4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 3).
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
Referred to Committee of Supply. “
–I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether the latter is aware that .the
Australian Coronation contingent of cadets arrived in Melbourne yesterday, and were in the grounds of Parliament House, and, if so, did he intend a slight upon them by not being present to see them?
– I presume that the honorable member bases his question on a paragraph appearing in one of to-day’s newspapers ?
– That is so.
– Having read that paragraph, I spoke to the Minister of Defence on the subject, and ascertained that not only was he not invited to be present yesterday, but was not even notified that it was intended that the cadets, who are under the command of the gallant and muchadvertised Major Wynne, would visit Parliament House.
– Is it not a fact that Major Wynne tried on several occasions to see the Prime Minister with regard to the cadets coming here?
– I have no knowledge of such attempts to see me. While the body of the late Minister of External Affairs was being put into the train at Spencer-street last Monday, Major- Wynne saw me momentarily, said that he had arrived, and asked if I could see the cadets. My reply was that I was not then in a condition to see any one. Under no other circumstances and on no other occasions, has Major Wynne’s name been mentioned to me since.
– In view of the need for wireless telegraph stations on the Australian coast, is it the intention of the Government to provide one in Melbourne, and, if so. when?
– It is intended to establish a wireless telegraph station in Melbourne. The Government wrote -to the Government of Victoria, asking for permission to use the Exhibition Building for the purpose, but it was not thought advisable to grant our request, and our wireless expert is now under instructions to obtain as soon as possible a site in or near Melbourne. Tomorrow he and an officer from the Department of Home Affairs will endeavour to fix upon such a site, and he assures me that, within five weeks after the site has been determined upon, he will be able to erect the necessary installation, and that practically all the plant, with the exception of the engine for generating the electricity, will be made in Australia.
– Seeing that Hobart, owing to its berthing facilities for ocean-going steamers, is fast becoming one of the most important shipping ports in the Commonwealth, will the Postmaster General take into consideration the advisableness of establishing a wireless telegraph station on Mount Nelson or some other site near Hobart?
– I am extremely anxious that our expert should erect the Melbourne installation first. When that has been completed, I shall instruct him to take into consideration the advisableness of providing a wireless telegraph station in or near Hobart.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Postmaster-General’s Department - First Annual Report.
Ordered to be printed.
Sugar Industry - Copy of Letters Patent appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into and report upon the Sugar Industry in Australia.
Excise Act - Beet Sugar Regulations - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 156.
Shale Oils Bounties Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 137.
Spirits Act - Regulation - Standard for Industrial Spirits - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 160.
– Is it true that the Australian, British, and American architects decline to submit competitive designs for the Capital? If so, will the Minister reconsider his determination regarding the judging of designs, and take into consideration the advisableness of appointing a committee of experts to do this work?
– I see by the newspapers that there is some talk about the matter, but, as I have already stated on several occasions, town planning does’ not come solely within the province of architects, since architects, surveyors, and engineers are all interested. It is true that the suggestion has been made that I should bring an architect, from England and another from America, but it is not intended to do that. When the designs have been sent in, we shall appoint a Board consisting of an Australian architect, an Australian engineer, and an Australian surveyor, all members of Australian institutes, to judge the designs. If one of die professions concerned starts a boycott, I cannot help it. It is their idea of preference to unionists.
– Does not the Minister consider it advisable to appoint the committee and to let the names of the judges “be known, before designs are called foi ?
– 1 trust that we shall not introduce Tammany Hall methods out here.
– Referring to the answer given by the Minister of Home Affairs to the question put to him hy the honorable member for Capricornia, I desire to ask the honorable gentleman whether he expects to receive any designs from experts in other parts of the world, in view of their expressed determination to refrain from submitting any under the terms and conditions of the competition? In any case, will the Minister say what purpose will be served by delaying the appointment of a Board of adjudication? Will he not take into consideration the advisableness of reassuring those- who have been invited to compete as to the competency and absolute impartiality of the Board that is to be appointed?
– I desire to emphasize the point that town planning is principally the work, not of architects, but of engineers and surveyors. The work of the architect in that connexion is superficial. When we call for designs for buildings at the Federal Capital, the work of the architect will come into play, but it would be preposterous to talk of postponing this matter at the present stage. I desire to build the Capital, but apparently the honorable member does not.
– I certainly do not wish to postpone the work.
– In view of the fact that Mr. Howard has been conspicuously successful in the work of laying out garden cities in England, will the Minister of Home Affairs consider the desirableness of inviting him to assist in the work of laying out the Federal Capital?
– That matter may be considered a little later on ; but we are not yet ready to take action in regard to it.
– By way of personal explanation, may I state that when I asked the Minister of Home Affairs a certain question a few moments ago, I had no desire to suggest that Tammany Hall methods, whatever they may be, should be introduced into Australian politics. I do not pretend to know exactly what they are. I wish, however, to ask the Minister whether he himself is going to undertake the work of adjudicating upon any designs that are submitted? There seems to be an impression on the part of architects that the Minister is going to take upon himself that judicial duty.
– No. I am not going to be the artistic judge. The three gentlemen whom I intend to appoint will judge the designs, and the decision of the Government will be final.
– Will the Prime Minister procure and lay on the table of the House a progress report in regard to exploration and general investigation work in the Northern Territory up to date?
– I shall ask the Minister for External Affairs, when he is appointed, to obtain all the information possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that Commander Clarkson has been offered the choice of one of two positions - (a) in connexion with the Small Arms Factory;
If so, has Commander Clarkson yet decided which position he will accept?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - i and 2. Engineer-Captain Clarkson was sent abroad to supervise the arrangements for the supply of machinery and tools for the Small Arms Factory, and it was proposed by Sir Thomas Ewing (the then Minister of Defence) that, when the time came for the appointment of a manager to the factory, Engineer-Captain Clarkson should be appointed if considered competent to undertake its management. EngineerCaptain Clarkson subsequently stated he would prefer to retain his connexion with the Naval Forces. On the reconstitution of the Naval Board on the lines recommended by Admiral Henderson, the position of third naval member was created., and it was offered by Senator Pearce to Engineer-Captain Clarkson, who has since been appointed to the position in question.
Commonwealth and State Action
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
As the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides for joint action on the part of the Commonwealth and States to secure common electoral rolls, will the Minister inform the House if any steps have been taken in this regard?
– Yes. The fullest representations have been made to the whole of the States. A common electoral roll is in existence in Tasmania, and the electoral law of Western Australia has recently been amended, with a view to facilitating similar action in that State. The official representatives of the other States have affirmed the desirableness of a common roll, and further action now awaits State legislation.
Emergency Batteries - Contract for Pennant Hills and Fremantle Installations - H.M.A. Ships “ Parra- matta “ and “yarra.”
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Sydney Bulletin, and Mr. Wheeler, of the same paper, members of the original contracting syndicate ?
– The answers tothe honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Accommodation for Employes. Mr. CANN asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Is he aware that there is insufficient accommodation at Lithgow for the employe’s at the Small Arms Factory?
If so, will he take immediate steps to have workmen’s cottages erected in order to provide the necessary accommodation.
I have been informed that such is the case.
The matter is under consideration.
– By leave of the1 House, I should like to submit a motion providing for the postponement of the consideration of private members’ business, in order that a Supply Bill may first be submitted and dealt with. This course is necessary, owing to a day’s delay in the consideration of business due to circumstances over which, as honorable members are aware, we had no control.
– Where is the Budget?
– The Budget will be delivered on this day fortnight.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister have leave to submit a motion?
- Mr. Speaker-
– Do I understand that the honorable member objects?
– I asked last night what was proposed to be done.
– I did not remember it.
– This business can be taken only with the full consent of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that leave be granted?
– May I ask the Prime Minister what order of business he proposes after the Supply Bill is disposed of?
– The other business will come on as usual, in the order of the notice-paper.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that leave be granted ?
– I object.
– Would those who have control of private members’ business agree to postpone it until later in the day, as
I want to send the Supply Bill away by the train?
– If we are allowed time later on, that will suit me.
– I am willing to postpone my business until a later hour of the day.
Orders of the Day No. 1, Nationalization of Distribution, resumption of debate on motion by Mr. Frank Foster; No. 2, Armed Foreign Merchant Ships, resumption qf debate on motion by Mr. Kelly; and No. 3, Banking Companies Reserve Liabilities Bill, further consideration in Committee, postponed until a later hour in the day.
Budget - Estimates - Supply Bills - Workmen’s Compensation Act - Federal Capital - Liverpool MANOEUVRE Area - Advertising Australia - Immigration - Coronation Contingent of Cadets - Meteorological Department : Weather Forecasts - Sugar Commission - Northern Territory Expenditure - Literary Fund - Commander Clarkson - Small Arms Factory Contract - Defence Administration - Director of Physical Training - Independent Press Cable. Service - Collapse of Scaffold in Sydney - Temporary Employes : Post and Telegraph Department - Postal Accommodation, North Sydney - Shortage of Labour Commission, New South Wales. Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair and the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay- Prime Minister and Treasurer) [2.55]. - I move -
That a sum not exceeding ^1,409,534 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 19,12.
The delay in bringing forward this Bill was caused by circumstances over which neither party had control. My desire is to have it passed through the other House, so that it may go to Sydney by the train to-night if possible. There is no new principle in it. It is for two months’ Supply, on the same, basis as last year’s expenditure, with the exception of the following items, which are different: - Interest on Port Augusta Railway, not provided in 1910-11, ,£46,000;’ interest on Northern Territory loans, voted’ for six months only in 1910-11, £50,000; cables and European mails, remittance to London being necessary before payments are due, .£30,000; Post Office, increases in staff, which became effective during the latter part only of last year, £80,000 ; and Defence, the establishment of factories, &c, and increased personnel, not provided for the whole year, including universal training, £206,000 ; or a total of £412,000.
– It is not proposed to go on with the Treasurer’s Advance at that rate to the end of the year. The Treasurer’s Advance is simply to carry on the usual works that are now going on, mostly by day labour.
– Until the Works and Buildings Estimates are passed?
– Yes. It is not’ proposed to handle the Treasurer’s Advance free from the control of Parliament. When Parliament deals with the Works and Buildings Estimates it will deal with every penny of that money. I regret as much as anybody the delay in bringing forward the Budget.
– - The first and important point is that this Bill is for two and not for one month’s Supply. The Prime Minister’s invitation to the House to put its business aside in order to allow Supply to be granted would be perfectly legitimate in order to meet any needs of the public treasury, but the granting of two months’ Supply is going far beyond that.
– We always gave two months’ Supply on the second occasion.
– Yes, but that was always after the Budget had been introduced and the financial policy of the Government announced.
– .1 do not think so, but I will not dogmatize.
– Nor will I, but my impression is that two months’ Supply has rarely been asked for at this stage. This is the second Supply Bill introduced this session, and we are still some distance ‘from the Budget. I feel, therefore, that the Treasurer has gone beyond the legitimate needs of the situation. He would have found it very easy to get a month’s Supply now, as he found it easy before. Moreover, each of the additional items of expenditure, which are specially noted, such as the interest on the Port Augusta Railway and on the Northern Territory loans, and sums for cables and European mails, suggest various inquiries ; while the increase in the staff of the Post Office and the enlarging of the Defence Department by the establishment of factories and additional personnel are serious matters.
– They are simply following on what took place and was provided for at the end of last year.
– Yes, but I am afraid that we must ask for some explanation about these new and large sums. That is what I did not desire, but they really represent an extraordinary advance. The House has not yet assented to the particular proposals towards which these amounts go, except in the broadest way. If it is argued that, the broad principle of defence being accepted, everything else can be deduced, it will lead to depriving this House of that control of the financial operations of the Government which it has always cherished.
– These items are for continuing work which was partly provided for up to the end of the last financial year.
– Then there are no new outlays ?
– No new policy is involved ; it is a continuation of the old items.
– The sums are very large.
– I admit it.
– If the honorable member were on this side of the House we should hear a great deal more about them. I remember the vigilance with which every trifling item was scrutinized whenever we asked for Supply.
– There is a much larger question than the one already raised, and that is whether this House is to retain command of the finances. The Prime Minister is asking us to vote altogether five months’ Supply before the Budget for the year is submitted. It is ridiculous to expect that we can do anything with the Estimates after we have spent five months’ Supply. I have never known in all my experience, either in State or Federation, of so much Supply being asked for before the finances of the year have been outlined ; and I doubt whether there is a precedent to be found in any part of the Empire. To be asked for another two months’ Supply seems to me an outrageous suggestion ; and what we are thinking of I do not pretend to know. It seems to me that all criticism of the finances is going to the winds. I should have liked to hear the Prime Minister himself on this side of the House discuss a similar proposal. I have heard him on a second Supply Bill for a month fulminate on this side for a very long time, and declare that all sorts of unheardof proceedings were contemplated. He is now coolly asking us to vote half the Supplies for the year before he has submitted any estimates of the year’s requirements. The right honorable gentleman has not yet told us why the Budget is so unduly delayed ; and in this he is making another record. Never has the Budget been delayed to so late a period. The only previous occasion on which it was anything like so late was during his previous term of office as Treasurer.
– What year was that?
– In 1908, when the Budget was introduced on 14th October.
– I was not then in office.
– Whoever was in office, a remarkable state of things is disclosed. We have had the Budget delivered as early as 31st July. That was in 1906; and we had the Budget at that early date, although the House met only on 7th June. We used to be very sensitive about these matters, but now we appear to have grown callous, and dead, apparently, to the country’s interest, allowing the Government to control the finances without proper parliamentary sanction. I, for one, protest against the proposal to grant two months’ more Supply before the Budget has been introduced. I should like to know why two months’ is required, and why the Budget is so late in making its appearance.
– I make no complaint of the criticisms of the Leader of the Opposition or the honorable member for Parramatta. Two months’ Supply is asked for simply in order to obviate our coming down every month for Supply on the basis of the ordinary services of last year. I did not think there would be any opposition; ar3, at any rate, the granting of Supply for two months is rather in favour of honorable members opposite and against the Government, because if any accident were to take place, the new Government would be given a better opportunity.
– Is the Prime Minister holding out hope tq us?
– I always sit easily in any position, having my own mind and ideas to guide me. At any rate, the Opposition cannot hope to convert their minority into a majority in this House, though, of course, they may have an opportunity elsewhere sooner or later. 1’he honorable member for Parramatta was quite in error when he spoke of my having introduced a late Budget on a previous occasion. That was done by a predecessor of mine ; and the illustration rather tells in my favour than against me, because the circumstances of 1908 were very similar to those of this year. We then had the visit of the American Fleet, which we were all pleased to welcome; and, though all the Ministers were in the Commonwealth, there was a difficulty in bringing forward the Budget until the middle of October. I may say that I have not spared myself, in the public interest, in my efforts to get the Budget on earlier. I can relieve the mind of the honorable member, perhaps, by saying that no Budget has been delivered earlier than the next one will be, so that there can be no further complaint on that score. Before the next financial year is well entered on the full financial programme will be before the House. I entirely agree with the criticism that it is not advisable to have late Budgets - they are always embarrassing and undesirable. But the circumstances are peculiar, and the present position could not be avoided.
.- I was going to call attention to the fact that, as the Budget had been so long delayed, I did not think that Supply ought to pass without some protest ; but having heard the Prime Minister, I do not propose to pursue that point further. I think, however, that, as we have started a fairly new office in the Land Tax Department, some information might be given as to an item under that head, of .£9,498 for contingencies.
– It is refunds chiefly - wrong assessments, and so forth.
– Then there is art item of .£40,000 for “ refunds of revenue “ ; and I should like to have some idea of what that means.
– That is chiefly in connexion with wrong assessments, too. t
– The item of £9,498 covers all extra office expenditure, and the cost of the usual investigations in regard to assessments.
– - Does it include valuation fees? ‘
– Yes, in addition to the travelling expenses of the officers who make the investigations.
– lt is purely administrative?
– Yes ; it is not extraordinary expenditure> and involves no new policy ; it is all under the control of the Commissioner, and is not brought about by any act of the Government. The sum of £40,000 has to do with cable receipts, and other matters referred to in a footnote to the Estimates.
– I find that Parliament was not prorogued at the end of 1907, but continued to sit until June, 1908, meeting again in September, the Budget being introduced in October.
– We met in September this year.
– Yes, but we were not in session during the first six months of the year.
– No one knows better than the honorable member that I have not been enjoying a picnic.
– I do not suggest that. I merely point out that the circumstances of 1908 do not exist at all to-day.
– When may we expect the Works and Buildings Estimates?
– This clay fortnight.
.- This is not so much the time for following precedents as for establishing them. It is late in the year to “inaugurate business methods of conducting the country’s finances, but I suggest that a Bill might be introduced on some future occasion compelling Ministers under pains and penalties to submit the Estimates of the year early.
– - I promise to submit them in July next year if I am still here.
– That can not be done if honorable members are to be supplied with all the information which they have hitherto been given.
– Ministers introduce their Estimates as late as they can, and the Prime Minister has followed his usual practice of going a little better than the other side. The late bringing in of the
Estimates is a bad thing for the Departments and for the country, because at the end of each financial year large amounts, remain unexpended for want of time in which to spend them. Ministers are morbidly afraid that if the Estimates are introduced early, honorable members will take’ advantage of the opportunity to prolong the discussion on them.
– Once the Estimates are passed, a Ministry can tell you to go to a warm place.
– The present Ministry might be able to tell the honorable member to do that, but it could not deal in the same way with the free and independent members of the Opposition. It is the passing of the Appropriation Bill which gives the Government an opportunity to retire to a cool and secluded position. The practice of the House of Commons, is to have the Estimates introduced and dealt with fairly early in the session, the Appropriation Bill being held by the Speaker until the prorogation. We need a clearer idea of out public responsibilities regarding finance, being too much concerned with party advantages.
– What was done with the last Estimates?
– Why does the honorable member seek to bury the subject under a mass of precedents? I am suggesting that we should set a precedent, and provide by Act of Parliament for the early introduction of the Estimates each year. It would be difficult to bind the present Ministry, but steps should be taken to prevent the Public Departments from being starved and thrown into disorder to suit party exigencies, and perhaps the personal convenience of Ministers. Should an Opposition abuse its right of criticism, Ministers have a weapon in their own hands.
– This Ministry would not gag.
– It is the duty of a Ministry to gag when an Opposition abuses its privileges. The Prime Minister gave a flippant excuse for asking for two months’ Supply, saying that it would make it easier for the Opposition if it got into power, because there would be more money to spend. Of course, in the convulsions attending the re-organization of the Ministry, the whole personnel may be displaced. I do not wish to destroy the peace of mind of the Prime Minister, but human nature plays its part among honorable members opposite when there is an opportunity to. get at the flesh-pots. Although we may be willing to grant two months’ Supply to the present Treasurer, we do not know who will hold that office two months hence. It might be the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and it might be a gentleman who, with befitting modesty, has taken himself away from these precincts during this time of crisis, the honorable member for Gwydir. We are entitled to know who the new Ministers are to be before taking a leap in the dark. I see on the Government benches faces alive with expectation and anticipation. Indeed, I regret that we cannot have a Ministry unlimited in regard to numbers, so that the whole party could hold office. It is ridiculous to keep on asking us to vote Supply before the introduction of the Estimates, because we do not know what the money is needed for. No matter what Government is in power, the interests of the country should be studied before the convenience of Ministers or the advantages of party.
– It is unfortunate that five months’ Supply should have to be granted before the Treasurer makes his statement regarding the finances of the country, but that must happen if we pass this Bill. The right honorable gentleman has promised to introduce the Estimates next 3>ear in July, but unless he changes the currency of the financial year, that will not be possible, if honorable members are to be provided with the information which it has been the practice to give to them. If the financial year ended on the 31st March, there would be no reason why the Budget should not be presented at the beginning of July.
– A good deal is to be said for that date.
– At least a month is required to close the public accounts of the year, and allot each item of expenditure to its proper column. I tried, when Treasurer, to introduce the Budget early, and found it impossible to make a financial statement within six weeks after the termination of the financial year. The real reason, I should say, why the Budget has been delayed this year is that the Treasurer was unavoidably absent in England attending the Coronation.
– The causes are my absence and the illness of other Ministers.
– I regret the delay, which, perhaps, has been longer than was necessary. The accounts of last year must have been ready for the Treasurer on his return, so that he had only to concern himself with the current year. I know what he used to say to me about the introduction of the Budget.
– I always treated the right honorable member kindly.
– The right honorable gentleman was very ungenerous when in Opposition, out I do not propose to retaliate, because I know the difficulties of his position, and think it my duty to assist rather than to obstruct him. No doubt, when the swing of the pendulum returns him to this side, his experience of office will make him more generous to future Treasurers. He used always to object to Supply Bills for more than one month. Personally, I do not think it matters much in this case whether a Supply is asked for one or two months, because we shall have the Estimates on the table long before two months have expired, but I think only a month’s Supply should have been asked for. The Estimates will be here within a fortnight.
– The taking of two months’ Supply will save another Supply Bill.
– The right honorable gentleman may find it necessary to pass one or two more this session.
– I hope not.
– The Estimates are not likely to be passed within the next two months.
– I hope that they will be, since two months hence we shall be in December.
– The Treasurer will probably find it necessary to introduce another Supply Bill before the Estimates are dealt with, although I trust that he will not have to do so. I rose really to assist rather than to oppose the right honorable gentleman. As long as our financial year ends on 30th June so long must it be difficult, if not impossible, to present the Estimates to the House before the middle of August. The earliest date at which I was able, as Treasurer, to submit them was 12th August, and I found it very difficult to have everything in readiness for their presentation within that time. Supply has to be obtained, and the Works Estimates have to be passed, before the general Estimates can be dealt with, and the difficulty of the position is largely due to the fact that Parliament generally opens just as the financial year closes, whereas, when the British Parliament meets the Estimates are always ready for presentation. The Treasurer of the Commonwealth has to wait at least a month after the close of the financial year to secure the exact figures as to the expenditure during that period, so that he finds himself in a difficult position in endeavouring to place the Estimates before the House earlier than about the middle of August.
– I am very dissatisfied with the Treasurer’s explanation, and must certainly congratulate the right honorable member for Swan on the Christian spirit he has displayed in this connexion. When he held office as Treasurer he was never treated as he is treating the Leader of the Government to-day. I quite agree that some time must necessarily elapse between the closing of the financial year and the presentation of the Budget. The position, however, since the new financial arrangement was entered into with the States, is not nearly so difficult as it was. If, under the old system, it was possible to submit the Estimates to the House within six weeks of the close of the financial year, there can be no justification for the present delay of seventeen weeks. Eight weeks have elapsed since the Treasurer returned from England, and surely during his absence the Honorary Minister in charge of the Treasury could have had the accounts prepared and tabulated in readiness for him ! It ought not to have taken the right honorable gentleman more than a fortnight after his return to prepare the Budget. I do not pretend to know what the Government are doing, but I strongly protest against the House losing its control of the finances. This is only another instance of the way in which the caucus is gradually undermining and destroying all responsible control of the finances of the country.
.- I am quite prepared to accept the Prime Minister’s assurance that the Supply Bill contains no new items, but I sincerely hope that when the Works and Buildings Estimates are submitted no attempt will be made to rush them through the House after the manner adopted last year. The Estimates for the current financial year must contain many new items that will require to be carefully considered and discussed, and I, therefore, avail myself of this opportunity to express the hope that we shall not have a repetition of the procedure of last year in connexion with the Works Estimates.
.- By way of a personal explanation I desire to state that I am reported as having paired last night against the amendment, submitted by the honorable member for Angas, on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, whereas, as a matter of fact, I paired in favour of it. A mistake occurred in entering up the pair in the pair book.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year ending 30th June, 1912, a sum not exceeding £1,400,534 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund,
I have nothing further to communicate regarding the details of the measure, except to say that the items are purely on the basis of last year’s Estimates. If any new items should arise I certainly shall not proceed with them.
– I find that there are at least half-a-dozen new items.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported; report adopted. Ordered -
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Thomas do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Fisher, and read a first and second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to. Schedule.
.- I find several new items in the schedule, including one relating to the Treasurer’s own Department. I refer to the item of “ Coinage, ^1,000.”
– That is to provide for the payment of the freight on the new coins coming out.
– I do not wish to hold the Prime Minister to the literal accuracy of his statement; but, as a matter of fact, there are in the schedule some half-a-dozen or more items that were not in the previous Supply Bill. They are therefore new.
– I am informed that there is nothing new in the Bill.
– Everything depends upon the sense in which the word “ new “ is used. These items were not included in the last Supply Bill.
– We have to provide for the freight on the coins coming out here.
– Quite so. I take it that when the Treasurer stated that there were no new items in the Bill, he meant, not that there were no new items that had never previously been voted in a Supply Bill, but that similar items were in the previous Bill passed by us this, session, and that therefore there were no new departures. As a matter of fact, there are seven or eight.
– They do not involve any new policy.
– That is not the point. When a request is made for Supply the fullest particulars are expected. Although the amount of an item may be small, the passing of the item itself may establish a rather important principle or precedent. For instance, I find on page 14 of the Bill, under the heading of “ Defence,” an entirely new item, “ Special School of Instruction, .£1.000,” whilst we have also an item of £1,500 in respect of “ Signal Stations and Examination Sei- vices.” Those items do not appear in the previous Bill. By agreeing to the schedule as it stands we shall be authorizing the establishment of signal stations and examination services, as well as a special school of instruction under the Defence Department, as to which no proposals have been submitted to us, although no doubt they have been generally indicated as part of the defence scheme.. I am certainly not in a position to say that these are not necessary items, but the attention of honorable members should be directed to any new departure of this kind in connexion with a Supply Bill, which the Committee, relying on the Treasurer, is accepting as representing only the regular and ordinary expenditure of the Commonwealth. Unless that is done new sources of expenditure are suddenly legalized, and the consequence is that, without being aware of it, the House is parting with its own proper control of the finances. It is also being deprived of that immediate information and complete exposition of details that are required when new departures are being launched. The sum involved in both of these items is only ,£2,500, but ;there can be no doubt that in order to complete the work that we are now in a sense authorizing many thousands of pounds may be expended. Those sums may possibly be spent in a manner which Parliament may desire to vary or afterwards disapprove.
– I am again assured that there is not a single new item.
– The word “ new “ can be so used that it becomes meaningless. I am informed, and believe at present, that no vote has been taken “hitherto for either “ special school of instruction “ or “ signal stations and examination services” under the Department of Defence, in the connexion in which they are now being applied. The question of amount ‘ does not enter into the argument. If these items are new, attention should certainly be directed to them. I feel quite satisfied that the proposals are necessary and legitimate, but at the same time if Parliament authorizes them, it must know that it is doing so, and not be accepting them without understanding for what objects it is voting the money.
Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan) [3.42I.- I notice in the vote for the Northern Territory an item of .£2,500 for gold-fields and mining contingencies; another of .£3,000 for works and buildings ; and another of £55,000 for interest and sinking fund ; the total expenditure on the Northern Territory being £70,888. I should be glad if the Treasurer could give the Committee information as to the condition of affairs in the Northern Territory, and state what proportion this vote bears to tine total expenditure on the Territory for the year. At the same time, I do not wish to press for the information if the honorable member is not prepared to give it at the moment. There is an item of £9,400. for “seagoing permanent force,”- under the Defence Department. I did not know we had such a force, but if the item refers to the pay of the officers and crew, of the two destroyers, I am satisfied. There is an item of £40,000 for refunds of revenue. There is also a sum of .£25,000 for Treasurer’s Advance, which I understand is necessary to pay for works until the Works and Buildings Estimates are passed.
– Most honorable members are no doubt interested in the policy to be pursued in regard to the Northern Territory. My honorable colleague, lately deceased, had given serious attention to the question, and had a scheme partly developed’ which he hoped to submit to the House at an early date. In accordance with the agreement entered info by the Leader of the Opposition, when Prime Minister, and the late Mr. Thomas Price, then Premier of South Australia, this Parliament took over possession and control of the Northern Territory, and took the responsibility for the losses and liabilities on the working of the Territory. This included about £4,000,000 of debt, the interest of which is a serious annual loss on the Territory, and the loss on the Oodnadatta railway. We provide monthly in these Supply Bills to meet that loss. My recollection is that all the previous deficits on the administration of the Territory were funded to loan expenditure by the State, and that whether the Commonwealth took the Territory over soon or late, that burden would still have to be borne. During the last financial year, the Commonwealth met a considerable amount of the debt, amounting to about £400,000, out of revenue, but we shall not be able to go on doing that. Speaking from memory, I believe the Oodnadatta railway just about pays working expenses.
– It has paid £10,000, £12,000, and £12,000 during the last three recorded years.
– I think that under the agreement entered into by my late colleague it has only paid expenses. The actual accounts submitted by the Railway Commissioner for the State showed just about a working balance over expenses, and therefore the interest on the capital cost has to toe met from time to time. I hope in my Budget speech this day fortnight to devote some attention to the matter. I shall then give all the facts and the fullest information available.
.- I take it that the £55,000 in connexion with the Northern Territory represents interest on money that South Australia had to borrow.
– Can the Prime Minister say for what period that sum represents the interest and sinking fund?
– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the House figures showing, for the six years preceding the adoption of the agreement for the taking over of the Northern Territory, the excess of revenue over expenditure in connexion with the Oodnadatta railway, and the application of receipts and expenditure in respect of the working of the line? Is the sum of £5,000 set down under External Affairs for “ advertising the resources of the Commonwealth” based only on last year’s Estimates?
– On an estimate of an expenditure of £20,000 or more during the year.
– Are we committing ourselves bv this vote to a heavier rate of expenditure on that object than last year?
– Not necessarily.
– - Nothing could more strongly emphasize the necessity for the speedy introduction of the Budget than the item for “ advertising the resources of the Commonwealth.” I do not know on what rate the estimated expenditure of £5,000 for the two months is based.
– Not less than £20,000.
– I am extremely sorry that it is not .£120,000. It is time the Government made up their minds what they are going to do about the matter. Again they are taking a lead from the States, and lagging behind as usual. Mr. McGowen has already publicly intimated that the State of New South Wales is going to spend .£60,000 this year on immigration. The party who have always been steadily and stoutly against immigration are now proceeding in that State to spend £60,000 for the year in assisting immigration alone. With respect to the general question of immigration, Mr. McGowen uses these pregnant words, to which I invite the attention of the Prime Minister -
Immigration is, under the Constitution, a Federal matter, and the time has arrived when the expenditure incurred on that behalf must be incurred by the Federal authorities. It is no longer possible for the States to continue to do the work of the Commonwealth.
– They will take good care that the Commonwealth will not do it properly.
– That is an invitation to the Commonwealth to take the business right over. Mr. McGowen has evidently come back from London with his mind full of the idea of a large and important immigration policy, in which the spending of £60,000 is only an incident. He also significantly declares that it is time the Commonwealth took over the question of immigration.
– The New South Wales Government have a national policy of land settlement, and will be able to place a large number of immigrants on the land.
– My honorable friend should address that sort of “ gag “ to 3’ounger people. It would be admirable language to use on the platform. Everybody knows that the New South Wales Government have 1,000,000 acres, which is going to be taken up in about a week’s time, but next year that 1,000,000 acres will still require to be hunted for, and still require to be placed at the disposal of intending settlers.
– They have discovered a large new area.
– No; what is proposed to be done over there is to take the stock routes and reserves away from the farmers in the interior and cut them up. The New South Wales Parliament and people have not yet been heard upon that question. The New South Wales Government are so impressed with the necessity for a big and bold immigration scheme that they propose to devote £60,000 to it this year, as incidental to what they hope will be a large and important Federal undertaking. It is time we heard from the Prime Minister what the Federal Government intend to do about this subject. There is no more pressing question in the whole political domain; it is the one outstanding question which far transcends any other in importance, and presses for a speedy settlement. While the Government are doling out this small amount, much more is being done in the States; and the sooner the Prime Minister gets in front of this movement, as he is now invited to do by his confreres in the largest of the States, the better for Australia. In this connexion, I should like to call attention to that very pretty picture which is exhibited in the Queen’s Hall, and in the preparation and distribution of which, I understand, some £2,000 or £3,000 has been spent. I have not a word to say as to the quality of the picture, which appears excellent in every way; but I do not think it is worth the money as an advertising agency for peopling Australia. The money could be spent in a very much more practical way than distributing pictures of this kind throughout the Old Country. If we desired people there to know what a fine climate we have, and what pretty wattle we grow, this picture will do ; but what those on the other side of the world desire to learn is what our resources are, and what their chances and prospects are here. I do not think, for instance, that the publication of the picture would induce a fruit-grower to come here. Perhaps the Prime Minister does not know that fruitgrowers have no great liking for the wattle in the vicinity of their orchards, which is very destructive, so far as orchards are concerned; and I doubt the wisdom of publishing broadcast a picture .of the kind. I should not call attention to the matter were the question not of such importance, and the amount proposed to be spent on immigration so small. The Prime Minister should let the House and the country know what he proposes to do in this pressing matter. We have a distinct intimation from New South Wales, through Mr. McGowen himself, that if the Prime Minister will only be bold, and bring in his project, he will have the undivided and unqualified support of his confreres in that State.
.- Can the Minister of Home Affairs tell us what steps are being taken to provide a house in Sydney for the Governor-General after the close of this year? I notice that, under this head, there is a proposed expenditure of .£600.
– I have a little later information than that possessed by the Minister of Home Affairs. I do not think that the Governor-General will be disturbed in his present position in New South Wales. I am not authorized to say more, and it would not be wise to do so.
.- I desire to offer a few remarks in opposition to the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta that more money should be spent in advertising Australia. The best way to advertise Australia is to govern it properly.
– Why does not the honorable member begin?
– The fact that the country is so well governed is sufficient attraction at the present time to bring a great many people to Australia at their own expense. The honorable member for Parramatta knows that many people in Great Britain at the present time desire to come to Australia, but that they cannot get passenger accommodation.
– I suppose accommodation could be got for money?
– They cannot get accommodation. I should like to know what is the motive behind the proposal to spend money to induce so many people to come here.
– To establish a White Australia !
– I do not believe that that is the motive. I think that a number of people are very anxious to introduce immigrants, in order to lower the rate of wages.
– Does the honorable member think that Mr. McGowen proposes to spend £60.000 with that object?
– The people in Australia who are in favour of extensive immigration belong to the same political party which, in Great Britain, makes things so uncomfortable and so unhappy for so many thousands who cannot get a living and desire to go elsewhere. There are millions in Great Britain who desire to get away because the country is badly governed ; and the people at the back of the great immigration movement in Australia would bring about such a condition of things that later on people would be glad to leave Australia.
– Does the honorable member place Mr. McGowen in that category?
– I do not know what Mr. McGowen is doing; but if he is spending a lot of money in advertising New South Wales he is, in my opinion, pursuing a wrong policy. We need not spend another penny in advertising, and yet we shall have any number of people coming here for many years. What we have to do is to set our own house in order ; there is plenty to do in the way of reforms in Australia to make the condition of thousands of people here happier, without bringing in a lot of immigrants with the effect of lowering wages in many cases, and in making it much harder for the Labour party to realize the ideals which they have set up. I admit that when we go abroad and - in London and elsewhere - see the great number of people who are unable to make a living, we feel that we would like to give them a chance here; and the view I am expressing may appear a selfish one. But I do not think we should improve the lot of those people if we made it impossible for us to carry out Labour ideals in Australia by assisting them to come here to cut down wages. Every nation, and every section of the Empire, has to look after its own poor, and to so govern itself that there will be no great exodus such as is taking place al the present tune from the British Isles. Where is the fear in regard to a White Australia ? If we look in the newspapers to-day we see that in naval expenditure Britain heads the list with ,£40,000,000 odd, and that Japan, in regard to which there is an effort to alarm us, is responsible for about only £8,000,000. I cannot see anything in the cry of Australia being in danger from a defence standpoint. If we are going to introduce a lot of State-assisted immigrants we should ex ercise a certain amount of discrimination. As I said the other night, when we point out that there are idlers and loafers amongst the rich we do not contend that there are none amongst the poor; and we ought to see that we do not bring in any idlers or loafers, whether rich or poor.
– We ought to pay special attention to the health of the immigrants, in regard to which doctors have been complaining very seriously.
– I would not say that a person in a bad state of health should be kept out, seeing there are numbers of places in Australia where invalids from the Old Country have gained a new lease of life. I do not think there is sufficient discrimination exercised in advertising. I am glad to find that a considerable number of the finest people I suppose who ever walked the earth are coming to Australia from the Old Country - artisans and labourers. Honorable members opposite will, no doubt, be much alarmed to know that a great number of these are believers in the Socialistic and Labour programme, and will doubtless not be here long before they join various labour organizations, which, I hope will succeed in keeping the Opposition off the Treasury bench. I do not believe that it is necessary to spend money in advertising, because Australia has received a very good advertisement already by the money spent in connexion with certain events. The £120,000 or so which the honorable member for Parramatta suggests should be spent could be very much better utilized in many different ways. As to” the Federal Capital, I was informed by the Minister that there were three sets of plans, one for the town, and two others which I have forgotten. I gathered from the Minister’s remarks that he was to be more or less a judge in regard to one of those sets of plans, and that the decision of the Government would be final.
– There is some misunderstanding. A Board of three representatives will recommend, and the Governor-General in Council, which, of course, means the Government, will determine finally.
– I am much obliged for that information ; but, from the articles in the press, there seems to be* in the minds of competitors considerable doubts as to who is to judge their efforts. The Minister of Home Affairs said that he did not wish to introduce “ Tammany Hall “ by appointing the judges, but I see no objection to telling competitors even the names of the gentlemen who will decide.
– The Board will, I think, consist of an architect, an engineer, and a surveyor.
– If it is generally understood1 that a Board of the character outlined1 by the Prime Minister is to be- appointed, I cannot understand why architects throughout the English-speaking world, at any rate, have declined to send in designs.
– There is a small item of £25 set down for the Literary Fund, and I should like to know on what principle this money is distributed. I happen to know of a family, the. descendants of Mr. Stenhouse, who was closely connected with the literature of this country in its early days. The family is one of culture and refinement, which has met with adversity, and assistance from this fund would be acceptable to it. The application has been dealt with harshly. In reply to a letter asking for consideration, supported by a number of reputable citizens of New South Wales, the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs wrote to Miss Stenhouse on the 31st March as follows -
With reference to your application for assistance from the Commonwealth Literary Fund, I have the honour to inform you that the matter has been considered by the Central Committee appointed to deal with such claims. It is regretted, however, that they could not see their way to make any recommendation to the Minister, as your late father, though closely connected with the early literature of New South Wales, was not himself engaged in literary work to any great extent.
The accuracy of the concluding statement is stoutly denied by those who knew Mr. Stenhouse well, and even if it were strictly true, the intention of Parliament, I believe, was that grants from the fund should not be confined actually to persons solely engaged in literary work, or their relatives, but should go also to those closely associated with literature by collecting and preserving books and records of literary value, and also in other ways have been personally identified with literature. Mr. Stenhouse rendered signal service to literature, and the claims of his family should have received more favorable consideration. I hope that the application may. be reconsidered, in view of the indigent circumstances of the applicants. Will the Prime Minister promise to look into the matter? Mr. Fisher. - I can only promise to send a copy of the honorable member’s remarks to the Board.
– That is a most .unsatisfactory attitude, and is only confirming the Board’s action. On the 3rd October the right honorable member for Swan asked the following questions regarding the Independent Press cable service -
To those questions the following replies were made -
When. Parliament was asked to vote the subsidy for this cable service, we weregiven to understand that some 300 newspapers were prepared to take advantage of it immediately,, but although over £2,000 has now been spent, less than a dozen, newspapers use the service.
– Does the honorable member object to the subsidy ?
– I have always done so, because there seemed- to be something behind the proposal which we could never get cleared up. We had great difficulty in getting any satisfactory information regarding it. Certain party newspapers, chiefly, if not solely, seemed likely to- be benefited by a subsidy to which persons, of all shades of political thought were asked to contribute. That we considered unfair and a misuse of public funds.
– I shall be able to prove that the public gain has amounted to more than the expenditure.
– I shall be glad to have that proved. We have not yet evidence of it, and. the statement is; not borne out by such information as is available. I yesterday directed attention to a letter in T’&e Standard of Empire, written fey an Australian in London, which has been republished in other newspapers. If his statements are true, the cables which we get by the subsidized service come through Vancouver from trans-atlantic sources, .at a cost of 3d., a word, whereas press messages by the ordinary cable service cost 9d. a word. These cablegrams, we are told, frequently “ show .a tainted origin,” and are sometimes “ absolutely groundless “ Samples of the scare headlines which are affixed to them are given. On the 29th July there was a doublecolumned beadline -
Is it War - Moroccan Crisis.
Fleet and army .preparing - scrioas outlook.
Then came these words in heavy type -
An official -cable was received in Sydney yesterday to the effect that Great Britain had issued an -ultimatum to Germany on the Moroccan question.
I .should like to know whether that statement was .true. No .similar cablegram was published in the newspapers taking the ordinary service. In my opinion, the statement was misleading and untrue. It was -obviously designed to sell the newspaper in which it was published by creating a sensation, for which there was no shadow of foundation.
– Would the honorable member prevent newspapers from doing that?
– We should not pay them to do it with the taxpayers’ money. We should not subsidize a service which provides the public with false information about what is occurring in other parts of the world, leading readers to believe that they are /getting accurate news from official sources. If grossly misleading statements continue to be supplied, we should ‘put an end to the subsidy. We should not be parties to the wilful misrepresentation of facts regarding foreign affairs. Other statements were published regarding Mr. Asquith’s speech of 27 th July, and the following headlines were used - “ Immense excitement. Prepare !” “ Prepare !” “ The excitement in London reached an unusual pitch of intensity when it became known that 1 rush orders ‘ had been sent by the Admiralty to all the naval depots Similar orders have been sent from the Horse Guards to the Woolwich Arsenal. These sensational actions have convinced the British public that 1 the day ‘ long toasted by German officers is very near, and may possibly come before many hours are over.”
Then follow another Jot of scare headlines, such as “ Bitterness in Germany,” and the sentence -
Mr. Asquith’s speech has not been well received in Germany, and armed class .bitterness has been displayed over it.
– That statement appeared pirn all the newspapers.
Mr. W. ELLIOT JOHNSON.Through other press cable services?
– Yes ; I well remember reading it.
– Will the Prime Minister say that the statement I am, about .to read was also published through other press cable services? On 31st July the Adelaide Herald ^published two or three inches of headlines containing such statements as “ Remarkable International Activity,” “British Fleet under full Steam,” “ France Hopeful,” “ Germany and Lloyd-George.” Then followed a telegram professedly from Paris, dated 25th July -
All the French cavalry regiments have been ordered to be in readiness for active service, and train loads of arms, munitions, and provisions aTe being rushed to the forts along the German frontier. Also leave of absence for all soldiers has been cancelled.
If (foat statement was cabled to other newspapers by a different press cable service, I can only say that I did not see it in any of those newspapers, nor have I met any one who did. Still more remarkable were some further cablegrams published by this newspaper. On 30th July the following cable message appeared -
Germany has demanded the dismissal of Mr. Lloyd-George for his Bankers’ banquet speech on the intentions of the British Government.
The writer of die article dealing with this news service states that -
Though the newspaper in question admits that this story requires confirmation, it compares the incident to the dismissal of M. Delcasse on Germany’s demand in connexion with Moroccan affairs six years ago.
On the following day the Adelaide Herald’s cablegram from London, dated 31st July, returned to the fate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It stated -
Telegrams from Berlin contain indications that there was some truth in the story that Germany may demand Mr. Lloyd-George’s dismissal. This is causing increased bitterness in some quarters against the Germans. The writer points out that -
In the same telegram Australia is told that the Second Destroyer Flotilla has left Portsmouth wilh sealed orders, and it is popularly supposed they are going to Agadir. ‘ It is sententiously added, ‘ Many people regard this as a serious move.”
If these statements are mere fabrications, as from the tenor of this article we are led to believe they are, it is time an inquiry was made as to their source, and a protest entered by the Government against misleading sensational cablegrams, purporting to be correct reports of what is doing abroad, being sent to Australia at the expense of our taxpayers. These cablegrams cause needless alarm to Australian citizens. They can certainly do no good, and may possibly cause a great deal of harm.
– Perhaps they were written chiefly in the office in Melbourne or Sydney.
– The honorable member supplies yet another argument in support of” my demand for an investigation. We are using the money of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth to subsidize this service, and I wish to know whether steps are to be taken to see that the people are not paying, through the Treasury, simply for the privilege of being fooled in this way ? I trust that steps will be taken to bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs in connexion with this cable service, and to ascertain the accuracy or otherwise of these statements. I desire now to refer to a new building which is being erected as a parcels post-office in Sydney. A huge scaffold, some 70 feet in height, was erected in the neighbourhood of the Central Railway Station, and whilst a strong wind was blowing last Saturday it suddenly collapsed. According to the newspapers, several passers-by narrowly escaped being struck by the falling timbers, and one avenue of traffic was completely blocked. I am informed that the work of ballasting the scaffold was to have been commenced on the following Monday, but I think that it should have .taken place before the scaffold was raised to such a great height.
– The contractor was answerable for that.
– I do not know whether the work was done by contract or day labour. I simply ask that steps shall be taken to guard against a similar occurrence.
– I am sorry for the contractor. He is a very nice man.
– Quite so; I am not blaming any one - for I do not know any one connected with the work - but I have some thought for the people who may suffer injury from the recurrence of such an accident. I only ask that the responsible officers of the Government shall exercise such supervision over structural work in connexion with its public buildings as will minimize the risk of accident from collapse.
– Even to the extent of abolishing contract labour ?
– I do not know whether the work was done by day labour or by contract. I am only concerned about due precautions to insure the safety of the public.
– Why not bring this matter under the notice of the Inspector of Scaffolding ?
– It is not my business, as a private member, to do so. The Government should have its own officer to supervize.
– But we should be interfering with State affairs.
– That would, of course, be something entirely new to the Prime Minister ! I wish now to refer to the question of the Federal Capital, which the Minister of Home Affairs seems to regard so lightly. Here we have another case in which large sums of public money are being expended ostensibly with the intention of securing the very best brains of the world to assist us in perfecting a design for laying out the Federal City. We find, however, that expert advice on the subject has been ignored, and the conditions governing the competition are of such a nature as to cause a great deal of irritation and dissatisfaction amongst those who might reasonably be expected to compete. The determination of the Minister of Home Affairs not to try to remove the causes of objection seems to indicate that the Commonwealth is not, after all, to reap the benefit of the best brains of the world in this connexion, and that fire competitive designs will be limited to a very narrow sphere. Indeed, no designs from prominent professional experts may be sent in. Protests have been entered in different parts of the world, on behalf of institutes of professional men, who have declared that the conditions are prejudicial to a fair consideration of the designs to be submitted, and that they have, consequently, determined not to submit any. That is a very serious position for the Commonwealth, and it may lead to unnecessary and prolonged delay in the acceptance of a design and the carrying out of the work. Even at this hour, however, I would urge the Minister to climb down a little from that lofty attitude of disdainful infallibility which he knows how well to assume, and to realize that he is dealing with practical men who desire only to be assured that they will have a fair run - that their time and money will not be spent in a fruitless effort to engage in a competition, only to learn, perhaps, that the tribunal to be appointed to adjudicate upon the designs may not insure confidence. The Minister might, without loss of dignity, at least publish the names of the three gentlemen whom he proposes to appoint, so that confidence may be re-established, and we may still have the benefit of the best professional brains available in connexion with this work.
The honorable member for Capricornia seems to think, in connexion with the immigration policy, that it is a great mistake to spend any money to advertise the resources of Australia. I suppose he, in common with others, holds the idea that if we encourage people to come here, there will be more competitors for the bread and butter available. That is an exploded economic fallacy. The more people we bring here, and employ profitably–
– Ah ! that is a qualification 1
– I do not say that we should bring all the wastrels and unemployables to this country. The honorable member made no such distinction. He was against the whole business of immigration, lock, stock, and barrel. He said we had plenty to do to set our own house in order, and to provide for those already here. That statement is quite contrary to ascertained facts, as disclosed by the report of Mr. Piddington, the Royal Commissioner, who estimates that in Sydney alone there is a shortage of upwards of 3,000 skilled workers. If we carry his argument to its logical conclusion, the fewer people we have in Australia, the more there will be to go round amongst ‘ those who remain. If, therefore, we could reduce the present population to 10,000 people, the obvious conclusion, according to the honorable member, would be that the money now spent among 4,000,000 people would be divided amongst 10,000, and if we could reduce our population to a hundred, they would all be’ millionaires. As a matter of fact, quite ihe reverse would happen. If we can only induce the right kind of people to come here, and give them profitable employment, particularly in our great primary industries, opening up the vast resources of this country, we should do good in many ways. We should be providing for employment for a still larger number of people than we can now provide for, because every new arrival would give work to at least a hundred other people to supply his daily needs. Another good result of the extra population would be the obtaining of more revenue. Our trade and commerce and industry would increase according to the population, and our surest line of defence would all the time continue to be strengthened. We should, therefore, not discourage expenditure on advertising, but encourage it still further. We should make the resources of Australia known, not only in the Old Country, but in other lands, particularly in those Scandinavian countries, from which I hope we may be able to attract a good rural population. .
– Foreigners ?
– Yes; but white people, and if we cannot get people of British extraction, we must be prepared to take foreigners. I prefer those of the virile Scandinavian races to. those of the more effete and less suitable nations of southern Europe.
– Does not the honorable member think that we can find a better advertisement in England than a poster showing a pretty woman amongst wattle blossoms?
– Undoubtedly. While I admire the picture exhibited in the Queen’s Hall, I do not think it is quite suitable for the purpose for which it is intended. We should obtain pictures of some of our rural industries, not exaggerated, but true and faithful representations of things actually going on in Australia. These would give a fair and definite idea to the people of the Old Country, and elsewhere, as to what our actual resources are, and the type of immigrants that we desire to obtain. We ought to spend a great deal more than at present on immigration, so as to bring more people of the right stamp here. If we are to hold this country, we must fill our vast empty spaces, more particularly those areas adjacent to the coastline, and most capable of affording an adequate return for the labour expended on the land. Our surest line of defence against aggression is the peopling of our coastal areas to a distance of, at least, 30 or 40 miles inland. We could concern ourselves more about” the interior afterwards. The question of increasing our population as rapidly as possible, not only by natural means, but. by assisted immigration, is of the utmost importance.
– T cannot say that I am opposed to immigration as such, but it seems ridiculous to spend ^3,000 on a poster such as that exhibited in the Queen’s Hall.
– Was £3,000 spent on it? I doubt it.
– I am so informed. I have not yet met any one who objects to a pretty girl surrounded by pretty flowers, but that. £3,000 could have been put to much better use. For instance, why not exhibit the picture of a dairymaid going out at 4 o’clock in the morning to milk the cows ? That would be a much more truthful representation of Australian life. Some of the money might well have been spent in circulating photographic reproductions of the iron works, copper-smelting works, coal mines, and dairying and pastoral industries of the Commonwealth, so as to give a true representation of the life of Australia as we know it. That sum of £3,000 has been practically wasted, .because the picture in question will mislead a number of girls in the Old Country to think, that if they come to Australia they will need to do nothing but dress nicely and spend their time picking wattle blossom. That sort of thing will do an incalculable amount of harm to Australia, and more practical means of advertising our resources should fee adopted. What is needed is to make the true facts about Australia better known, and to organize the Immigration Department in such a way that people will be brought out in. the trades where there are openings for them. At present each State is doing a little bit of advertising on its own account, and the Commonwealth is doing a little, with the result that in many trades where there are already sufficient employes more ave being, brought out and overstocking the market. That kind of thing could be rectified by the States and the Commonwealth conferring, and adopting a common-sense system of organization The business will have to be organized like every other business. I believe there is any amount of room’ for a sensible organization of the immigration proposals in connexion with our great country. In connexion with defence. I have a very hardy annual in my electorate known as the Liverpool manoeuvre area. Notice of re sumption was served on the tenants as long ago as 1907, and the private holders there are placed in a very invidious position. They can get no satisfaction as to what is to be done; If one goes to the State Government, he is referred to the Commonwealth.. If he goes to the Commonwealth he is referred back to the State. The question has been agitated for a long time in my electorate, because I notice that my predecessor was just as much troubled over it as I am. It seems peculiar that in this particular case the Commonwealth Government should make the State the means through which, they resume the area. I understand the Commonwealth Government, have direct power toresume land for defence purposes, but in. this instance they seem to have adopted the method of allowing the State to resume the land, the Commonwealth paying the interest on the cost of resumption. Thetransaction seemed on a fair way towards completion until the middle of this year, when it was mixed up with the question of the transferred properties. The Honorary Minister in the New SouthWales Government informed nae that,, until the question of the transferred properties is settled, nothing can hedone in regard to the Liverpool’ manoeuvre area. Do the Commonwealth Government intend to allow this matter to remain at the present unsatisfactory stage? The private owners of land? ought to be given some satisfaction one way or the other. If the bulk of the land is Crown land, I do not care, nor do I think the private owners care, how long, the Stateand Commonwealth Governments carry on their negotiations.
– Does the honorablemember think that the land ought to be resumed: ?
– I da; but. at any rate,, the private owners ought to be notified as to the Government’s intention. According; to the newspapers, an understanding has been. arrived.>at between the State Premiers and the Commonwealth Government in regard to the payment of the interest on> transferred properties ; and if that question- is out of the way, there ought to be some definite conclusion in regard, to this area.
.- A large number of workmen are employed’ in and about Yass-Canberra, and, in all” probability, a very much larger body will shortly be employed on the transcontinentalrailway. Up to the present, owing to the fact that no large number of artisans have been employed by the Commonwealth, no provision has been made for compensation in case of accident arising out of, and in, the course of their employment.
– We adopt the principle generally.
– Previous to 1907 there was no method of compensation, and one case brought under my notice was that of a widow, whose only son was killed, through no fault of his own, when engaged in erecting a telegraph pole, and the Department stopped the wages for the funeral expenses. Ry an administrative Act the Government issued instructions that, so far as the Postal Department was concerned, widows and children should be compensated ; but, as a matter of fact, there are more dependents than widows and children. It was, 1 think, the honorable member for EdenMonaro, when Postmaster-General, who issued the order that the principles of the Workmen’s Compensation Act should be applied as far as possible. But cases have to be reported, settled by the Department, and provided for on the Estimates before those entitled are ultimately paid. There ought to be some definite system by which the Commonwealth, in the case of men directly employed by it, shall pay compensation, at any rate equal to that paid by private employers. There ought to be some cheap method of quickly deciding the responsibility, and provision made for dependents to receive almost immediate relief.
– We have done that in special cases.
– That is true; but it would be much better to have a definite system under which this compensation should be paid as a right, and not have to be applied for, it may be, through a parliamentary representative, or some other person.
– Can the honorable member say whether we have the necessary power ?
– I think that, undoubtedly, we have the constitutional power to give compensation to our own workmen.
– I am doubtful about anything of that kind, remembering the Seamen’s Compensation Act.
– Even in regard to that, we still have definite and decided power. I think there ought to be a Workmen’s Compensation Act for Commonwealth servants.
– The Seamen’s Compensation Act was held not to apply to intrastate shipping.
– The High Court held that the measure, in covering intra-State trade, had covered too wide a field, and the whole of the Act had to go on that account. At any rate, there is no doubt that we can give compensation in the case of our own servants if an accident occurs within a State. I should also like to call attention to the working of the Meteorological Department, in regard to which I am strongly of opinion we have not yet done our duty.
– We are doing very well !
– Quite so; but last year Mr. Hunt reported that many of his efforts to improve the usefulness of the service were impeded by obstacles raised by other Departments.
– I am one of those Departments ! Every Department would take the whole of the revenue if it had a chance !
– I am sure the Prime Minister has some sympathy for the vast army of settlers, producers, and pastoralists all over Australia. In New South Wales there is a full distribution of reports of the actual rainfall, and that is a good and right system, which ought not to be confined to that State.
– Why should the States not distribute the news?
– The news in New South Wales is distributed by Commonwealth agencies at Commonwealth expense, whereas in Queensland, whose needs in this respect are exactly the same, there is no distribution at all.
– The Commonwealth supplies the information, and the States should distribute it.
– The Prime Minister is quite wrong. In the first place, it is a Commonwealth instrument - in the shape of the telegraph - that is employed in the distribution of the .news. The whole burden of the meteorological work, which includes the dissemination of such news, is a national obligation, and placed on the Commonwealth by the Constitution.
– Would the honorable member have the news put into every man’s door every morning?
– The following is an extract from a report by Mr. Hunt -
The American telephone companies vie with one another in offering concessions to probable subscribers, and one of the concessions offered by most, if not all of the companies, is the free calling of subscribers every day to give them the daily forecasts.
I do not advocate that that should be done, and merely read the quotation to show the breadth of the sympathy which is extended to the Bureau in the United States of America -
In the year 1907, no less than 1,985,905 subscribers received the daily forecasts by this method alone. The suggestion might be submitted to the Postal authorities in Australia for consideration as a means to induce squatters and settlers in the interior to become subscribers to the telephone system. The prime producers are the chief individuals in the Australian community interested in the weather prospects, and while means of advising them at the earliest possible moment of the probable weather remains inadequate, the efforts of this Department and the Government’s intentions for creating the weather service are negatived in their chief object; at the same time, in remote districts, squatters and farmers remain at a serious disadvantage, as compared with settlers near towns, where the forecasts are posted or disseminated by the newspapers, and are almost entirely at the mercy of unscrupulous dealers in their products, resident in the cities and towns, where weather advices are readily accessible. However, postal regulations have recently been framed whereby the distribution of forecasts and flood warnings by telegraph and telephone has been greatly facilitated ; further, it is incumbent upon Postal officials to report any unusual meteorological occurrences or phenomena.
I should like here to express the indebtedness of this Department since its inauguration for the invaluable assistance and co-operation accorded it by the Central Postal Administration, and it is hoped that it may at the earliest possible date furnish us with long deferred desired data from Queensland, the lack of which is discounting not only our efforts to improve the accuracy of the forecasts for that State, but for the whole of the Commonwealth. As has already been pointed out, this branch of our work must stagnate until these necessary data are forthcoming.
I quite agree with the Prime Minister that a firm hand should be kept on the expenditure of the Department. If he were to grant every concession asked for, his hands would be pretty full. But the Meteorological Department was established to forecast the weather for Australia, and if its work is to be of value it must be supplied with the necessary data. The meteorologist complains that he does not get sufficient data. Surely it would not cost very much to supply him with the information he needs. It would only mean the greater use of our system of telegraphs, which spread all over the Commonwealth. In this connexion I ask why, since New South Wales can have information regarding rainfall made public all over the State, that cannot be done by South Australia and Queensland? It has been pointed out to me on several occasions by those interested in the travelling of stock that it would be of great advantage to them to be informed of the weather in the districts through which they are travelling. Such information might reasonably be published at places of importance, being posted daily at the telegraph offices. That would not throw a heavy burden on the Telegraph Department, and would greatly assist persons in the distant interior. In Tasmania advice regarding the weather has prevented the spoiling of crops, and information as to weather conditions is of the greatest value to all connected with rural pursuits. Australia must not lag behind in this matter. In England, India, the United States, and Europe, the closest scientific investigation is being given to weather conditions, and we should have a Department of original research, and make our contribution to the knowledge of the world. The time will come when we shall be in yet closer touch with the weather Departments of other countries than we are now. I hope that the Prime Minister will give favorable consideration to my suggestions.
– I appreciate the value of the suggestions, but there is a limit to the sum available for the transmitting of information regarding the weather.
– I do not ask for the spending of more money. I merely suggest that the telegraph system might be used to better advantage.
– If the honorable member thinks that something can be got for nothing he is mistaken.
– Many of our country lines are not very busy, so that there would be no increase of expense, and the Prime Minister is justified in seeing that adequate data is supplied to the Meteorologist. I doubt whether, if the Department were debited with all weather telegrams, the cost would amount to ,£50,000 a year. I hope that the honorable gentleman will look into the matter, and see if he cannot give my suggestion sympathetic consideration.
– With reference to the rifle range at Toowoomba, I was informed that the State Government, although it has decided to sell certain land which the Defence Department wishes to secure, has promised to postpone the sale for three months to give time for negotiations. Toowoomba, with the surrounding districts, has a population of 20,000, being an important centre from a military point of view, and rifle clubs from long distances out west go there to hold their annual shooting competitions. For five years attempts have been made to get a new site for the range.
– The honorable member was in office when there was plenty of money. Why did he not see that the matter was settled then?
– There was not plenty of money, although it was not a matter ofmoney.
– The Commonwealth was then returning surplus balances to the States.
– We tried repeatedly to obtain an arrangement with the State, but could not do so. Now that the State authorities are willing to negotiate, I hope that a satisfactory settlement may soon be arrived at. I ask that .the Departments concerned be requested to expedite the matter. I was sorry to hear the expression of the opinion of the honorable member for Capricornia regarding immigration. If any part of Australia needs immigrants it is Queensland. The Royal Commissioner appointed in New South Wales’ to investigate the matter declared that, instead of immigration having tended to reduce wages, the inflow of population had increased employment. Those who have come here are doing useful work, and the supplying of their needs gives occupation -to others.
– They join unions as soon as they get here.
– They are quite entitled to do that. The sooner an immigrant identifies himself with Australian institutions, the better for him and for the country.
– A good many immigrants have got into this Parliament.
– We are glad to have them here, because Australia would be the poorer without their service. The honorable member for Nepean wisely urged the co-operation of the Commonwealth and States, especially in regard to advertising abroad. That, I am satisfied, would be a good thing.
– We need, first of all, suitable offices for the High Commissioner and the Agents-General.
– The provision of that accommodation is one of the first steps to take. Nothing is to be gained by forcing matters, but the co-operation suggested will be in the best interests of Australia, because it will prevent a conflict of effort, and the depreciation of one State by the agents of another. There is plenty of room’ in Australia for immigrants, according to Mr. Piddington. Farm labourers and others who come to Queensland find work at once, proving themselves, in many instances, exceedingly satisfactory workers. 1 hope that the Government will propose a liberal vote for advertising, and will give the High Commissioner a free hand in the spending of it. The advertisement should be of the nature suggested when he was first appointed, care being taken that no statement is published which is not absolutely true. It is better to understate than to overstate the case. I agree with the honorable member for Nepean that the truth about Australia is good enough, and that the picture does not need its attractiveness heightened by false colours.
– That is not the policy of Canada.
– We are not concerned with what Canada may do. I hope for a’ forward movement, so that Australia may grow in strength and vigour by the inflow of useful immigrants.
– I am of the opinion that we must do all we can to fill the vast vacant spaces of Australia, and agree with the honorable member for Darling Downs that the immigrants should be of the right class. It is useless for men who belong to trades which are already overmanned to come here. Only this afternoon I got a letter from a man who says that he has been out of employment for six weeks. He is an Englishman, but following an occupation in which there are not many openings.
– A new chum?
– No; he has been here for some time. I suggest the advisableness of the medical examination of intending immigrants in London. Nothing of the kind is insisted on now, and the steamer by which I recently travelled from Europe brought two immigrants who were not allowed to land at any of the ports because they could not pass the medical examination. A previous vessel, I was informed, brought an immigrant who was suffering from consumption. He was refused admission, and told that he must return to England, but he juiced overboard between Fremantle and Adelaide. I bring this matter under the notice of the Minister in the hope that he will avail himself of an early opportunity to institute a proper method of medical inspection at the port of departure. We want immigrants, but they must be of the right class, and should undergo a strict medical examination before they are allowed to depart from Great Britain. I noticed while at Home that our High Commissioner, with the limited funds at his disposal, was doing rauch in Great Britain to advertise Australia. It was my privilege to attend one of the finest agricultural shows held in England - that of the Norwich Agricultural Society - and there I saw a Commonwealth exhibit under the supervision of a young man who, I understand, was at one time on the Australian press. I found that, like all pressmen, he was very well informed as to the country from which he came. I stood amongst those listening to what he had to say of Australia, and he displayed a knowledge of his subject that was exceedingly refreshing. He also encouraged an Australian farmer who was on a visit to the Old Country to say a few words to the people who surrounded the exhibit, and it was delightful to hear that nian give his experiences of Australia. He did not refrain from telling his audience the actual facts of his position. Whilst he was speaking some one interjected, “ Is there not a Labour party in power in Australia?” His reply was that there might be, but that that fact had not interfered with the prosperity of the farmer here. I found in various parts of Great Britain men who had made their money on the land in Australia, and who did not hesitate to tell the people how well off were the farmers of the Commonwealth. The Norwich Show proved one of the best advertisements that Australia could have. I found that New South Wales was also advertising freely in the Old Country, and that its representatives were able to say that farmers would find it easy, on arriving in Australia, to obtain land. That is the sort of’ advertisement that we need. We ought to be able to assure the people of Great Britain that those who come here with the object of settling on the land will be able to secure blocks without difficulty. New South Wales in this respect has set the other States of the Commonwealth an excellent example. She- has a splendid irrigation system, and is making provision, by new railways and other means, for opening up her Crown lands. The Government have also resumed large estates, so as to be able to settle people on the land when they arrive here.
– The State Government in power to-day are not doing that. They are giving up the work.
– I have every confidence in the present Government of New South Wales. They are practical men, and are quite capable of doing all that is necessary to settle the people on the land. Some of them have risen from the ranks; they know what it is to be out of work, and how necessary it is to provide employment for the workers when they land here. I had no hesitation in telling people of the right class whom I met in the Old Country that they would find Australia the greatest country on God’s earth. In my humble opinion, there is no greater country. No country offers greater opportunities for the man with capital or the man desirous of settling on the land and making a home for himself. I do not agree with the honorable member for Nepean as to the picture of the lady and the wattle blossom. The Government, to my mind, have adopted a wise means of advertising Australia by calling to their aid the wattle blossom. Canada advertises largely by means of a botanic emblem known as the maple leaf. Whereever we went in Great Britain, we heard the people speak of “ Canada and the maple leaf,” and whenever the Canadians were asked to sing they usually said, “ We do not sing individually, but we are prepared to join in singing our National Anthem, The Maple Leaf.’” I could not help thinking at the time that if we Australians had sung an Australian National Anthem in preference to the National Anthem of the Empire cablegrams would have been sent at once to Australia telling of the terrible disloyalty of the Labour party. The Canadians, however, were able to do this without any exception being taken to their action. At the Dominion gathering, at which some 1,800 persons were assembled, they sang the National Anthem of the maple leaf even before the National Anthem of the Empire was rendered, and I must confess that the patriotism of those people - their love for the country that had served them so well - strongly appealed to me. If we wish to advertise this country as it should be advertised we must become more truly Australian, and have done for all time with petty parochial State Rights considerations. We never heard the Canadians speak of Quebec, Ontario, or any individual province. With them it was “Canada” every time. They taught us in this respect, an excellent lesson, which we did not hesitate to turn to account. A Tasmanian gentleman in England remarked to me whilst I was there, “ I notice that you always announce yourself, not as a Tasmanian, but as an Australian.” I replied, “ In this connexion 1 do not know Tasmania. I know only the great Commonwealth of Australia, to which I am proud to belong.” If we desire to attract people to our vacant spaces we must deal with the Commonwealth as Australia, and as Australia only. That is one reason why I hope we shall have very shortly in London a Commonwealth office, in which not only the High Commissioner, but the Agents-General of the States will be housed. Visitors to London will then know where to go to learn of the advantages to be obtained by settling in Australia. I hope that we shall not confine our advertising to Great Britain. It would be well for us to advertise in Switzerland and other parts of the Continent which I visited, and where I and other members of the delegation saw people working under terrible conditions. In Switzerland we saw men working small plots of land that would not be looked at in Australia. Land equal to our third-class country would be readily worked in Switzerland, and a great deal would be thought of it. If we could induce some of the Swiss to come out here, I am sure that we should find them excellent citizens. Again, why should we not advertise in the United States of America, and also in Canada ? We should do everything possible to induce white people to come here. I do not care to what nationality they belong, provided that they become good healthy settlers, for I realize that that country is the wealthiest which nourishes the greatest number of happy and healthy individuals.
– - I am beginning to smell a mystery in connexion with the wattle bush of which we have heard so much. We” have had member after member from the other side referring to the picture of the mysterious lady of the wattle bush, and all vehemently trying to dissociate themselves from the suspicion of being connected in any way with her. Judging by her expression, she is a carefully brought up although rather over -nourished representative of Australian femininity ; but why these honorable members should be so anxious to dissociate themselves from the young lady I do not know. I should have expected to find them only too anxious to prove that their taste was good, and their record equally so.
I do not wish for a moment to full into the mistake of imagining that anything that may be said here on the subject of immigration will do very much good in the Chamber itself ; but I am satisfied that, so far as the House has opportunities of transferring itself, through the medium of Ilansard, into the constituencies, anything we may do to formulate a healthy public opinion must be of value. There is one credit I shall always do my honorable friends opposite, and that is that they will ever be ready and willing to exploit any public sentiment, however opposed they may have been to it, the moment it becomes politically valuable and advantageous to them. I do not say this in any offensive spirit ; indeed, I am rather anxious to conciliate them.
– The honorable member cannot class me amongst the number in * this respect, because I am opposing the proposition. It is popular, but I think it wrong.
– I have a shrewd suspicion of the reason of the honorable member’s opposition to it. Take, for instance, the views of the honorable member for Nepean, who thinks that this lady of the wattle blossom might lure into Australia a number of romantically inclined young men who might seriously disturb even the placid calm of die honorable member for Capricornia. The mere sight of this lady and the wattle blossom has put my honorable friend in a state of almost bilious indignation. I appeal to him, however, not to be over hasty in dealing with the .subject.
The honorable member for Denison, who has studied this question on the other side of the world, will agree with me that we are at a very serious disadvantage in competing with Canada for immigrants, inasmuch as it is not so much the Canadian Government that attracts immigrants as it is the agents of the great land-grant railway companies.
– The Pacific Railway < Company.
– And the shipping companies, which are all working in with the system.
– Is it not the maple?
– The honorable member’s thoughts are still running on the name of the lady. In Canada we have a railway constructed by a company in return for a grant of public lands, and the company can afterwards settle those lands with people whose freights it will carry at a profit. Any company which is working a transcontinental line there has a direct interest in every immigrant. It puts them on the land, and afterwards charges them probably more for the carriage of their freight than is charged on the railways of Australia. Our railway system is different, and I believe it is the right one; but the system of State-owned railways imposes upon the State, if we want immigrants, the obligation of dealing with this question in an organized way. The State must organize, as Canada has done through the agency of the Canadian-Pacific Railway and other land-grant railway companies. I do not wish to labour this question, further than to say that we shall have to try to copy the operations of the CanadianPacific Railway in providing for immi– grants, almost down to the housing of them, so that as soon as they arrive they can be put in the way of making a living for themselves.
There are one or two other matters to which I desire to refer. During the next two months, in respect of which we are asked to vote Supplies, the Government will be free to take action with regard to various matters, and we ought to be informed now of what they are going to do with respect to trusts and combines. We were assured, during this session, that the Government proposed to institute a judicial inquiry into the sugar industry. I thought that would mean an inquiry by persons not identified with either side of politics.
– It is not possible to get them.
– It ought to be possible to get men sufficiently divorced from politics to be able to satisfy the public mind that those who are to sit in judgment upon a question which is, after all, largely political, have not either supported monetarily a party organization, or stood as the pledged candidates of either political party. It is a public misfortune that a Commission whose verdict ought, through the absolute impartiality upon political matters of its members, to commend itself to the good sense of the Australian people, as coming from fair-minded men, concerned only with the welfare of the State-
– Does the honorable member suggest that the only people who hold political opinions are candidates for Parliament ?
– I do not. In appointing future Commissions, great care should be taken that no representative on them is a member of, or known to be identified closely with, either political party. Apparently we are to have, in connexion with every Ministerial statement with regard to the judicial nature of any inquiry to be instituted, the mental reservation that it is not political provided it does not contain members of Parliament ! It is to be nonpolitical, even if it contains the very cogs in a party machine ! It is political only if it happens to contain members of Parliament. That is a bad precedent to establish. I understand that the Royal Commission recently appointed is composed, outside the Chairman, largely of persons interested in our party warfare. As it would, perhaps, be natural to expect, if one had little faith in the human nature comprised in the present Government, three out of four of the members of the Commission, excluding the Supreme Court Judge, have been closely identified with the movement known as the political Labour movement.
– Which one has the honorable member left out?
– I do not wish to give names. It is possible that my honorable friends opposite, in their zeal with regard to monopolies and combines, may want to go a little further than sugar. They may wish to look into the sphere of shipping, and even into the prohibited regions of tobacco. On the notice-paper only a few days ago, there stood a motion in the name of the honorable member for- Gwydir for the institution of an immediate and searching inquiry into all the phases of the tobacco industry of Australia. Even the Tobacco Trust was not to be sacred.
– It is, seemingly.
– And why? Because my honorable friends opposite seem to be afraid, for some reason or other, to go on with any attack upon the Tobacco Trust. I am sure that the Trust would welcome a judicial inquiry, although it might have reason to apprehend the result of an inquiry such as has been instituted into the sugar business. Why should my honorable friends be so frightened? Why should the honorable member for Gwydir, who is known to be one of the most valorous representatives of Labour in the Federal Parliament, suddenly withdraw the motion after, in a fit of almost reckless courage, putting it on the notice-paper ? j
Why have my honorable friends proceeded to a certain extent in the matter, and then run for their lives as soon as they realized what they had doner
– Under what heading does the honorable member discuss that proposition ?
– We have been asked to grant Supply for two months, and are doing it with extraordinary celerity. We are entitled to know what the Government propose to do with regard to its administration during that period. We see what they have done in relation to an inquiry into one of our big industrial organizations. Such concerns will, generally speaking, welcome any fair inquiry into their working, because it will be shown that a vast proportion of the attacks made upon them have been ill-founded, and made for party political purposes, not always by honorable members opposite, but by persons supporting them, or even by persons supporting this side of the House. If, however, the Government are going to inquire, let them inquire all round, and let the inquiry be really judicial. I do not like this habit of appearing to show extraordinary concern for the good opinion of one great institution, and an absolute disregard for the rights of another. I should have liked to see the honorable member for Gwydir proceed with his motion, but I am glad to know that, although honorable members opposite have run away from the battle as soon as the bugle was sounded-
– What made them run away ?
– My honorable friends are strangely silent as to their reasons, but I am glad to say that the honorable member for” Barker, who sits on this side, has jumped into the breach by giving notice of a motion in exactly the same terms as that of the honorable member for Gwydir. Honorable members opposite will, therefore, still have an opportunity of getting, into the doings of the Tobacco Trust, that immediate and searching inquiry which they profess to desire.
– The honorable member for Barker is stealing our thunder.
– I do not apply the term “ thunder “ to a proposal which, as soon as it is hinted at, is hastily dropped ! The honorable member for Gwydir has not stopped running since he submitted the motion.
I was glad to hear the honorable member for Nepean raise the question of the Liverpool manoeuvre area. I hope he will be able to cause something to be done in that connexion ; but I cannot understand why he should have overlooked the question of the small arms factory. That is the most extraordinary thing we have ever had in Commonwealth administration, with, perhaps, the exception of that wireless contract which has been the occasion for the display of so much business innocence on the part of the Postal Department. The small arms factory brings up a very curious problem. Some years ago, when we decided to manufacture small arms for ourselves, we sent a good Australian, in Commander Clarkson, to England to find out all about small arms. He was a very excellent engineer officer in the local Naval Forces, but he did not know, or pretend to know, anything about rifles. He was, however, sent Home at the expense of Australia to be educated in rifles, and with a view to coming back and making his knowledge generally useful to the Australian people.
– How long ago?
– It was a considerable time ago, and the factory is not yet working. Commander Clarkson spent a considerable time abroad. He learned a good deal about the subject, and when he came back he found things in a fair state of tangle. He Avas then asked whether he wanted to go to the small arms factory; but, like a wise man, he said he would rather take up the business of authority upon naval construction on the Naval Board.
– After all his experience?
– After all his experience at the Commonwealth expense he returns and takes up that other position on the Naval Board. If we have a right to educate our public servants, and send them to the other side of the world, we have a right to use them in the jobs for which we have educated them. This officer, however, has gone into a job about which he knows no more than he once knew about rifles. I am not attacking him, but the system. He is an excellent engineer officer, and an authority in the engine-room of a ship. He was asked suddenly to become an authority on the construction of rifles. He struggled for two years with that subject, and learned something about it, and then, after having paid for the cost of his instruction in that subject, the Government transfer him to a new Department, about which he knows absolutely nothing. I suppose he will be kept there for another couple of years, and then, when we start to build big ships, we will import somebody else to do it, because, by that time, he will have been put into another job. I think the Defence Department might conduct their operations in a business-like way. I make no attack upon Engineer Captain Clarkson, as he now is.
– I think the honorable member is doing it.
– I do not intend to. I believe he is one of the best officers of the tocal Navy; but a man cannot be omniscient.
– Will not the information he obtained abroad be valuable to bini now?
– Information about rifles will not be of the slightest value in constructing or designing battleships. -Mr. Laird Smith. - In England the teaching is not confined to the question of rifles.
– -This officer went to England on that special mission. He was sent Home to arrange the whole contract for the supply of machinery for the construction of rifles. I think he spent about ayear looking around rifle factories in the Old Country, and that the firm of Greenwood and Batley helped him a great deal to draw up his specifications. He did nothing in England but rifles, and thence he went to America on the same mission. Now, on his return, we are not to use him as a rifle expert, although the understanding when he went away was that when he came back he was to take charge of the small arms factory.
– He is there now.
– Yes ; but the answer given to a question to-day was that he was going on to the Naval Board, and would not take the position for which he was trained. He was responsible for having the contract made with an American firm, and he ought to put his shoulder to the wheel and see the business through. That contract is now tremendously overdue, and a sum of from £46,000 to £48,000 is due to the Commonwealth in actual penalties.
– Who let that contract?
– I am not dealing with any particular Government. The honorable member may put the blame upon whom he pleases ; but let us look at the question from a higher aspect. The penalties have been allowed to accrue during the last year or two, and we are entitled to know why they have not been paid to the Commonwealth. If this or the previous Government have been at fault in the drawing of the contract, or if, as I suspect, the Department of Home Affairs has deprived’ itself of any opportunity to claim a penny by varying the contract, the sooner we know the fact the better. Any honorable member who has started to build a house by contract with an architect for a structure on certain specifications at a certain figure will know that if he varies the specification in the smallest particular, he has not Buckley’s chance of getting it carried’ out at the contract price or in the contract time. As I say, I suspect the reason thosepenalties have not been exacted is that those concerned on the part of the Commonwealth have been fools enough to vary the contract.
– The contract mayhave been broken.
– Anything may have happened; but, at any rate, we ought to knowwhy we are not getting the money.
– The specifications were altered.
– So I understand, though I did not wish to say so. It is & public misfortune that the Department of Home Affairs should be conducted on line* so absolutely devoid of any sort of business sense.
– They tell methat this is a new thing - that they did not have the technical knowledge required.
– The principle of sticking to a contract is no new thing, except, perhaps, in the case of my honorablefriend ; it is one of the oldest principles; known to ordinary business people.
– There are contracts which it pays to break.
– I can quite understand’ that; but the Minister of Home Affairsendeavours to assume a credit, of which J do not desire to deprive him, for extraordinary business acumen. If, however, theMinister himself, or through his officers, has permitted this contract to be varied.. and the penalties to be lost, I shall not believe he ever was in Wall-street, but will’ incline to the belief that he ran a religious; institution in the United States, and had’ nothing to do with business enterprises.
– I was not in» Wall-street, but I was on Broadway.
– The Minister’s coursehas been so erratic that it might have required a very large broadway to keep him> going.
– It was very successful for me.
– I do not think it would be successful for the Commonwealth.
– I have saved the Commonwealth thousands.
– So the Minister is always saying ; but hew does it happen that in this connexion he or somebody else has lost the Commonwealth over £40,000?
– Not a penny.
– I admit that the Minister is a very alert and quick person, but I would rather trust him to square the caucus than to carry out a contract. Why have we not been able to claim these penalties ? This firm got the contract largely on the ground that they could do the’ business quicker than any other, and they have not done so.
– I shall make them pay up.
– Why has the Minister not done so already?
– The honorable member is in too big a hurry.
– If the Minister is ready to give an explanation, I shall at once sit down to give Him the opportunity.
– I desire to say another word or two about my position in regard to immigration. Honorable members seem to think that the present boom of prosperity is going to last throughout the years; but if they cast their minds back they will realize that there is such a thing as a crisis caused by over-production. I have no objection to immigrants if they can be employed at a good rate of wages with reasonable hours. Partly through the good seasons, and partly, as suggested by an honorable member, through the wise administration of the various Labour Governments, we are enjoying a prosperity which is being exploited. A view taken by our friend, the capitalist, is that if we bring 1,000 families, or about 5,000 people, into” the Commonwealth, there must be 1,000 houses in which to place them. The newspapers show that the prices of food and rents are rising; and if hundreds of thousands of immigrants are introduced, what is to be the result? Can we maintain the standard of wages now obtaining, with reasonable hours, if these immigrants are brought here suddenly, or at a rapid rate? It is impossible; and the moment two men apply for one job wages may fall. The views held in some quartets that it is good to introduce a lot of poor people, and make them compete with men and women at present in .employment; but if we do that, wages must have a tendency to come down. By Labour legislation we are increasing wages, and, in a good many cases, reducing hours. With the introduction of immigrants, rents are rising, not only for houses, but for shops and business premises. Shopkeepers, who have to pay high rents, have to increase the price of their goods; and thus the real wages of the workers are being reduced. Although, on paper, our artisans’ wages are being increased, they are not getting the value for their money that we hoped when we tried to improve the Labour conditions. I dare say I shall probably be almost alone in my opposition to this expenditure on advertising. If we govern Australia properly, Federally, and through the States, we shall attract enough people at a sufficiently rapid rate to enable Australia to absorb them, and, by that means, avoid anything like a boom, with the consequent burst and misery.
.- I regret very much that the Prime Ministerdid not give any definite answer to the honorable member for Parramatta when he asked why two months’ Supply was requested, and why there was delay in introducing the Budget. However, we are asked to vote this large amount for carrying on the several services, and, of course, it is absolutely essential that those services should be carried on. At the same time, it is the right and duty of members of the Opposition to criticise the Administration ; and I should like to briefly touch on the Department of Defence, as one in which I take a special interest. Something happened quite recently which makes it easier for me to deal with this portion of theEstimates. When I first entered the House and spoke on the Address-in-Reply, I was an active member of the Defence Forces. I had the honour to command one of the regiments of Light Horse, and, therefore, I felt there was some restraint upon my utterances here. There is no more loyal officer in the service than myself - none who recognises more fully the bad taste of an officer criticising the Department, or the actions of his superiors, or the Minister. However, that difficulty has been removed, as I was placed on the unattached list during the early part of this month; and, therefore, I am more free to speak.
– I think the Minister of Defence made a mistake in putting the honorable member on the unattached list I
– It was not altogether the doing of the Minister. My period of command was more than up, having already had two extensions ; and in view of the fact that I occupy a position in this Parliament I did not apply for a further extension, and went on to the unattached list. The Minister in charge of the Department of Defence holds a most important position. On that Department depends, to a great extent, the safety of our hearths and homes, and its expenditure should be regarded as in the nature of an insurance premium. I am sure that no one will grudge necessary expenditure on defence. Efficiency is vitally essential to a proper system of defence, and to secure it we must spend money. The remuneration of those whom we employ should be such as to encourage the best men to join our Forces. That is at present not the case, especially in regard to the Permanent Forces. There is nothing either to encourage men of the right sort to join or those who are already enlisted to remain. This is inimical to the public interest, because long service is one of the chief factors towards efficiency. I am surprised that the Government has not donesomething to place the pay of the Permanent Forces on a satisfactory basis. At present it does not correspond with that which can be earned in similar avocations outside the Forces, and it should at least be equal to it. Regarding the general administration of the Department, Ministers would be wise to revert to the old order of things, and appoint a General Officer Commanding in place of the Military Board. I say that after mature consideration, although I refrained from saying it earlier for reasons which I have already given. The present system is not satisfactory. It may be objected that Great Britain has a Council of Defence, but at Home there are many eminent military authorities to choose from in creating such a body, whereas here - I say it without disrespect to the excellent officers whom we have - there is not the same choice. The change which I suggest would require an amendment of the Defence Act.
– The honorable member wishes a military despotism.
– No; but a good man at the head of the service would give more satisfaction than the Military Board. General Hutton Jid more for our military organization than any other officer whom we have had. It is men of his stamp whom we need. The General Officer Com manding should be directly responsible to the Minister. Now one man shelters behind another, so that responsibility cannot be placed definitely on any one. I wish also to refer to an appointment made by the Government. A Mr. Petersen has been appointed Director of Physical Training, and given the rank of lieutenant-colonel, without any one else being permitted to prove his qualifications for the post.
– What rank did he hold before ?
– I understand that he was a civilian, and was pitch-forked directly into the position. There are men in the Imperial military service who after a lifetime have not succeeded in rising to so high a rank, and I think that this action tends to depreciate military titles. The Minister of Home Affairs would tell us that in America they are all colonels, but we do not want that state of things here. Moreover, although Ministers pose as men who wish to give every advantage to the native-born, Australia for the Australians being their motto, they have in this instance given the position to a foreigner. I have nothing to say against Mr. Petersen, who may be a very estimable man, and a good man at his job, but he is not an Australian.
– He has been in Australia for twenty-five or thirty years.
– He may have been, but he is not native-born, and should not have been preferred before an Australian whose credentials were at least as good as his.
– Was there an Australian whose testimonials were as good?
– There was another applicant for the position whose credentials were as good, a man who is native-born, and has served the Empire in South Africa, in the mounted police, and with some of the contingents. I refer to Mr. John Henry Close, who has won great praise for his special system of physical culture. He has done good work at the barracks with the Cadets, and appears to be a very capable man, who thoroughly understands his business. No doubt honorable members opposite have heard of him as an expert in physical culture. He has an institution in Sydney, and I propose to read a letter which he published in the Evening News setting out his claims to consideration. He was not given an opportunity by the Government to establish his fitness for the post.
– Was he not considered?
– He was not considered. The appointment was a back-door one. No one knows why Mr. Petersen was appointed, and no one knew that he was to be appointed until the notice appeared in the Gazette. Mr. Close was naturally incensed by the way in which he was treated, especially as he knew that his credentials were as good as those of Mr. Petersen. He stated his case in the following letter: -
I note that you take exception in your “Notes” of 27th instant to portion of my objections, published in the “ Herald “ of that date, relating to the recent Federal appointment of a director of physical training. I think there is to be found ample proof that the principle of “ Australia for Australians “ has been dinned into our ears by the Labor candidates for Parliamentary honors in the past.
In protesting against the curious and questionable method of the appointment of the director I feel I have every right so to do, not only on account of the satisfaction my system of training has given to the Royal Australian Engineers and the N.S.W. police, but, if for no other reason, in consideration of the high opinion formed of my physical culture work among senior cadets at the Victoria Barracks -
I know that that is quite correct - over two years ago by their commanding officer, Major Wynne (now in command of the Coronation (?) contingent of Cadets). In the face of this and much similar documentary evidence of splendid results (including influential medical opinions), I feel that, speaking for myself, I at least should have had a chance of bringing my system under the searchlight of official scrutiny, with a view to its adoption, before the supreme appointment was made. But, no ! The principal post was filled through the back door, and when the favored one was firmly seated in the official saddle applications were publicly invited for the subordinate positions. I, therefore, withdrew my application for the chief instructorship.
I consider it a monstrous thing that in this ultra democratic land to-day so very undemocratic a method of making a public appointment could possibly have obtained as to create an entirely new and important official post to be filled by private favor, instead of inviting applications in the usual way. It merely goes to prove that no Parliamentary executive body, let alone individuals, can be trusted to justly perform even so simple and obvious a public duty unless legislation be enacted to prevent such abuses of office. As regards the appointment of a foreigner, I protest on no personal, but on broadly patriotic grounds. Is it not high time that the British people here and elsewhere cease being wilfully blind to the fact that foreigners in general do not reside on British soil for love of the Union Jack, but merely to exploit the British race when, where, and how they can, oust inn British interests, business firms, and individuals on their own territory. It is time the whole British nation (not Australians alone) arose to a full consciousness of our bounden duty to national kith and kin, bestowing patronage and custom among our true compatriots, where those compatriot! prove themselves worthy of such recognition.
I do not wonder at Mr. Close feeling aggrieved at his not being given at least an opportunity to apply for this important position of Director of Physical Culture.
– Is it a permanent appointment ?
– It appears to be a permanent appointment, carrying with it the rank of honorary Lieutenant-Colonel. The complaint is a very serious one. In reading this extract from Mr. Close’s letter, I am reminded of Major Wynne and the contingent of cadets who went to the Coronation.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I am reminded of what I might describe as the regrettable incident which happened yesterday, in the vicinity of this House, in connexion with Major Wynne and his contingent of cadets.
– Hear, hear ! Very regrettable.
– The Minister should have run after them, I suppose.
– I shall, at all events, state my view of the matter. I take it that Major Wynne probably came to the conclusion that, a snub having been administered to him very recently by the Minister of Defence-
– At Home.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I say distinctly that the Minister, while in London, severely snubbed Major Wynne, the commander of the cadets ; and, having that fact in mind, the Major probably was rather chary about asking him to give any recognition to the contingent which he had refused to recognise on the occasion of his visit to England.
– The Minister did nothing of the kind. I have denied that statement, on his authority, in this House.
– Let us see what the facts really are. In the first place, these cadets went Home at the expense of the general public. Many of us contributed to the fund to defray their expenses, although they should undoubtedly have been sent Home at the expense of the Commonwealth. When on the high seas - when nearing the Old Country - Major Wynne, in his large heartedness and patriotism, thought fit to despatch a wireless message congratulating His Majesty the King. The result was that an inquiry was set on foot as to Major Wynne’s standing, and the auspices under which the contingent of cadets was visiting the Old Country. I understand that the Minister of Defence, who was at the time in London, was asked whether this was a Commonwealth Coronation contingent, officially recognised as such, and that he distinctly said that it was not. He did not explain that the reason why it was not an official Commonwealth contingent was that the Commonwealth Government could not afford the cost of sending one Home; and it seems to me very discreditable that such a statement should have been made. With all due respect to the Prime Minister, I think that the expense involved in his taking Home to the Coronation festivities a large retinue was altogether out of place, considering that the plea of expense had been put forward by the Government as a reason for refusing to send Home a Commonwealth contingent. There is not the least doubt that Major Wynne was snubbed for having transmitted the wireless message of congratulation to the King. Remembering that snub, he was, perhaps, rather chary of approaching either the Prime Minister or the Minister of Defence, and asking for any official recognition of the boys, when they landed here on the return journey, and were about to visit Parliament House. Senator Pearce, as Minister of Defence, should have been cognisant of all the movements of the contingent. It was not the commanding officer’s place to approach him. When Major Wynne and his contingent of cadets landed here, an order should have been awaiting him that the Government would be pleased if he would visit the Federal Parliament House and put the lads through some drill in the presence of honorable members.
– And the Minister ought to have sent a motor to the vessel’s side to meet him.
– The Honorary Minister may seek to ridicule my remarks, but the general public do nol look with any complacency upon the treatment meted out to these lads.
– When they know the facts they are perfectly satisfied.
– lt will take a lot to satisfy them, on the point. Major Wynne may not have been au fait with the official etiquette relating to such a procedure as the sending of a message of congratulation to our King, but we must take it that he acted in the largeness of his heart. He was bursting, so to speak, with patriotic feeling, and thought it an excellent thing to do. When Senator Pearce, as Minister of Defence, was interrogated in London with regard to the standing of this contingent he might well have let them down lightly and have said, “ It is really not on official Commonwealth contingent. The Government did not send the cadets to London, because it could not afford to do so; but I should regard it as a favour if the Home authorities would show them every consideration.” That would have cleared the path for Major Wynne and his cadets. Instead of doing so, however, the Minister said, “ They are not recognised as a Commonwealth contingent.” I believe that Major Wynne threatened to camp the boys on the Thames Embankment, because preparations had not been made for their accommodation. But for’ the intervention, primarily, of Lord Roberts, in all probability the boys would even have been denied their medals. As it was, they did riot get them when other contingents received their medals ; but this Government has since been forced to recognise the contingent, and to give them their Coronation medals.
– - How does the honorable member reconcile his statement with the statement I have already made in this House, that whilst in England Senator Pearce asked Major Buckley, the High Commissioner’s military adviser, to see that accommodation was provided for the boys and was informed that it had been provided ?
– We have been credibly informed that Senator Pearce distinctly stated in London that it was not a Commonwealth contingent. We know that, as the result of that statement, trouble occurred, and that Major Wynne had to threaten to camp the boys on the Embankment because of the want of preparation for them. Seeing that popular feeling was in favour of the boys, however, the Minister probably took action at that stage, and received the reply to which the Honorary Minister has just referred. There is no doubt that the Minister of Defence practically repudiated the contingent altogether.
– He did absolutely nothing of the kind. The impudence of the man in charge was responsible for the whole trouble.
– Was it responsible for the boys having to depend on their comrades in England?
– Provision was made for the boys.
– Happily for the boys, for every one connected with them, and for the country, I believe, it has all turned out for the best. No credit, is due to the Minister of Defence or to the Government for that result, but the fact that these difficulties were placed in. their way caused the boys to be made a great deal of at Home. We must all be proud of the prowess they showed, especially in connexion with the shooting tests. They won the King’s Cup, and were successful in other competitions.
– They are a very mie lot of boys. There was no trouble about them.
– They are a fine lot, but the action of the Minister of Defence in relation to the contingent was reprehensible.
The Post and Telegraph Department is at present practically in a state of chaos. Any honorable member who endeavours to do a little business on the telephone will find at once that that branch of the service, at all events, is in an absolutely chaotic condition. The people of the Commonwealth are prepared to pay for an efficient service. If the trouble is want of money, then the money will have to be forthcoming. I believe the people will not grumble at the cost if they get an efficient service, but the question is how that is to be obtained. The Government, since taking office, appear to have made absolutely no bond fide attempt to place tha*- great Department upon a. sound footing, Some thousands of pounds were spent upon a Royal Commission, but its report has not been acted upon. When is it to be acted upon? It should be carried out, especially the recommendation to place the whole service under the control of an independent Board.
– Would the honorable member be prepared to take it away from the control of Parliament?
– It should be under an independent Board of Commissioners, and not under the Public Service Commissioner. We might then get rid of a great many grievances that at present exist. The Post Office employes are absolutely the worst treated in the whole of the Commonwealth Public Service. They labour under many disabilities. Particularly is that so in the case of a large body of temporary employes. I think I shall be in order in reading a letter which I received from a number of the members of the temporary staff of the Post and Telegraph Department, but I should not like to give their names, because they would, probably, be penalized for writing the letter. It begins -
We, the undersigned, although unknown to. you personally, nevertheless take the liberty of presenting this petition, relying on your recentlyexpressed desire to assist the postal employes in any reasonable and legitimate way within your power. If you can see your way clear -
– Is the honorable member aware that if he reads the letter it becomes a public document, and must be laid uponthe table of the House?
– If that is the case I will not read it, because I certainly would not lay it on the table of the House with the signatures attached to it. Perhaps I could get over that trouble by removing the signatures from the bottom. I should then be quite prepared to lay it on the table. I shall content myself with shortly stating the position of ‘these temporary hands. They are known as the temporary staff, but many of them have had yeaTs of honorable service in the Department. They perform practically the same duties as telegraphists, with salaries from ;£i8o upwards. They are used by the service, and are known as the handy men of the service. I know that the temporary staff, more particularly the telegraphists, are often set to run. most important services, but they do not get anything like the salaries paid to the permanent telegraphists for doing the same class of work. Moreover, they are only engaged from day to day. They live practically with the dread of being dismissed for any paltry offence, or simply by reason of the fact that they are not required any longer. Their position has become most unenviable recently by reason of the circular issued by the Minister of Home Affairs to his Department. They may be put off any day and see some one else put in their places. I do not wish to say anything to hurt the feelings of the Minister of Home Affairs, but I do say that die position of the temporary employes, although it was bad enough before, is now worse than ever.
– That is not correct; the honorable member does not know what he is talking about..
– Not a man has last his position..
– All’ these temporary employes will come under the provisions of the order or circular recently issued by the Minister of Home Affairs’, directing the granting of preference to unionists. Many of them who are not unionists will be in dread of being displaced by unionists.
– I am very glad they are doing it.
– The honorable member may be glad, but I do not think that policy will be palatable to the great body of public servants.
– It looks. like it in Western Australia.
– We know what Western Australia did in the vote on. the referenda. The Western Australians proved what they were then ; but let honorable members look at the intelligent vote cast on that occasion by the other States. We could expect nothing else from Western Australia. An honorable member has on the businesspaper a notice of motion for the adoption of the report of the Royal Commission on Postal Services, and when that matter is debated I shall have something further to say with regard to the Department. There is a great want of an official post-office at Greenwich, in my electorate. There is no official post-office between Crow’s Nest and Chatswood. The district embodies a very large and populous area, and the fact that we have not an official post-office within a distance of from 4 to 5 miles is a disgrace. There are 2,300 people in the east ward of the municipality of Lane Cove, which covers this part, and the municipal revenue of the ward is £2,400. The absence of an official post-office in the locality is a bar to the progress of that flourishing district. The semi-official office is not at all satisfactory. It is at a grocer’s shop, and the people get their letters and telegrams mixed up with pounds of tea, &c. There is no money-order office there. I put this forward as a very serious grievance, and trust that the Postmaster-General will take steps to have it rectified. I again enter my protest against the granting of Supply for two months. If I could prevent it, the Government would not secure it. I exceedingly regret that the Treasurer has not seen fit to tell the Committee why he wants Supply for two months, considering that he proposes to bring down the Budget in a fortnight.
– There will be an adjournment of the debate on the Budget.
– There might be obstacles in the way of bringing the Budget down for another two months. Unforeseen difficulties might prevent the Treasurer bringing it down during the session, but we can not prevent honorable members opposite from doing practically what they like. We have to submit, and I will submit with the best grace possible, but I cannot do so without first entering my protest,
– The honorable and gallant member for North Sydney need have no fear that Parliament will not have full control over the voting of the Estimates for the year, even if Supply is granted now for two months.
– What control can Parliament have when half the year is gone and the money is spent?
– I suppose it can have control over the other half of the year. Supply i.s being voted on the basis of the Estimates for the previous year. It would be singularly unfortunate if Parliament did not pass, the Estimates during the current session, because, I am afraid, Major Wynne and other gallant gentlemen might run short of half-a-year’s salary, which would be an unfortunate incident. I have no string of grievances to ventilate; and a Supply Bill of this cha meter does not call for lengthy debate. I rose principally to call attention to the characteristic speech of the honorable member for Wentworth, who is a professor of everything in general, and of nothing in particular. That honorable member told us how Commander Clarkson had been sent Home in connexion with the establishment of the Small Arms Factory; and I take it that Commander Clarkson performed that work with satisfaction to the’ Government, and, on his return, made some suggestions with regard to the management of the factory. Commander Clarkson, however, preferred to remain in that branch of the service, where he has spent practically all his life, and has an excellent record. This gentleman, in addition to being an efficient engineer, has great scientific knowledge, being one who has a love of. going beyond his profession to acquire information. A charge often made against Governments is that they hunt round for square pegs to put into round holes. If we are to have a proper Naval Unit, it is essential that, in connexion with it, there should be men who know something about the business - men who are recognised, at any rate, by the Admiralty, as efficient and able. If the proper place for Commander Clarkson is in connexion with the Naval Unit, rather than with the Small Arms Factory, all honorable members will approve of his action except, perhaps, the honorable member for Wentworth. Commander Clarkson is, I should say, eminently fitted for a seat on the Naval Board ; and I have yet to learn that that Board is expected to turn its attention to naval architecture. I was always under the impression that that is a distinct branch of professional knowledge; indeed, I do not know of any men on this side of the world who can claim to be authorities. If there has to be success in this connexion we shall have to obtain the assistance of one, if not more, with expert knowledge. In my opinion, the Government, if they intrust the naval architecture to the Naval Board, will commit an error of judgment; and, as a matter of fact, I think the idea that the Government will do so has no more foundation than the lively imagination of the honorable member for Wentworth. It is not right for honorable members, when airing their grievances, to go out of their way to reflect on Commonwealth officers who have long records of faithful service, both State and Federal.
– What reflections have been made on Commander Clarkson?
– It has been said that Commander Clarkson declined to accept the office of manager of the Small Arms Factory. Personally, I should say that it was a good thing he did decline, because, although he might prove an efficient manager, he will prove far more useful in his own branch of the service. Another suggestion was that a gentleman, who had been sent to England by the Government, had no right to pick and choose ; but it will be a sad day when the public servant cannot respectfully say, “ Sir, I think I can do better service in this, rather than in that branch.”
– Did he say that?
– That is the inference to be drawn. As to immigration, I think a great deal can be done with advertisements of the character referred to this afternoon. Perhaps, in the large cities, advertising may be done to excess, and the average inhabitant, familiar as he is with broadsides, may not be so readily influenced as he was years ago. As to the competition of Canada, I look on the Dominion Government as a cipher in the matter ; but by the Canadian- Pacific Railway Company, with their systematic advertising and thorough organization, much is done. I shall be the last to recommend any attempt to rival that company ; but we can do a great deal more than in the past, and the sooner we Australians recognise the position the better. For obvious reasons, we have very few friends on the other side of the world. Recent troubles in England show that there is a tremendous amount of cheap labour there; and we are not an object-lesson of cheap labour, but an objectlesson of what a free Democracy can be. There are big interests represented in the English press which will not give Australia credit for. anything, if that can be avoided. This is not a party question. As Australians, we ought to be, and are, deeply interested in seeing that the claims of this great country are brought before the world. An amount of money, which need not be very large, could be very judiciously spent in engaging the services of men to lay the facts before the people of the Old Country. For this work, we ought to obtain Australians; and by that I do not necessarily mean native-born, but men who have spent the best part of their lives here, possibly twenty or thirty years, and know what the country is. Australia has to fight the press and vested interests in England ; and our ablest weapon is the platform. What does the average Englishman know of Australia? On the other hand, what right would I have to speak. as an authority on my native land, after thirty-two years absence? I should regard any such attempt on my part as a piece of impertinence; to expect a Britisher to put the claims of Australia before the people of the Old Country is like expecting two and two to make five. Such men as I have suggested could, by the expenditure of a few thousand pounds, lecture to the people of the Motherland. And there are hundreds and thousands of men there, who are anxious to emigrate, and who would come this way if they knew the facts. At present, however, they are bewildered by agents and advertisements. People who are acting for certain countries naturally “ run down “ Australia. It might be said that information can be obtained at the offices of the Australian representatives in London ; but there are many men who do not care to go to large official buildings on errands of that kind. Men with the requisite knowledge could tell in a popular way what Australia really is, and those associated with them could supply literature and further information. I hope that, not only the Government, but the Opposition, will consider this matter, because there is an opportunity now to turn to some good account our recent visit to the Old Country. We must not depend on the
British authorities ‘and the press, because it would be absurd to expect them to advertise a democratic ‘country with high wages and free institutions.
.- On the question of immigration I shall .probably express a view that -will be unpopular. While I recognise the necessity for peopling Australia, I .also recognise that care should be taken as ito bow we go about the work. There is .a (disposition on .the part of both State and Commonwealth to advertise >with a view to attracting immigrants, irrespective of whether .there is employment for them when they arrive. I ,do not say that .there are not .openings for employment to-day, because there is evidence in New South Wales and Victoria that .artisans are required in certain quarters. We .are not justified, however, in advertising broadcast, and inducing people to come here, only .to find ‘that they have been deluded - -that, in their ©wm particular occupations, ‘.there is no hope of ;engagement. If we are to .expend money in .the direction suggested the spending ought to be systematized in .some way.. Many persons are brought :up to certain ^occupations, .and do .not find it easy to follow others. The Commonwealth and the States should make clear t© the people of the Old World what class of men. is required. If that were done, there would be ‘justification for spending money on the encouragement of immigration. ‘But to say merely that there is plenty of land available and employment obtainable in Australia will create great trouble in the f uture. >Of recent years we have had good seasons, and there ate more avenues of employment -open than there would otherwise be. We hope that the good seasons will continue, but that is not certain. There may be a recurrence of bad seasons, and then there “will be armies of unemployed in the cities, as there have been in the past. It’ has been stated, ‘however, -that a great number of immigrants may toe expected during the next year or eighteen months, showing that the tide of immigration has commenced to flow this way. With bad seasons there will be a dearth of employment. Men “will fight against one another to get work, and a reduction of wages and the lowering -of the standard of living will come about., to the detriment of the country generally. No effort is being made by the Commonwealth, or by the States, to make known the true position of the mining industry. On the contrary, it has been said that there is plenty -of room here for miners, and, following on the statement attributed to the Prime Minister, which he has made dear in this House, the proprietors of the Newcastle coal manes have cabled Home the information that there are openings in that district for 1,070 men at wages of from 7 s.. to £1 a day, it toeing added that some men can ‘make as much as £2 a day. But a few months ago, in the Sydney and Newcastle newspapers, some of the proprietors were making it known that they .expect keen competition among themselves m the near future, .not because of the prosecution .of .the Vend, but because certain .owners were sot keeping faith with the rest. It was .pointed out .that, in .that event, it would be a. case of the survival of _ the fittest, and that the mines mere being elaborately .equipped for the .competition. The cable .to which I have referred was sent -after that statement had been made public. ‘People should not be brought to Australia unless there is occupation here for them. If it is published broadcast that there is employment for .all, men will find, on arriving here, that starvation stares them in the face, and that they cannot send for the wives and little ones whom they had left behind until they could put enough aside out of the big wages they_ hoped for to pay .their passages. It is not long since the Government of New .South Wales was providing relief work for the Newcastle miners, who could not earn .enough ait their .regular occupation to purchase the necessaries of life. They were willing to .accept 8s. a .day on relief work, because .the .steady employment given was more remunerative than .the intermittent work at the .mines. One oi the .mines at which it is said men from England could find employment is the Burwood Extended, .but it has not been at work for a third of the time this year, and its miners have ‘been idle for five or six weeks -at a stretch. Similar conditions prevail -at the Scottish- Australian Mining Company ‘s mine. Owing to the intermittent employment, many of its men are now on relief works. The company is asking them to go back, and they are willing to do so on the promise of eight days’ -work a fortnight. The -company wants the men to remain idle until ‘business comes to it, but what is the use of ros. or £1 a ‘day when there is work only once a week ot .once a month? Some discrimination must be shown in this matter of advertising. Where labour is needed it ‘should be brought out, but advertisements like that displayed in the Queen’s Hall, al- though very beautiful, are likely to do harm in attracting immigrants who, when they come here, will not find work. This deception, will injure Australia more than anything else. It would be better to work 011 a system to ascertain in what trades and callings labour is needed, and to induce such labour to immigrate. The working men do not object to immigration, but they object to persons being brought here to work in occupations which are already crowded, because that means unfair competition and semi-starvation. In the Newcastle district if there were a very large number of miners offering they would be forced to fight each other to get work, and with the cut-throat competition among the proprietors, wages would come down, lt is the duty of the Commonwealth and of the States to make it known in the Old Country that there is not employment here for miners, there being many collieries where work is very intermittent, and no guarantee df regular employment. The chairman of the Miners’ Federation has stated the facts of the case applying to the Newcastle district. If the proprietors could guarantee regular work, they would have no trouble in getting men, but that is impossible, because so many mines have been opened np that there is not sufficient business for all. I hope that the Prime Minister, now that he is seized of the facts, will prevent miners in the Old Country from being deluded by the statement that there is work for them in New South Wales. If other honorable members know of industries which are situated similarly to the coal mining industry, they should make the facts public. I wish now to refer to the statements of the honorable member for North Sydney regarding the attitude of the Minister of Defence towards the contingent of cadets which visited England at the time of the Coronation, under Major Wynne. According to the statement set out in the paper which has been laid on the table, it is evident that the Minister tried to do what was fair and just towards the cadets. Application was made in Jul)’, 1910, for the Government to sanction a subsidy of £1 for £1 towards the expense of sending a cadet contingent Home. That was refused, and a similar application, made in October of the same year, by Major Wynne, was also refused. Later, Major Wynne was informed that leave of absence would be granted to selected officers, non-commissioned officers, and cadets, that arms and equipment would be issued on loan, and that the services of two non-commissioned officers of the Instructional Staff would be given to assist at the preliminary camp, but that the Government would recognise no liability, financial or otherwise, in connexion with the matter. Major Wynne went Home on that understanding. The Minister had previously agreed to cable to the Imperial authorities asking that a place might be allotted to the cadets on Coronation Day, and had sanctioned the issue of equipment and new pattern uniforms if they could be o got ready in time. The Minister also instructed Major Buckley, our Military Adviser in England, to see that accommodation was provided, and was informed that it would be. Regarding the presentation of Coronation medals, Lord Roberts was informed, in reply to a cablegram from him, that the Commonwealth Government had no objection to the cadets being considered eligible. The honorable member for North Sydney complained that the cadets were not fairly treated when they visited Parliament House yesterday, but I understand that Ministers were not informed of the intention to bring them here, and, therefore, did not put in an appearance. The least Major Wynne should have done was to notify the Minister of his intended visit.
– He would have been a simpleton to run any further risk.
– The statement that the Minister has acted unjustly towards the cadets is not borne out by the facts. 1 have put on record what really happened, because it would be unfair to allow the remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney to go without reply. He also spoke of the position of the temporary employes in the Post Office, but I have learned from the men themselves that they have been better treated since this Government came into power than they were before. They have had an increase of wages, and their conditions have been improved. The honorable member stated that these temporary hands would lie dismissed, in all probability, because of the determination of the Government to grant preference to unionists. He must know, however, as other honorable members do, that temporary hands can be employed for only a limited period. When that time expires they must be dismissed, and either permanent or new temporary hands take their places. Preference to unionists has not interfered with them. If honorable members of the Opposition could point to one case of the kind they would justify their assertion, but I have no hesitation in saying that no temporary employ^ in the General Post Office has been dismissed because of the rule as to preference to unionists. In future appointments, however, unionists will have the preference. That, indeed, is very necessary, since the postal employes have their own unions, and if we recognised non-unionists trouble would be likely to arise. The inference to be drawn from the honorable member’s statement was that o the Government had dismissed certain persons because of its determination to give preference to unionists. I reply that they have not, and that the question of preference does not touch this matter.
– The trouble is that in appointing new temporary hands unionists will be selected.
– I am very doubtful about that, since the Public Service Commissioner, and not the Government, has the control of appointments to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
– Some temporary hands, .1 believe, have been in the service for three years.
– And some of them are excellent public servants. In my own electorate a young man, who has given every satisfaction, and whose services the public desire shall be retained, has been dismissed. On inquiry I found that he had been employed as a temporary hand in excess of the regulation time, and that the Public Service Commissioner could do nothing more for him. That is the true position. The Public Service Commissioner has to observe the regulations. I desire, in conclusion, only to emphasize the point that the Government should take care to make known in the Old Country the true position in regard to employment in Australia. It is wrong to allow men to be induced to come out here, in the belief that employment at good wages awaits them, only to find upon arrival that they have been deluded. Many of these men have to walk the streets, and find it impossible to earn sufficient to keep themselves, irrespective of what is necessary to maintain their wives and families in the Old Country.
– It is refreshing to hear my honorable friend, who has just resumed his seat, trying to explain away the inexpungable records of the Prime Minister’s statements while in England. I fear that he has not quite so easy a task as he would lead us to believe by the light and airy way in which he seeks to set aside the whole matter. He asks that the Prime Minister shall send word to England that all that he told the workers while he wasthere was untrue.
– I was speaking only of the miners. The Prime Minister did notrefer to them.
– It is precisely the miners to whom I am referring. Hereis what the Prime Minister said, and hehas not denied the statement - “ And now can you tell me,” the interviewer asked - “ what are the prospects of the average working, man who is thinking of going out to Australia?”
– Is that the penny-paper interview ?
– Yes, I am quoting from the interview with the Prime Minister, published in the Penny Pictorial,. which has a very much larger circulation, than some of the other newspapers which, contained the reports of the right honorablegentleman’s Tony Pandy speech. The report continues - “Excellent without doubt,” was Mr. Fisher’sreply. “ He need never be afraid of getting, work to do so long as he is willing .and able to do it. Mind you, I do not say he would be able to pick and choose; far from it. But I know, in my own trade - mining - that there isa continual demand for good men from 10s. per day upwards.”
The Prime Minister has never repudiated, that statement.
– He might have been* alluding to metalliferous mining. He is a. Gympie man.
– I make my honorable friend a present of that suggestion. I believe that the Prime Minister is a coal, miner, and not a metalliferous miner. Hewas, I understand, a metalliferous miner for a little while; but in this interview hewas referring to his own calling as a miner, and clearly he meant his calling as a coal miner. It is not correct to say of metalliferous miners in Australia that they receive from 10s. per day upwards. I believe that the Wages Board in this Statehas just fixed a wage of about 9s. per day.
– I do not think that the Wages Board has met.
– I think that the honorable member is quite wrong. He appears to know very little about his own State.
– The Wages Board, at all events, has not arrived at a decision.
– It has been sitting for a very long time.
– -Hear, hear; they do sit for a long time.
– Then this Wages Board must have met.
– All Wages Boards do sit for a long time.
– Will this little Jack-in-the-box be quiet for a time? I believe that the Wages Board for miners in Victoria has fixed the rate of wages to be paid those engaged in metalliferous mining at about 9s. per day.
– When was the Prime Minister a coal miner in Queensland?
– I believe he was a coal miner in Queensland before he engaged in metalliferous mining.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– My honorable friend, of course, knows a great deal about mining, but my impression is that I am not wrong.
– There are no coal mines in Gympie.
– Who said there were? The honorable member knows, however, that there are coal mines in Queensland. What he knows of mining is not very much, but, strange to say, those honorable members who know the least of a subject are those who can offer the most intelligent opinions upon it. That seems to be the invariable rule. To return, however, to the point I was making when interrupted, let me say that the Prime Minister has not denied the report I have just quoted as to statements made by him in England regarding mining in Australia. He said that any man who was willing to work could obtain employment as a miner at 10s. per day and upwards. The honorable member for Hunter, as a loyal member of his party, is seeking to put the best possible face on the situation so far as the Prime Minister is concerned; but he cannot rub out these facts, nor do I think he should attempt to do so. The Prime Minister, perhaps, did not show great wisdom in making this statement in England. A dearth of employment has prevailed in our mining communities for some time, and it is the aftermath of the disastrous strike.
– Only in regard to coal mining.
– 1 am speaking of coal mining, and am referring more particularly to the position in the electorate of Hunter. Miners there are undoubtedly passing through a period of great hardship, and they have my deepest sympathy. Those who know what is transpiring there must have a great deal of sympathy with the men, apart from what has happened in past times, and therefore I do not think the Prime Minister was welladvised in advising the coal miners of Great Britain to come to Australia with the object of obtaining work as miners at 10s. per day and upwards. I do not say that he should not have advised these miners to come to Australia. According to Mr. Piddington, there is plenty of work, at good pay, offering in Australia for men to-day. Mr. Piddington, who was appointed by the New South Wales Government as a Commissioner to inquire into the question of immigration and shortage of labour in New South Wales, has made a report which my honorable friends opposite will find a very hard nut to crack. If that gentleman has any sympathies at all in the matter, they are in the direction of the working men of Australia, and they have been ever since I have known him.
– If he has, then we may well say, “ Save us from our friends.”
– I defy the honorable member to point to any statement made by Mr. Piddington during his public life that was not of a thoroughly Radical nature, and certainly sympathetic towards Labour.
– We have never been able to find any statement against Labour on the part of the honorable member, but we know how his votes have gone-
– I do not think that the honorable member will find a record of any vote ever cast by this same gentleman which was antagonistic to Lahour. At all events, I should think that the fact that he was appointed to inquire into this question by Mr. Holman, who was at the time the leader of the present Government in New South Wales, should be a good enough certificate for honorable members opposite.
– He was a good man for the position.
– I thank the honorable member for even that admission. Here is what this “ good man” says about our present conditions -
The conclusion at which I have arrived is that as a result of natural causes there does exist in the State in most of the skilled trades and in most of the manufacturing industries a great and permanent need for the introduction from abroad of trained and competent workers. ]t has been stated by honorable members opposite - and I am concerned only with the facts - that the policy of immigration is intended to reduce our wages rates and to lower our social standing.
– That is the one desire of the employers.
– So says the philosopher of Melbourne Ports. What does this Commissioner say on the point? -
Careful consideration has been given to the position of artisans and other workers already here, regard being had to the two considerations - first, that within limits which are set by the two economic factors of productivity and consuming power in the community, every new worker, so far from taking away work, makes work; and, second, that if those limits are rashly anticipated or exceeded, the workers already here run the risk of seeing the great gains slip away that they have made of late years, not only in regard to the specific wages that are paid, or the hours and conditions of walk, but also with regard to a matter of equal importance with these, reasonable continuity of employment. That the workers’ success and happiness are increased the more men there are in the State, provided the volume of employment is there for them as they come, could not have been better demonstrated than by the experience of last year, when, according to the evidence called from every union before me, the number of artisans arriving voluntarily here was large, and this, increase in the supply of labour had synchronized with a recognised advance in the prosperity of the working classes, and had given (he unions a greater numerical reinforcement. I may add that almost all the trades dealt with in this report, so far as male labour is concerned, have the protection of industrial awards, and this in itself would be a substantial breastwork against any attack upon the wages and conditions at present enjoyed.
Later on he says -
As the evidence enables me to state with some precision the minimum number of additional hands- for which- State and private enterprises are now ripe, I conclude that in a country like this there is no need to fear that any weakening of producing power or any falling’ off in consumers’ demands may bring about a decline in the: volume of employment as a result of the immigration here suggested. It is rather to be expected that the flood of human energy and skill poured into the veins of the body industrial will not only vitalize it highly for its present duties,, but create in all its parts so strong a pulse and so sound a growth that before long a new necessity will arise for a fresh infusion of skilled as well as other immigrants.”
This report means that every man who comes brings his necessities with him, and creates his own demands, and these, ramifying through the secondary employments which are requisite in order to keep him in economically efficient employment, create a- greater and not a. less volume of employment.. It means that the more people we have here to set to work the better for the country and the better for those who are here.
– That has been the experience of all new countries.
– Exactly. As - this writer points out, where the highwater mark of immigration is reached the country responds most readily, and there is the greatest prosperity. These are the conclusions of a man who is not in politics, and connected with no political party. He was appointed by the head of the present Labour Government in New South Wales, and, after a thorough investigation qf the whole problem, he says that we want 3,300 or 3,400 men at once to fill the vacancies already existing in that State, and we need not, therefore, be over nice in our discrimination as to the kind of trade followed by those whom we invite here. There is work for the miners of the Old Country to do, if not at mining, at plenty of other subsidiary employments. I have yet to learn that the Prime Minister has either withdrawn or denied the statements that are reported to have been made by him to the miners of Wales.
– The subsidiary employments would not run from 10s. to £1 per day.
– I should not think they would.
– It will be a good day for Australia when men do .get £1 a day. There will be lively times, and plenty of immigration then.
– I resent the imputation constantly made on that side of the House that those who favour immigration want it for the detriment of the workers who are already here.
– It is true, all the same.
– It is. a foul slander. On the authority of the Commissioner who was appointed by the Labour Government of New South Wales there is plenty of room, for immigrants, and the more that come here the better for thecountry and the better for the. men who are here. A valuable point of his report is that immigration will not put down wages or lower our social standards, but will lead to steady, permanent, and continuous employment for all classes.
I want to say a word about the New South Wales cadets and their visit to the House. The last speaker and some others have already alleged that Major Wynne would not go near the Minister of Defence after arrival here. I should think he would not. In the. circumstances I certainly should not, and there is not a man in this House who would have done so. The cadets went to London. How they got there does not matter so much ; the fact is that they were there, and Major Wynne was with them.
– A self-appointed general.
– Self appointed as he might be, he did precisely what other men have done, and there has not been half as much criticism of them as there has been of Major Wynne. He is not the only man who has taken a cadet corps to London ; but it seems to be only Major Wynne that we criticise. Why, I do not know.
– I do.
– If the honorable member knows, he had better tell the Committee. These youths went to London. I suppose we may hardly call them young men, although they look much older than sixteen or seventeen. I never saw a finer body of youngsters got together. While the Minister might have taken any steps he desired, in order to subject Major Wynne to the discipline of his Department - nobody would object to the Minister enforcing it on any officer who might be there - I do not know why he should extend that treatment to the lads. As they were there, I should have thought he would waive any feeling he might have had upon the subject, deal with Major Wynne afterwards, if he needed dealing with, and treat the boys in London as everybody else was treated who found himself there, or who was taken there by responsible officers.
– He met them and showed them every consideration on every occasion.
– I should like to know what consideration he showed them. They do not appear to have had much consideration at all.
– Who recommended that they should not receive the medals?
– Does the honorable member know ?
– They have the medals now, although I do not know who obtained them for them. Having been in the Defence Department, I know the necessity of maintaining discipline, and the only point I take in the matter is that, while the Minister could have held Major Wynne to his proper and strict discipline if he had in any way violated it, he could, at the [So] same time, have taken care that the boys received every privilege that was legitimately open to them in London.
– And he did, too.
– They did not get it through his intervention.
– He showed them greater care than any previous Minister would have done.
– I am told that they could have been lodged there for very much less if the Minister had gone out of his way to be kind to them. It is of no use for the right honorable member to try to bluff the matter.
– I know more about the subject than do those who are talking about it.
– Probably the right honorable member does, and it is a great pity, for the sake of the Government and the Defence Department, that he does hot tell the public. If he knows more than we do, had he not better enlighten our darkness ?
– We do not need to reply to “ clap-trap “ uttered for political purposes.
– Why had they to be assisted by Mr. McGowen?
– The “ strong public opinion ‘ ‘ behind them in New South Wales left them there stranded ! .
– The strong public opinion in New South Wales would not see 100 boys stranded, as this Government did, even if they had not a home to go to. The fact that they were stranded, no matter where they came from, and could not set home decently, should have been sufficient to appeal to the Government. The Postmaster-General taunts us with the fact that they had not the public opinion of New South Wales behind them, and for that reason, I suppose, he would have allowed them to die in the street.
– Major Wynne ought to have been gaoled for taking them Home without money.
– Does that help the boys ? The honorable member, like the rest, is punishing 1 00 innocent boys because of something that one man is supposed to have done.
– What punishment did they suffer ?
– I suppose the honorable member would have felt punished if he could not get home from the other side of the world. .Mr. Mathews’.- Some of them were sons of the snobocracy of New South Wales.
– All honour and credit to Mr. McGowen for stepping in and doing what this shabby Government would not do.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports interjects that these boys were the sons of the snobocracy of New .South Wales. As a matter of. fact, many of them are wage-earners’ sons. The CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member is not in order in alluding to the Government’ as a “shabby” Government. He must ^withdraw the expression.
– I withdraw the expression’ with pleasure, and substitute the term immaculate Government - the Government ‘that can do no wrong, so far as their supporters in this chamber are concerned. -It is, marvellous to hear the chorus of approbation from their followers concerning any acts of this Government. I have never seen a party sit behind a Government as ‘ those slaves sit behind this one. There is not one of them who does not behave here’ like a marionette. They have no minds -of their own outside the Caucus, although I am quite prepared to believe that they have many minds there, and many tongues also. Here they are a solid phalanx.. They are deaf and dumb outside the. Caucus concerning all the enormities of this Government that are transpiring from day to day.
– We do not change our opinions- as often as the honorable member does.
– I do not suppose the honorable member ever changes his opinions; the Caucus does it for him. He dare not change them himself. His position and very existence here depend on his not daring to have an opinion of his own. The honorable member sits opposite with a chain tight around him in perfect slavery to the -Caucus. Whatever changes may take place.,- honorable members opposite never change in one particular - they are still bound by the Caucus. It is a pity that we cannot talk about the cadets without having insulting remarks from that side of the House.
– What twaddle.
– Was it “ twaddle “ to speak of the cadets as sons of the “snobocracy” of New South Wales?
That is to “rub it in” to the cadets in addition to the treatment they have received from this very liberal Government.
– I thought we had no classes now.
– Many of the boys’ fathers travelled in the steerage on the boat in which I went Home.
–From the remarks of honorable members opposite I should have thought the fathers all went Home first class. I should now like to say a word or two in reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I did not hear what the honorable member for Wentworth said about Commander Clarkson, but from what I know of the facts of the case I do not think the best is being made of that gentleman’s experience and ability. Had I been in charge of the Department, Commander Clarkson would now have been manager of the Small Anns Factory. He was sent Home specially to look after all the business connected with the establishment of that factory ; and everything that was done was on his recommendation, after the fullest investigation. He made several trips to America in pursuit of the latest information regarding the machinery, and he advised what is now being done. The understanding before he went away was that on his return he was to be the manager of the factory, at a salary, I think, of £8oo a year. I do not know what salary he was then receiving as a marine engineer, but it was probably about .£400. I have yet to learn that a marine engineer, no matter how practical or qualified, is necessarily an expert naval constructor. I take it that a large part of his duty as a member of the Naval Board would be to advise on matters of naval construction, and, perhaps, reconstruction ; and I do not know that we are putting him to the best use in keeping him on that Board.
– An engineer is required on the Board.
– I should think that a man who has had some experience in construction would be preferable, .though if, in addition, he is an engineer, so much the better.
– Why not have on the Board some one who knows about naval architecture?
– There is .no such member on the Board yet. Meantime, there is no manager of the Small Arms Factory, and there ought to he one after all these months, seeing that this is one of the most important branches of the Department. I regarded the appointment of Commander Clarkson as settled before I left the Department; but everything has been changed since, and I, for one, should like to know why.
– Who is in charge of the factory just now ?
– I believe that Commander Clarkson is temporarily in charge.
– -Then he is doing what he was sent to do.
– But he is sacrificing his duty on the Naval Board.
– Nothing has been sacrificed up to the present.
– The point is that Commander Clarkson is not going to be the manager of the factory, although he made a bargain to be manager at a high salary. When we were pressing him on the matter, we gave him the option - I do not know that this is any breach of confidence, because it is a matter the public should know of-
– It is not usual for a Minister to discuss here what he said to his officers in his own Department.
– I take it that this is a matter of public concern - that the public are entitled to know all the’ facts connected with the definite bargain which has not been kept.
– The honorable member is alleging a breach of faith.
– I am not; I think a mistake has been made by this Government. I am not complaining of Commander Clarkson, because it is the Government who have made the bungle. I think that, now, Commander Clarkson ought to be sent to Lithgow as permanent manager. He knows more about the business than any other man, having- been specially educated for it at the expense of the country. It is not a mere matter, as has been said, of “turning, down” one job and taking another, but a matter of a bargain which was concluded about four years ago.
– Does the honorable member blame Commander Clarkson for the delay in the completion of the. factory?
– Will the “honorable member stop his contemptible “ pointing,,”’ and ask me a. question that, is relevant to my remarks? I decline to answer the honorable member’s silly interjection.
– The honorable member knows what is at the bottom of this.
– I know nothing about the cause of the delay, though I should like to. It is not for me to make allegations ; but the public ought to be told why the contract is over twelve months behind.
– And no explanation has been given as yet.
– Quite so; although there are about ,£40,000 in penalties owing. The late Government tied the matter up in every way they could, and provided for heavy penalties in order to insure despatch.
– The honorable member for Nepean says that the Government altered the contract.
– If that is so, we ought to know the facts. As honorable members over there are so pertinacious, it is time that the matter was cleared up.
– Who ordered the alterations that caused the delay ?
– I do not know, but I should like to know. It seems to me that honorable members opposite know a great deal more about the matter than do the Ministers. We cannot get a word about the contract except from some of the rank and file on the cross-benches. Commander Clarkson was held to his bargain in London, and, after some negotiations by cable, agreed ultimately to leave himself in the hands of the Department. I shall not go into the matter of the cable negotiations, as the Prime Minister seems to think I ought not to do so; but when Commander Clarkson left himself in the hands of the Department it meant that he was to take the management of the factory. What has taken place since I do not pretend, to know. He has not taken the management, but. is there only temporarily. The man who was specially trained and qualified at the expense of the country ought, at any rate for the present, to be held to his bargain, and. accept the practical management. I believe -he would be of more use. to the country there than on the Naval Board at present.
.. - We have heard of little else but championship of Wynne, whom. I should.dub the self-appointed, general who. took the New South. Wales, cadets to England. The Opposition keep hammering away on this point, but,, if they are open, to advice, they will keep quiet.. The only point they have is the stranding of the poor unfortunate boys in England; but it is not so much of these boys they talk as of the gallant Major. In spite of what the Prime Minister and the Honorary Minister say as to what has been done, the Opposition keep denying the statements made. If they persist in that line of conduct, we may have to quote the newspaper of Major Wynne’s pa, and all the inspired articles which appeared therein on this vexed question. However, I desire to address myself to the matter of immigration. During the debate I said, in an unruly interjection, that the idea of the manufacturers and employers in introducing immigrants was to do something detrimental to the workers, and I say so still. Complaints are made of the many strikes there have been, but there has never been a strike yet without the newspapers and the employers declaring that there are plenty of men to take the place of the strikers.
– That is said at Lithgow now.
– It was said during the agricultural implement makers’ strike that the employers could get any number of men, and yet we are told that this very industry could employ thousands more now. At one time or the other they must have been telling lies. In every industry in my electorate there are plenty of men to be obtained for a portion of the year though there are seven or eight months when they might do with more. What is to become of the extra men during the remaining four or five months? They cannot live on air, and they get no wages- The employers want to have men here so long as they are needed ; but the devil may do what he likes with them when there is no longer work for them to do.
– It is not a question of what the employers want, but of what the Prime Minister intends to do after his Ton-y-Pandy speech’.
– The Prime Minister can answer for himself, and I would accept his explanations in preference to the statements of the honorable member. The poster now displayed in the Queen’s Hall has been condemned ; but, in my opinion, it will do more than any other advertisement I have seen to attract notice to Australia. It says nothing about any particular industry, but its effect will be to draw people out here. Recently the High Commissioner addressed a meeting of the Coppersmiths Guild in London, and we know how well he is able to place the advantages of Australia before an audience. But at the conclusion of his speech the noble lord or the illustrious marquis who was in the chair said that he had listened to the speech with admiration, and felt that Australia must be a grand country, but England wanted the very class of people that the High Commissioner was trying to induce to emigrate. That, no doubt, is a fact. We certainly do not want derelicts ; we have too many of our own. If immigrants come here in hordes they will do harm, not only to themselves, but to those who are already here. The statement that the Labour party is opposed to immigration is on a par with other attacks which have been made on it. What we oppose is the flooding of the markets of Australia with labour which cannot be assimilated. We have no objection to immigration for which there is occupation. But what is now taking place in Victoria? In order that the reputation of the country may not suffer abroad, nativeborn workers are being discharged and places found for immigrants. I know of men who, unable to find work in the iron trade in New South Wales, have had to come to Victoria. But employers generally think that wages are too high, and to suit themselves are trying to introduce surplus labour. What is said about bringing out the proper class of men to place on the land is all clap-trap. For every immigrant placed on the land, fifty or sixty are left in the towns. Do members of the Opposition expect the Government to be false to its supporters by assisting immigration for the displacement of Australian workers and the lowering of wages? The honorable member for Hunter has shown what the conditions are in Newcastle. There the mine proprietors, finding that the men are so strongly organized that they will not consent to a reduction of wages, are advertising for labour in Great Britain. What is the use of 10s. or 12s. a day to men who can get employment only once or twice a week?
– There is a mine in my district which did not turn a wheel last week.
– There are months in the year in which the men in many of the Melbourne factories . are not half employed. Until two months ago there was a greater demand for labour, for a period of twelve or fourteen months, than ever before ; but now things are not going so well, and men are’ falling out of work.
– That state of things may be only temporary.
– My constituents are not willing to take the chance of that. The honorable member for Lang ridiculed our position by pushing it to a logical absurdity, contending that if the introduction of immigrants was a bad thing, it would improve conditions to send men away, and that if that principle were followed we should soon have no population at all. Of course, we all know that the increase of our population is desirable for the purpose of defence and for other reasons. We have not enough people here for the area that we have to defend. At present, however, the States are bringing people here without discrimination, and in their rivalry are decrying one another’s advantages.
– Yet each State is getting a fair number of immigrants.
– Immigrants are coming out here as fast as we can take them. We are told, indeed, that more would come if ships were provided. I am certain that under this system we shall get some very undesirable characters. If there is too much clap-trap talked, we shall have men coming out thinking that they can pick up gold in the streets, like many of those who came here fifty or sixty years ago. I hope that the Government when advertising Australia in England will do their best to counteract the glowing colours in which the States are too prone to paint the conditions that obtain here. I admit that if we could settle more people on our lands it would be a great advantage to us. But to talk about settling them upon the land, whilst bringing out sixty artisans to find employment in our cities, as against every immigrant who obtains employment in the country, will only tend to make matters worse. I trust that the Government will watch the form of advertising that is undertaken in the Old Country, and will do their best to prevent the States inducing immigrants to come here at any cost. If steps be not taken in that direction, we shall, as the honorable member for Hunter has predicted, find men walking the streets with no vocation to follow.
.- I am one of those who desire to see a large population settled in Australia. That a young country, with such magnificent resources, should possess only 5,000,000 inhabitants is not a satisfactory condition of affairs. I am merely echoing the sentiments of honorable members on this side of the chamber when I say that I desire to see our population increase as fast as it is pos sible for the country to absorb it. But a difference has arisen between those who enthusiastically support an advanced immigration policy and those who are alleged to be opposed to immigration, although in reality they are not. The real point of difference is in regard to the absorption of immigrants upon such terms as will prove profitable to themselves, without inflicting injury upon others.
I admit that there is a fear amongst a large proportion of the working classes - amongst those who have outofwork periods, and who labour for small wages - that if immigrants are brought here in considerable numbers they may be still further prejudiced in their intermittent employment. I am sure that we can sympathize with the position occupied by these workers - a position which is a sad commentary upon our present industrial and social system. If we could devise a provision which would ease the difficulties of those who are faced at intervals with lack of employment, I am sure that a great deal of the objection which exists to ?.n advanced immigration policy would disappear.
Statements have been made by employers that they have ample room for large numbers of workmen in Australia, and on the other hand, representatives of the workers have affirmed that there is abundant labour available here for both our primary and secondary industries. Quite properly the Labour Government in New South Wales desired to ascertain the real facts, and for that purpose they appointed Mr. A. B. Piddington, a well-known barrister, a Commissioner to hear evidence from the contending parties, and to submit a report to the New South Wales Parliament.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has ‘ referred to Mr. Piddington as a friend of the Labour movement. I challenge the accuracy of his statement. I say that Mr. Piddington is a very able barrister, that he is a gentleman who could be appointed a Royal Commission, and in that capacity could be depended upon to make an impartial investigation, and to submit an unprejudiced report. It was scarcely fair of that honorable member to insinuate that Mr. Piddington is one of the advance guard of the Labour movement. He is nothing of the kind. He has always been identified with the Anti-Labour party, and as a matter of fact he sat behind the Wade party in the-‘ New South Wales Parliament. :
But I believe that he has discharged his duties as a Royal Commissioner by making a thoroughly impartial investigation. He has heard from the employers all the evidence which they chose to put before him, and he has also heard all the evidence which the representatives of trade unions cared to bring under his notice. Having done that he has presented his report, in which he states that more than 3,000 workers, male and female, can be immediately absorbed in the industries of New South Wales.
I am prepared to accept his finding. I do “ not think that anything is to be gained by those who hold a different opinion as to the “condition of the labour market by seeking to belittle his report. They had an opportunity of placing their evidence before him, and consequently they ought to be prepared to accept his decision. At any rate, I am willing to do so, and I believe that in some of the industries of Australia to-day there is a shortage of workers, both male and female.
If it is agreed that the vacant spaces of Australia should be filled, what should be the most convenient time to institute a policy of immigration? Surely, no better opportunity offers for the introduction of some of the able-bodied workers of other European countries than when we are enjoying unprecedented prosperity. The probabilities are that if an investigation similar to that which recently took place in New South Wales were made in the other States, it would be found that there are opportunities for the absorption of workers in certain industries. Cases in point have been brought under my own notice. I have a brother who is connected with the management of one of the large Melbourne houses. He is not antagonistic to labour. His sympathies are entirely with it. Every vote he has given has been to labour, and I believe that he will always vote in that direction. He has no object to serve in misleading me in this matter, and he tells me that it is impossible to obtain the necessary labour in the business with which he is connected. Advertisements have been inserted in the Sydney press offering employment in Melbourne, and my brother has gone over there to endeavour to secure employes for an industry in this State.
If, as the result of an investigation in the different States, it was shown that a certain number of workers could be absorbed by our various industries, we should have to endeavour to show those whose fear of times of intermittent employment induces them to take up an attitude strongly antagonistic to the introduction of additional workers, that their ideas must be tempered by the actual facts as they undoubtedly exist in relation to some of these industries.
I am very glad to see a vote in the schedule to advertise the resources of Australia, for, from what I can learn from those who recently visited England, it is highly necessary that Australia should be better known, not only in Great Britain, but in other European countries. I have Heard in this House observations as to some of the States having control over immigration, and as to the way in which State is being played off against State, to the detriment of the Commonwealth as a whole.
I sincerely trust that the time is not far distant when the power as to immigration, vested in this Parliament by the Constitution, will be actively exercised, and when the States will not be allowed to go into the labour markets of the world as States, pitted against each other, to the injury of the Commonwealth as a whole. This isone of the functions of the National Parliament, which has not been exercised beyond the expenditure of a few thousand pounds in advertising the resources of Australia.
– It is only a coordinate power.
– Quite so. But when a law of the Commonwealth conflicts with a law of a State, the Commonwealth law must prevail. That being so, the Commonwealth is in a position to set the pace, and to lay down the outstanding principles that should regulate not only the advertising of Australia, but the introduction of suitable immigrants. No doubt, within the next few years, as we exhaust some of the more pressing powers of legislation that have been referred to the Federal Parliament, greater prominence will be given to those of less urgency, and this Parliament will -be able to inaugurate, as against the various conflicting State policies, one great national policy in respect of immigration to Australia.
.- I shall watch very carefully any proposed vote on a large scale to attract immigrants, to Australia. We have heard the Opposition quote the report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the shortage of labour in New South Wales, but the conclusion arrived at by the Commissioner, after builders, contractors, and’ manufacturers in that State had given their evi- dence. was simply that there was room for a little more than 3,000 skilled artisans in New South Wales. That, is a great discovery.
– In Sydney, not New South Wales.
– Sydney, at all events, is busier at the present time than is any other part of the State. Every steamer coming to Australia from oversea has more than her full complement of passengers, and before the end of the year, there will arrive by steamers already on the high seas more than 3,000 individuals. That fact in itself is an answer to the Commissioner’s report: There is. .room for a .little over 3,000. skilled artisans, and we are- getting them. . Some of my friends who arrived recently from the Old Country tell me that it is necessary to book three or four months in advance in order to secure a berth on a steamer coming to Australia. The Commonwealth has been freely advertised, and a great stream of immigration is being directed to our shores. The whole trouble is that certain people are anxious to secure an over supply of labour for their own pecuniary benefit. T.«t me name a few of the classes who have that desire at heart. In the first place, boardinghouse-keepers believe, in a constant stream of immigrants, knowing that their arrival from time to time will keep their rooms engaged. Then, again, hotelkeepers favour’ a large stream of immigration because the immigrants will help to consume their beer, and to use the accommodation which their houses afford. Ladies requiring lady helps always desire a large stream of. immigrants, so that they will be able to pick and choose, and make the poor unfortunate girls work all hours of the day. Because there is not a sufficient supply to meet their requirements, they are constantly calling out for more immigrants. They raise an outcry, because many of them do not treat their servants as well as they ought to do, that they cannot get girls and need a further supply of labour. Property owners are likewise calling’ for more immigrants. In Sydney alone, rents have lately gone up from 40 to 50 per cent. Many people -cannot obtain houses. Such a state of affairs is very nice for the property owner. He calls Out for more immigration, because immigrants help to swell the demand for property. In Sydney, the rents of whole streets of shops have been increased from £1 to £2 per week. The result is that the workingmen have to pay increased house rents, and, by way of higher prices for their goods, to pay the increased rents of the shopkeepers. Then, again, employers call fur a Stream of immigrants because they desire what they describe’ as a “healthy labour market.” When they advertise for -a workman they’ want a crowd of men to offer their services. Because there is a scarcity of labour, and they cannot pick and choose to the extent that they have hitherto been able to do, they ask for more immigration. We, as a Labour party, desire immigrants to come to Australia. We desire that the country shall be developed, and we shall welcome immigrants if there is employment to offer them. When the construction pf the transcontinental railway is entered upon, we shall be able to offer inducements to. people to settle on the land along the line. We shall then- be able to afford people opportunities to take up land instead . of crowding into the cities. When we .develop the Northern Territory - which comprises- some of the best lands in the Commonwealth - we shall also be prepared to support a vote to attract to our shores people who will be able to settle along the route of the railway to be constructed there.
– On the sandhills?
– No. The Northern Territory contains . some of the finest country to be found in Australia, and it all belongs to the Commonwealth. If we are going to construct a railway through the Northern Territory, at a cost of millions, we should spend a few more millions in settling persons on our land. But I object to immigrants being brought into the congested cities. According to what I have read the cities in the Old Country are over-crowded. I fear that we are following its example. In Australia we want to develop the country and not the cities. Those who emigrate to Australia to-day try to live in the cities. We cannot blame them for taking that course, because they were brought up to city life. They do not seem to like to go into a” healthier atmosphere, ‘ where they could earn a comfortable living, and rear healthy children. No matter what Government may be in power, I shall exercise my influence to prevent the provision of any large sum for bringing out immigrants until we have suitable land for them to settle on, and, of course, a demand for labour in the country.
– Does the honorable member like the picture which has been referred to?
– Yes, I like anything which displays Australia. I believe that we can do great good by letting the world know what Australia is like. We can secure more immigrants than can Canada. People are leaving the latter country because it is too cold, and does not possess the same attractions as does Australia. The present position is very complimentary to the Government. It was prognosticated that when a Labour Government came into power all capital would leave the country, and ruin would stare us in the face. But what has been the result of the change of Government ? Never has there been greater prosperity witnessed before in the history of Australia. Never has there been before a larger influx of immigrants, and at less cost to the country. Persons are coming here of their own accord, because wages are a little higher and inducements are better than elsewhere. I trust that the Government wilT remain long in power to keep the country in a state of prosperity, and at the same time develop its resources without bringing in an undue number of immigrants.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Thomas) read a first time.
House adjourned at io.i p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 October 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19111012_reps_4_61/>.