind honorable members of the elder Rome with its seven aqueducts? Only three of those aqueducts remain ; nevertheless Rome stands to-day pre-eminently first amongst all the European capitals in the matter of its water supply. A gravitation system is in operation there, as well as in New York, and when the splendid waters of one of the lochs of Scotland were tapped for the benefit of Glasgow, the supply was also obtained by a gravitation scheme. Who can say what are the potentialities of electricity ? We are looking, as it were, through the mystic glass of the what-may-be, and no one can prophesy what are the possibilities of the Dalgety district, having regard to its magnificent water supply. In Australia the death rate is lower than that of any other country. Dr. Bell, the inventor of the telephone, expressed surprise that Brisbane, with its lack of sanitary arrangements, should have so low a death rate. Perhaps he failed to make fair allowance for the fact that this continent has been inhabited by white races for a comparatively short period, and for the great stretch of plain country over which the wind blows.
– And to the fact that our people lead open lives.
– And have a better food supply than obtains in the Old World. No one will say that Yass-Canberra is the best site in New South Wales that could be selected for the Federal Capital. Although I have the privilege of representing the constituency in which the Parliament House is situated, no one will be happier than I shall be when we have made a final selection of a site, and have established ourselves in pur new home. I hope then that our political life will be what it ought to be - that we shall work in the day-time, and, if necessary, limit the speeches of honorable members to half-hour periods. We should never descend to the absurdity of all-night sittings. During such sittings honorable members grow weary and angry, and scenes occur which, upon reflection, are always deeply regretted. I do not wish to see the establishment of the Capital delayed, because I am on the shady side of fifty, and am very anxious to witness the experiment of a new land tenure. We have had a splendid illustration of what may be done in that respect in Norfolk Island, but what has been done there will fail altogether in comparison with that which we hope to do in the way of a new land system in the Federal territory. I hope that, in laying out the Capital, we shall benefit by the experience of the United States. The great French genius who laid out Washington had his heart broken by the unfair criticism of his compeers ; but those who visit that city to-day can see what that genius foresaw when he planned it. I trust that we shall avoid the faults of Washington, and that we shall not sell a foot of land in the Federal Capital. In that respect we ought to follow the example of Hong Kong - which, in the extent of its tonnage, rivals London as a shipping port - where there is no private ownership of land save in regard to a few allotments. I look forward to the creation of a city that will dominate the continent, but I certainly obiect to the selection of a site where the water will have to be pumped to a height of 800 feet. The Federal Capital, I sincerely hope, will be an example to the rest of the world, and will be free from the brand of pauperism. On the question of the transcontinental railway, let me quote the following passage that appeared in the Melbourne Age of 10th July, 1902 -
Society has no system by which the thousands of men whom it has to feed in enforced idleness can be utilized in such ways as will give back a return for the revenue expended, so the eternal question revives itself every year, and we have to listen to the wail of women and children and the curses of unemployed men.
If, therefore, a railway appeals to the House as necessary and justified, I am willing to give my vote for it, but I do object to go to the money-lender. The remark made by the Age was repeated by the Premier of New South Wales in September, 1904, in answer to a deputation representing a large number of practically starving men. That gentleman said -
There was plenty of work that might well be given to them, but there was nothing to pay them with. They were in their present position because they had run out of their capital, and the country was in the same position as they were. It had reached a condition when it was not able to buy all the labour that was available. Circumstances compelled him to go steadily. At the first blush they might say, 11 Oh, you have got ^12,000,000 a year revenue,” but that was already hypothecated. It had to be expended in paying interest on loans and in carrying on the business of the Stale.
I propose to show the House how that railway can be built without the curse of interest being saddled on us. I stated in the Legislative Assembly some time ago that Victoria had borrowed over £50,000,000, had paid to the moneylenders in Europe over £53,000,000, and still owed £50,000,000. That arose through the curse of interest. If there is a way of building this line without paying interest, surely the House should consider it. One concrete example is worth an ocean of talk, so I shall give the example of what was done by the island of Guernsey. As early as 1726, it was desired to put up municipal market buildings in St. Peter’s, the capital of the island, but in those days it was a little more difficult to borrow in London, and the matter dropped. It was not until 1822, or nearly 100 years afterwards, that the genius of Governor De Lisle Brock hit on an expedient. He asked the citizens of Guernsey why they did not build the place for themselves, seeing that they had bricklayers, carpenters, and other tradesmen among their numbers. A meeting of citizens was called, and it was agreed to issue a sum of £4,000 in what were known as market-house scrip notes. The contractor and workmen agreed to take them, and the townspeople to accept them as currency, backed up by the whole of the island. The buildings were erected for that sum, the land belonged to the community, the eighty stalls were immediately let, and a rental of over £500 a year was obtained. A holiday was made once in the year when the whole of the notes that had been returned in payment of the rates and taxes pertaining to the market buildings were publicly burnt. Before ten years were over every one of those notes had been cancelled. The debt had been liquidated, and the island had a property perpetually producing rent to the extent of £500 a year. Why cannot we apply that principle to this railway? I note that the total estimated cost of the line is £3,988,000, or in round figures £4,000.000. I would suggest, to liquidate that sum, a note issue on quite a different basis from the one we were recently discussing. I suggest that it should not be redeemable in gold, but every penny of it ought to be spent on the permanent way, the rails, the rolling-stock, and the station buildings. Those £4,000,000 notes would be sent out, not bearing a penny of interest. It may be a long time in the life of a human being, but it will be short in the life of a State, before the returnsfrom the railway come in. I take it that the Government would ask the States to guarantee the working expenses. Supposing that the net profit over working expenses was only £5,000 per annum, those 5,000 notes, being received in payment for the rates, fares and freights of the railway, would be cancelled, because each of the currency notes for the £4,000,000 would be ear-marked for that line alone. They would be guaranteed by the rollingstock and permanent way and railway stations of the line, and backed by the whole weight of the Commonwealth. Whether by fair or foul means the history of that Guernsey experiment has been removed from nearly every public library, and but for the action of the Americans in seeking the information, I am afraid it would have been entirely lost to the world. The Government of the day would direct that the notes should be utilized only in the building of the railway. The sooner the railway began to pay, the more quickly would the notes be withdrawn and destroyed. Ultimately we. should have apaying railway without it having cost id. in interest, and without the Commonwealth having had to borrow a single pound. Had the railway between Melbourne and Sydney been constructed in. that way, what huge sums in interest would, have been saved ! I believe that this idea, which comes from the blended French and! English race inhabiting the Channel Islands, has come to stay. I hope it will be adopted in Australia, and that the seedI am endeavouring to plant will grow into a big tree, of which this great Commonwealth will enjoy the fruits.
– Is that system stilt in vogue there?
– I understand so= A gentleman who was born there, received’ a letter from an officer occupying at St.. Peter’s a position analogous to that of the town clerk of one of our municipal councils. He said it was still carried out.
– Have they a paper currency pure and simple? If it is good’ for the building of works, why not for ordinary currency?
– The system must be used only for reproductive works, so that the notes may be redeemed by the revenue as it comes in. The life and soul of the principle would depart from it if it were used for ordinary currency, and I should mot advocate it for that purpose. If it can be successfully applied in the case of public works in a small community like that of Guernsey, we ought to seriously consider whether it could not be adopted here. What I regard as the greatest of the planks of the platform of our party is the referendum with the initiative. With regard to the Federal Capital question, I must say that never in my twenty years’ parliamentary experience did I see the like of the log-rolling and ear-pulling which took place in the endeavour to knock out Dalgety. I was approached by honorable members who I thought would never have descended to those tactics.
– Who approached the honorable member?
– The honorable member can have that information privately. I hope to see the referendum and the initiative adopted in Australia. When that time comes, I warn honorable members that if a site such as has been chosen now, without proper thought or consideration, is forced on the people, the citizens of that day will use their power, and alter what has been done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £2,324,496).
– When the Estimates were under discussion last night, the honorable member for Parramatta asked for information in regard to the stabling of horses, and the proposals of the Government as to the supply of horses in the various States. I informed the honorable member that it was desired to establish depôts in several centres, with a view to owning horses instead of hiring them, as in the past. I have since obtained further details from the Minister of Defence, and can now say that it is intended to provide 1, 445 horses throughout the States.
– As soon as can be conveniently arranged. We cannot say that it will be done to-morrow; but it will, if possible, be done during the financial year.
The proposal is to provide riding and draught horses for the Field Artillery.
– The whole 1,445 horses are for the Field Artillery?
– Yes. There will be 621 riding and 824 draught horses.
– What does that mean by way of increase?
– At present, the Commonwealth are in possession of no horses, and, in order to carry on the work of the Permanent Field Batteries to be established in Victoria and New South Wales, as well as the Militia Field Artillery, the additional number required is 1,335, which it is proposed to purchase at, say, £30 each, or a total of £40,050.
– Within what period?
– I believe the purchase will be completed before the end of the financial year.
– The horses will not be obtained at that price.
– I have no doubt that the advisers of the Department have made close inquiry as to prices. The upkeep of the horses is estimated at is a day, giving a total estimated cost for the first year of £64,413. The present annual cost of hiring horses, which are available for only twenty-two half days and sixteen whole days for the Militia Field Artillery only, is £37,518; so that the total additional cost of providing the permanent horses will be, for the first year, £26,895.
– The estimated cost of the upkeep of the horses will not work out in practice.
– The honorable member, no doubt, has had considerable experience in the interior of Western Australia.
– And other places !
– I was very careful to make strict inquiry on this point, because, at first sight, the estimate appeared to me to be rather low.
– Work cannot be got out of horses without food !
– Quite so; but the Department has no horses already, and the estimate is based on actual experience. The recurring cost is estimated to be : Purchase of remounts, say, 140 at £30, or a total of £4,200; and annual upkeep of the 1,445 horses, £26,371, a total cost, with Government-owned horses, of £30,571, or £6,947 less than we are paying at present.
– Does that include cost of stabling, and so forth?
– The interest on the capital cost of the stabling will have to be added.
– Does the £64,000 odd include all stabling?
– No, stabling is an additional item.
– Is the Department going to grow its own hay?
– That is another question.
– It is part and parcel of the upkeep of the horses.
– While that may be a proposal for consideration in the future, it is not involved at present.
– How could the Department feed horses all over Australia with hay grown in one place?
– It would be difficult to arrange. I have quoted the figures supplied by the Department.
– The Department has been fooled by somebody, absolutely !
– The honorable member, simply because it costs a certain sum to feed a few horses in a particular place, concludes that, with a large establishment of the kind contemplated, it will not be possible to keep within the estimate I have read.
– But is per horse per day does seem a low estimate.
– I have already told honorable members that the estimate is based on the actual experience of the Department.
– Who advises the Department in the matter?
– I presume the advice is based on actual experience in connexion with the horses at present in possession of the Department. Under the scheme trained horses will always be available, and there will be no danger of getting unsuitable animals, as under the present system of hiring; and, after the first year, there will be an actual saving of nearly £7,000 per annum. The stabling will he spread over the several States. In Victoria the depot will be established at Maribvrnong. The stabling, when completed, will include nine shelter sheds in Victoria and New South Wales, each for fifty horses, four sheds in Queensland, two in Western Australia, two in South Australia, and three in Tasmania, or a total of twenty-nine. The question of sites, except in the case of Victoria, has not yet been definitely settled, but negotiations are proceeding, and it is hoped that the work will be undertaken almost immediately. There will be forage sheds, forges, pharmacies, quarters for housing non-commissioned officers and men, and all the accessories of stables.
– What is the total cost?
– When the scheme is completed the total cost will be about £31,000 ; but for this year only £1,000 is in the Estimates for Victoria and New South Wales, with lesser amounts for the other States.
– Why not do all the work at once?
– If we were to place £9,000 on the Estimates for expenditure in Victoria we should have buildings not immediately required. The amount proposed is expected to be sufficient for the time covered by this appropriation.
– I was thinking of the very small amount of £250 proposed in the case of Western Australia.
– That amount will meet the immediate necessities of that State.
– What officer has recommended that this be done?
– The usual course has been followed ; the Minister of Defence informed the Department of Home Affairs of what was required, and estimates were prepared accordingly. The Department of Defence has given a long trial to the system of hiring horses, but has found it unsatisfactory, and now that two permanent batteries are to be established, more definite a rrangements are being found necessary. What is proposed will secure greater efficiency, and means a considerable annual saving. I promised last night that before any arrangements are made for the breeding of horses, honorable members shall have an opportunity to discuss the Government proposals.
– Who has advised that the Government should breed its own horses ?
– A Committee was appointed, and made recommendations to a. former Minister, which were reviewed by at least one other Minister. A scheme will be prepared and submitted for the approval of Parliament. It is thought that greater efficiency will be obtained by the Department having its own horses.
.- The responsibility for the estimate of cost is one which the Government must bear. To my mind, the cost is really a secondary consideration. Une hiring of horses is a noticeable defect in our present Defence arrangements. Men who have to do with horses should understand their care and treatment, but when our militia batteries are in camp using hired horses, the animals are looked after by the contractor’s grooms, who accompany them, and the men fail to gain that experience which would be invaluable on active service. I hope it is recognised that this is only the first step towards dealing with the whole question. It is essential that the Department should nave a permanent supply of horses for its batteries, and horses of the right type.
– Cannot it buy horses ?
– We are discussing a proposal for the buying of horses ; the breeding of horses is to come later. At present many of the horses used require fourfifths of their energy to move themselves.
– I have been informed that the London cab horses did the best work in South Africa.
– I do not say that cab horses cannot do good work. I have known my right honorable friend to gain immense assistance from the services of a cab horse. But most of the horses which are hired by the Department for artillery work are draught horses, and are unsuitable. I should not object to the proposed change, even if it meant a slight additional expenditure. I hope that the Government will proceed with a scheme for breeding horses. We need horses of a certain type, and the supply should be sufficient to meet a crisis when the normal defence requirements of the country might require immense expansion. For such a crisis, the German system of breeding for military requirements offers the best preparation.
Mr. LIVINGSTON (Barker) [552lI hope that the Government will carefully consider this matter before altering the present arrangements. Horses which are not kept constantly at work are never efficient. In saying that I corroborate the honorable member for Swan, who is an authority on the subject. No one could be more desirous than I am of seeing our Forces properly horsed. The Government propose to- expend an enormous sum on stabling - £9,435 in New South Wales, and the same amount in Victoria; £4,385 in Queensland; .£2,600 in South Australia, and the same amount in Western Australia; and £3,305 in Tasmania; or, in all, £3i,76°- 1 do not know why a larger expenditure should be required in Tasmania than is necessary in South Australia.
– How many horses are there to be stabled ?
– 1,445; they are to cost £30 each, which is not a big price for well-trained horses.
– They cannot be obtained for that.
– I regard the estimate as a fair one ; but I think that it would be better for the Government to have one depot for Australia than to have stables scattered all over the Commonwealth.
– Would the honorable member have only one depot for the field batteries, and send them wherever they were needed?
– That could be done, and it would provide training for the men and for the horses. Under the Government scheme the horses will be in their stables for practically nine months of the year.
– Under those circumstances, the horses will not pull when their services are needed.
– After months in the stables, they will refuse to pull. Horses require careful attention and constant work. I think that the farmers and graziers should be asked to provide horses at a fixed rate for so many days in the year.
– That system has cost the Department £37,000 per annum.
– I think that we could make an economical arrangement by advertising throughout Australia. We have to draw on the young men from the country, and our farmers and graziers should get something for the hire of their horses. If the Defence scheme is to be saddled with huge expenditures, it will become unpopular, and break down of its own weight. While I desire that our Forces shall be properly horsed, I think that the Government is on the wrong track. Ministers might very well wait until the railway to the Northern Territory has been constructed, when they could establish a horse depot in the good country in central Australia.
.- The best friends of the Federal Capital movement have reason to complain -of the scanty information furnished in connexion with the proposal to spend £50,000 which was discussed at yesterday’s sitting; but I have read the reports of the speeches, and have gathered very little as to what is intended by the Government. We are entitled to a’ formal and complete statement of policy in this matter, but we have not been told, except in the barest outlines, how the money is to be spent. I understand that the Minister for Home Affairs proposes to offer prizes amounting to £5,000 for designs for the Capital. We should be told what is to be done in the calling for designs. I wish to know whether it is proposed to call for designs of buildings, or for designs of the manner in which the streets, promenades, or reserves are to be laid out. Then, again, are the designs to be restricted to the site of the Capital itself, or is anything to be done with reference to the Federal territory adjacent to or forming part of the whole of the Capital city scheme? The Minister ought to have given us more information under this heading. As a matter of business and of practical arrangement, the Government ought to call for competitive plans dealing, first of all, with the laying out of the streets and promenades and the proposed situation of public buildings in the city itself. That, however, is only a preliminary portion of the work, and the designing of the buildings ought to be a completely separate matter. Equally important is the matter of the exploring or setting out of the various parts of the territory that should be associated with the central portion. The Minister proposes to expend £13,000 on surveys, and the Committee is entitled to some explanation of the surveys to be undertaken. I understand that a considerable amount of survey work has been done, and we ought to know what yet remains to be carried out. Then we find that £4,000 is to be expended on afforestation. That is certainly an important item, but we have no information as to the principle or the plan to be adopted. Before any money is spent under that heading, the Department ought to secure the best professional advice available in Australia for its guidance. There is also a proposed expenditure of £22,000 on roads, bridges, and railways, and the Committee should be supplied with information as to who is advising the Department in respect to those works. Another item relates to an expenditure of £6,000 for freehold property. What freehold property is to be acquired, and for what purpose? The Minister ought to have submitted a complete statement showing the order in which all this work is to be carried out. The Committee is entitled to an assurance that the Department of Home Affairs, in laying the foundations of the Federal territory, is acting on reliable professional advice. It should have the advice of a Board of engineers and architects charged with the duty of making preliminary surveys and submitting preliminary recommendations. The Department, first of all, should receive advice as to what land ought to be reserved as forest areas, and as to roads, railways, and bridges that need to be constructed. We ought to be assured that none of this money will be spent on an ill-digested or ill-advised scheme.
– It will not be if I run the scheme.
– The Minister should submit a little more information, not merely by way of verbal statement, but in the shape of a schedule. No doubt, the Minister knows the order of expenditure and the sequence of development, but the Committee is entitled to some information on the subject. Unless we have it, the public will be dissatisfied, and will think that we are plunging headlong into an expenditure of £45,000 without proper advice or consideration.
– Before the Minister of Home Affairs favours us with his ideas with respect to the building of the Federal city, I hope that he will dip into the future, let us know what is the intention of the Government with respect to public expenditure, and give us an estimate of the revenue that will accrue at an early date from the sale or leasing of allotments in different parts of the Federal territory. I take it that it is the intention of the Government to let the land on perpetual leases.
– Hear, hear !
– The Federal Capital should be an ideal place to apply the principle of non-alienation of land; and if it is to be at all extensive and populous, the revenue derived from the land, while it cannot be much during the next generation, will ultimately be very considerable. I understand that the leasing principle, with periodical re-valuations, will be adopted ; and if the land is to be leased in such a way as to encourage expenditure on the part of the public, the rents must be very small for some years to come, because the lower the rents the greater will be the inducement for expenditure on improvements. I also wish the Minister to let us know exactly what it costs to administer the affairs of the Commonwealth in Melbourne. I refer, more particularly, to the cost of leasing, for Federal purposes, buildings which will be no longer necessary when the Parliament is transferred to the Federal Capital. Of course, provision will have to be made in all the capital cities for permanent Federal offices; but, with the establishment of the Capital, there ought* to be a considerable saving in this particular direction. I should like the Minister to give us some further information with regard to the Yass-Canberra site. With the conflicting evidence of the New South Welshmen on the one side, and that of the Victorians on the other, I find it difficult to know what is the correct and patriotic thing to do. 1 am almost entirely in the dark, and I find that, in seeking to get light, as I did last night, confusion becomes more confounded. I want some one to lead me to the light; and I think the Minister of Home Affairs is the man to do it.”
.- I should like to bring under the notice of the Government the suggestion, made by Sir Edmund Barton many years ago, that a Commission of members of Parliament should be appointed to examine the plans of proposed public buildings for the Federal Capital, and to make recommendations with respect to them. It is unwise to leave such matters entirely in the hands of officers. We have a Works Committee in connexion with the Parliament of New South Wales. That Committee takes evidence with respect to the construction of public buildings and other undertakings, where the estimated cost exceeds a certain sum, and it has saved the State hundreds of thousands of pounds. If we are now to enter upon the work of building the Federal Capital, I think that we should have such a Committee of this House, and that it would prove a safeguard against any rash or unnecessary expenditure.
– I wish to refer briefly to the afforestation proposal which the Minister of Home Affairs has laid before the Committee. The experience of Australia in this regard is that of every other country which has been liberally blessed with forest lands. Whereas we have been destroying, the Minister has now a chance to build up ; and the success of his work will depend upon the way in which it is approached. The honorable gentleman has not indicated that it is his intention to establish a forestry branch in connexion with his Department. It would be a fatal mistake to commence any work of this character, except upon lines permitting of future development. The Minister should obtain the best advice possible.
– The Minister merely outlined a feasible project. He did not announce it as a policy.
– I was very much taken by the Minister’s statement, as we always are taken by his statements, whether as Minister or private member. The manner in which he launched this proposal captivated, I suppose, every member in the House, because we realize that this is a very large question, and no one is more competent to deal with a large question of this character than the Minister. He spoke about a million trees, but I think he must have been holding himself back when he limited the number in that way. One of the principal uses to which many portions of the Territory can be put is to provide the timber necessary for the building of those palatial residences that we hope to see there in years to come.
– ‘Does the honorable member mean to wait until the timber grows?
– I do not suggest that we should wait quite so long as that; but a very large area of land is to be handed over to the Commonwealth upon which for many years to come there will be no considerable settlement, and there is no better use to which it can be put than the growing of suitable timbers, for the requirements not only of the Territory, but of Australia as a whole. The Minister should have a branch of his Department thoroughly equipped, and with the best knowledge and experience that can be gained, to deal with this particular subject. I am sure that the question is perfectly safe in the hands of a Minister who comes from a part of the world where the use and abuse of timber has been an objectlesson to all other civilized countries. I wish to deal with the proposal for the supply of horses for the military service. One honorable member spoke of the failure of the agriculturists of this country to come to the assistance of the Government by supplying horses ; but my experience of recent years in the military camps has been that the agriculturists have come to the assistance of the Government and provided most suitable horses.
– The authorities have had to depend entirely on that class for the horses.
– The honorable member is quite correct. .
– The honorable member can speak only for his own State, of course.
– I have been in other camps besides those of my own State. It has been the policy of the various Governments for some time past to ask for and obtain the assistance of those engaged in agricultural pursuits near the camps of training. I was astonished to hear the honorable member say that the cost was excessive. He must have been speaking of a time anterior to this, when the horses had to be taken long distances to the camps.
– The cost is £37,000 a year.
– Is that a recent cost, or an average extending over years, or the cost some years ago?
– I should say it was the cost on the average of recent 3’ears.
– It costs, roughly, £1 a day per horse.
– I assure the honorable member for Parramatta that £1 a day is not paid to the farmers who come to the assistance of the Department with horses. We cannot have a better supply than the horses which are used in the very districts in which they have been accustomed to work. Those accustomed to horses know how difficult it is at times to get them to -work to advantage in districts other than those to which they are used. Thus a horse which is valuable in sticky country would not be of very much use in sandy country. Gippsland horses are fitted for quite different purposes from the horses grown in the northern and north-western parts of Victoria. It is a matter of use, which descends from generation to generation. The Government would do well to pause before they decide to give up a system which has only recently been brought into vogue, and has been found to work admirably. Military officers, like the members of every other Department, wish to be as far as possible self-contained in all that they require, and I go a long distance with them in that desire; but we can pay a little too much at times to carry out the principle. I ask the Minister. to make further inquiry as to the success that attended the efforts of previous Governments to obtain from the agriculturists the necessary haulage power for the camps. 1 am in hearty accord with the breeding proposal. I believe, that from a business point of view alone, the project can be made a really good thing for the Government. It has been said that £30 a head would be necessary to procure suitable horses for military work, but if the price is limited to that, a very inferior class of animal, not to be depended upon, will be obtained. We must remember that we are using these animals as an adjunct to a work upon which men’ s lives are depending. It would be like sending men to sea in a coffin ship to send men out upon active service with inferior horses. The Government will make a very good departure from past methods if they lay down on safe lines a system of breeding the horses required, not only for the military service, but for various portions of our other Departments, With regard to the money which has been voted for the Capital site question, when the item is passed by this Committee it will absolutely pledge the House to the site which has been selected.
– The honorable member cannot stay here for ever.
– I have shown by the votes I .have given on other occasions that I have no desire to keep the Parliament in Melbourne. I was always prepared to vote for a site which I thought would be acceptable to the people of Australia as a whole, and not give us cause subsequently to regret its selection. We should have some engagement from the Government that no more of the £45,000 will be .expended than is absolutely necessary.
– There is not enough of it.
– Those who are anxious that we should be irrevocably committed to Yass-Canberra do not think the amount is nearly enough, but,- even if the site had been fixed at a place more acceptable to me, I should still have criticised the amount to be expended on it, because I have always been pledged to scrutinize most carefully any proposition for the expenditure of money on the Capital site, wherever it might be. We should be acting wisely if we limited the amount to be expended upon this site to the cost of the erection of merely temporary buildings.
– There will be no temporary buildings put up there.
– I believe a few years’ experience of the locality will be quite sufficient to cause the members of the then Parliament to see the undesirability of continuing in it, and, if that happened, it would be lamentable to think that hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of pounds had been spent on the district.
– Where does the honorable member think it would be better to go?
– Back to Melbourne.
– No; I agree with those who say that the bond, having been made, should be kept, although I opposed it very strongly before it was made. The information which any member has regarding the present site should weigh very strongly with him in any vote he gives for money to be spent on it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7. 45p.m.
– My desire is that there shall not, by reason of permanent buildings of an expensive character having been erected, be any bar to an alteration of the site should a future Parliament or the electors so decide after experience. I feel that in settling onYassCanberra a mistake has been made which will have to be rectified sooner or later; and it. would be a lamentable factor in the whole sum if we were to find ourselves compelled to remain there for a longer period than was advisable in the interests of the Commonwealth. I do not think this is the time or place to discuss at length the suitability of the site itself ; or to advocate the selection of another.
– I wish we could select another !
– A great many have that wish, and, in this, there is nothing inimical to the interests of New South Wales. After all, I feel sure that the benefit of having the Capital within a State has been very much over-estimated, because there will not be that tremendous addition to material wealth that a great many have anticipated. We all know the circumstances under which the arrangement was made; and, as I have already indicated, I opposed it at the time as strongly as any one could personally. This was one of the few blots on the Bill submitted to the people. It was not, however, placed in the Constitution by the Convention, but was agreed upon at a subsequent meeting of Premiers, who adopted it in order to make the Bill more acceptable to the people of New South Wales. The Government have made up their minds as to the attitude they are going to adopt, as the Minister of Home Affairs has said they are going “ straight on.” I do not quarrel with the Government for adopting that attitude; but I sincerely regret that the exigencies of our governmental system should make it absolutely necessary for the Cabinet to be united on a question of the sort. If Ministers were free to exercise their individual feeling, we should have a very different statement to the Committee as to the amount proposed to be expended. Of course, we cannot alter the position; and I can only appeal to the Minister. We know that on more than one occasion he has shown that he is capable of looking into the future and exercising caution in matters of expenditure. We realize that he regards many questions from a wide Australian, if not an Imperial, view ; but I urge on him not to open too wide the coffers of the States and spend money which, in a few years, may be found to have been misspent in the sense that it will have been sunk in buildings and improvements which can be of very little value if it be decided, as I believe it will, by the people to make an alteration. I hope the Government will not think that I have occupied an undue amount of time ; but, like themselves, I have a mandate from my. electors. I was questioned on this matter at almost every meeting I addressed, and the feeling throughout the electorate is very strongly in favour of an alteration of the determination arrived at by the last Parliament. I have discharged what I have conceived to be a duty to them and to the rest of Australia, in urging on the Government, even at this the eleventh hour, the necessity for further investigation, as to the possibility of securing a much better site for the future Seat of Government. If the Government find, as they declare they have found, it to be absolutely necessary to go on with the’ work, I hope they will exercise the utmost economy, and not enter into expenditure which, in the future, may have the effect which I have ventured to say they would be the last to desire, namely, that of thwarting the will of the people. If there is one thing which the Government and the party they represent claim, it is an earnest and constant desire to do what the majority of the people require.
– That is the essence of Democracy !
– If the Gorernment are anxious on that point, they will, in addition to the different referenda to be submitted during trie next year, put one simple question on this matter to the people and accept their verdict.
– And deliberately break the compact with New South Wales 1
– Of course, the honorable member is very earnestly interested in this question. We have already altered the Constitution in some regards, and the present Government propose to alter it in a still more vital fashion.
– - But the Constitution has not been altered in such a way as to constitute a breach of an agreement with the States
– The honorable member ought to know that the agreement with regard to the Federal Capital was an agreement entered into under duress. It was not the Federal Convention which made, the stipulation; the Constitution Bill, as submitted to the people at the first referendum, did not contain this provision in regard to the Federal Capital. If there is anything more parochial or un-national than another, it is the proposal that the choice of the people in the matter of the Federal Capital shall be hampered.
– It is not hampered at all.
– It is hampered, because the people are not permitted to have a voice in regard to the position of the Capital in the Commonwealth.
– The people adopted a Constitution which provides that the question of locality shall be determined by Parliament.
– When the honorable member was Minister of Home Affairs, he pushed on this matter by all the means in his power, and we know that he is vitally - I do not say personally - interested.
– As a Nationalist.
– Of course, the honorable member is entitled to his view, and he regards this question as something which belongs particularly to himself.
– I do nothing of the sort.
– The honorable member, in this connexion, has done signal service to New South Wales, not only by his work and votes in the House’, but - and I say this without ascribing any action not worthy of his high position - by the influence he has exercised over individual members. I am one who believes that the will of the people should have due and: proper expression; and I am appealing tothe Government, who claim, above all things, to be here for the sole and special purpose of interpreting that will. If they appeal to the people, and the verdict isagainst the ideas I have formed, not a single word further will be heard from me. I feel very strongly on the question, and that is the excuse I have, if excuse be needed, for contributing these few observations. I ask the Government, before undertaking any large expenditure, to remember the possibility, if not the great probability, that the people of Australia will take action in the near future to alter the decision arrived at, and urge that no obstacle shall be placed in the way of their will having due expression.
– I do not know whether the Minister of Home Affairshas given the honorable member any assurance, but I think, particularly after the remarks of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, that he might tell us that nogreat expenditure will be incurred on this site until-
– Until Parliament authorizes it.
– “ We are going right on, brother ! “
– That is just my fear and trouble. If the Government are going “ right on,” we shall have this £50,000 frittered away. The Minister told us last night that he intended to go on with sewerage works, roads and bridges, a Military College, and I know not what, and then intended to call for plans. That-seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse ; and the honorable gentleman ought to assure us that no great expenditure will be entered into until the plans have been accepted and approved by the House. Last year £5,000- was spent, and now the proposed expenditure is £50,000.
– It is £45,000.
– We have never yet been told why £50,000 appears on the Estimates, and yet the Minister is assuring us again and again that the amount involved is only £45,000. It would be interesting toknow how this saving of £5,000 comes about ; but evidently Ministers think that the leastsaid the better concerning troublesome items. We had to complain foi twelve hours yesterday before the Prime Minister would tell us anything, and we got practically nothing from the Minister of Home Affairs except a statement about some trees that are to be planted. I felt inclined to move the reduction of the item by £1. As the honorable member for Laanecoorie has pointed out, although the supporters of the site say that it is the best available, they will not risk a referendum of the people of Australia, or even of the people of New South Wales, regarding it, because they know it would not be accepted. Sir George Reid told us that he did not care for the site, but that it was the best that New South Wales could get accepted by this Parliament. We know “how extraordinary was the manner in which the choice was made. Yass-Canberra, we were given to understand, was an area containing three sites - the Yass, Lake George, and Canberra sites. The Lake George site was lost on the first ballot, I think, and the Canberra site secured only one vote, being finally dropped. I then asked the late Mr. Speaker Holder if it was not the case that only Yass was left, but he said that he did not know what YassCanberra stood for. Now, although seventy-four members refused to vote for Canberra, that is the site which has been chosen by officers about whom we know nothing. The Government have not gained much by the all-night sitting. Although the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and “his lieutenants did not protest against the way in which this business has been put through, very strong protests were made this afternoon by the honorable members for Swan, Bendigo, and Wakefield, who condemned in the strongest terms the procedure which was supported by their leader.
– A Government does not last long when it has to depend upon an Opposition for its support.
– The position is critical when that happens.
– There being no one else to explain matters, I had to do so.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member gave fuller explanations regarding the military college and naval training school than were made by the Minister representing the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Home Affairs. Of course, the honorable member for Parramatta was for twelve months Minister of Defence.
– One good turn deserves another.
– The good turn done by the Ministry to the Leader of the Opposition seems to be the forcing through of the vote for the Federal Capital. I hope that Ministers will not rush into an expenditure which will put it beyond the power of Parliament to remedy matters. Plans should be submitted, so that we may know how the money which is being asked for will be spent. Even the honorable members for Bendigo and Echuca are strongly opposed to lavish expenditure. Whatever site may be chosen, I should object, in the present state of our finances, to a large expenditure upon it.
.- The Minister of Home Affairs has spoken about a scheme of afforestation, and his vast brain seems to have evolved magnificient plans for the development of the Federal Capital, but we should be told exactly what it is proposed to do. I, as a representative of the people, vigorously protest against any large expenditure.
– An immense quantity of Melbourne bluestone is likely to be used at Canberra.
– That is immaterial to me. In my opinion, the proposed expenditure on the Federal Capital, instead of benefiting our parliamentary institution, will tend to degrade it. We may be carrying out a contract, but common-sense persons will say that every precaution should have been taken to acquire the best site, and the fullest time allowed for the selection.
– The money spent in the Federal territory will not go out of the country.
– It could be better spent on developmental works.
– It will be spent on developmental work.
– Has the honorable member thought of the increment we are to get by the planting of millions of trees?
– Afforestation is a good thing, but it is the business of the States. Honorable members are not treating the matter seriously. The people are opposed to extravagant expenditure on the Capital, and to spend money there without a wellthoughtout scheme would be absurd. Parliament will not be more competent to legislate at Canberra than it is here. I understand that the honorable member for Bendigo has put some very pertinent questions to the Minister, who, in replying, will find it difficult to satisfy the people of the Commonwealth that the right thing is being done. The laying out of a great city should not be left to amateurs. With all due respect to him, the Minister is an amateur in this matter.
– We have laid out towns in Western America that are empires now.
– Does the . honorable member mean that he has done so? He is the only member of this Chamber who hails from the land of the stars and stripes. I do not know any American city that is a model. Before any work is done at the Capital, a scheme prepared by experts should be submitted to us. No doubt, the money asked for would be voted, but what control shall we have over its expenditure if we get no statement in advance from the Minister? He will be an autocrat. It will be competent for him to do many things without the sanction of this Parliament on the strength of our having agreed to this particular vote.
– But it is hard to get money out of the Treasurer.
– We have no right to expend the people’s money in this direction unless the Parliament is satisfied that it will be wisely spent.
– This is not a very lavish expenditure.
– But it is only the thin end of the wedge. If we agree to this item of £45,000 in respect of the Federal Capital, we shall find on next year’s Estimates a proposed vote three or four times as large, and since we have made a start we shall be almost compelled to go on. That is why I object to a start being made in this direction. We should not commence until we can do so without making an undue drain, by way of taxation, upon the resources of our people, and without depleting the funds necessary to carry on developmental works. After all, the Federal Capital will be only a luxury. I recognise that the representatives of New South Wales are anxious about this matter, but they should regard the actual selection of a site as an earnest of our determination to complete the compact when the necessary funds are available. I enter my emphatic protest, as a representative of the people, against any expenditure at the present time on the building of the Federal Capital.
– My honorable friends have been protesting for the last twenty-four hours, with all the vigour and enthusiasm inspired by their native Victorian air, against this proposed expenditure on the Federal Capital. Is it not time we got down to business? Is it not time that this nonsense ceased? Nothing has been said to-day that was not repeated over and over again last night. When honest people were in their beds asleep, my honorable friends were making night hideous with their cries about the wasteful extravagance of building a Federal Capital. But we have in this modest estimate a guarantee that there is to be no extravagance. Forty-five thousand pounds with which to build the national Capital ! The magnificence and magnitude of the proposal takes away one’s breath. I fancy myself viewing that stately capitol with its domes and minarets and towers rising up and piercing the blue infinite above. I fancy myself viewing the lakes of the Federal city filled with flowing waters, swans gracefully gliding over their surface, and of people crowding their pleasure boats. In the distance I see the mono-rail bringing millions of people from every quarter of the globe to behold the beauty of the Capital, and hovering over the whole scene are aeroplanes in which the people will take their pleasure. And all this for the sum of £45,000 ! I thought the Victorians did not believe in cheap things, yet here we find them afraid that this magnificent Capital is going to be too expensive. Shame upon their miserable views of what the national Capital ought to be ! It is time this nonsense ceased. My honorable friends know that there is to be no extravagance, and there will be none so long as this paltry pittance is voted for the work. This item of £45,000 is but a beginning. It is to provide for surveys and for the preparation of plans. It does not relate to the building of the Capital, and the representatives of New South Wales consider that the amount is a miserable one to place upon the Estimates now that the site has been finally determined. My honorable friends know that they are drawing upon their imagination in making this violent protest against a paltry appropriation of £45,000.
– It is too much to spend on Yass-Canberra.
– But not too much to spend on Dalgety or Tooma, I suppose.
– Not too much to spend on a suitable site.
– Yass-Canberra is not a suitable site; the honorable member is perfectly certain of that. Although he has never, seen it, the one conviction of his life, that has burnt itself into his very soul, is that Yass-Canberra is not a suitable site. Then there is another honorable member who has made me nervous with his Nationalism.
– That troubles the honorable member badly.
– Here is this great apostle of Nationalism who wishes to have the Capital established in his own back yard.
– No; I wish it to be built where the New South Wales Commissioner recommended that it should be established.
– He simply suggested Bombala as one of the sites to be adjudicated upon.
– It was the first site that he recommended.
– I suppose that there never was so good a judge of a site for the Federal Capital. Is this all that my honorable friend has left? Must he go back to the opinion of a man who is in his grave, and who in his lifetime did many good acts, amongst them being these recommendations in regard to the Capital.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss that matter.
– I think that you are right, sir ; but what can one do in the face of these apostles of Nationalism ? For an expenditure of £45,000 we are to have a Capital to see which people will journey from the four quarters of the globe. It would be well for us to borrow the Government’s motor car to take some of our honorable friends there.
– The springs of that motor car are not yet repaired.
– There is an item of £850 on these Estimates in respect of the Government motor car. Does my honorable friend suggest that its springs have already given way ? A very proper use could be made of that car in sending these Nationalists to the solitudes of Australia or anywhere else, so that the business of the country might proceed. They have never been near the site. Even if they inspected it, perhaps they would not be able to discuss it as intelligently as they do. However, they have made their protest, and they ought to be satisfied. I wish now to tell the Minister in charge of the Defence Estimates that I am perfectly satisfied with his explanation regarding the purchase of horses. I wish only to be assured by him that the Government do not intend to carry out its erstwhile scheme of hiring out these artillery horses and in that way making money. They ought to arrange to keep them as fully employed as possible upon bond fide army work. With regard to the larger question of breeding our own horses for the army, the Minister promises to bring down later on a well-matured proposal. Meantime, this item of £32,000 may well be passed. It averages about £22 per horse, so that, taking all the facts into consideration, it is not an extravagant vote. I commend the Government for entering upon this scheme, and I hope that later on they will bring down a well-matured proposal for breeding our own horses for army purposes. We have at present the greatest possible difficulty in producing horses suitable for the army. There is a tremendous field in India which we might exploit to the full if we had the proper horses to send. This is an enterprise into which the Government might fitly enter, and by a well-considered scheme we might secure the ‘ horsing’ of our own army for next to nothing, the idea being that we should acquire a large area, say, at Yass-Canberra, and utilize it for horsebreeding purposes. The Minister should lose no time in maturing the whole proposal, so that we may consider it in detail later on.
– The Government are evidently determined to go against the wishes of the people in selecting the site for the Federal Capital. The people of Australia are very much opposed to the present site. That is true also of the people of New South Wales, who would be found to be dead against it if they were polled. I do not like to see a Government so young in office depending upon the Opposition for support. If they were in a tight place the Opposition would not help them very much, as I know from experience. It is all very well for the honorable member for Parramatta to jeer about £45,000 not being enough to build a great city. I wonder if he is aware that Washington has cost £25,000.000 so far. This vote is only the thin end of the wedge, if we are going to build a capital at Yass-Canberra at all. If it was proposed to build it in the right spot, it would be a good thing to do; but
-Of the world.
– The designing should certainly not be done by the Department. The House ought also to see the designs before they are put intopractical effect. I am at a loss to know how the £45,000 is going to be spent. The whole of it cannot be expended in the little things the Government are proposing to do at the commencement. If they are not going to commence in the right way on a detailed plan, which the House ought to see before it is started, the money will be to a great extent thrown away.
– Not by me; I do not throw anything away.
– From what we have heard about the way things are going on at Canberra, it does not seem that money is being very carefully conserved there.
– Nothing of any account has been spent there so far.
– The money has apparently been spent on cooks.
– The cooks were not hired by me.
– I do not know who hired them; but I understand that there is a foreman to every two men, and a cook to every three men at the place. I am anxious that the Government should submit to Parliament the plans of what they are going to do there, because I do not believe that this site will ever be utilized for the erection of a city, whatever we spend on it. When the people begin to understand what description of place it is, they will select some other spot, and the money now expended will be thrown away.
– “Hope springs eternal.”
– The honorable member would be against this site if it were not in his electorate. I hope the Minister will deign to give the Committee some little information, because not much has been given up to the present as to what has been done. With reference to the other matter to which the honorable member for Parramatta referred, I question whether it is good policy for the Government to buy horses. It is better to hire them, as is done now, as it saves the constant expense of keeping them, and avoids
– I do not think so. I am not sure.
– It would be a very stupid thing to do. Private individuals, especially in the northern and western country, will supply all the horses required by this or any other country. Some time ago we sent a number of horses away to South Africa; we supplied 10,000 or 15,000 to the Japanese during their war, and, in addition, we send a constant supply of remounts to India. We, therefore, have no lack of horses in Australia. Station-owners who go in for horse-breeding can always supply them, and under the present system the Government are not exposed to the risk of loss by keeping a horse-breeding station. I do not think that an undertaking of that sort by the Government is the best way to get the horses up to a certain standard.
– Horses have to be trained for artillery work.
– I am told by military men that they have got much better horses since they have been hiring them. Those used in Sydney are well kept and fed, and do the work well. A finer lot than those hired from McNamara in Sydney never existed. However, if the Government have made up their minds to dash money about in all directions, I suppose it cannot be helped. It looks as if we have reached a stage when they are going to dash money all round, judging by the way the Government are “ bumping “ everything up. It is a serious matter, especially when the reply of the Postal Department to every request for a telephone or a post-office is that there is no money to do the work. Never since I have been in Parliament have I had so many refusals of requests for facilities for people in the country as I have had from the present PostmasterGeneral. I get them in shoals, and accompanying them I get a copy of his speech. Too much is left to the whim and will of the officers of the Department, and not enough Ministerial control is exercised over them. I have been unable to get a single telephone line erected since the present Government have been in office. The inspectors put up the cost in the most extraordinary way, and when practical men living in the locality investigate the estimate they prove that it is about three times as high as it should be. The result is that the people are called upon to build the line or contribute so much. There are a few men in the Department who run the whole thing.
– The 10 per cent, charge for a new line is ridiculous.
– It is. I applied for a line the other day. The estimate of cost sent in by the Department was £626. I undertake to say that the work could be done for £122 by a private individual.
– The honorable member will see that he is getting away from the subject before the Chair.
– The whole of the Works and Buildings Estimates are included in the Bill, and it would certainly be a new departure if we could not deal in a general way with them at this stage. The post-offices themselves are conducted in a very bad way. That is especially the case with the contract offices all over the country. That sort of tiling was never allowed in New South Wales before Federation. It is productive of a feeling of insecurity and want of confidence, because people do not like their correspondence, telephone messages, and telegrams to be sent or handled by a private individual, very often a person who lives in a business establishment. My constituents are complaining that this should not be so. If we are a Federation of any importance we can surely afford to build our own post-offices, and have our own men looking after them, instead of employing people in contract offices at from about £3 to £5 a year. At most £5 01 *£2° IS paid, and the people have sometimes to put up the building themselves.
– In some cases, the payment is £5, and it is made in stamps.
– I do not know as to that; but the system is a bad one. The Government are spending money in various directions ; and I think a little might be found for extending means of communication in the back-blocks and other parts of the Commonwealth. Unless we take care, a time of retribution .will come. The Government may regard themselves as safe for three years; but if the present dissatisfaction is allowed to continue, the people will call for a change before then. I do not like the Government to cast adrift the people who have supported them so strongly and sent them here; but, as a matter of fact, the residents of isolated places are receiving no attention, though the people in the metropolitan cities are well looked after. It does not really matter whether the Post and Telegraph Department pays or not, so long as it tends to develop the country and make it worth living in. Telegrams, telephones, post-offices, and so forth, are really the secret of the prosperity of the community; but no good will be done if the Government insist on every shilling that is spent returning its full interest. When complaints are made, I do not like to receive stereotyped replies from heads of branches, but would “much prefer to see the Minister step in and exercise his personal power and discretion.
– In other words, the honorable member would like to get what he wants.
– There are many requests made by my constituents that I should not grant ; but, certainly, something should be clone in order to extendi the usefulness of the Department. None of the Post and Telegraph Departments paid before Federation. It was claimed in one year that there was a profit of £17,000 in New South Wales ; but it turned out that no allowance had been made for interest and capital, so that the claim was really without foundation. In those days, the Post and Telegraph Services were regarded as means of development.
– Was the honorable member not a member of the Government which paid the surplus revenue back to the States and starved the Department?
– I always protested against those payments, which would not have been made had I been Prime Minister. It was, in my opinion, very unwise to pay the States £6,000,000 over and above that to which they were really entitled, during the first nine or ten years of Federation.
– That crippled the Post Office.
– It did. Sir George Turner’ was Treasurer when that system was inaugurated ; and it was for the purpose of nursing up the States. I admit that the motive was a good one ; and, moreover, that gentleman, like all of us, did not know that the Commonwealth would require so much revenue.
– It had to be done during the first five years.
– I think that was so, according to the Constitution.
– Does the honorable member recollect that I advocated that those payments should be .debited in part payment for the transferred properties?
– I do; and the very first chance I had, I stopped the paymerits, and put the money into a Trust Fund, which is now being used for Oldage Pensions, and to meet some defence expenditure.
– The honorable member must not proceed in that direction.
– There is no doubt that it is a very difficult and troublesome matter to initiate a Commonwealth with all its Departments, as compared with conducting a State Department in full swing. I hope the Minister will have something to say on the points I have raised; and, in conclusion, I express the hope that Yass-Canberra will never be the Federal Capital.
.- I have no feeling of jealousy about the Federal Capital being in New South Wales; but the representatives of that State should take care that it is situated in a proper locality, convenient to Sydney. . There are numerous areas near Sydney eminently suitable for the purposes of the Seat of Government, and there is certainly no necessity to go into the wilderness of Yass-Canberra, than which, in my opinion, a more unsuitable spot could not have been selected. I have been over the country, and made a thorough inspection ; and I must say that I failed to see any stone or timber for building purposes, while the Cotter River is a stream of the dimensions of a main drain. New South Wales members will be wise if they endeavour to have the Capital fixed somewhere, say, on the Hawkesbury River, one of the prettiest spots in Australia, and close to Sydney Harbor, the front door of the Commonwealth. It is true that, according to the Constitution, the Capital must be beyond 100 miles from Sydney; but it is possible to alter the Constitution in this respect as in others. If there were a large inland river suitable for an extensive irrigation scheme at Yass-Canberra, something might be said for that site ; but, as. a matter of fact, the place possesses no advantage in the way of. position, land, or anything else. I feel confident that this £45,000 will be the last ever spent on Yass-Canberra as a Federal Capital site. There is no doubt that this will be made a test question at the next general election ; and I know what the opinion of the people will be. The hope of the Commonwealth ever receiving a shilling of revenue from the proposed Federal Territory is a vain one; and it is of no use to talk of experiments on this 800,000 acres, where there is really nothing to experiment upon. The place is subject to miserable droughts, and it would be hopeless to expect people to go there to reside. The Minister of Home Affairs is quite right to talk of planting trees, for, goodness knows, they are required ; only he will have to take great care to protect them from the rabbits. It would be much better, as the honorable member for Hume suggests, to spend the money in developing Australia, for there is no country in the world so much in need of it, in order to assist settlers in isolated places, where telegraphic and telephonic, and other means of communication would be much appreciated. In any case, we are very comfortable, as members of Parliament, in Melbourne; and I do not see any reason for desiring a change. I feel quite sure that the Minister of Home Affairs, hardheaded, sensible man that he is, would not spend a penny on this site if he had his own way.
– This question of the Federal Capital site was pretty well threshed out last night during our long sitting; but I have to ask honorable members to endeavour to regard it, not as little Australians, but as big Australians. In the first place, New South Wales is the empire State of the Commonwealth, and we desire to have a city that will be the Gotham of Australia. We hope that the Federal Capital, in a few years, will rival London in size, Athens in art, and Paris in beauty. Washington was built on a swamp, where, in 1799, the first President of the Republic caught a cold, and died before he got home ; but YassCanberra occupies one of the highest situations in New South Wales. I slept there in a tent last June, and felt in the morning that I had awakened to a new world. We propose to spend £4.000 on a nursery for’ Australian trees, under which the inhabitants of the place will be able to shelter. I am not sure that we shall make a railway to Queanbeyan, but we shall need a few bridges and roads, even before designs for the city are called for. The designers could not go straight out into the raw prairie. The sum of £13,000 will be spent on surveys, so that we may know where we stand. We are going to have a valuation made of the private lands in the territory.
– Of the whole area?
– Yes. They are gradually increasing in value, and unless we ascertain now what they were worth in 1908, we shall have trouble by-and-by if the owners declare them to have been worth £5, £6, and even £10 an acre, and we have no evidence to submit on the other side. I cannot understand why Australians should oppose this wonderful scheme, seeing that the land belongs to the people. The Americans sold Washington to persons living out of the country, and you will find there to-day corner blocks surrounded with iron fences, on which virtually no taxes are paid, and whose value has been enormously increased by the expenditure of the public money. Had the Americans retained the fee-simple of Washington, they would now be getting a revenue of £b, 000, 000 in rents.
– Then the Commonwealth is to buy out the present holders, and acquire the fee-simple of all the lands in the territory?
– Is that one of the objects of the proposed land tax?
– To-day land in the Federal territory is leased at 10s. an acre. In future the territory will be the greatest asset in the wide world. The Government will not be able to spend anything beyond this £45,000 without the consent of Parliament. We have merely to issue a proclamation to-morrow, and the territory will belong to us. We cannot repudiate the agreement with New South Wales.
– Who wishes to do so?
– I do not say that any one does. We may not construct a railway ; if we do not, we shall have so much more money to spend on other things. We may arrange with the Government of New South Wales to construct a line from Yass to the Federal Capital, and so to Queanbeyan. Honorable members will* be able to get into their Pullman palace cars in Melbourne, and travel straight through to Yass-Canberra, sleeping in the berths until they have to get up to go to Parliament House.-
– How much of the vote is for the railway?
– £23,000. The honorable member for Wakefield has asked what rent the Commonwealth is paying for buildings in Melbourne. I shall get the information. The people of this city have treated us beautifully ; let us treat them in the same way. When our time here is up, we can invite the Victorian Parliament to spend a week with us at Canberra. As for the appointment of a Select Committee to consider the plans of the city, that is not necessary until designs have been submitted. We shall not be content with a building like this, where all the members have to share one room, where members cannot give a visitor a meal, except in a draughty gallery where one may nearly freeze to death, and where in the daytime the lights of the chambers have to be lit. If an Australian can produce a proper design, it will be accepted ; but we require the best we can get, whether it comes from Swede or Dane, from Quaker, Shaker, or Holy Roller. £45,000 is a contemptible amount with which to start a Federal Capital.
– Will the designs called for in open competition be submitted to Parliament?
– Certainly. We are the trustees of the people of Australia. If there is enough money, I shall put a weir across the Cotter to dam back the 47,000,000 gallons which are now daily running to waste.
– Why do that if the water is not needed?
– I wish to create a lake on which the honorable member can have a gondola to float about on.
– Not by damming the Cotter?
– I should like to dam both the Cotter and the Molonglo.
– There is no water in the Molonglo.
– We were nearly drowned there the other day. The water came into the buggy when we were crossing the stream. Then we must have roads to the Military College, which will be at some distance from the site of the Capital. We shall use station buildings temporarily, where we shall have these young gentlemen running.
– I hope that our soldiers will not run.
– Not from the enemy; but they will run about to make themselves fit. Soldiers ought to be athletes. At West Point the young fellows can be seen training.
– I suppose that the Naval College will be on a point running out into the lake.
– It will be in Sydney. As I said last night, it is for the purpose of taking in boys and turning them out admirals. In reply to the honorable member for Hume I would point out that the Postmaster-General, having very little money with which to finance the immense organization that he controls, finds it difficult within a few weeks after assuming office to erect new telephone lines all over Australia. If the surplus revenue, amounting to £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, that has been returned to the States had been devoted to the extension of services connected with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department great improvements would have been effected. But, after all, I ask the honorable member for Hume not to be in a hurry. In another year we shall have a grand national postal bank system which will give the Postmaster-General credit for a million, and he will thus be able to carry out many of the works for which honorable members ask.
– I have refrained from worrying this new Government with regard to their Estimates, but I wish to support the honorable member for Hume’s request that a strong forward policy should be adopted in regard to the extension of postal, telegraphic and telephonic facilities to the pioneers of the back-blocks. Ever since I have been in Parliament I have fought hard for them, and now that we have in office a brand new Government desirous of improving on the old order of things, I expect to see solid help extended to our pioneers. If it is not forthcoming the Government will have to hear very often from us. Older Governments did not enjoy the opportunities now offering. Enormous sums in the shape of surplus revenue were returned to the States, instead of being expended on the legitimate extension of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities. The underpayment of officers in contract and receiving offices is an absolute scandal, and really amounts to sweating. I hold that a minimum salary should be fixed.
– There is no item in. the Estimates relating to those officers.
– Then I shall not pursue the matter further. I trust that the policy of extending telephone and postal services will be vigorously carried on by the present Government, and that they will not insist upon these services being placed upon an absolutely payable basis. If they do insist upon that stipulation they will paralyze the granting of these facilities to country districts. Had such a policy been pursued in the early days the Commonwealth would not have been developed to the extent that it has been. I hope that we shall hear from the PostmasterGeneral with regard to the opening up of new services, and the fixing of a minimum salary in respect of those employed in contract and receiving offices. Coming to the question of the Federal Capital I sympathize with the honorable members who put up last night an elaborate “ stonewall “ against the selection of YassCanberra. The trouble seems to be that the bulk of them have not seen the site. Had they visited it they would not have made the statements that they did. My contention is that Parliament has gone so .far towards selecting Yass-Canberra that the Government are justified in placing on the Estimates this item of £45,000. I visited the Cotter River, because of the blackguarding to which it had been subjected in the newspapers.
– When did the honorable member visit it?
– When the camp was erected at Yass-Canberra by the honorable member for Coolgardie, who was then Minister of Home Affairs. At that time the river was at a very low ebb, yet the gauge which had been placed in it for some time showed that the average daily flow was 30,000,000 gallons. The water was as clear as crystal - so clear, indeed, that one could easily see the bed of the river. I would remind honorable members that there are alternative schemes for drawing upon the Murrumbidgee and the Molonglo for the water supply of the Capital, and I appeal to the opponents of the Yass-Canberra site to give it fair play and lo fight it upon a fair basis. It is generally admitted that the water supply of that site is admirable.
– Would the honorable member vote for a site that he had not seen?
– If I knew of a better site I should join with the honorable member for Maribyrnong in opposing the selection of Yass-Canberra, but of all the sites I have seen this is the best. Half of the Tooma site is in Victoria, and under the Constitution the Capital must be in New South Wales. The rich river flats of the Tooma site to which reference has been made are on the Victorian side of the Murray, and although I admired the beauty of the spot I recognised that we were up against an impossibility, since Victoria would not be likely to give away part of her territory to enable the Federal Capital to be established there. As for Dalgety, its crop of boulders and the violently cold winds which prevailed on the occasion of my visit to that site, made such an impression upon me that I should not vote for it under any consideration. The least said about the surrounding land the better. Reference has been made to the provision for defence purposes, and I wish to say at once that my only regret is that the vote is not larger. I trust that the Government will follow up their policy of making every provision for an effective defence system, and, having regard to the fruitful sources of revenue they are about to tap, there is no necessity for them, while doing that, to starve other services, and particularly those of the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– I wish to support the statement made by the honorable member for Hume, and to direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the exceedingly ungenerous way in which not only this Government, but previous Adminstrations, have treated the producers of Australia in the matter of telephonic communication. I know of producers living 12 or 15 .miles from a township where there is telegraphic communication, who are placed at a very great disadvantage, because they cannot follow the market fluctuations. In consequence they often suffer. The estimates of the Department in regard to the cost of constructing telephone lines are often very extravagant.
– And their estimates of revenue are exceedingly pessimistic.
– That is so. Very often the Department will specify materials altogether unnecessary to serve the purpose for which a line is required. In some instances the producers will put up with that, but they have to contend with the still more ungenerous treatment of the
Department in demanding a 10 per cent, guarantee. The State Governments almost without exception assist the producers by advancing money to provide facilities, for them, and in hardly any instance do they charge more than 4 per cent., or, at the very outside, 5 per cent. Yet the PostmasterGeneral’s Department insists in every instance that a line shall be made to pay anabsolutely full return or the concession wilt not be granted. If we are to proceed on those lines we shall never vigorously develop the outlying districts of the Commonwealth. I earnestly appeal to the Government not to be generous, but to be just, in this matter, and if they are, they wilt reduce these guarantees from 10 per cent, to 5 per cent. While they have an overflowing revenue they should extend that act: of justice to the producers.
– I would bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral the desirableness of linkingup the many dead ends of telegraph lines: that we have in the Commonwealth, and in. that way providing alternative routes. A fortnight ago a telegram was sent from Drake to Tenterfield, a distance of 32 miles, and it took twenty-six hours to reach its destination. It related to a case of severe illness, and upon inquiry I found that the reason for the delay was that the telegram, to reach its destination, 32 miles distant, was despatched over 370 miles to Sydney. The lines along the New England route were broken down, and the message had tobe sent by train to Tenterfield. Doubtless that is only one of many instances of the kind. There we have two dead ends only 32 miles apart, and all the traffic from the rivers to the New England district has to be despatched first of all to Sydney and then back along the New England route to Tenterfield. I ask the PostmasterGeneral to see if it is not possible to devise some general system of linking up these dead ends throughout Australia and thus to prevent our already overloaded lines being called upon to carry a vast amount of unnecessary traffic. I should like to emphasize what the honorable member for Hume and the honorable member for Wakefield have said with regard to the treatment of back-block settlers in the matter of telephone facilities. When taking up my duties as a member nothing surprised me more than the treatment meted out to the back block settlers with regard- to telephonic communication. The Department asks from them terms which it is absolutely impossible for them to agree to. They are expected, in many instances to find a large monetary deposit, to guarantee working expenses for seven and up to ten years, and often to provide anI erect the poles. It seems to me that the Department, in asking those terms, is endeavouring to choke the settlers off, because it is already overloaded with work. That should not be done.
– We have more moneyon the Estimates for that kind of work than any other Government has ever had.
– I am aware of that; and I also notice that the PostmasterGeneral has made provision for an extra number of linemen. Still, the settlers should not be asked these extravagant terms. Surely the Department can meet them in an ordinary spirit of generosity? Where there is a large amount of developmental work still to be done, and the Department can see that the line is bound to pay in the long run, no deposit, assistance, or guarantee should be demanded.
– Would the Minister of Home Affairs state what is proposed to be done with the £5,000 on the Estimates for the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie ? The Minister will not be able to do very much with that small amount. I should have liked to see a larger sum provided. It would look more reasonable for such a big work, and we ought to be able to spend more during the year. 1 should particularly like to know whether it is proposed to go on with the construction of the line next year. With regard to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, especially in the construction of telephone and telegraph lines, the present Government are, of course, not responsible for the existing system; and I hope we shall have a radical alteration. I can hardly define exactly what is meant by a contract office or a semiofficial office; but it seems to me that a. contract office is very nearly a semi-official office. Some one is asked to contract to supply a postal and telegraphic office, erect the building, and manage the business. The contractor is generally some person who has been a telegraphist, and has retired, or resigned, in order to undertake private work, but has not been able to make a success of it.
– Sometimes it is a widow.
– But not always. Sometimes the contractor employs help to do the work. The person keeps the office going for many years; and, as soon as the place goes ahead, and the office is made official, he is turned out. That is not a system which one could recommend or support. I have known instances where persons have been ten or fifteen years in a place and been turned out.
– What would the honorable member suggest?
– It is not for me to suggest anything. I know there are difficulties, but something ought to be done to prevent people being turned adrift after years of service.
– There is nothing in this measure dealing with contract postoffices. The honorable member will have a full opportunity to discuss that question on the general Estimates of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
– Then I shall deal with’ the guarantee system. The first thought in the minds of the officials of the Postal Department, when one asks for a work to be done, is to write and say that it cannot be done. They are terrible pessimists, and take no account of future prospects. No matter how flourishing a place may appear to be, unless the revenue will at once pay 10 per cent. on the amount to be expended, the expenditure being reckoned pretty high and the revenue very low, they suggest that the work cannot be done. We shall never build up a great country in that way. We shall have to be enterprising in building telegraph and telephone lines and giving other facilities to the public.
– It is strange that all these things lasted for so many years when the right honorable member was in power.
– There ought to be a little more enterprise exhibited by the Postmaster-General’s Department in building telegraphs and telephones, just as is shown in the building of railways. I have built railways to districts in which there was no one living, and great success has resulted.
– When the Department has sent down its Estimates in the past, have not the right honorable member and the honorable member for Hume cut them down ?
– At any rate, last year £100,000 more was granted than was spent. I am not finding fault, but trying to show where improvements can be made. We want a more enterprising spirit manifested by the Department in opening up new places by telegraphs and telephones. Because a work will not pay immediately, there is no reason why it should not be carried out. It used to be thought that a railway or a road could not be built to a place unless there was a lot of people there to use it, and the same idea seems to be entertained with regard to telegraphs and telephones. They should be regarded as the great civilizers and openers-up of the country. I hope the Postmaster-General will see what he can do in that direction, and not say “No” to every request that it is thought will not pay from the start. I am getting tired of sending on requests for works in this Department. If there is a possibility of saying “ No,” we can depend upon it that the officers of the Department, acting under some instruction and coercion, will say that they regret very much that the work does not seem to be a paying concern, and that they cannot recommend it. I have told the Deputy Postmaster-General and his officers in Western Australia that they often appear to me to be very pessimistic and not enterprising ; but they have to act under an authority and are not given a free hand. The Postmaster-General should use his power by giving facilities to the people who are going out to settle in the back country, so that the Commonwealth may be made to prosper. There is a great opening for some one to so administer that big Department as to give these facilities to all the agricultural districts. It will not be done by building a little line here or there. It must be carried out on some more broad, general and comprehensive plan. There is no reason why people should have to travel miles over bad roads, when they could use a telephone wire to do their business. The system could be also made to pay. In my own electorate there are millions of acres being brought under cultivation, and very little telephonic communication in all mat country. I had it in my mind before the election, but the fates decreed otherwise, to urge upon my colleague - and I am sure he would have agreed with me - to institute, not a pettifogging plan of giving a little here and there, but some general scheme for giving telephonic and telegraphic communication to all the agricultural districts of the Commonwealth. It is done in Canada and the United States, and can be done here. We have not looked at the matter yet from the stand-point of a basis sufficiently broad. If necessary, we ought to obtain the loan of an expert from Canada or the United States to institute a proper system, which would be not only a great advantage to the people, but would also pay.
– The vote of £5,000 towards the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie is simply to create a small organization, to purchase equipment, and to prepare a Bill which will be brought in next session for the building of the railway.
– On the very last page of the Estimates there are three relatively small items which mark a considerable departure. I am indebted to the representative of the Minister of Defence in this Chamber for the particulars, which go to show that it is proposed to establish three State factories for the manufacture of cloth, uniforms, and harness, saddlery, and leather accoutrements. Ultimately, I understand, it is intended that these should be situated in the Federal Capital district. In the case of the woollen and harness and saddlery factories, the total number of employe’s engaged is to be only 150. These appear to be very small undertakings with which to make so considerable a departure as is implied. The uniform factory will, it is true, employ 800 persons, with salaries and wages approximating £40,000 per annum. The two others, however, appear very small. Whether it is wise to make a change of this kind when there are to be found any number of factories in all the States which are certainly capable of supplying all these articles is a question which Parliament would do well to consider. Without going into the general issue of the nationalization or non-nationalization of any particular industry - a question which is far too serious to be dealt with in Committee at this stage of the Estimates - I may say that if nationalization is to be undertaken, surely it ought to be in regard to something worth while in which employment in the Con> monwealth is to be extended to more than 200 or 300 persons, and for which there is some special need. We have here set down for the equipment of these three industries a sum which, taking buildings, machinery, power, and stock together, runs into nearly £80,000. That might be a considerable investment for a private person, but it is very small for a national undertaking. Nor does it appear that there are any new fields for extension in military supplies.
Under the circumstances, what is there to call for, or justify, a step so serious, in which one can confidently say there will be no- saving of money, and in which there is no such extensive employment, opening up of new resources, or novelty of departure, as might under other conditions be held to demand such an advance ? I may be told that the very fact that they are on such a small scale is the one reason for undertaking them. If so, the Commonwealth will find itself saddled with a great many other business undertakings, for which precisely the same plea can be offered. In my mind, it is not anything like sufficient to justify the nationalization of an industry, or to make it worth while for the Commonwealth to put forth all its powers undertaking the many disabilities which must attend its entrance into ordinary commercial speculation, and into ordinary manufacturing undertakings. With all those difficulties, and with no prospect of any extension of those businesses worth mentioning. I am at a loss to understand the principle on which Ministers have proceeded in making a selection of these particular industries, or what expectation they have of gain to the Commonwealth as a whole. This is not the time to elaborate the matter further ; but I did not wish this particular item to pass without having invited Ministers to inform the Committee, as they have not yet informed us, of the cause which led to this relatively small expenditure, involving, however, very large responsibilities, when there is no evidence that any gain to the Commonwealth as a purchaser is likely to result.
– It is a step towards Socialism.
– But it is so small.
– It will prove infinitely dearer than going to the big manufacturers.
– I think so ; but, at any rate, these are only three small steps, with apparently no prospect of further development which might afterwards excuse the departure. We have three separate small enterprises, relatively costly, giving little employment, and paying a sum in wages which, in full ‘working, will not exceed £70,000 a year divided amongst 1,100 employes. This, for the Commonwealth of Australia, is trifling. The smallest State has many enterprises which it can conduct, or could conduct, within its borders, giving a far greater range of employment and prospects of expansion. Why those three particular investments of Commonwealth money should be chosen, and those three separate responsibilities, the Committee ought to understand. I see that a proposal was submitted for the starting of a boot factory, but was put aside, evidently because the requirements are too small.
– This is rather getting beyond the question.
– I do not propose to press it further, except to say that the business in relation to woollens, harness, and saddlery, offer no greater prospect than that afforded by the boot industry, and yet only the latter was put aside as not being a business-like proposal. Why was this rejected and not two out of the three others.? The third industry does at least employ 800 and pay about £40,000 a year in wages, as against £15,000 a year in the other cases. First of all, the taxpayer will obtain no advantage, because, under the most favorable circumstances, the goods: will not be supplied any more cheaply, nor is there any reason to expect better quality.. Especially in the case of saddlery and. uniforms, the departmental inspection canbe made as close and searching as we please. The number of persons to beemployed is not considerable, nor are they, apparently, to be remunerated at more than the standard rate of wages. If this work were not done in Government factories, it would be done in other factories employing: Australian citizens, and paying practically the same wages under practically the sameconditions.
– It pays the New South. Wales Government to have their own clothing factory.
– But that is on a considerable scale.
– On a smaller scale thani this.
– How much a year in. wages does it represent?
– I do not know: but thebusiness is smaller than this.
– The clothing, here represents only £15,000 a year in wages. Are there fewer than 150 employes in theNew South Wales factory?
– Not more.
– We have a right to expect more in the case of the Commonwealth, where the costs of carriage and distribution will be heavy. It is not as if we were beginning some enterprise that would become profitable.
– There are 100,000 men to clothe !
– But 1,100 persons would be employed in clothing them if contracts were called in the ordinary way. I see a good deal of risk, trouble, and expenditure for very small results, and in ways that offer no hope of ultimately justifying an investment which is certainly not justifiable now.
– The Government are not embarking on this scheme because it may be considered a socialistic enterprise, and they are not afraid of the scheme because it may be dubbed Socialistic. The Government has undertaken the responsibility of establishing three factories, because in the opinion of its advisers that is necessary. In the past it has been found difficult to clothe the troops in the manner desired. In some cases contractors who have accepted contracts for supplying material have put the work aside when they are busy with other
Orders, and in other cases inferior articles are supplied. Last year a Committee, consisting of two representatives of the Military Forces and two officers of the Postal Department, went thoroughly into the matter, and this proposal is to give effect to some of its recommendations.
– Is the establishment of a woollen cloth factory one of the recommendations ?
– The proposals in the Bill substantially give effect to the opinions of the experts.
– The difficulty to which the honorable member refers could be got over by putting a time condition in the contracts.
– The Department has failed to obtain satisfaction in the past from its dealings with private firms. These factories are not being established for the purpose of embarking on a new industry, but because it is desirable to make this provision for the manufacture of cloth for the troops and equipment for the horses.
– The position could be met by a time condition, and a stipulation regarding quality.
– It is easy for the honorable member to say that, but the officers of the Department think that the estab lishment of factories is necessary. There is a State clothing factory in New South Wales.
– I do not consider that it has been a success.
– I am informed that it is able to compete with private firms.
– The honorable member knows how the balance-sheets of State institutions are made up. An instance was exposed in connexion with the Cockatoo Dock inquiry.
– The late Minister of Defence wished for information on this subject, and I interpret his present attitude of indifference as one of concurrence with what is proposed.
– The all-night sitting has had more to do with it.
– Can the report which the Minister has referred to be made public?
– I shall sHow it to the honorable member when I have finished with it. The Committee reported that better uniforms could be obtained at no greater, and probably at less, cost than at present, and that prices would be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. At present there are considerable anomalies. In all cases the material and workmanship must be of high standard. The labour conditions will be an improvement on those which prevail in private employment. Those responsible for providing clothing say that their experience proves that the establishment of the proposed factories will result in economy and greater efficiency.
– It is gratifying, if believable, to hear from the Minister that these factories are not to be started in order to embark upon a Socialistic enterprise, but because of the difficulties of the Department in obtaining proper supplies from private manufacturers. It seems to me that these difficulties could be met by the application of ordinary business principles, requiring the delivery of orders at fixed dates, and stipulating that the quality of the articles supplied should be equal to given samples. The difficulties of which the Department complains are really not difficulties, and have to be overcome by business men every day in their commercial lives. People who have buildings to erect, ships to build, or articles to be manufactured, always fix a time within which the work must be completed, and there are heavy penalties for any breach of the conditions. It is quite open to the Government to secure the manufacture of woollens and the making of clothing by contract, with time conditions and penalties similar to those which ordinary business people provide for. I cannot understand why the Minister should allow his officers to assure him that those two conditions, which are complied with in ordinary business life, cannot be complied with in respect to Government contracts. Why should the Minister, in consequence of statements made to him by his officers, allow himself to be induced to make this departure - which the Leader of the Opposition has so properly commented upon - on such flimsy grounds ? If the Government are not desirous of entering upon these industries as Socialistic experiments, they should take the ordinary precautions practised by business people. If a person makes a contract for the manufacture of 100,000 yards of woollen cloth, it is the easiest thing in the world to call for tenders and include in them the condition that the work shall be done by a certain date. If the contractor fails to supply the goods on the date prescribed, heavy penalties could easily, and should be, insisted upon to prevent a repetition. If the question at issue be one of quality, what is more easy than to provide that the work shall be done subject to the approval of an outside authority, holding a position analogous to that of an architect, who should approve of the goods before delivery is accepted and payment made ?
– Are not such conditions included in contracts at present?
– If so, the Department cannot be enforcing them. I am speaking of matters with which I have frequently had to do. I have occupied the position of Minister at the head of the largest spending Department in the largest State in Australia, and during some years I had to deal with millions of pounds’ worth of railway and other contracts. I took care that an example should be occasionally made of some contractors by rigidly enforcing penalties imposed upon them for breaches of conditions. The business principles which are applicable to the building of a railway or a store should be applied equally to the manufacturer of clothing. If the only two principles upon which the Government base the departure are those which have been mentioned, all I can say is that they are highly unsophisti cated, which I doubt, in allowing their officers to delude them.
.- It is to be regretted that an important innovation like this should be sprung upon honorable members under cover of an item in the Works Estimates. Such a proposition ought to have been presented in a definite form, in accordance with a proper scheme. Two proposals are involved - one for the creation of a woollen mill, and the second for the establishment of a clothing factory for the conversion of cloth into garments. When I was at the head of the Post and Telegraph Department, it was my duty to consider the report to which the Acting Minister has referred. I am not aware whether it contained anything about the creation of a Federal woollen mill ; but it certainly contained a recommendation for the establishment of a clothing factory. I made inquiries particularly with reference to the economical production of uniforms. I consulted some of the principal manufacturing firms in Australia, who had been supplying uniforms to the Department. They challenged the suggestion that a Federal clothing factory could turn out uniforms cheaper than they had hitherto been produced. They supplied me with figures which showed that it would be impossible for a Commonwealth factory to do the work more satisfactorily than it had been done by private firms. They also challenged the suggestion that contractors had been neglectful of their undertakings in connexion with Federal contracts. They said they always regarded work done for the Commonwealth as a very important branch of their business. They denied the allegation or suggestion that they had ever neglected the wants of the Departments. It stands to reason that great manufacturing firms competing for public and private patronage would be only too ready to make every effort to supply- the wants of our great Departments in respect of quality, promptitude, and cheapness. I know nothing about supplies for the Defence Department, but I certainly looked into the subject carefully as it affected the Post and Telegraph Department. 1 satisfied myself that there was no necessity whatever for launching upon an experiment of this kind, and that there was no occasion to depart from existing arrangements. No doubt the Government will carry their proposal, but I am satisfied the Departments will be no better off than they have hitherto been, whilst, on the other hand, a large number of firms will be seriously interfered with. If they lose a large quantity of the business which they have hitherto been obtaining from the public Departments they may have to” dispense with a number of hands, a serious blow may be struck at their industry, and’ an injustice may be done to private enterprise. Many contractors have laid themselves out for a number of years to supply the wants of public Departments. They have equipped their factories with machinery, trained expert hands, and competed for public contracts. They will now be left in the lurch. At the same time, there will be no gain whatever to any public institution.
.- The Government might reasonably consider their liabilities to others before they commence to enter into industrial works. Last night I expressed my regret that provision was not made on the Estimates for the payment of compensation to owners of certain small cottages near Fort Forrest, North Fremantle. The matter has been the subject of correspondence for two or three years. These cottages, which are owned by poor people, are damaged by the firing of the big guns in the fort. The ceilings are brought down, the walls are shaken, and the very door frames are thrown out of plumb by the firing. On 15th August last, I wrote to the Minister of Defence, asking what had been done in the matter, and in reply received from him the following letter, dated Melbourne, 17th August: -
Dear Mr. Hedges,
With reference to yours of 15th inst. relative to Mr. Fitzgerald’s property at Fremantle, I find that certain reports have been received from the Commandant, Western Australia, and these have been forwarded on to the Minister for Home Affairs, as that Department deals with questions of land. i have, therefore, sent your letter on to the Minister for Home Affairs.
The claim of these people was thus practically acknowledged. On 20th August, I received the following letter from the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs : -
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 15th instant, which has been forwarded to me by. direction of the Minister for Defence, and, in reply, desire to inform you that this Department has given consideration to the matter of acquiring the premises which have been damaged by gun-fire at Fremantle, Western Australia, and the Treasurer has now been asked to amend the Esti- mates for the current financial year, to allow of provision being made for the purchase of the properties affected.
If that was not a definite statement that provision would be made on the Estimates for the purchase of these properties, I do not know what would be so construed. I sent a copy of this letter to the persons concerned, and I think that I am entitled to an explana’tion as to the reason why an item does not appear on the Estimates in respect of this matter. If money can be found to establish new industries, and to build stables for imaginary horses, surely we can afford to find money with which to meet our just obligations.
– I told the honorable member last night that I would submit the case to the Treasurer to-day. I had not an opportunity to do so; but I shall bring it before him to-morrow.
– I have here another letter on the subject, addressed by the Secretary for the Department of Home Affairs to the Secretary for the Department of Defence, and dated 29th August -
With reference to your B/c communication of the 8th instant on the subject of damage of buildings by gun-fire, North Fremantle, asking that steps be taken to acquire the property in question, I have the honour to inform you that the papers were referred to the Commonwealth Treasury with a view to obtaining the Treasurer’s authority to provide the amount in the current year’s Estimates, and that a reply has been received to the effect that the Treasurer has decided that this matter must be held in abeyance.
In the first place, the promise was made that an item would be placed on the Estimates to provide for the purchase of this property, and now we are told that the matter must be held in abeyance. We are asked to agree to votes for the establishment of new State industries - to create new obligations - and yet the Government are not prepared to meet their old obligations. Before hitting out in a new direction, the Government ought to take care to.deal fairly with a matter of this kind.
.- I am given to understand that in the Defence scheme submitted by the late Government, provision was made to carry out the very proposal of the present Administration to establish factories for the manufacture of the accoutrements, saddlery, and certain other things required in connexion with the Defence Force.
– I think that a proposal was made in regard to only one matter.
– The present Administration as a Labour Government would have failed in their duty had they not made a provision of this character for the State manufacture of the accoutrements and clothing required for military purposes. These are special lines, and can be better manufactured by the Department itself than by outside firms. Perhaps it is not generally known that the British Government have their own factories for the manufacture of clothing for the British troops.
– They do not manufacture the woollens.
– To my own knowledge the British Government have had a factory for the supply of clothing to the British troops for forty-five years. As a boy I passed the gates of the establishment day after day, and I think that if we are to have an effective defence system, it is necessary that we should have some means of manufacturing the clothing and accoutrements required for the use of the troops and their officers. Once the industry is established honorable members will be satisfied that the Government have done the right thing in providing factories where the troops may be equipped and clothed in a way suitable to the Australian climate. The honorable member for Parkes has said that the British Government do not manufacture their own woollens, but my contention is that it will be to the credit of Australia if,’ as the Government propose, the clothing worn by our troops is made by Australians from Australian wool.
– I do not object to that, but I object to the State establishing a woollen factory when there are other people devoting their whole time to that branch of industry, and, perhaps, putting the whole of their capital into it.
– This Government came into power not to slavishly follow old lines, but where necessary to establish precedents. This is a proposal that the Government were bound to carry out, and I am pleased that they have decided to do so. It will lead to considerable savings, enable a better article to be supplied to our troops, and thus tend to the sound defence of Australia.
.- I regret that this proposal is being made. When the Tariff was under discussion it was pointed out that there was very great difficulty in connexion with the establishment of a woollen factory. Certain conditions of climate and water supply are conducive to the success of such establishments, and much skill and experience are also necessary. In some of the States successes have been achieved under very disadvantageous conditions. I know that in South Australia a factory has been established at Lobethal, and that it has-been brought to a very high degree of perfection after experiments extending over thirty years. It is now acknowledged that its output is very fine. It seems to me very unfair that Government competition should now be started without the smallest regard to the fair reward which the proprietors of that factory ought to get for the skill and enterprise which they have shown, and ignoring the fact that it may take many years, perhaps thirty years, for the same perfection to be obtained under Government experimentation.
– Provision was made for the establishment of a factory under the Defence Bill which was brought in by the Government of which the honorable gentleman was a member.
– I am quite aware’ of that, and it shows the absurdity of the Ministerial policy. In the Defence Act of last year there is a provision enabling the Commonwealth, if driven to do so, to establish a factory for the equipment of troops. That was a proper reserve power to take, because in a time of stress the Commonwealth ought not to be left at the mercy of any private firms. But it is most absurd to say that, because such power was taken in the Defence Act, the Government should ask for a vote to put the provision in operation at once. They are not only ignoring the reasonable claims of factories which started under disadvantageous conditions, but going back on a policy which was established two or three years ago of, as far as possible, allowing the supplies for the Departments to be provided by the enterprise of each State. I think that as regards the supply of harness and various equipments it was decided some years ago that, other things being equal, the articles ought to be furnished by local firms. The present proposal will lead to a very high degree of centralization, and I believe that, as a result of its operation, the Government operations will in time not be confined to the mere equipment of the army. That has been the experience of some States in connexion with engineering. They started an industry to meet railway requirements, but after a while they went in for the manufacture of pipes, until eventually some local firms which had been getting a share of the Government contracts were practically brought to ruin, and one or two had to close up owing to the unfair competition of Government enterprise. I hope that the Government will, even though the vote was passed in the early hours of this morning, reconsider the matter, because the adoption of this policy must lead to a degree of centralization which I am sure they would be the first to declare unfair, and it may result in the destruction of minor industries which are generally beneficial. i may mention that at Lobethal good wages are paid, and the conditions of living are quite ideal. If the Government would only give a fair opportunity to firms of that character I am sure that all their contracts would be fairly met. They could give their orders in the future with a degree of certainty which would enable private firms to extend their machinery. We have an army of about 23,000 men, and the Minister of Defence expects that in six or seven years we shall have to meet the necessities of 127,000. Will that not be a very great inducement to firms to extend their operations? Does it not indicate that the Government can in the future give contracts with such regularity in the various States that capitalists will be tempted to extend the operations of the present factories? I think that in the circumstances it will be a very great mistake for the Government to push this vote unnecessarily into operation.
.- I am quite in accord with the decision of the Government to start these three factories. I had the misery of bringing under the notice of the Minister of Defence a scandalous abuse of power by a large clothing manufacturer in Melbourne. I refer to the case of three sisters, of fine education, who eked out a livelihood by making badges for the military. Their tender was accepted by the Defence Department, which inserted in its contracts with clothing manufacturers a condition that they must obtain all badges from that source. Did the large contractors do so? No. They broke their contracts, and have not yet been punished. But I hope that a Select Committee will be appointed later to inquire into the conduct ofpersons who are acknowledged to have defrauded and helped to ruin the women I refer to by unjustly importing badges, which, I believe, were admitted duty free because they were attached to uniforms. I have to thank the Minister of Trade and Customs for making some inquiries, which tended to expose the firm of Lincoln, Stuart, and Company. I am sorry that my friend, Mr. Frank Stuart, is not in Melbourne, so that I could reveal to him the infamy which this wealthy company has perpetrated in ruining three young women who are. living in East Melbourne. I know that they will be quite willing to earn £1 a week. Any honorable member can see some samples of the splendid work which they do, if he doubts my statement. There is not one Commandant but considers that their badges are splendid, yet, forsooth, the power of money is exercised against them. A manufacturer, who is pretty well known in connexion with the six-hatters’ myth - Anderson, I believe, by name - approached these three ladies, and said to them, “It is of no use for you to fight against us; we have the money, and can crush you ; you had better not compete against us in New South Wales, if you do, we shall agree upon a sum, and submit it to the Department.” Previously to that, the Department had been paying a much larger sum for the badges. The women replied, “ No, we have been treated fairly by the Department, and we shall not enter into an arrangement with you.” The files in the Department show that they complained to the Minister of the day. But because, forsooth, the evidence was not considered sufficiently strong by an AttorneyGeneral who for a little time graced the Treasury bench, but who, I am glad to say, will be in the limbo of oblivion for a very long time, a prosecution against that large contractor has not taken place. If we establish a Government factory, these or other women can obtain employment there, and will not be crushed out of existence by large firms. Unless the De- ‘partment take steps to prevent the recurrence of such infamies as that which I have related, strong measures may have to be taken. Had these ladies, instead of being loyal to the Department, adopted the usual business tactics, and joined with two firms, they would have had. a large sum coming in every year. I do not know what the Department intends to do, but I hope that when the stress of business has passed by, the AttorneyGeneral will do what his predecessor was not manly enough to ‘do - punish firms who have broken their contracts.
Every contract entered into with the Defence Department contains a penalty clause, which should be enforced if necessary, even if those concerned are large manufacturers like Lincoln, Stuart, and Company, of Melbourne, or the Andersons, of Sydney. I hope we shall ultimately make in the State factory the uniform for every Government servant who requires it, whether -he is employed in the Defence, Postal, or Railway Departments, which I hope will soon come under the control of the Federation. I hope this will be only a commencement, so that every uniform worn by Australian public servants will be made by men working under Government employment, and free from sweating influences.
.- The item of £5,000 towards the establishment of a woollen cloth factory will, I hope, not be gone on with. It is evidently only the first instalment of a large sum which will be required to carry out a project that will seriously affect all those who have been induced by our Tariff and other protective measures to invest large sums of money in the making of woollens in Australia. This is no time for the Government to invade that trade. They will have enough to do to look after the other parts of their defence scheme, and they can well afford to drop this move towards the establishment of a cloth factory. Not long ago a woollen factory was established at Marrickville, and I believe that English capital is now coming out for the establishment of woollen mills at Launceston and Hobart. It is not treating fairly those people who are embarking in enterprises of that sort, which will use a large quantity of Australian wool, and employ many Australian workmen, to establish a Government factory to compete with them. Although the item was passed last night, I think inadvertently, I hope the Ministry will recognise that the matter may well be held over for some time, if not for good.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Appropriation of Supply).
.- I suppose the proposal to nationalize the making of uniforms is part of the Government policy, but it seems to be a very adroit way of introducing the business into the House, and is somewhat on a par with what was done last night, by authorizing the building of the Federal Capital by means of a vote of £50,000. While the Government appear to be anxious to recognise the necessities of rifle clubs and new telephonic ser vices, I regret that the amount of money provided for those two objects is not keeping pace with the enormous developments in those directions throughout Australia. The amount voted in -1909-10 for new rifle clubs was £18,000, but this year it is only £12,000. We must build up the rifle clubs if we are to have an efficient Defence Force, because, by their means, we bring in a large number who will not be drafted into the regular troops or trained under the compulsory system. The previous Minister of Defence gave the subject the greatest attention, and if he had remained in power, there would have been a considerable development in that direction, but I regret to see, from the amount of money provided, that it is not the intention of the present Government to push on as they should with this important branch of our defence equipment. The vote ought to be considerably increased. Almost every country member knows that rifle clubs in distant parts have the greatest difficulty in finding ranges for shooting practice. There was an enormous increase last year in the revenue of the Postmaster-General’s Department, yet the additional amount for new services and the extension of telephones is only £688,000 this year, as against an additional amount °f £s64.-°°o last year. I admit that that is a substantial increase, but it is altogether insufficient.
– I think that the honorable member ought to take into consideration the amount which was unexpended last year.
– In my opinion, the unexpended balance is not a matter which ought to be taken into our consideration. Seeing that a certain proportion of the amount voted last year was unexpended, it is only reasonable to suppose that a proportion of the amount which appears on the Estimates for the current financial year will be unexpended. I wish to support the statement of the honorable member for Richmond that the conditions which obtain in respect of the extension of telephonic services in country districts should be liberalized. Whilst I recognise that the Department has been doing its utmost to meet the requirements of rural residents in this connexion, I think that the conditions which it has imposed have been altogether too exacting. Where services promise to be remunerative within a period of five or six years, the Department should be prepared to accept the guarantee of residents to indemnify it against loss, and consequently it ought to be willing to abolish the .10 per cent, charge which il now makes. I understand that the PostmasterGeneral has power, by means of regulation, to liberalize the conditions under which telephonic services can be provided in various districts. These are the only two matters upon which I desired to speak, and I hope that they will receive special attention.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Schedule, preamble, and title agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill, by leave, read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 10.49 p-m*
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19100908_reps_4_57/>.