4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 7.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs been drawn to the statement of an officer of the Indian service, published in this morning’s Argus, to the effect that there is grave risk of the introduction of surra and glanders by horses coming originally from India, whose owners evade the quarantine regulations by sending them to England, and shipping them out from there ? I ask the honorable gentleman to take particular notice of the statement, because if the diseases named get into Australia, it will be God help the stock-owners.
– I have read the article referred to. The importation of horses from India is prohibited, and I shall direct the attention of the Quarantine Department, first thing to-morrow morning, to the statement that horses are sent from India to England, and then shipped from there here.
Mr. TUDOR laidupon the table the following paper, in substitution of that presented on 1 2 th October -
Copy of Letters Patent appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into and report upon the Sugar Industry in Australia.
– Has the Minister of
External Affairs read the statement in today’s newspaper, made by a Mr. Mawson, a Papuan trader, that, owing to the lack of coolie labour in the Territory, progress is retarded? Has the Department, or has the Minister himself, received a request to permit the introduction of coolie labour into Papua?
– No such request has been received since I have been at the head of the Department of External Affairs.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice - 1.Is not the Commonwealth responsible for the preservation of free intercourse and perfect freedom of trade between State and State?
– The answers to the honorable members questions are: -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the statement contained in the Northern Territory scientific expedition report, that the country was visited at the time ofyear when the climate was most suitable for Europeans, will the investigation be continued throughout the seasons generally supposed to be detrimental to health?
-Yes. Investigations respecting the health conditions of the Northern Territory will be continuous.
asked the Minister . of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to his answers to questions relative to advertising . the referenda in New South Wales country papers, given on the 27th ultimo -
Is he aware that through the advertisements not being sent direct from his office, or through the Government Printer of New South Wales, the newspapers lost 20 per cent. of the amount they would otherwise have received ?
What was to prevent these advertisements from being sent direct to the papers instead of through a private advertising agency?
Whv did not he invite tenders for this service from the advertising agencies?
Is it his intention in the future to farm out advertisements, or will he have them sent direct to the newspapers, so that they shall receive full payment for the service?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
In Committee of Stiffly (Consideration resumed from 3rd November, vide page 2274):
.- A sum of£40,000 appears as “ towards cost of the Military Col lege, ‘ ‘ The Minister will have the support of the whole Committee in doing everything necessary to make the College sufficient for its purposes.
– The Committee has taken a division on an item subsequent to that.
– I merely wish the Minister to tell us what is meant by the words “towards cost”? I wish also to obtain some information with regard to the proposed vote of £22,500 towards the cost of the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. When the Bill providing for the construction of this line was introduced, it contained a provision practically making the Consolidated Revenue liable for the cost of construction, but on a question being raised by the Opposition the Prime Minister said that the Government would withdraw the appropriation clause. It was pointed out by the honorable member for Richmond that the procedure usually adopted in the State Parliaments in regard to the construction of railways is first of all to lay upon the table of the House plans and specifications and books of reference, showing the whole contemplated scheme. I do not know what is the practice in the other States, but the honorable member for Richmond said, quoting from the Queensland Hansard, that in Queensland, it was usual for the Parliament to refer the plans and books of reference to a Select Committee for report upon the proposed line. When thePrime Minister was reminded of this procedure by the Opposition, he, and the Minister of Home Affairs also, promised that, before an appropriation was made, detailed information would be laid before the House. The Minister, however, is now asking the Committee to make the first appropriation for the construction of the railway, although he has not submitted to us either plans, specifications, books of reference, or any information whatever.
– This proposed vote is towards the construction of a railway that will cost £4,000,000.
– Does the honorable gentleman think the item has been submitted in the proper way to the Committee ? He has our support in carrying out this railway, and we are anxious that it shall be constructed as soon as possible; but there is a proper businesslike method of procedure to follow, and I submit that it has not been followed in this case. I presume that the Minister will lay on the table of the House books of reference and other information relating to this proposal. The Minister, by instinct, is a business man.
– Why does the honorable member differentiate between the Minister’s instinct and his achievement?
– The Minister is always protesting that the House should follow business-like methods, and I am sure that if he were sitting in Opposition his businesslike capacity and instinct would lead to his insisting upon more information being given in this case. Will he tell us whether it is proposed to enter upon the work of constructing the line during the next twelve months ; and, also, whether the final survey has been made ? We should be put in the position that every State Parliament occupies before it authorizes any big undertaking. This proposed vote of £22,500, perhaps, is not intended for the actual construction of the line, but is designed merely to provide for preparatory work. The Minister will, I hope, give us some information on the subject. Let me make it perfectly clear that the Opposition are eager to assist him in his desire to carry out this work, but we want to know what we are doing. I presume that the honorable gentleman will submit to us a detailed estimate of the cost, based upon information as to the class of rails and other material to be used. I wish now to refer to the item of £2,500 towards the construction and alteration of lighthouses, and I should like to know whether, during the next twelve months, a final decision will be arrived at regarding the lighthouses more urgently required upon the Australian coast. From two to four lighthouses need to be erected as soon as possible on “the Queensland coast, and one or two lights are also urgently required along the South Australian coast. The question is likewise of great importance to Tasmania and Victoria.
– And especially to Queensland.
– All the States are interested in the matter. I understand that an officer has been appointed to furnish a report on this question of the lighting of the Australian coast. Can the Minister also state what particular lighthouses are likely to be undertaken this year ? I do not think there is any necessity to wait, because the Minister could easily determine upon several of the leading lighthouses that are necessary. He could proceed with the plans for their acquisition and construction, and, in the meantime, could make further inquiries as to lighthouses required in addition to those already mentioned in the report. I understand that on some part of the Queensland coast, and in other parts of Australia, improved beacons and minor guiding lights are required. Perhaps the Minister can explain what is being done in that respect.
.- Towards the close of the discussion on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Bill I suggested that the line should be extended along the 33rd parallel, from the neighbourhood of Lake Eyre, to connect up with Broken Hill, and thence due east to Sydney.I understand that, at present, the New South Wales Public Works Committee have before them a proposal toconnect Broken Hill with Sydney, and, if the line were taken along the 33rd parallel, as I have suggested, we should have a transcontinental line not touching the sea, or approaching anywhere closeenough to the sea to be attackable from the sea, between Sydney and Fremantle. That would be a great advance on the present proposal from a defence point of view. The Minister undertook at the time to take the suggestion into consideration, and I take this opportunity of urging upon him its extreme importance from a defence point of view. If any enemy gained the command of these seas, the line proposed in the Bill could be cut at Port Augusta with the utmost ease.
– That is the line for which this House has passed the Bill.
– I am not asking the Minister to alter the Bill. He could bring down an additional Bill. The section from Lake Eyre to Port Augusta, connecting the line with the South Australian system, is, I think, necessary in any case, but the direct line along the 33rd parallel to Broken Hill should be constructed coincidentally with that from Broken Hill to Sydney. I hope that, in the near future, we shall see a further Bill introduced for that purpose, from a defence point of view purely and simply.
.. - It is impossible within the next eight months to spend a large amount of money. The time will be taken up chiefly in calling for tenders and receiving them, and issuing orders for the materials required for construction. The chief materials required for construction will be rails and sleepers, and it is not at all likely that even the first batches of these will be delivered before the beginning of the next financial year, much less that money will be required to pay for them. The Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. Deane, says -
Thereareme preliminary expenses, which I have pointed out in my minute of 30th ultimo; but. even if these matters can be settled and the’ work put in hand, it will be impossible to spend much money over them during the present financial year, so that the amount proposed to be voted should be sufficient for all purposes.
– But you will not go on with the work until you lay plans and specifications before Parliament?
– I do not know what we will do. We may not be ready, but we want to get ready. The question is, when will Parliament meet next year? The suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth will have careful consideration ; but, of course, it will have to go before Cabinet, which will have the final decision.
– Ever since it was intended that the Commonwealth should take’control of lighthouses, beacons, and buoys, the inefficiency of some of our lights, on account of the increased speed of vessels, and for other reasons, has been brought under my notice, and, probably, under the notice of other Ministers who preceded me in the Department. That is why I considered it advisable to obtain expert advice on the subject ; and no exception has been taken, so far as I know, to the qualifications of the gentleman appointed for that duty. It is not possible for the expert to inspect all the existing lights, except when the vessels which go out to providore them are available - that is once in every three or six months. As soon as Commander Brewis was appointed, we communicated with the States, and asked when their vessels would be going out, so that we could fit in his arrangements with them. Commander Brewis is now in Tasmanian waters. The honorable member for Darling Downs asks what lights are considered by the expert to be the most important. The only report which it has been possible for the expert to lay before the Department concerns the Bass Strait lights. Most people who use the sea consider that the south-eastern corner of Australia is the most dangerous. Captain after captain has said that he has practically passed the whole of the dangers before the Wilson’s Promontory light opens out. Although only £2,500 has been set down on the Estimates, that is considered sufficient to make a start with the most urgent lights. Speaking from memory, I believe that the recommendation is to alter the Wilson’s Promontory light from a 12 -mile to a 25-mile light, to place an unattended light upon one of the islands of the Glennie Group, and another unattended light at Cape Liptrap, and to alter the light further along to the east, at or near Cape Howe. It is estimated that 4,000 vessels pass that corner of Australia every year.’ Although it was originally estimated that to alter the Wilson’s Promontory light, and to put additional lights in the places I have named, would cost about £60,000, it is now possible, by the use of unattended acetylene lights, on what is known as the AGA system, for the same work to be done for less than £8,000. As soon as the Lighthouses Bill is passed, we shall proceed to take action in regard to this matter. The papers will be sent to the Department of Home Affairs, in order that the work may be put in hand as soon as possible.
– Has not the Minister received a report about Queensland yet?
– No j the Queensland report is being prepared. On the day when the expert arrived from New South Wales, there was an opportunity for him to go away in the tender that visits the Tasmanian lighthouses. He was only in Melbourne two or three hours, because he wished to make an inspection of the Tasmanian lighthouses immediately. As soon as I receive his report, I shall make recommendations to the Cabinet. If the amount already appropriated for the purpose is not sufficient to enable urgent and necessary work to be commenced, I shall recommend the Treasurer to bring down Supplementary Estimates, with a view of doing all that is necessary in that regard. As to beacons, I understand that the expert will make some recommendations with regard to the Barrier Reef, but, until I receive his report, it is impossible for me to state what will be done. He has already been round the coast as far as Port Darwin for the purpose, and his report, when completed, will be comprehensive as to the coast as far round as Brisbane.
– I should like to have a definite statement from the Minister of Home Affairs with regard to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. The honorable member for Darling Downs has drawn attention to the fact that the sum of £22,500, which we are asked to vote for the purpose, is practically for the building of the line. It commits Parliament to the total expenditure for the whole line. During the progress of a previous debate, the attention of the Minister was drawn to the fact that it was customary, before money was voted for railway works such as this, to give Parliament full particulars. On page 1427 of
Hansard for the present year it is reported that when the honorable member for Darling Downs - following up something that I had said a little while before - asked the Minister whether he would promise that before any appropriation was made by Parliament for this line he would lay upon the table of the House plans, sections, books of reference, and so on, the Minister of Home Affairs said, “ We will give the fullest information.” The Committee is entitled to that information before voting this money. Seeing that the survey has been completed a considerable time, I fail to see why the information has not been furnished. It surely could have been made available to honorable members. The Minister is ever priding himself upon, and impressing honorable members with, his great and undoubted business capacity. I put it to him, as a business man, whether he, in the conduct of his own business, when paying what was tantamount to a deposit on a contract which would involve him in an expenditure of £4,000,000, would not insist on knowing what the terms of the contract were? Surely his business instincts will tell him that that is merely a reasonable proposition to put ‘ before business men?
– Is the railway to be built by day labour, or by contract?
– That is another point as to which we are entirely in the dark. We are entitled to a full statement of the policy of the Government. What are they going to do? How do they propose to construct the line - by day labour, or by contract? Is purely Australianmanufactured material to be employed in the construction of the railway? We ought to have a quantity of information on these points. What the Minister has already said, we knew before. We knew from Mr. Deane’s report that the money was simply for preliminary work. But what we did not know, and what we still want to know, is the policy of the Government. We want to have some idea of the way in which the line is going to be built. That information should be furnished before we vote this money. The same remarks apply - perhaps to a fuller extent - to money voted for purposes of the Federal Capital site. I had an opportunity, of which I availed myself recently, of visiting YassCanberra. For my own part, I can say that I am very glad indeed that the amendment with regard to that matter was negatived on Friday last.
– The honorable member must not discuss that matter now.
– I shall not discuss the amendment. I am simply expressing my pleasure that it was negatived.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the Capital site at all. The Committee has passed the line of the Estimates dealing with it.
– I understand that the whole subdivision is under discussion.
– The division taken, on Friday was on the question that item 2 of subdivision 3 be reduced by £66,000. That question was discussed in every phase, and the item was disposed of.
– On a point qf order, Mr. Chairman, I think that if you look at the records you will find that the amendment on Friday was to reduce the whole item by £66,000. I believe that, under the Standing Orders, it would now be in order for an honorable member to move for the reduction of the item by any lesser sum, though I do not think that the honorable member for Richmond proposes to submit any amendment on the subject.
– I think that what the honorable member says is correct.
– Do I understand, then, that I can discuss the proposal to spend money on the Federal Capital site?
– Yes, the honorable member will be in order.
– I was very pleased with the site, which, I think, is admirably suited for the particular purpose for which it is to be used. It is certainly infinitely better than I had been led to believe that it was.
– The honorable member saw the country at its best.
– I was informed by those who have been at Yass-Canberra frequently that it was looking even better six months ago. My point now is, however, that the matter under discussion is not being dealt with by the Minister of Home Affairs in a business-like way. First of all, he comes down with no information as to the £.100,000. He made no attempt at an explanation, until it was absolutely dragged out of him, as to how much money was going to be involved in the work. Eventually we found out that by voting the amount proposed we were committing ourselves to an expenditure of £313,000. Before we proceed further with this undertaking, we should have from the Minister a full and clear statement as to the policy of the Government in that regard. We should be informed how the undertaking is to be financed. Indeed, the Minister should disclose the intentions of his Department, so that we may understand exactly what we are asked to commit ourselves to, because, as he admitted the other night, the £313,000 to which we shall be committed by voting this item of £66,000 will be only a very small portion of the total outlay. In the future there must be an enormous expenditure in connexion with the Federal Capital ; and, therefore, I think that the Committee are entitled to a statement from the Minister as to the policy of the Government, and how it is proposed to finance this vast undertaking. Surely he does not intend to proceed from hand to mouth, taking a drib here and a drab there, and adopting a policy of utter drift, until he is committed to the expenditure of an enormous amount, without the faintest idea of where the money is to come from. Is that the position which he is taking up? Has he not any clear, definite idea of how the whole of this scheme is to be finally worked out ; and, if he has such an idea, will he not take the Committee into his confidence? Surely that is only a businesslike view to take. When we remember that we have not yet acquired a single foot of land in the Territory outside the grant from the State and the acquisition of Acton Estate, and that we will have to acquire an enormous area from private owners, it should make us pause. From what I saw of its character the other day, we are not going to get the land for nothing. It is carrying a sheep and a half to the acre over the greater portion of it.
– The Federal Capital site.
– During my visit I took considerable trouble to get into touch with persons who had been in the district for years. I found that on Duntroon, an estate of about 28,000 acres, there were about 27,000 sheep, 300 cattle, and 80 horses. The cattle have been there for a long time, too.
– And they are “hog fat.”
– As the Minister has interjected, the cattle are fat. I did not see a single poor beast, or horse, or sheep. This country will cost us a big sum.
– Do you want to put a bit on the price?
– No. The question of price will have to go to arbitration.
– There are not a sheep and a half to the acre there.
– If the honorable member doubts my statement, why did he not come and see the country for himself?
– It is a barren waste.
– If the honorable member will make a visit, he can see much better crops growing on Duntroon Estate than he can see on some of the land within 20 miles of Melbourne.
– I have been there. I saw plenty of bleached bones.
– Apart from the fact that all these sheep and cattle and horses are on the property, I do not know how many hundreds of thousands of rabbits it carries. When the country is properly rabbited, as it should be, it will have a still greater carrying capacity. I think that the honorable member ought to know that.
– I suppose you know that fat rabbits and starving stock have been taken off the same property sometimes ?
– That may be, but when we find fat rabbits and fat stock on a property, we have a better proposition still. I think that the general character of this country must be perfectly evident to every honorable member. I do not say that it is all of the same character, because it is not. It comprises very good hills ; some of them are remarkably good, while others are poor ; but the flats are very good indeed, and, with up-to-date farming, they will produce excellent results.
– One would think that you were selling the estate.
– I am endeavouring to impress upon honorable members what an excellent property we have up there.
– Your speech sounds like . an auctioneer’s preliminary to a sale.
– We have to consider what the property is worth on the market as an ordinary farming proposition. We are not going, I repeat, to get the property for nothing, but will have to pay a considerable amount for it.
– Thirty shillings an acre.
– And the rest.
– And you are a trustee !
– If I were a trustee, I would boom up the property a good deal more than I am doing.
– But you are a trustee for the people.
– No doubt. I am endeavouring to point out that we are asked to commit ourselves, not only to the expenditure of a particular sum, but also to the cost of resuming a very large area of country, which, as I said, will run into a considerable amount.
– You should have voted with us the other day.
– We must not lose sight of the fact that Australia will have to provide for an enormous expenditure. It will be necessary for Parliament to finance two transcontinental railways, the Northern Territory, the Army and the Navy, and the lighthouses ; in fact, we have taken upon our shoulders all sorts of responsibilities.
– All the more reason why . we should not play with the Federal Capital toy.
-We can see that in the next half-year we shall have to provide for an enormous expenditure. That is one of the reasons why I am trying to-night to impress on the Minister the necessity of taking the Committee into his confidence, especially as regards finance. The honorable member for Maribyrnong referred just now to what he called the Federal Capital “ toy.” It is my impression that it is possible to finance the Federal Capital scheme and make it pay for itself.
– If it is good land, I am with the honorable member every time.
– I believe that the whole scheme, if properly handled from the outset, can be made to finance itself ; and I should like to know how the Minister proposes to tackle the question. I ask for some definite information as to the particular scheme, if the Minister has one in view, as he must, seeing that he applauded my words in this connexion. I have a scheme in my own mind ; but I do not propose to weary honorable members with it to-night. It is not necessary to pledge the credit of Australia to any appreciable extent ; and yet, at the same time, it is possible to inaugurate a vigorous policy and carry out the work on proper lines.
.- We ought to have full particulars as to the cost of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. This is a big undertaking, of which I approve; and, as the Minister is a good business-like man, I know that he will not proceed unless everything is in proper order. My own opinion is, however, that there ought to be a Public Works Committee, or some body of that kind. Instead of proceeding with this railway as a scheme by itself, the Government ought to direct attention to the construction of a railway through the Northern Territory, which would pay from the start. This would be much better than developing a. territory belonging to other people.
– To whom does the Territory belong ?
– To Western Australia and South Australia; and it is land over which we have no control. There ought to be some definite scheme in regard to the Northern Territory ; and I dare say that, before long, the Minister of Home Affairs will tell us what he proposes to do. As to the Federal Capital site, I know something of land, and when I paid a visit of inspection, I saw nothing like what the honorable member for Richmond has described. He told us that the land at Yass-Canberra will carry one and a-half sheep to the acre. If that be so, I am glad to hear such good news, for, personally, I saw neither sheep nor cattle, and was told that they had all been sent to the mountains to wait for the grass to grow. The honorable member further told us that on the Federal Territory he saw fat rabbits, fat sheep, and fat cattle; but, if so, that is a sight which cannot be enjoyed in any other part of Australia. Fat sheep and fat rabbits do not flourish with one another, because fat rabbits mean that there are no fat sheep. We shall live to be ashamed of ourselves for spending money on this Capital site. As the honorable member for Echuca said, there ought to be a referendum on the question before another shilling is spent. The honorable member for Richmond said that he had a scheme by which the Federal Capital, could be made self-supporting; but I think it will be a dead loss from the start, and we cannot afford any loss at the present time.
– I have dozens of applications for land.
– The land will not carry any people. Why does the Commonwealth seek to deal with land? That ought to be left to the States. It is quite enough for the Commonwealth to secure land for building purposes, without going in for grazing, farming, and other similar businesses.
– Does that objection apply to the Northern Territory ?
– There is a vast difference between Yass-Canberra and the Macdonnell Ranges, which, we are told, can carry 20,000,000 sheep. It has a 15-inch rainfall,and most fertile land, suitable for the growing of wheat, and so forth. We should be better employed in developing the Northern Territory than in dealing with this miserable Capital site, which never was wanted and never will be. Surely we have sufficient capital cities in Australia already, with aggregations of population? I hope and trust that this Parliament will never spend anything on a Capital site, or any other scheme that is not self-supporting. I was much surprised to hear the honorable member for Richmond suggest that the Federal Territory would finance itself, for we know that he is a good business man, and understands Australia. The honorable member has not seen very many nice dairy farms in that country.
– They are not too bad !
– Then they must have improved very much since I was there.
– With irrigation the land will be a “ bonzer “!
– Where are we to get the water from ? We cannot get enough to drink from the Cotter River.
– From the Murrumbidgee.
– The water will have to be taken a long way, and I think it could be taken on to better land. So far as I can see, the Yass-Canberra country is too porous for irrigation. I really wish the Minister would give us the benefit of what he really knows of the Yass-Canberra site. It is all very well to build a Military College there, because the site is far enough away from civilization, affords abundance of room for drilling, and plenty of rabbits for shooting practice. I hope honorable members will be very careful before they sanction any further expenditure, because all the money we have is required to develop Australia generally on proper lines.
.- I have been highly amused in listening to the honorable member for Richmond. I thought that, as a man of the soil, the honorable member would have been able to give a better idea of the carrying capacity of the land at Yass-Canberra than his estimate of a sheep and a half to the acre.
– Has the honorable member been there?
– Yes. When I spoke against this particular site before, I said that I had not seen it, and quoted from the statements of Ministers and others who had visited the site. I can speak now from a personal knowledge of the country, which has more than confirmed me in the opinions I previously held concerning it. The honorable member for Richmond is anxious to know exactly how every item of the vote for the Federal Capital is to be expended.
– No; I want to know the broad lines of the Government’s financial scheme.
– I have no desire to block the Estimates, though I should have liked to block a particular vote the other day. I should have been glad to have had the assistance of the financiers, and those who know something of land values ; but I found the honorable member for Richmond, and other honorable members, when they had the opportunity to prevent this expenditure, swinging in behind the Minister of Home Affairs. The honorable member for Richmond voted away £100,000 for expenditure on the Yass-Canberra site. Now he wishes to know exactly how that money is to be spent.
– No; we know how that £100,000 is to be spent.
– With all the honorable member’s shrewdness, he is following the old plan of locking the stable door after the horse has been stolen. The only lands that I saw at the Capital site which would be likely to carry a sheep and a half to the acre, were the alluvial flats on Molonglo Creek. Of the three estates which have been referred to, I should say that that on the road to the Murrumbidgee is the best. It is rather late in the day now for the honorable member for Richmond to complain about these particular items. There is another matter to which I should like to direct the attention of the Opposition. They are accustomed to hold up their hands in horror whenever anything in the shape of a Socialistic proposal is submitted for consideration. But they have assisted to carry votes for expenditure on the Capital site; and, no doubt, will assist to pass further votes for the same purpose, although the money will be spent on the most Socialistic schemes that have ever been carried out in Australia. The Federal Territory, being our own, we can do as we like with it, unrestricted by the limitations of the Constitution, and without let or hindrance from the High Court or the State
Government. No doubt when the Government bring forward their advanced ideas in connexion with the Federal Capital, honorable members opposite, including the honorable members for Darling Downs, Richmond, and Parramatta, will be found assisting to carry them out.
– Is the honorable member not in favour of carrying out the Federal Capital proposals?
-No, I am not.
– What is the honorable member’s idea on the subject?
– My idea is that we have the wrong site, to start with. If we had a fertile territory that would carry a sheep and a half or more to the acre, with a plentiful water supply, and building material at hand, there would be the elements of success present from the jump.
– Is the honorable member in favour of establishing the Federal Capital in such a locality as he describes in New South Wales?
– Yes, I am prepared honorably to abide by the compact in the Constitution. The bargain was made by New South Wales, and even New South Welshmen now admit that it was a bad bargain ; but, as it was definitely accepted in the Constitution, I am prepared to abide by it. Without desiring to be unduly severe upon the previous Parliament or the present Parliament, I must say that I think we have made a terribly bad bargain in selecting the Yass-Canberra site. I am sure that we cannot carry out there all the ideas which the Minister of Home Affairs has in his mind. If the honorable gentleman had to deal with a suitable site, I could quite understand some of the glowing language in which he has indulged. Notwithstanding the eulogy of the honorable member for Richmond, I question very much whether we shall ever be able, even with 1,000 square miles of territory, to make the Federal Capital pay for itself at Yass-Canberra. With good soil, good surroundings, and a good water supply, the financing of the proposal would be possible beyond dispute. In the circumstances, however, I think we shall find that, as the Yass-Canberra Capital site is a failure from a national stand-point, it will also be a failure from a financial stand-point.
.- I think the Minister of Home Affairs should give some answer to the question )ut by the honorable member for Rich.mond, as to. whether he proposes, before commencing the construction of the transcontinental railway, to lay the plans and specifications before Parliament. If the vote of £22,500 is tq cover purely preliminary work, and is not to be held as binding the Committee to particular plans or details, we need not discuss it further. Does the Minister propose to follow the usual procedure adopted elsewhere, and submit plans and specifications, or does he contemplate that we should appropriate, in all, £4,000,000 without any idea as to the plans and specifications upon which the railway is to be constructed ? It should be remembered that this will not be the only line which the Commonwealth will construct. The Minister must not think that we have any desire to embarrass him in this matter.
– The honorable gentleman knows that the Minister cannot state the policy of the Government. The Prime Minister is the man for that.
– I do not know who can state the Government policy in this connexion if the Minister of Home Affairs cannot. It is a matter affecting the conduct of his Department, and it arises in the submission of his Estimates to the Committee. The honorable member for Maranoa will remember that the Prime Minister withdrew the appropriation clauses from the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Construction Bill. The question now is, whether the Minister of Home Affairs intends to submit plans and specifications to Parlia- ment before proceeding with the construction of the line?
– The honorable gentleman means before we start to throw dirt.
– Before the start is made with earthworks for laying the rails and the building of bridges.
– Certainly. We shall do all that is legitimate, so long as we are not prevented from getting our material and having everything ready to go on with the line.
– Then I understand from the Minister that all he is asking us to do now is to make an appropriation for the purpose of preliminary expenditure preparatory to the construction of the line.
– I want it to be thoroughly understood that we intend getting the material and having everything’ ready, assuming that the Bill for the construction of the line is passed.
– Are we to understand that the Minister proposes to follow the procedure adopted in the State Parliaments of submitting plans and specifications?
– They will be laid on the table here.
– Will they be submitted for approval?
– This appropriation is to enable us to make contracts and get the material and everything ready for the construction of the line.
– The honorable member for Richmond pointed out that it is usual in State Parliaments, before the construction of a railway is commenced, to have plans, specifications, and books of reference approved, and the honorable member quoted the Queensland practice of referring plans, sections, and books of reference to a Select Committee.
– We could not do much construction work with £20,000.
– Very little indeed, I admit. What is the procedure to be adopted ?
– Everything must be done by Parliament.
– What we need is a declaration of policy.
– It is intended to go into the market, to find out what we can do, and generally to get ready to. start this road. Parliament is composed of the responsible trustees of the nation, and everything necessary will be placed before it.
– For adoption ?
– For adoption.
– I understand that all necessary information will be submitted to Parliament, and that the Minister will submit a motion approving of the plans and specifications.
– Then how can there be an adoption by Parliament?
– Parliament can veto any proposal, but a motion asking for the approval of Parliament for the plans and specifications will not be submitted.
– The Munster of Home Affairs has been a member of a State Parliament, and knows what the procedure is there. Will he not tell us what procedure is to be adopted here?
– We intend, immediately Parliament has passed this vote, to commence negotiations all over the world, to secure material, and to get ready for business. We shall come down here with sections, maps, and everything, and put them on the table.
– Does the Minister think that £20,000 will cover all that is to be done this year ?
– That sum will enable us to start to negotiate ; to get ready for business. You do not start to build a great railway like this without getting your basis ready. This sum is only a preliminary amount for the starting of things. I am amazed that the honorable member for Darling Downs takes objections to so small an amount.
– I do not take exception to the amount. I think the Minister should have had the matter more advanced. We should all be the better pleased if the plans and sections were now ready. We are eager that this work should be proceeded with at once, and deeply regret the long delay that has taken place already. No progress has been made during the past eighteen months, and, apparently, for the next eight months only preliminaries will be entered upon.
– The honorable member would not have had me commence before parliamentary sanction was given to the work ?
– I can quite believe that when the honorable gentleman entered office the first thing he said to his officers was : “ I want to get on with the Western Australian railway. Prepare plans and sections, so that as soon as the work is authorized it can be commenced, and the line completed within three years.” No doubt difficulties have since come in his way. It is important, however, that when making a commencement of this kind, we should have a statement of policy, and an indication of the procedure to be adopted. I hope that next year we shall be asked to consider proposals for railway development in the Northern Territory, and am sorry that there cannot now be laid before us a programme of railway construction for defence and development generally. I do not know that, having had the Minister’s assurance, we need devote more attention to the item, but I should like some information regarding the item-
Naval Barracks, Submarine Depot, Naval Gunnery and Torpedo School, Naval Training School, Naval Boys’ Training School, and Naval Midshipmen’s College - Sites and Buildings - Towards cost,£53,000.
– That is for the Naval College at Sydney.
– Will the Minister tell us what will be the ultimate cost of this work, and to what Parliament is really committing itself?
– The item is to provide for the erection of a naval academy or college, similar to that at Annapolis, in the United States of America.
– Why is it not to be erected in Federal Territory?
– Because a site in the Federal Territory was not chosen. The people of New South Wales subscribed £40,000, and that amount is to be contributed towards the construction of the College.
– I shall vote against the item. That money was subscribed for the Dreadnought fund.
– I do not think the people of Australia will complain when we get such a beautiful site as that we are endeavouring to secure at a reasonable price.
– Where is the site?
– It is a lovelysite within a few miles of Sydney.
– It ought to be a long way from a town.
– It is some little distance from Sydney. We ought to meet the people of New South Wales in this matter.
– That is what the Minister has been doing.
– I fail to see why any animosity should be displayed towards New South Wales, and I am sorry to find that this is not yet really a National Parliament.
– There is no animosity against New South Wales, and I am sure that the honorable member for Maranoa has none.
– I know that. Later on if it is considered necessary we can erect another college in Federal Territory.
– That will be cheering news for the men who have put up the £40,000.
– All that I say is that, later on, if the Parliament thinks that a second college is necessary, we can build one in the Federal Territory.
.- The honorable member for Darling Downs forestalled me to a large extent in the re marks he made with regard to the transcontinental railway, but as he has put the position much better than I could have done I am not sorry that he has saved me the trouble. I am somewhat surprised, however, at one excuse that the Minister urged more than once with regard to the smallness of the proposed vote, when he asked whether it was to be expected that the Government would go on with work relating to the railway before the Bill had been passed. I did not expect the actual work of construction to be proceeded with beforehand, but the preparatory work might well have been pushed on to a much larger extent than it appears to have been. The Minister knew perfectly well that the Bill, providing for the construction of this railway, being a Government measure, was just as certain of being passed with the majority behind him, as it is certain that he himself will draw his salary next month. I am very much afraid that the smallness of the proposed vote is an indication that there is going to be a good deal ‘of the “ ca’ canny “ business about the construction of this railway. It is well understood that these Estimates are something in the nature of a forecast of the expenditure that will be required during the forthcoming year, and, that being so, I want to know what the Minister is going to do, or, rather, what he is going to refrain from doing, in connexion with this large and important work, since he is not asking for more than £19,000, by way of a new vote for the current financial year. I have not yet heard a satisfactory explanation, in view of the fact that the Government are pledged up to the hilt to construct the railway, and I hope that the Minister will avail himself of an early opportunity to take the Committee into his confidence and let us have proof that the Government are pushing on energetically with the work. I have now a small personal matter to bring before the Committee. I am not given to dealing with the “ parish pump “ aspect of Federal politics, but I am much surprised to find that the electorate of Perth,’ which has, in many of its subdivisions, been clamoring for increased postal facilities, has not, with the exception of a revote of £56. been allotted a single farthing for the building of official post-offices. Post’ offices are being built all over Western Australia, and it is very singular that the electorate of Perth, which includes all the suburbs of the capital city, should have been left out in the cold.
– Has there not been a big land purchase in Perth ?
– We have promises of a great deal that will be done by this Government in connexion with the General Post Office in Perth, whilst a telephone exchange is also in process of erection there. But those works, necessary though they are, do not give the suburbs the postal facilities for which they are crying out. The suburban portions of Perth are as much entitled to have postal facilities as are the remoter parts of the State. There are, in particular, two suburbs in my electorate - West Leederville and North Perth - which are urgently in need of these postal facilities. I am sorry that the PostmasterGeneral is not present ; if he were he would bear out my assertion that those two suburbs have been asking for post-offices for several years, and have not yet succeeded in convincing the Government that there is any necessity for their construction. 1 shall expect the Minister to give some explanation, and, in the meantime, I ask him to make a note of my remarks, because I think we are entitled to know why the suburbs I have named have been allowed to remain so long without the postal facilities to which they are entitled.
– Will the Minister tell us what will be the ultimate expense in connexion with the item of £53,000 for naval buildings?
– The item to which the honorable member for Darling Downs refers is to provide for the acquisition, of sites and construction of buildings, &c, for naval schools and colleges for the training of boys, for the permanent Naval Forces, for the manning of His Majesty’s ships; for the training of young officers for future positions in the permanent Naval Forces, and for the higher training of men for the permanent Naval Forces. Provision is also made for the purchase from the State Government of New South Wales of the nautical school ship Sobraon
– But what will be the complete cost?
– I think that it will be about £70,000 or £80,000 altogether.
.- The Committee are entitled to more information regarding the items under consideration. We are getting information from the Minister little by little regarding some very large items. He gave us an idea just now of what he proposed to do by interjecting with regard to the Federal Territory that “ She is a bonzer when she is irrigated.” I take it from that remark that part of the proposal is to “irrigate her.” We spent about £38,000 on the Territory last year, and I suppose that amount has been increased by this time to about £50,000. It is too early yet to judge of the results, as a good deal of the money may have been sunk in preliminary works that do not show themselves ; but I must confess that there is very little result showing there at present. The Military College is certainly a credit to those who are responsible for the work done there. The item of £53,000 for Naval Barracks, &c, is described as “ towards cost.” Will the Minister give the Committee some information as to what the total cost will be? We are committing ourselves to a work which may run us into many hundreds of thousands of pounds, and are going to work in a very expensive way. The Minister is making a serious mistake in purchasing land, which will cost the Department more than it would cost to put up the whole Naval College on Federal Territory at or near Jervis Bay. I notice, also, that there is some doubt in the mind of the Department as to where the railway to link up the Federal Capital with Yass is to be run. Perhaps the Minister can give us some idea on that point. When I was there the other day, I was told that it was to be run in a way which, to my mind, would so split up the site as to completely spoil it. It is unwise to run a railway through the heart of the magnificent city which, we are assured by the Minister, is going to be established there. There is another matter which needs the Minister’s immediate attention. I understand that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has made urgent representations to the Minister and the Postmaster-General ‘ that arrangements should be made to enable the men working there to bank their money. There is a large number of men employed, and as there is no Savings Bank on the spot they are obliged to lose half a day to go to Queanbeyan to put their money into safety. Where a number of men are living in tents, it is not safe for them to have money lying about, or to carry it about with them. I am given to understand by those who are not directly interested in the matter that many of the men go into the town to put their money away safely, while some hang about the town and spend money which otherwise they would not spend. This difficulty could be easily overcome if the Department would allow their man to go out there once a fortnight, collect the men’s savings, and take them into Queanbeyan. A postal official from Queanbeyan visits the Territory once a fortnight now, and the men can purchase postal notes, but they cannot bank their money. It is altogether unfair that the men should be asked to pay 5s., and lose half a day, to go into Queanbeyan, or else run the risk of losing their savings. One of the workmen told me he was carrying £20 on him, and did not know what to do with it, as he was living in a tent.
– That is remarkable, when we have such a strong financial expert as the Minister.
– Seeing that the Minister has given out to the world that he could run the earth if he were given a chance, I was rather disappointed that he was not running this little bit of the earth more on business lines than he is doing at present. I hope that by next pay-day the men will have some facilities for safely depositing their money. Many of the works done, or partly done, in the Territory are certainly creditable to the Minister or to the Department. The roads that have been laid down are well done. I think that where credit is due it should be given, and although very much does not appear to have been done with the £40,000 or £50,000 that has been spent, wherever permanent works have been put down they have been well done, and I congratulate the Minister on that, at any rate. I hope the Minister will shortly give us an estimate of what the total cost of the Naval and Military Colleges will be. If we vote £53,000 now, how much shall we have to vote in order to complete the Naval Barracks and other items specified?
– The Minister says it will cost £74,000.
– I said from £70,000 to £80,000 ; but I do not think it will stop at anything of the kind myself.
– £70,000 or £80,000 would put up a magnificent place at Jervis Bay.
.- We have often heard the Minister of Home Affairs say what a beautiful place the Federal Territory was to live in; but in Queensland, as far back as the South Australian border, there are places where working men can deposit their savings, which does not ap pear to be the case in the Federal Terri-. tory now, according to the honorable member for Moreton. The Minister is such an authority on banking, and has had such a varied experience, that I should have thought one of the first things he would do would be to establish a bank, run on business lines, in the Federal Territory.
– It is not my fault.
– We have to fasten the fault on to some individual, and the Minister must admit that, in order to encourage thrift, working men should be given every opportunity to bank their savings, instead of having to carry the money with them or bury it in the ground for some one to take.
– As soon as the Commonwealth Bank Bill is put through we shall have a branch there.
– The Minister can do what is necessary by an Ordinance.
– The affair is quite simple. The Government have power, as the honorable member for Darling Downs says, to establish a Savings Bank in the Territory by an Ordinance. They have a post-office there, and the honorable member for Moreton says that the men can purchase postal notes.
– The Department tell me that they cannot get an officer who will take the trouble to look after the Savings Bank business.
– There are hundreds of men in the service who would take on this job if it were offered to them. If the Minister of Home Affairs cannot find a man, I will guarantee to get one from Queensland who will willingly go down to YassCanberra and do the work required. We ought to have a promise from the Minister that the matter will be attended to.
– There are 300 men working at Yass-Canberra, and many of them want to settle their families there.
– The honorable member for Moreton tells us of men who are carrying large sums of money about with them because they are unable to put it in a bank. It would cost a man 5s. to go down to Queanbeyan to hank his money, and that would represent interest on a comparatively large sum. That is not a business transaction. Is it a fair proposition to expect a man who is earning only a few shillings a day to have to pay 5s. a week to take his money to the bank?
– Then why does not the Minister do something ?
– Will the Minister promise to establish a Savings Bank?
– We have to put up the building first. -
– We are led to believe that the Federal Capital is going to be the smartest, the most up-to-date, and the best city on earth. Here we have between 300 and 400 men at work, with no place where they can bank their savings.
– Surely an officer could take the deposits into Queanbeyan for the men.
– I will give the Minister a business tip free of charge. When railway construction works were in progress in Queensland, the Government arranged that when the men came up to the pay-table for their wages, a Government Savings Bank official stood alongside the pay clerk, and any man who wished to hand over a portion of his earnings to be banked could do so there and then. Why cannot we do the same at Yass-Canberra ?
– lt is the simplest matter in the world.
– Of course, it is. “ Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” If the Queensland Government could make such arrangements on its construction works, surely the Federal Government could do something of the same sort in connexion with its Federal Capital works. If the Government do not want to establish a Federal Savings Bank, why not ask the New South Wales Government to send a Savings Bank official there every pay-day ?
– Tne State Government would do so if asked.
– I am sure they would be only too eager to assist the men.
– Our own officer frequently does banking business in Queanbeyan, and could surely take in the savings of the men.
– I hope that the Minister will do something in this matter at once. It is of no use for him to tell us that it does not concern his Department, or that he has no authority to establish a Savings Bank yet. We do not want to wait until the Banking Bill is passed. We might as well be told to wait for the day of judgment, which we all hope will not occur for a long time.
– Why cannot the Government open a Post-office Savings Bank at Yass-Canberra?
– They could easily do that, or the Government could appoint an official to collect savings from the men and bank them at Queanbeyan. Why should a working man have to carry sovereigns in. a belt around his body while he is at work? If the Minister will not give us a promise, I shall assist to hang up this vote until the matter is attended to. He is the Minister responsible for works, and should attend to it.
– The matter does not concern the Treasury.
– No, it has nothing to do with the Treasury. It concerns the Works Branch of the Home Affairs Department. With regard to the Naval Barracks vote, surely the Government are not going to accept the New South Wales Dreadnought money after the way in which our party opposed the Dreadnought proposal? As far as I am concerned, I am not going to be a party to the acceptance of one shilling of that money. We have Federal territory of our own at Jervis Bay, where we could easily establish a Naval College. Why not establish it there? I have seep it stated that when the Naval School was established at Dartmouth, in England, that place was selected because it was far removed from any large centre of population. For the same reason, I think that the Naval College should be established at Jervis Bay.
– It is hardly fair for my honorable friends to abuse me because I have not put up a Savings Bank at Yass-Canberra, in view of the fact that our officers who are working there have been living and sleeping in tents. We have not yet a building erected at which a Savings Bank could be located. If those who visited Yass-Canberra lately had gone down to the Acton Estate, they would have seen what we are doing there. We are doing all we can to remove our officers from Queanbeyan.
– The Government send a Federal officer to issue postal - notes ; why cannot they let him collect Savings Bank money from the workmen ?
– I have already sent to another Department asking them to prepare to deal with this matter.
– Prepare what? Why does not the Minister establish a Savings Bank forthwith ?
– We have no power to establish a Savings Bank yet. I am sorry that I am not running a bank at
Yass-Canberra. I wish I were. If I got authority to start a bank, I would have it going within twenty-four hours from now.
– We do not want that. We merely want to afford the men an opportunity of banking their savings.
– I have been going into this subject for a long time. I have taken particular care of the requirements of the men who are doing our work at Yass-Canberra. I have had recreation tents put up. I venture to say that there are no men in the world better looked after than are these men.
– To what Department has the Minister made recommendations? The Post and Telegraph Department?
– The Postmaster-General’s Department is blamed for everything.
– No; I am not blaming that Department. They have not been able to get a man who will take on this duty.
– Have they given no instruction ?
– Is it good enough to start a permanent office there yet ?
– Our own officers are doing nineteen-twentieths of the work of the savings banks.
– When we shift our office from Queanbeyan to Canberra we can make arrangements with our shire clerk - I do not see any use in making a statement when honorable members will not listen.
.- I see an item of £2,500 towards the cost of constructing and altering lighthouses. I am very pleased that the Commonwealth is taking over the control of lighthouses, and I trust that, as a result of the transfer, parts of our coast which have been sadly neglected will be attended to. I notice that Commander Brewis has been sent to report on the Victorian coast to the east of Port Phillip, and I hope that the Minister will be prepared to allow that officer, when he returns from Tasmania, to report on the Victorian coast to the west of Port Phillip. The coast lying between Cape Otway and Warrnambool, and embraced in my electorate, is without a lighthouse. A steamer travelling between those two points loses sight of the lighthouse on the Warrnambool side a considerable time before it catches sight of the lighthouse at Cape Otway. It has been suggested that the Minister should have a report prepared with a view to seeing whether a lighthouse could not be established in the vicinity of Port Campbell. According to information I have received, eight wrecks have occurred on this coast within a distance of about 25 miles. I believe that every one of the wrecks, which resulted in considerable loss of life, could have been prevented had there been a lighthouse in the vicinity of Port Campbell. I refer to the wrecks of the Fiji, Marie Gabriel, Loch Ard, Napier, Newfield. Young Australia, Schomberg, and Falls of H attadale. I believe that a report, if prepared, will be favorable to the establishment of a lighthouse at Port Campbell. I trust that if a favorable report is received a lighthouse will be established as soon as possible in the interests of fishing men and mariners, because this is considered to be a most dangerous part of the coastline of Australia. I feel sure that the Minister will give early attention to my suggestion.
Mr. Mcwilliams (Franklin) [9.24]. - I think that the Committee is disappointed with the statement made by the Minister of Home Affairs.
– I made no statement. As everybody was talking, it was of no use to try to make a statement.
– The statement which I understood the Minister to make was that he had made a suggestion some time ago, and that it had not been carried out.
– I could not get a man to do this work.
– The Committee is not prepared to accept a statement that these workmen have not proper facilities at Canberra, simply because the Department has not been able to find a man to take charge of the office.
– It is only for a few days in the month.
– There are halfadozen ways in which a contractor who was constructing a railway in the interior could carry out an arrangement such as this, and could do it in half-an-hour. What is there to prevent the officer at Queanbeyan from going out on pay-day and acting as a temporary clerk, and taking the money back with him?
– A Federal officer does go there now, and issues postal notes.
– Yes. At Canberra the workers can buy postal notes, but have no facilities for banking their money.
– We had once to get a man from Tasmania to show us how to use the condenser system for telephones. Cannot the State send a man over to show the Minister how to run a savings bank?
– I believe that any Minister, if allowed a free hand, could arrange this matter in the course of a few minutes. Another serious point to be considered is that when a large body of men are engaged on a public work, they are subjected to certain temptations when they go into a town, and a certain percentage will spend much more money there than they would do if they could bank their money for the use of their wives and children living in other parts of the State. Seeing that the welfare of 400 or 500 men and their families is affected, I hope that, before the item is passed, the Minister will give us a distinct assurance that, without further delay, some step will be taken by which men will be relieved from that which I think is a scandal. At the present time a man has to carry about with him £15 or £20, the same as was done on the diggings half a century ago, or he has to lose half a day’s work, and pay a coach fare of 5s., in order to deposit a few pounds which he has been able to save. The savings of the men are not great, and in many cases wives and children are waiting for money. It is not proper that the present state of things should be allowed to continue. There is creeping into our Estimates a system which, I think, cannot be too strongly condemned. We are asked to vote £40,000 towards the cost of establishing a Military College, £100,000 towards the cost of establishing the Federal Capital, £22,500 towards the cost of constructing a transcontinental railway, and £1,000 towards the cost of erecting Commonwealth offices in London. From the manner in which the Estimates are framed, we cannot tell what any one of those public works is likely to cost. A far better plan would be to state in one column the total cost of a public work, and in an adjoining column the proportion of the cost to be expended in the. current financial year. Except in the case of two small items, we are asked to authorize public works without any information as to their total cost. All that we are told in each case is that the amount which is now asked is towards the “ cost of construction.” To the item of £2,000 towards the cost of constructing and altering lighthouses there is a footnote telling us that the total cost is estimated at £25,000, while to the item of £2,000 towards the cost of additional magazine for the storage of ammunition for field artillery there is a footnote telling us that the total cost is estimated at £10,000. In one case we are asked to vote now onetwelfth of the total estimated cost, and in the other one-fifth. Why could not a footnote be attached to each item, so that we could learn at a glance the total estimated cost of the public works? Take, for instance, the item of £22,500 towards the cost of constructing a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. We have not been told whether the Minister intends to carry out the work under the contractsystem or by day labour. If the work is to be carried out under the day-labour system, then the amount set down amounts to an absolute farce, for £22,000 would not provide a quarter of the plant required. It will be twelve months before we have another opportunity to deal with the Estimates, and the question is whether the Government intend to “ hang up “ this work for that time. The only conclusion we can come to is that there is no earnestness behind the proposal - that the Government do not intend going on with the work during the ensuing twelve months. If it is intended to carry out the work under the day-labour system, there will be required during the current year an expenditure of at least £250,000; and even that sum would not, I think, prove sufficient. In this the Government are treating neither honorable members nor the Committee fairly. There ought not to be, and I do not believe there is, any intention at concealment in the mind of the Minister, who has been quite frank ; but the complaint is that we are asked to pass these items without the slightest information. I hope this is the last time honorable members will accept items of this kind, with a small amount set down, and an intimation that it is a contribution towards an ultimate expenditure.
– Let us make a protest by voting against the amendment if we cannot get any satisfaction !
– All right ! If we are to have a vote, let it be so.
– As a protest against the non-provision of banking facilities at the Federal Capital site.
– Perhaps honorable mem bers will hear me first?
– All we ask is an explanation.
– I regret very much I did not hear honorable members discuss the question of the provision of savings bank facilities for the workmen and others in the Federal Territory. I am labouring under the disadvantage of having to make a reply without knowing what my honorable colleague has said in regard to the matter.
– There is no disadvantage - the Minister of Home Affairs has not said anything !
– The Minister of Home Affairs is not in a position to make any definite statement, seeing that this is a matter associated with the Post and Telegraph Department.
– The Government are not a happy family if Ministers cannot take one another’s word !
– We can take one another’s word ; but the Minister of Home Affairs does not desire to carry the responsibility of the “Post Office as well as the responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs.
– No one asked him to do that.
– The only condition under which the Minister of Home Affairs would have been entitled or persuaded, if I may say so, to make a statement, would be at the instance of the Post and Telegraph Department, to the effect that facilities would be provided for the general public. In my capacity as Postmaster-General I may say that, where there is any desire on the part of the public to realize the responsibilities of dark days, and to put a few shillings in the Savings Bank, that desire will be met and encouraged by the Government. If there is any indication of any possibility of business in the Federal Capital Territory to justif y the establishment of a branch of the Savings Bank, a branch will be established.
– All we desire is that an officer of the Department shall be allowed to visit the Territory, and act as agent for the Savings Bank. We do not desire the establishment of a bank there.
– Every facility will be given to the workmen and others in the Federal Territory to dispose of their savings by means of a bank under the control of the Department.
– There is allowed the issue of postal notes ; but the officials are not allowed to take Savings Bank deposits.
– This is new business sprung on me, and I cannot be expected to be acquainted with the particulars in regard to the Federal Capital. I shall, however, make inquiries ; and I repeat that all possible facilities will be given to the workmen to deposit their savings. As to the Naval College, I may, in the absence of the honorable member for Adelaide, and as the Minister who represented the Minister of Defence for a number of months, inform honorable members as to the position. There was a most extraordinary agitation in Australia some little time ago, caused, I believe, by a belief on the part of some people that the British Empire was in peril, and a Dreadnought fund was established. A number of us did not believe that the Empire was in such desperate straits as depicted; but a number of patriotic citizens subscribed, I believe, about £43,000 to form the nucleus of what was ultimately intended to be a fund of £1,750,000 wherewith to present a Dreadnought to the Mother Country.
– Why raise that issue now ?
– I am not raising the issue, but merely supplying some information which, I understood, the honorable member for Bourke desires.
– This will have to be replied to; and I shall say a word.
– The honorable member is at perfect liberty to say as many words as he chooses. He cannot, however, dispute the facts as I have stated them.
– The facts are not brought into question now, except by the Minister himself.
– Does the honorable member dispute my statement?
– No; but I say that it is unnecessary.
– It is not unnecessary.
– The Minister need not talk satirically, and cast ridicule on those who subscribed the money.
– I am not casting ridicule or talking satirically, but stating facts.
– Did the collection of the £43,000 influence the selection of the site of the College?
– If the honorable member desires to take the floor, I shall be glad to give way to him. I speak of a position that was reached as the result, if honor- able members please, of a political agitation. £43,000 was realized, and the question arose as to whether that money was to be returned to the subscribers or devoted in some other way to the defence of the country. When that proposition was submitted the establishment of a naval college for Australia was admitted to be a necessity, and those responsible for the fund which had been collected handed over the money subscribed for that purpose. It was accepted by the Minister of Defence, and the site for the College was selected in the vicinity of Sydney.
– Was the money handed over without any condition?
– I understand that it was.
– Then why was not Jervis Bay selected as the site for the College? Did not the Government expert report in favour of Jervis Bay, and did not the Government fix upon a place near Sydney in order to secure the fund ?
– No, that was not the case.
– Did the trustees of the fund refuse to give the money if the College were established at Jervis Bay?
– No, not so far as I know.
– Then the published statements on the matter are wrong if the honorable gentleman is right.
– As I understand the matter, this money was available for the establishment of a naval college.
– If the trustees of the fund approved of the site.
– No, that was not a condition precedent to the handing over of the fund.
– Were any stipulations made ?
– I do not think there were any.
– There were, and they were published in the press.
– The honorable gentleman should have sufficient experience to know that he cannot accept all that he sees in the press.
– Will the Minister say, for certain, that no stipulations were made?
– No, I will not.
– The Minister might lay the papers on the table.
– I shall see whether that can be done.
– What would be the use of that after we had voted the money? Let us postpone the item that we may know where we are.
– If the honorable member desires to postpone the item and accept the responsibility of carrying on the Government while sitting on the Opposition side, I can understand the attitude he has taken up.
– The Government should give us the information for which we have asked. I ask whether there were any stipulations made in connexion with the handing over of the fund.
– And I say that, to the best of my knowledge, there were no stipulations.
– If the Government can give us an assurance that there were none we shall accept that; but of what use is it for the honorable gentleman to say that, to the best of his knowledge, there were none?
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro occupied a seat on the Treasury bench for a sufficiently long time to know that if an honorable member had submitted a question of that kind to him, he would have asked for notice of it.
– But this is the time to ask this question, when we are dealing with the vote for the Naval College.
– The responsible Minister should be able to give us the information for which we ask.
– I think the honorable member has been allowed sufficient latitude in the interruption of my speech, and, though I am not Minister of Defence, I say that this particular site was selected on the recommendation of a Committee, the members of which visited all the localities under the consideration of the Naval authorities at that time.
– And theyrecommended, first of all, that the College should be established in Commonwealth Territory at Jervis Bay.
– The honorable member displays a strange enthusiasm for Jervis Bay, in view of what we have heard from him about other bays on the coast of New South Wales.
– Yes, other bays which the Minister supported, and then went back upon.
– That is hardly generous to one who stuck to the honorable member to the end.
– Not to the end, only nearly to the end.
– Right to the end. But we should get away from this dialogue. It is admitted, on the advice of our Naval experts, that we must have a naval college. The question arises : Are we going to take advantage of the offer of £43,000 to be made available in the establishment of a college for the training of persons who will subsequently be drafted into our Navy for the defence of the country? Whether the College is established at Middle Head, in Sydnev Harbor, or at some other site, the necessity for it is immediate. Its establishment is not dependent upon a view which might subsequently be held as to the suitability of Jervis Bay or any other place for the purpose. It must be undertaken at this particular time. The Government, under the advice of, I may be pardoned for saying, the most distinguished Minister of Defence who has occupied that position in the Commonwealth, propose to establish the College at the. site which has been chosen.
– Why make comparisons?
– Honorable members opposite are very touchy to-night.
– No; the honorable gentleman is asked to make an explanation of policy, and he begins to make comparisons.
– I began to make an explanation of policy, and honorable members opposite disagreed with it, and when I pay a deserved tribute to one of my colleagues they disagree with that.
– No one objects to the Minister paying a tribute to his colleague so long as he does not use it as a means of hitting at somebody else.
– I might use the reply of the honorable member for Bourke, and say that no one can anticipate the objections of the Opposition. This is an urgent matter recommended by the distinguished Naval officer who was brought from the Old Country to advise the Commonwealth Government in the matter of naval defence, and are we to refuse the generous offer of the subscribers to the Dreadnought fund because the proposed Naval College is not to be established in Federal Territory? What did we do in connexion with the Cordite Factory? The honorable member for
Maribyrnong would very strongly object if a proposal were made to remove the Cordite Factory from his electorate.
– Some factories must be established in the State capitals for the convenience of the Commonwealth.
– Is the Cordite Factory one?
– Yes, decidedly.
– I think it is, also; but I hope that the whole of the Federal factories will ultimately be established in Commonwealth Territory. We have been obliged by necessity to establish the Cordite Factory at Maribyrnong, the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, and our Woollen and Saddlery Factory in other localities. We have not yet been able to initiate a concrete scheme for the establishment of all our factories in Commonwealth Territory. The view advanced by honorable members opposite apparently is that we should not establish a naval college outside of Federal Territory.
– No attack has been made. All that was asked was an explanation of the Government policy in the matter.
– I have already said that I was under a disadvantage in not having heard the previous discussion.
– The Minister’s colleague told us that probably a second college would be established at Jervis Bay.
– Ido not think that there will be a second college, but, no doubt, there will ultimately be a transference. I ask honorable members to let the Estimates pass as quickly as possible, because we have been able to do practically nothing in the carrying out of public works since 30th June last, and I know that there are telephone lines, post-offices, and other works which are urgent and necessary.
– We are asked to vote some millions, and have not had the items under discussion for more than two days.
– Yet the Minister blames us for asking for information.
– I am not blaming any one, and am willing to supply all information asked for; but until we have parliamentary authority, we cannot proceed with works which are urgently needed.
.- I do not think the Committee has been afforded the information which it should have regarding the item under discussion. We have been told that the Naval Barracks,
Submarine Depot, Naval Gunnery and Torpedo School, Naval Training School, Naval Boys’ Training School, and Naval Midshipmen’s College, are all to be established in Sydney, because Sydney citizens subscribed £40,000 towards the purchase of a Dreadnought, and the money was handed over to the Government.
– One of these establishments is to be placed at Westernport.
Mr.SINCLAIR. - To spend £53,000 on schools and colleges of the kind proposed elsewhere than in the Federal Territory would be a waste of money. It is time that we began to concentrate our expenditure, especially on buildings of this kind, in the Federal Territory. These buildings would have to be protected, and that can be done by the fortification of Jervis Bay. To test the feeling of the Committee I move -
That the item “ Naval Barracks, Submarine Depot . . . . Towards cost, £53,000” be reduced bv £53,000.
– The question is that subdivision 7 of division 1 be reduced by£53,000.
.- I stand aghast at the admissions and disclosures made by Ministers this evening. They were asked that certain facilities should be afforded to the men working in the Federal Territory, and I expected to be told that the matter would be immediately rectified, but instead of that statement we got a general account of the difficulties which the Department of Home Affairs has to face, the question of banking generally was dealt with, and the main issue was ignored. This Labour Government, which I have supported through thick and thin from the beginning, wobbles along behind its predecessors. At the camps where men are employed under the State Government, facilities are given for the payment of wages into savings banks. On the railway works, in the Buffalo, the paymaster makes provision for that. What was there to prevent the Minister of Home Affairs from telling us that the same thing would be done in the Federal Territory?
– I have said that it will be done. The Minister of Home Affairs could not make a statement on behalf of my Department.
– The same thing will be necessary in connexion with the making of the transcontinental railway.
– And wherever bodies of workmen are employed.
– I takeit that what we ask for will be done wherever bodies of workmen are employed. 1 have no wish to inconvenience the Government, which I support, but I have always understood that the Military College and the Naval College would be established in Federal Territory. I thought that the Naval College was to be. at Jervis Bay, and in communication with the Military College ; although there isno statement to that effect on the Estimates, I assumed that that was intended. The Postmaster-General has told us that certain persons subscribed £40,000 towards the construction of a Dreadnought, and the honorable member for EdenMonaro asked if they made it a condition to handing the money over’ to the Government that it was to be spent on a naval college to be established at Port Hacking. The Minister did not say that there was such a condition. If there was not such a condition, there was no reason for referring to the fund at all. If there was such a condition, it is outrageous that, to become the recipient of a miserable £40,000, the Government should set aside the policy recommended by its naval, and military advisers. .
– I understand that the experts recommend this place.
– The experts recommended Jervis Bay. Will the third Minister, who has intervened, assure us that there was no stipulation ?
– I know of none.
– Then why were the subscribers to the Dreadnought fund referred to?
– I should like to know what they have to do with the matter?
– I can explain that matter at once.
– Very well.
– 1 will explain the matter to the honorable member. A. body of Sydney citizens controlling a fund subscribed to provide for the purchase of a Dreadnought, found themselves unable to carry out the original, object of the fund, and then intimated that they were prepared to present to the Minister of Defence the sum of, I think £43,000 to assist in the defence of this country, and so to assist in the defence of the Empire. The Minister, to the best of my knowledge and” belief, appointed a Committee to select the most suitable site on which to establish a naval college to train the youth of Australia, who are ultimately to be drafted into the Australian Navy. The Committee selected a site, the sum of £43,000 was made available, and we now submit an item to give effect to the proposal in order that we may have the officers and men necessary for our Navy.
.- The Minister, having dealt with my first objection, I desire now to state that I distinctly object to being misled, and to a policy of fraud upon myself and other honorable members. I do not know whether other honorable members object, but I certainly do. I support the Government on its general policy, but I object to giving a vote on false pretences, or, in other words, to voting for the establishment of a naval college, believing that it is to be erected in some place other than that at which I now learn it is to be established. But for certain statements made on one side of the Committee, and the explanation made in reply by the Minister, honorable members would have voted for this item, believing that the College was to be established on Jervis Bay. There is nothing in the Estimates to show that it is not to be established there. We should not be called upon to vote for an item of £53,000 in respect of an undertaking of this character, without being taken into the confidence of those who are asking us to vote for it. It is evident from what has been said that the donors of this sum of £43,000 clearly laid down the conditions upon which it was to be handed over to the Federal Government, and that the Government, in order to secure that amount, have accepted a site of which they did not originally approve. If the Federal Territory is to be of any value, it ought to be developed. If there was any justification for the establishment of a military college at Yass-Canberra, then all the arguments advanced by the Ministry in favour of its location there must apply equally to the establishment of the Naval College within Federal Territory. I propose to support the amendment, first of all, because I object to the explanation given; secondly, because I consider that very important facts have been hidden from the Committee; and, thirdly, because I do not believe that the supporters of the Government have been honestly dealt with in this matter.
– Before the Minister replies, will he tell us how much the site itself will cost?
– I am sure that honorable members generally appreciate the disadvantages under which 1 labour in replying to statements such as have been made tonight.
– Still, the information ought to be available.
– If I were Minister of Defence, I should accept the full responsibility of giving a direct reply to every statement that has been made, but as I am not, and as I have not been in the Defence Department for some months, I am unable to do so.
– The Minister clearly understands that I admit that he is at a disadvantage.
– Very well.
– But surely the Minister of Home Affairs knows all about the matter?
– I have only to buy the land.
– My honorable colleague’s position is that if a recommendation is approved, and a request is presented, he has to carry out the deal.
– That is all.
– But the information should be in his Department.
– What information do my honorable friends want?
– The information asked for by the honorable member.
– The information available apparently is that as this is Cup night a convenient opportunity for trouble is afforded.
– That is unfair. We have kept a House for the Government.
– The honorable gentleman would not have hesitated to avail himself of such an opportunity.
– I cannot find my honorable friends opposite not guilty to-night.
– Not guilty of what ?
– Of recognising a certain position.
– The Minister’s statement is most ungenerous.
– I do not think it is.
– I say that it is. Not one unnecessary question has been asked tonight.
– I have frequently had the opportunity of addressing remarks to the Government of the day from the Opposition side of the House, but I have never yet complained of any replies given. This question having been sprung upon me, in the absence of the Honorary Minister representing the Minister of Defence, in this House, I am unable to deal with it, since I am not fully acquainted with all the facts.
– The honorable gentleman thinks that when a question is addressed to him, an attack is being made upon him. He is quite wrong.
– I make no complaint.
– The honorable gentleman made a serious charge against me. I think that he ought to withdraw it.
– I am glad to be reminded of it; I certainly withdraw it. I submit to the honorable member for Bourke that it is only fair that he should accept my statement. Possessing the knowledge that I do of the conditions of the Defence Department, I think he ought to accept my statement that this is a genuine attempt on the part of the Minister of Defence, acting on the advice of his most responsible expert advisers, to establish a college in a direction that will be best calculated to secure the effective defence of Australia.
– Surely it is a fair thing to ask what the ground is going to cost?
– It cannot cost more than the amount included in the principal item.
– But the £43,000 subscribed by the citizens will be over and above the £53,000 to be expended by the Government.
– My honorable friends apparently assume that the total sum of £53,000 is going to be expended on the Naval College, but they will see, on looking at the item that it is towards the cost of Naval Barracks-
– Has the Minister the details of each subdivision of the item?
– I have not.
– Surely the Minister of Home Affairs has the details?
– No ; he has not, and it would be most injudicious to say definitely what was going to be done in regard to these propositions if he had them. There are a Naval Barracks, Submarine Depot, Naval Gunnery and Torpedo School, Naval Training School, Naval Boys’ Training School, and Naval Midshipmen’s College. The whole of those necessities are heaped under the vote of £53,000. I am very sorry, but I have tried to get hold of the Minister of Defence in order to obtain the particulars of each of those items. I think honorable members might reasonably assume that this is a vote which is intended to carry out the defence scheme of naval instruction for boys to fit them to go into the Australian Navy. I think honorable members might also assume that the Government have taken all reasonable precautions to see that the site most suitable and most advantageous has been picked in order to secure the best results. I would ask the honorable member, on the strength of the statement that has been made to him, to allow this item to pass without forcing it to a vote.
– I think the Minister has quite misconceived the tone of the discussion. He was out of the chamber when the questions were, asked.
– I explained that.
– While the Minister explained it, he made several attacks by insinuations. In the first place, he attacked us for having a “ Dreadnought policy,” but we have the satisfaction of knowing that, not only was the Dreadnought accepted, but the whole of the Naval Unit, including a Dreadnought, was accepted. I do not want to say anything more.
– You have said quite enough. You know that is not right.
– My statement is correct, but I do not wish to raise that issue now. The Minister raised all these issues, which we do not want to discuss. All we said was that this item was a large one, and that a whole series of matters was grouped together in it. We simply asked the Minister two questions - What was the extent of the commitment, and what were the items upon which we were voting? We made no charge of incompetence against any Minister or other person. In fact, anything we said would not be in the way of an attack upon the Minister of Defence. We simply wanted information to which we were entitled. The question asked by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and the honorable member for Bourke, as to whether the sum of £43,000 influenced the Government in any way in fixing upon the site-
– I say “ No “ emphatically.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance without the slightest hesitation. At the same time, the question was very natural, because the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who is a very close student of the parliamentary papers, probably remembered that, on the 18th November, 1909, the House ordered a letter to be printed. I presume the question was based upon that letter, which was written by Mr. Allen Taylor, Lord Mayor of Sydney, to the Government, offering a sum of between £35,000 and £40,000- to be used by your Government or this Committee
– That was the previous Government.
– I am quite aware of that- for the erection of a Naval College for the education and training of the officers for the proposed Australian Naval Squadron. . . . On receipt of your acceptance of this offer, the money is available, the only conditions attached to the gift being -
– Then there are conditions, notwithstanding the Minister’s, assurance ?
– That was the Fusion Government.
– There is no necessity for warmth in this matter. Is it wise to raise party issues upon Works Estimates in which we are all interested? The Minister said no conditions were accepted, and I accept his assurance.
– That was not for the Naval College, was it?
– Yes. The conditions mentioned in the letter were -
– Yet when I raised the question, the Minister insulted me !
– I do not care where the site is so long as the expert recommends it as being the best. I would say, “ Put the Naval College on a site in the electorate of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, if that is the best site.” The policy of this House in this matter should be toput aside all external considerations, and be guided solely by the question of which is the best site for the efficiency of the Navy. Unfortunately, the papers regarding the recommendations as to the site have not been laid upon the table of the House. They may be confidential documents, and, if they are, and the Minister says that the expert have recommended the site, I would not raise another word against it.
– In all probability, the papers were put on the table of the Library six months ago. If they were not, I give the honorable member my assurance that they can be so placed.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance that this site has been recommended.
– By Captain Chambers.
– By the expert, as best, suited for the purpose.
– In order to comply with those conditions.
– The Minister says not. Honorable members must not be too rash… Subsequent negotiations removing those con-, ditions may have taken place. When citizens are patriotic enough to offer the Government large sums of money for publicpurposes, the Government ought to accept’ the offer readily and willingly. But no; conditions which would be contrary to the. advice of the experts ought to be imposed. The honorable member for Bourke raised the subject in a very quiet, dispassionate, and well-reasoned speech. He made a fair, request, and I am sure he did not put his question with any desire to embarrass the, Minister, nor should the Minister think that we desire to embarrass him.
– I do not think for a moment that my honorable friend is trying to embarrass us.
– I am sure the Minister will accept our assurance that we are not trying to do so, but in the heat of the Cupmoment, so to speak, he made statements which certainly were not fair to this side of the House. We have been assisting him in every way this evening, and have asked nothing but reasonable questions, and I think that, on the whole,. Ministers have attempted to supply us with the information they possess.
– I still think we ought to know how much the Commonwealth is going to pay for the site before we pass the item. The question I asked was fair, and it is no answer for a Minister to say that, because an Acting Minister is absent, he is not able to give the information. When these items are brought down, the necessary information should be in the hands of the Minister in charge. Is this vote in addition to ‘ the £43,000 which is to be handed over to the Commonwealth ?
– Yes, to carry out all the works that are enumerated in item 5 of subdivision 7 - Naval Barracks, Submarine Depot, Naval Gunnery, and Torpedo School, Naval Training School, Naval Boys’ Training School, and Naval Midshipmen’s College.
– The Minister has left out the only words which have any importance in this discussion - “ towards cost.” Every shilling that we vote can be expended on purchasing land, where it is exceedingly dear. It is not fair to this Committee to propose to establish this College and. these buildings on land which has to be bought on certain conditions, when we are not told how much money is to be spent on the land alone.
– My honorable friend is absolutely wrong - this is the total cost.
– That statement is in accord with other assertions of the Minister, who says things about these votes of which he knows nothing.
– I see now that the money to be voted is “ towards cost.”
– The Minister should read his own Estimates. Here we have a Minister who is taking charge of Estimates which he has not even read. The honorable gentleman ventured to say that I was entirely wrong in stating that this vote is “towards cost,” when, if he had read the Estimates,. he would have seen that those very words appear.
– The Minister said so immediately afterwards.
– The Minister should at least read the Estimates of which he is in charge.
– That is the only point which the honorable member has been able to make, and he is quite welcome to it.
– These are not the PostmasterGeneral’s Estimates.
– I know that they are not his Estimates; but he is in charge of them. No information is given to us, however, and the Minister whose Department they concern is absent. We ought to know definitely why the site of the College is not to be within Federal Territory, and whether the Dreadnought money is being handed over to the Commonwealth Government, under the condition that the College should be in the vicinity of Sydney.
– There is no condition. That is the information that I have.
– The Minister said a little while ago, “ to the best of my belief.” I agree with the honorable member for Bourke that these buildings, which will be of a’ permanent character, should be within Federal Territory. We. have taken over an enormous area of land for Federal purposes. Is it reasonable that we should, spend money on establishing a Federal institution elsewhere ? We can have the land at Jervis Bay for nothing. Why spend money on purchasing land elsewhere? It. is one of the most unbusiness-like proposals ever put before an Australian Parliament. Those who know Jervis Bay are aware that it is one of the best harbors in Australia. Moreover, in the interests of the cadets: themselves, it would be better that theyshould not be trained in the immediate vicinity of a large city. Every argument used in favour of establishing the Military College at Duntroon can be used with still more force in regard to the Naval College.
– Because if it be in the best interests of the military cadets and of the country that they should be trained at a college distant from one of the large cities, it will be equally advantageous ; that the naval cadets should be trained at a college that is not in the vicinity of Sydney. I believe that the first expert opinion furnished to the Government wasavoidable to the establishment of the Naval Col lege at Jervis Bay: . But for some reason or other that proposal was turned down. If we pass this vote, we shall commit the Commonwealth for all time to the establishment of the Naval College in the vicinity of Sydney. We shall make a mistake by so doing. Ministers would be wise to reconsider, their decision, and to determine to establish the College in Federal Territory, and in a situation where the students may be removed from such temptations as exist in the vicinity of Sydney.
– The Committee require a great deal of information on the point under discussion, and I think it would be well for progress to be reported now.
House adjourned at10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 November 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19111107_reps_4_61/>.