4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
” GOLD-FIELDS “ ALLOWANCE.
Sir JOHN FORREST asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice - “
Whether the additional 5 per cent. paid on salaries of postal officials ana others on the goldfields of Western Australia, on account of the increased cost of living, is still paid?
Whether the same concession is not now enjoyed by the whole service, and consequently there is no additional payment on the goldfields?
What is the reason for this reversal of action ?
Mr. FRAZER. - The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information in reply to the honorable member’s questions : -
Cold-fields officers receive district allowance under the prescribed scale, ranging from 15 to 50 per cent. on the first £100 of salary, 7½ to25 per cent. on the second £100, and 5 per cent. on the excess of salary beyond£200. The 5 per cent. allowance is payable at Perth and elsewhere to officers who do not draw the higher scale allowance.
No. Gold-fields officers receive the higher allowances mentioned in 1.
There has been no reversal of action.
Mr. PAGE risked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will the Minister direct the Quarantine Branch of his Department to take action immediately to see that no horse or other animal is brought to Australia from India either directly or through any other country?
Is there any prohibition against saddlery, harness, or other articles in connexion with the furnishings of horses coming into Australia from India or any other country ; and, if so, what is the nature of such prohibition?
Could the Quarantine Branch insist upon having. a certificate signed by a certified veterinary surgeon at the time and place of exportation that horses or other animals are free from glanders or other infectious diseases before being admitted into Australia from India or any other country?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The Australian Quarantine Regulations provide that any horse imported into Australia from the United Kingdom must be accompanied by -
A declaration from the owner certifying -
A further condition is imposed in regard to. horses imported from the United Statesand, Canada, a certificate being required front a Government veterinary surgeon that neither dourine nor epizotic lymphangitis has been known to exist in any State in which the animal has been located for aperiod of twelve months prior to shipment.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
MINISTERS laid upon the table this following papers : -
Papua - Ordinances of 191 1 -
No. 9. - Birds Protection.
No. 18.- Public Officers’ Fees.
Claims by and ‘against the Government.
Post and Telegraph. Act - Regulations, amended-
Telegraphic, Telephone (Provisional) - Statu tory Rules1911 . No. 133.
Telephone - No.49- (Provisional) - Statu- tory Rules1911, No. 170.
General Postal, Telephone -
Statutory Rules 1911, No. 134.
Statutory Rules 1911, No. 171.
Money Orders-No. 3 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 142.
Postal, General Postal - Statutory Rules’ 191 1, No.169.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended (Provi sional) -
Universal Training- No. 74 (a)- Statutory
Rules 191 1, No. 173.
Financial and Allowance -
No.292A.- Statutory Rules1911, No. 172.
Nos. 183 (b), (c), 184(g)Statutory Rules 1911, No. 174.
Additions, New Works, and Buildings
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 7th November, vide page 2299).
Divisions 1 to 5(Home Affairs), £824,915
Amendment (by Mr. Sinclair) again proposed -
That the item “Naval Barracks, Submarine Depot . . . Towards cost, , £53,000,” be reduced by £53,000.
– Negotiations for acquiring the land are in progress, so that no exact information can be given respecting its cost.
– Is the Government acquiring it compulsorily ?
– We are making surveys of the land, to be in a position to compulsorily acquire it.
– What is its area?
– From 190 to 200 acres, and it will probably cost some amount between £25,000 and £40,000, but I cannot give a definite estimate. We know, of course, what land tax was paid on it, and have other similar particulars.
.- I wish to know if honorable members are being asked to commit themselves to the acquiring of the site for the Naval Training College to which reference has been made? If so, I am opposed to that course, because I understand that the Defence Department selected an admirable site . at Jervis Bay which it regarded as in every way suitable for the purpose. It is said that that site is to be abandoned in favour of one nearer Sydney, in consideration of the Government receiving £43,000 which was collected from the subscribers to the Dreadnought fund. I am altogether’ opposed . to that. The Commonwealth can find the money needed for its defence without such assistance.
– Perhaps the Prime Minister could settle this question
V in one act.” Last night we could get no information at all as to whether the £43,000 was for a special site in any particular locality in or near Sydney, or as to where the selected site really was. The proper place for the College is at Jervis Bay in Federal Territory. The Go vernment were very anxious to have the Royal Military College - I am pleased to see that it has that title - established in Federal Territory for many reasons, but why they are taking the Naval College outside of Federal Territory is beyond my comprehension. I wish to say emphatically that if the Government are going to accept the sum of £43,000 as a sop for putting the Naval College at any particular site, I am going to vote against it, even if by that action I vote myself out of Parliament. No one can gainsay that the Labour party both in this House before the last general election, and on the hustings at the election, fought against the proposal to provide a Dreadnought for the Old Country - as some people thought, in a time of danger - and for us as a party to now accept that money from the Dreadnought fund as a sop is more than my flesh and blood can stand. I want to know from the Minister of Home Affairs - for the Prime Minister now says he can give us the information - whether that is going to be done.
– The honorable member for Franklin desires to know what ultimate cost will be involved in building and equipping the Naval College at a particular site near Sydney, the honorable member for Herbert asks whether the site has been selected because of some condition attached to the offer of a sum of £40,000 odd to the Government, and the honorable member for Maranoa takes the view that the College ought to be established at Jervis Bay in Federal Territory. My advice is that if the naval authorities were to have absolutely the best site in Australia for the purpose it would not be on the mainland at all, but that there are other circumstances which compel them to have the Naval College at some convenient spot - the spot most convenient in many senses, and the most economical. They say that the site which has been selected is the best, taking the whole merits of the question into account. The , £40,000 odd that will be a contribution towards the building or equipping of the College was not a matter that weighed with the Government in the selection of the site.
– Was there any stipulation as to any site in the presentation of that £43,000 ?
– Not so far as regards ourselves. I think it was so as regards the contributors.
– If some other site were selected, would that £43,000 be still available?
– If a site was selected in another State, I think not.
– Or in any other part of New South Wales?
– I am not in a position to say, but there is no obligation on the Commonwealth Government or Parliament to accept that money unless they so desire. The site as a site would, however, still have been recommended by the naval authorities.
– Apart from the gift of £43,000 ?
– Yes. I should like to add that the Government feel under obligation to put these Estimates through at this sitting. I hope that they will be passed at a convenient hour.
.- I assure the Prime Minister that it is with no desire to delay the Estimates that I address myself to this question, because, in my opinion, the site that has been selected is the best that it would be possible to choose for the purpose in Australia.
– We have never heard where it really is.
– At the National Park, 13 miles from Sydney.
– It is near Port Hacking, and is an excellent site for thepurpose.
– While the honorable member is on his feet, would he mind asking the Minister how much it is to cost?
– There are some difficulties in the way of giving that information.
– It will be compulsorily resumed.
– The honorable member for Maranoa will see that, if we were to say at this stage what land we proposed taking over, we should throw additional obstacles in the way of an amicable arrangement of the price. I understand that the information is withheld at this juncture in order that the matter may be arranged amicably if possible.
– It is very kind of the honorable member to supply the information.
– I gauged it from the Minister’s reply a few moments ago. There is one point which might be cleared up. Whilst I believe the site selected is worthy of standing upon its own merits, whether or not we get any gift made by patriotic persons in the State of New South Wales or elsewhere-
– How many miles is it from Sydney?
– I should say 17 miles, by road. The 13-mile post is at George’s River, and the site is another 4 miles from there.
– The distance is practically 15 miles, according to the ordnance map.
– It is more than that by road, but I do not know how far it is as the crow flies. I have, however risen to ask what considerations weighed with the Government in not placing the College at some other site than Port Hacking. The Prime Minister said that if the naval advisers of the Government had had a free hand, so to speak, they would have selected some place not upon the mainland. I presume the honorable member referred to sortie site in Tasmania. He went on to say that certain considerations made it expedient that the present site, which was their second choice, should be selected. Were those other considerations purely strategical, or were they considerations of some other character?
– Considerations of general utility and economy.
– Economy of management and general utility?
– I could understand considerations of general utility seriously interfering with a proposition to locate the Naval College at Jervis Bay, because it is obvious that we ought to start the institution at the earliest possible moment.
– Or with a proposition to establish it at Fremantle, for instance.
– Yes. There ought to be no delay in establishing the College. If we sought to erect it at Jervis Bay, we should undoubtedly be putting its opening off for a year or two, which is time we cannot afford to waste.
– Might not temporary buildings be used in the meantime? Why establish the College at Port Hacking?
– Does the honorable member mean temporary buildings at Jervis Bay?
– At any place you like.
– I think the College ought to be on Federal territory.
– That is all very well, but there must be a vast organization in connexion with a college of this character. If it is conducted on the lines of the West Point College, we shall have to house two or three times the number of cadets who eventually will graduate, and there will be required large professorial and managerial staffs.
– These will grow.
– But we ought to deal with thematter from now out. This naval scheme is so big that, for many years, we shall have to borrow men and officers from the Imperial Navy; and if we are to obtain sufficient Australians, we shall have to start the College at the earliest possible moment.
– For the “ purpose of general utility,” to use the Prime Minister’s expression, would it not be better to have a temporary building near a centre of population ?
– What is confusing us, I think, is a desire, under the pretence that we are considering the Commonwealth, to kindle the old-standing, and, to my mind, utterly ridiculous, jealousy that undoubtedly exists between two big cities.
– I raised the question, and I have no such feeling.
– I think that the honorable member for Franklin would have had a better right to ask why the College is not situated in Tasmania.
– The feeling of jealousy does not animateQueensland representatives.
– The feeling was worked up in a singular way last night.
– The only place actuated by such a feeling is Sydney.
– I always see a look of bland camaraderie come over the honorable member’s face when the question of a vote of any small sum for Sydney is under consideration. He looks as if he had taken his orders from a newspaper down the street to be as aggressive and as “ national “ as possible in his opposition to the expenditure of a single penny on the Federal Capital. After all, however, this is the Parliament of the Australian Commonwealth, and those jealousies, if they unfortunately do exist, ought not to be allowed to delay our business. There may be jealousies between Sydney and Melbourne as to the progress they each make, but we ought not to concern ourselves with that, but see that we select the best site.
– It is purely commercial rivalry, and it is good for the country.
– It is good for the country that there should be commercial rivalry, but it is deplorable that two cities, each of which has its merits and advantages, should be constantly trying to detract from each other.
– How does Melbourne come into this matter ?
– It came into it last night when no one could have failed to observe the unanimity of our Victorian friends in using the opportunity to embarrass the Government.
– Honorable members on this side desire the College to be at Jervis Bay, and not in Melbourne.
– The honorable member displays much anxiety about the Federal Territory, since.it offers the only opportunity to prevent the College being established at Sydney.
– We shall have hours of discussion if the honorable member for Wentworth goes on in this way.
– I am trying to throw “ oil on the troubled waters.” Putting aside these small provincial jealousies of our Victorian friends, we are entitled to know what the considerations were, other than strategical and naval, that weighed with the Prime Minister in fixing the site at Port Hacking, instead of, as he hinted at, in Tasmania.
– Wait until we have to deal with the establishment of a laboratory and Customs House at Williamstown.
– I hope . the honorable member for Lang will extend to. Victorian votes that broad sympathy always displayed by the representatives of the Mother State.
– Captain Chambers says that this is one of the best sites he ever saw.
– It is certainly the best site I ever saw, though I think there is a very good one in the neighbourhood of Hobart. It is obvious that the Naval College ought not to be in a place which might be isolated in time of trouble; and, perhaps, immediate convenience requires its establishment, hot in, but within reach of, a populous centre. The College ought to be instituted on a firm foundation at the outset, and not as a mere temporary expedient. We must grapple the question with a view of the future, and the best way would be to pass the item. We should have the satisfaction of knowing that, _ so far as we can arrange it, the Australian naval unit is being given a good launch by the establishment of a place where the officers may be efficiently trained.
.- It must be admitted that Commonwealth industries and institutions of this kind ought to be located within Federal Territory ; and I am unable to understand why the Government, without submitting reports to the House, should have selected a site near Sydney. As honorable members know, I have no bias against Sydney, Melbourne, or any other State capital. The fact that Sydney is obtaining some advantage ought not to cause any concern. The only question to be considered is whether it is the most suitable place. If we look to the United States for a precedent, we see that the West Point College, though in the State of New York, is situated very far from the capital of the State. Honorable members ought to have had the benefit of the reports of the experts who recommended this site to the Government. The appearance of the Estimates is the first intimation we have had of the project ; and it is doubtful whether the House is in a position to give a vote on the matter at this stage. It may be well to remind honorable members that this is not the first occasion on which governments have departed from the healthy principle of establishing all such institutions on Federal territory. When the Small Arms Factory was established at Lithgow there was scarcely a word of protest, although that was an instance in which we ought to have insisted on its location being on Commonwealth territory. Then, close to Melbourne, a cordite factory has been established at Maribyrnong. As I have said, this Government are taking no new departure; but, seeing that the Capital site has now been definitely selected, which was not the case when these other works were established, we ought to be given reasons for for the choice of a site for this College. It stands to reason that all such buildings placed on the Federal Territory add to the value of the land there. We get the increment of value; whereas, by establishing the College close to Sydney, we are assisting to enlarge a city that is already too big - an observation which applies to Melbourne and all the other Aus tralian capitals.. I trust the Government will afford us more information, and to that end this vote could easily be postponed, so that the reports of the expert officers may be laid on the table.
.- It is not often that I find myself in disagreement with the honorable member for Wentworth, but so far as the item under discussion is concerned my views are entirely at variance with those expressed by him. The Minister must be convinced that the feeling of the Committee is that great national institutions of this character ought to be established in national territory. We should follow the example of other countries. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has pointed out that the young naval officers of the United States are trained a long way from any large centre of population, whilst England’s great naval training college is at Dartmouth, in Devonshire.
– Away from centres of population.
– Entirely. One of the main arguments in support of the establishment of the Naval College at Port Hacking was, I understand, that such an establishment could be conducted far more cheaply in the vicinity of Sydney than at Jervis Bay. Such a contention, however, cannot be seriously put forward.
– The United States Naval College is at Annapolis, Maryland - the capital of the State.
– But England, which has set an example to the world, has its great Naval College a long way from the metropolis. I am satisfied that in any event after the lapse of a few years the Naval College will be established in Federal territory; people will not consent to the naval cadets’ of Australia being trained outside the national territory. The expenditure of a large sum in erecting a Naval College at or near Sydney will prove within a few years’ time to have been a waste of money. The proper course to pursue is to erect only temporary buildings until the territory in the vicinity of Jervis Bay is in a more advanced state of development. The erection of temporary buildings in the meantime would meet the situation, and eventually the College could be erected where it ought to be - in Federal territory on Jervis Bay.
.- I can assure the honorable member for Wentworth that I cannot recollect having ever voted or spoken against the interests of Sydney. I have never gone to that city without anticipations of pleasure, nor have I left it without feelings of regret. Last night it was absolutely impossible to obtain information regarding this item, and one Minister so far forgot himself as to suggest, when he was being pressed for further details, that advantage was being taken of Cup night to create trouble.
– He was only joking.
– I am glad to hear it. Why have a national territory if we are not going to plant there everything pertaining to the central authority? There is not likely to be a large population at Jervis Bay, nor is a continual influx of visitors to that part of the territory probable. I always advise visitors to Sydney to go to Port Hacking, and those who know the place are well aware that there is a constant stream of visitors there, especially on Sundays. Another point to be remembered is that the Government have not told us how much they will have to pay to acquire private land there for this purpose. Is the land to be resumed upon the basis of the valuation for land and income tax assessment purposes?
– It will be compulsorily resumed if an agreement cannot be arrived at as to the price to be paid. It is, therefore, unwise to state at present what is the difference between the valuation on behalf of the proprietor of the land and that of the Government valuer.
– If we cannot obtain the land at a fair price are we to resort to compulsory arbitration ?
– The law provides for that.
– I am aware of that. But can the Government say that they will take the land at its valuation for land and income tax purposes last year?
– That valuation would be evidence, but not absolute proof, of value.
– I fear that the Federal Government may become the milch cow.
– We do in cities what I have said practically every day.
– That may be, but it is not good enough for me when we can obtain what land we require in our own territory.
– We can resume land even in the honorable member’s own city.
– The law of eminent domain allows a nation to take anything it pleases in the case of national necessity, but I do not know how the Government could resume land in Melbourne .m the basis of a land and income tax valuation, since there is no such tax in the State.
– We have the Federal land tax.
– The Minister of Home Affairs, who has great knowledge of the United States, will admit that West Point, although in the State of New York, is some distance from the City of New York, the population of which is not as large in comparison with that of the United States as a whole as is the population of Sydney when compared with that of Australia. The population of Sydney, I believe, is more than one-eighth of the population of the Commonwealth. Another point to be remembered is that the journey by road to West Point is not an easy one, and I do not think that the railway runs right up to the college. I have here a splendid picture of West Point, which was published in that magnificent report presented by my dear friend, the late MajorGeneral Hoad. Having read that report very carefully, and studied West Point as far as the limited means of our library will permit, I have come to the conclusion that the College should be established at Jervis Bay, in Federal territory. . Let us establish it there, and adopt the splendid system that is followed at West Point, students at which have to live on their salaries, and are not permitted to receive presents, even from wealthy relatives, if they have any. If we establish the Naval College at Port Hacking it will become another show place, and visitors to Sydney will say, “ Let us drive out to the College where the naval cadets are trained.” No one can deny that we shall have to pay more for the land there than we should have to pay for land at Jervis Bay, within the territory given to us by New South Wa’.es.
– We were always too generous.
– My honorable friend will admit that he has never heard me speak against Sydney - in fact, I should be very pleased to settle there if I could take with me all the friends I have here. Let us hear no more of this petty nonsense in regard to rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney. Australians ought to be proud of both cities. I am doing all I can to wipe put the terms “ Melbournite “ and “ Syd:neyite,” and to substitute “ Australian.” There is no big population at this place; and no influx of visitors to it as there is to West Point from New York and New Jersey.
– Does the honorable member wish to bury the students?
– No, but I think that the College should be near Jervis Bay, because in the future the study of military tactics will be one of the keenest, and already the military nations of the world are devoting their best talent to the consideration of questions of defence. I should not hesitate to endow with any amount of money an adequate institution, upon the condition that it must be open to every individual, so that there shall not be built up a privileged class, such as is to-day injuring the naval and military fabric of Great Britain. I hope, too, that the Minister of Defence will declare that the uniform which is good enough to fight in shall be good enough for social engagements. Personally I would insist that, whenever a member of our Defence Forces accepts an invitation, he should appear in the uniform in which tie may have to fight. Such a regulation would do away with the ridiculous practice of spending £Ton on dress and undress uniforms, the wearing of hats which provide no shelter from the sun or rain, and the like.
– What have these remarks to do with the question before the Chair?
– I shall connect them by saying that if our naval academy is near a centre of population, pressure is more likely to be brought to bear in regard to the adoption of nobby uniforms, and gilt-spurred roosters are more likely to predominate, than if it is established at Jervis Bay. Near a big city it must become a show place. We know what happens at Queenscliff, especially in the summer time. It is all very well to say that no one will be admitted within the gates, but it is impossible to keep out visitors. Will the Minister of Home Affairs tell us approximately what the site at Port Hacking would cost, and what the Jervis Bay site would cost?
– I would point out to the Committee that West Point is purely a military college for the training of fighters on land. The Naval Academy is at Annapolis, in the State of Maryland, on a bay. One is for the training of land fighters, and the other for the training of fighters on the deep sea.
– What is the difference ?
– One man fights while walking, and the other man fights while swimming. Treating the subject from the financial stand-point, I ask honorable members whether twenty years hence, when Sydney has a population of 2,000,000, land within 17 miles of it will not be much more valuable than it is now.
– Then why not buy the whole earth ?
– The College is to cost about £75,000, and the land that we buy by the foot will tie saleable by the square inch twenty years hence.
– One is dumbfounded by the Minister’s earth hunger. He seems desirous of buying up Australia. When it was proposed to resume a certain area in New South Wales for the Federal Territory, there was an enormous outcry, but the Minister, in addition to the territory already acquired, is buying large areas in the State. He evidently wishes future generations to recognise his prescience regarding land values. Our object, however, should be, not to acquire land to be sold later at a profit, but to make the best use of the territory ceded to us. The areas outside the Territory held by the Commonwealth will become legion if we proceed as at present. I should have thought that this before all Governments would have been in favour of placing all Commonwealth buildings within the Federal Territory whenever that was possible.
– Would the honorable member put the Maribyrnong Cordite Factory there?
– No. The honorable gentleman’s military studies should have informed him that temperature and climate are primary considerations in the location of a cordite factory, and the climate of New South Wales would not be suitable at all times of the year. When it was proposed to connect the Federal Territory with the sea, honorable members were assured that that was desirable, for one reason, in order to give an opportunity for the training of our future navy. I am sorry that there should be any question of Melbourne or Sydney. No honorable member has suggested that the College should be placed at Melbourne or Westernport.
– Westernport would be an ideal location.
– Yes, but notwithstanding its claims, there is a higher consideration, namely, the desirability of placing within the Federal Territory every Commonwealth establishment that can with safety and advantage be placed there. The Minister has not told us what he proposes to pay for the land, but he has endeavoured to inflame our cupidity by telling us that it will fetch an enormous sum at some future date. We do not want to re-sell this site.
– It is not proposed to resell it.
– The Minister has told us that what we buy by the acre we shall be able to sell by the inch. I hope that there will be no re-sale. The College should be built at the most suitable place, and remain there. I agree With those who say that it should be established as soon as possible, and that could be done without waiting for the erection of costly buildings, by permitting the students to attend lectures at the Sydney University pending the getting ready of the College at Jervis Bay. To place the College and other Commonwealth buildings in Federal territory will foster the national sentiment. I hope that the Government, for the sake of economy and for what the Prime Minister calls general utility, will adopt my suggestion, and, omitting the item under discussion, will provide a smaller sum out of the ordinary Defence vote. If the present attitude of Ministers is continued, many honorable members will support the motion of the honorable member for Moreton, because they cannot conscientiously agree to placing extra-murally, so to speak, of the Federal Capital area, these institutions, one and all of which should be placed within it, and be maintained there under proper supervision. I am not going to add to what has already been said with regard to the disturbing influences of a large and pleasure-seeking population, except that we do not want to place our young men who are going to do this very important work near distractions such as a large city undoubtedly affords.
– Are they to have no pleasures? Would the honorable member put them away in the bush ?
– The honorable member seems to have a peculiar idea of what pleasure is. Some find pleasure in a crowd, others take much more pleasure in solitude. I would suggest to the honorable member that he might try the latter. It would be not only conducive to his own well-being, but would be a relief to a very large number of other honorable members in this Chamber.
– I wish to support the protest against putting the Naval College near Sydney. I do so mainly upon general principles, because where other things are equal - and I think they are fairly equal in this case - all our big Federal institutions should be placed on Federal territory. I am given to understand that the official reports favour Jervis Bay as much as they favour the site now under consideration. We are therefore safe as regards efficiency, convenience, and suitability in putting the College in our own area. I fully indorse the arguments which have been used against the selection of a site near Sydney. I object to putting the cadets under the pernicious influences of a big city, as would be the case if they were taken to Sydney. The Minister’s remark with regard to a profitable deal in land goes by the board, as it is not the Government’s function to become landjobbers. Another consideration which appeals to me strongly is that it would be a very good thing for our defence system, and particularly the educative institutions connected with it, to be in touch with Parliament and politicians, not because I think that that will bring the military under political control - a result which I should deprecate - but because it will lead to a better understanding between politicians and the Defence Forces. This may in future years help us to avoid those disasters which have befallen other nations when political influence in military and naval matters has become too strong. The plan I suggest would lead to politicians gaining a better understanding of the true relations between the army and the State. I have heard that there is a condition attached to the giving of the money from the Dreadnought fund to the Government, to. the effect that if the money is accepted the institution must be placed near Sydney. If so, I should not allow that consideration to influence me at all. It would be much better to forego the donation entirely, and maintain all our institutions in the place where they ought to be.
.- Like other honorable members who have spoken on this side, I am opposed to erecting any Federal buildings of this character outside of Federal territory. The Minister has given us no definite statement as to whether the authorities who selected the site now under consideration have also visited the Federal Capital and Jervis Bay. It is the duty of the Minister to give honorable members the fullest possible information regarding the report of the authorities on this matter. He should state whether they made a second choice, if any, and whether they visited and took into consideration the places I have named. Up to the present moment, as that information has not been given, I feel inclined to support the motion, in order that we may have the College erected in the Federal City, and, if possible, every building for Federal purposes, should also be built there.
.- The discussion has wandered somewhat from its original purpose. It concerned originally the best site at which to establish the Naval College, but the proposition now being debated is how best to develop Federal territory. If honorable members wish to use the naval and military defence votes for the purpose of developing Federal Territory, well and good; let them wipe out this site and start at Jervis Bay. That would be perfectly logical and legitimate from the point of view of the development of Federal territory. But I take it that our purpose now is to consider how best we can start the Australian naval unit of the Imperial Fleet. If the Committee take the College to Federal Territory, they will undoubtedly put off its initiation for a few years, which will be a bad thing for the Australian people.
– Why should it cause that delay ?
– If the honorable member knew Jervis Bay, he would know that it would be necessary to build a vast number of roads before anything could be done there. According to the Minister’s report, the officers of the Home Affairs Department found that all the roads in the Federal Capital area had been “ let down,” and that it was necessary to spend about £14,500 in putting them into a decent state. If we intended to establish the College at Jervis Bay, it would be necessary to start first of all to build roads there, and then, when the Naval College was established, we should have to begin the construction of a railway line from Nowra. At present the line stops short at Nowra on the northern side of the Shoalhaven River, and we should have to build a 20- mile railway to connect with Jervis Bay.
– It is part of the plan to put a railway there.
– That plan has not been accepted by this Parliament, which must consider it afterwards upon its merits. Parliament should not be tricked into indorsing” it at this stage, by taking an advance vote on this question now. The whole question of whether or not we shall have railway communication between Jervis Bay and Sydney, and between Jervis Bay and the Federal Capital, will have to be discussed on its own merits when the proper time comes. I venture to predict that this Housewill be very loth to construct the line between Jervis Bay and the Federal Capital, in view of the fact that no advantage will be conferred on the Federal area thereby. It would be of great advantage to the State of New South Wales if that line were constructed with Federal money, and, from a narrow point of view, I should be very happy to see it done ; but I. think the chief anxiety of this Parliament, after starting; seriously to work to construct the Federal Capital itself, will be to limit, as far aspossible, the total cost of the Federal Capital as a complete proposition. Railway construction will add to that cost, and this House, which represents the taxpayers of Australia as a whole, will, I am sure, be very sorry to sanction the useless or avoidable expenditure of money on making; roads and railway lines that need not be constructed from a Federal point of view. That position will have to be considered later on ; but why prejudge the matter now by deciding to establish the College at Jervis Bay, when the cost of roads, communications, and connexions will be much greater than the whole proposition put before the Committee in these Estimates?
– What do we want with roads ? Why not have communication by water ?
– If we want comunication by water with Jervis Bay, we shall have to start immediately to construct wharfs and jetties, and also breakwaters for small boats. Jervis Bay is a vast stretch of water as big as Port Phillip, and the harbor sea kicked up in even an ordinary blow there makes a breakwater necessary for small craft. All this will add to the capital outlay.
– Those things will have to be built at Jervis Bay in any case.
– That question will arise when we decide what to do with Jervis Bay. The work will have to be done if we decide to have a Federal port there, but we have not yet so decided. We have simply arranged with New South Wales for the possession of theterritory in case we want the port, but con- siderations of economy, and consideration of the fact that haulage from Jervis Bay to the Capital will be just as costly as from Sydney to the Capital, and that port facilities, owing to the absence of population there, will not be so good, will, I think, all operate against the construction of a Federal port at Jervis Bay in years to come. However, as a New South Welshman, I shall be very glad to see that port developed.
– The fact that we got that port was one of the factors that induced a number of honorable members to vote for Yass-Canberra.
– The question of the port had nothing whatever to do with the decision as between the Yass-Canberra and the Dalgety sites, because there was a port at each place. Undoubtedly Jervis Bay as a port is better than Twofold Bay, and that consideration might have weighed with honorable members. I ask honorable members, however, to consider that matter on its own merits.
The question now before us is a naval one. If it was a question of how best to develop the Federal area, how could the honorable member for Laanecoorie possibly advocate the construction of a cordite factory in Melbourne, while advocating the taking away of a work which has been given to Sydney from Sydney to Federal Territory at Jervis Bay? The thing is too transparent. We see this provincial bitterness, which all of us, I think, regret, springing up in the most unlikely quarters. Even the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who knows and likes Sydney, is influenced by it to the extent of wanting to take this institution from even the neighbourhood of Sydney and to place it in the Federal area, not because he really cares about the development of the Federal area, but because he wants to see as much as possible done to prevent the Northern capital of Australia from getting anything in the way of the spending of public funds. I do not know that this proposition will benefit Sydney. I do not think it matters a brass button to Sydney whether the Naval College is placed at Jervis Bay or not. From the New South Wales point of view, if it is placed at Jervis Bay, the State will be benefited more than if it is placed at Sydney, because it will undoubtedly mean taking the first step towards the construction of a line from Nowra to Jervis Bay, and from Jervis Bay to the Federal Capital. That work will benefit New South Wales.
– Does the honorable member really think that we are afraid of benefiting New South Wales?
– I have not had the privilege of knowing the honorable member sufficiently long to learn whether he comes within the category of those “ broad nationalists “ who have often excited the amusement of honorable members generally in this Chamber. I do not know that he does. I hope that he does not, but undoubtedly we do see signs of a desire to secure the spending of public money in this State, and to prevent it being spent in other States. Such a tendency is most lamentable. The honorable member for Batman should ruminate over the fact that the honorable member for Laanecoorie says it is absolutely essential that the Cordite Factory should be built in or near Melbourne, because, if you please, the climate of Melbourne is the only climate in Australia in which it is safe to manufacture cordite 1
– Nonsense ! Does the honorable member believe that ?
– It was said by the honorable member.
– He said the climate of New South Wales was not suitable.
– Personally, I find Melbourne an excellent place, and do not see this bitterness reflected in the hearts of the Melbourne people. They are always most hospitable and generous in their treatment of those from other States, but we do find the influence I have mentioned in politics - an influence which is really initiated by the selfish interests of a section of the Melbourne press. That is what we are suffering from in this debate. If it is a good thing to have everything centred in the Federal area, what an absurdity it is to talk about the climate of Melbourne requiring the cordite factory to be situated in Melbourne ! It might as well be urged that the relaxing climate of New South Wales is a dangerous one in which to bring up young men to serve in the Navy, because it might sap the vigour of their constitution. The idea is absurd, and we have heard enough to realize that this debate is based purely on provincial considerations. The suggestion that we should develop our Federal area by establishing this College there, is only a side wind by which it is hoped to prevent money being spent even in the vincinity y of Sydney. This expenditure cannot bene/it Sydney one iota ; and I believe that people who have private residences at Port Hacking will resent the establishment of the
College there. However, the cost of construction at Port Hacking will be much less than at Jervis Bay, and the former is a much better situation from a naval point of view - an opinion for which we havethe authority of the advisers of the Government. It is not worth our while paying £40,000 for a second-class site ; and in view of what we have heard from the Prime Minister, we should sink all our little provincialisms. If people desire to throw money at us let them do so by all means. To establish the College at Jervis Bay would be to commit ourselves to railway construction. This, no doubt, would be excellent for New South Wales; but 1 question whether the taxpayers of the Commonwealth would care to embark on such an enterprise.
– I am as desirous as most people to see our Federal Territory developed by the establishment of industries and of such institutions as that under discussion. There are, however, exceptions to every rule ; and the Prime Minister, supported by the authority of his expert advisers, has, I think, made out a good case for the Port Hacking site on the grounds of utility and economy. These, of course, are the two chief factors that should guide us in determining the matter. There seems to be some objection to the site owing to the proposed gift of money to the Commonwealth. Our first consideration, however, is whether this is the most suitable site; and, in this, we ought to be guided by those who have had experience in defence matters of the kind. Under all the circumstances, I, for one, am prepared to take all the money from people who may care to devote it to this particular purpose, if people, sufficiently patriotic, are to be found willing to do so. This, of course, as I have said, is subject to the fact that the site is the best one that can be secured ; and on that point we have the assurance of the Prime Minister. It is necessary that the College should be established as early as possible, so that every accommodation may be provided for those who desire to enter the Australian Navy.. We shall have to wait a considerable time if the College is not constructed until it can be established in the Federal Territory. There must be railway communication to the Territory before the College could be of any utility.
– The students could go to the university in the meanwhile.
– Even so, there must be considerable expenditure. Nothing could be done with a Naval College at Jervis Bay until wharfage accommodation had been provided in order to afford facilities for reaching the place ; and we know at present that there are travelling facilities neither by land nor water, and no hope of any for years to come. Honorable members who imagine that this Parliament will be meeting on the Federal Territory in four or five years will be very much mistaken, for, I think, ten years is more like the lime that will be required for the necessary preparation. It is not proposed to send the students to the university for the reason that we have the best expert advice to the contrary.
– The College will take several years to build.
– If that be so, we can realize that it would take a good many years more before we could hope to construct a college in the Federal Territory. I should say that quite two or three years longer would be required if we decided against Port Hacking in favour of the Territory. My opinion is that the Government are doing the right thing under the circumstances. We all desire to build in the Federal area as much as possible, in order to attract population, and give the Federal City a status; but we must remember that in the past honorable members have not made much fuss about expenditure on Commonwealth undertakings outside that Territory in Victoria, New South Wales, and elsewhere.
– Did the experts recommend this as the best site? .
– The Prime Minister has assured us that this site was recommended on its merits.
– It was recommended as the best site on the mainland. There was another site, but not on the mainland.
– It is necessary, in my opinion, that the Naval College should be in close proximity to the water, so as to give facilities for training, and I think that this vote ought to be passed.
– It is quite clear that honorable members are anxious that the Naval College should be established without delay. The only question is as to the site ; and doubtless there is a patriotic feeling in favour of the establishment being on Federal territory. I ask the Committee to negative the amendment of the honorable member for Moreton, and pass this £53,000. I promise that the question of the site shall come up again for consideration.
Mr. McWILLIAMS (Franklin [3.51]. - The Committee ought, I think, to accept the offer made by the Prime Minister. There is no desire to embarrass the Government in the slightest degree ; but we hope that this debate will be taken as an indication that, not only the Naval College, but other Commonwealth buildings of the kind, shall be erected on Federal territory. The Commonwealth buildings are being scattered all over New South Wales and Victoria; and wherever one is established in one State, it seems necessary to give an equivalent in the other. The statement of the honorable member for Hunter that this has been recommended as the best site should not go unchallenged. If the honorable member will read the report, he will find that the site regarded as the best is in the vicinity of Hobart; so that, if the Government rely entirely on the recommendations of their naval advisers, the College will not be established at Port Hacking. The Military College has already been established on our own land, and I repeat the hope that the Government will take this debate as a strong indication that all such Commonwealth work should be carried on there.
– I should be glad if the Minister would explain the item “ Launch for trawler, £222, “ and also give the Committee some information as to the benefit which the Common wealth is deriving from the work of the trawler, upon which we have, spent something like £30,000.
– I shall deal with the general work of the trawler when we have before us the general Estimates covering the salaries of the Fisheries Department. Last year, a sum of £400 was voted for the purchase of a launch, and of that amount £178 was expended. Honorable members are now asked to revote the balance of £222. It was considered by the Director of Fisheries, and the captain of the trawler, that a launch was essential to enable the shallower waters, more especially around the islands, to be investigated. As honorable members are aware, the launch could be used where the trawler could not possibly go. This proposal was first made some two years ago, andwhen
I resumed office as Minister of Trade and Customs, I called for further reports on the subject. It was then arranged that the launch, if found not to be absolutely necessary to the work of the trawler, should be transferred to one of the other Departments. There is work for such a launchin the Naval Department, and even in connexion with the Department of Trade and’ Customs. If the trawler can carry on operations effectively without it, we shall devote this launch to other purposes.
.- I should like the Minister of Trade and Customs to explain where the proposed vote of £12,726 towards the cost of new quarantine buildings in New South Wales is to be expended.
– The only quarantine buildings in New South Wales of which I know are those at North Head, and the animal quarantine station at Bradley’s Head. The amount for which these Estimates provide is not sufficient to enable the whole of our quarantine stations to be placed in a proper state of repair. The States, anticipating that the quarantine services were to be transferred to the Commonwealth, did not keep the buildings thoroughly up-to-date, and, as a matter of fact, the quarantine station at Brisbane was done away with altogether, the buildings being converted into a leper station. On this year’s Estimates, it was proposed by the Quarantine Department to provide for an expenditure of about £100,000 under this heading towards cost of construction and repair. The total cost would be about £250,000, but we decided that we should first of all ascertain exactly how we stood in relation to the matter. Believing it possible for us to learn something regarding the position of quarantine in other countries, and having regard also to the increasing size of steamers coming to our shores, which means increasing the accommodation. I took the matter to the Cabinet, and it was agreed that before we incurred so large an expenditure, we should inquire what other countries were doing. The Director of Quarantine, Dr. Norris, was accordingly despatched to the United States and Europe to make inquiries. He will also visit one or two eastern countries, and, upon his return, will submit a comprehensive report on the result of his investigations. The item of £12,726 to which the honorable member has referred is merely to put the buildings in such a state of repair as they should be in before people are quarantined in them. This is one of the items that we watch very carefully ; but as quarantine is in the nature of health insurance, it is most important that we should keep our quarantine buildings and grounds effective lor the purpose. I have not the details at hand, but I believe that the particular item under discussion is to provide for certain alterations which must be made to the buildings at North Head in order to make them habitable.
.-I notice that all the items under the heading of “Quarantine” are “towards cost” of new quarantine buildings. Are we to understand that new quarantine stations are to be established in every case?
– Notin all cases.
– Will the total cost amount to £250,000?
– Quarantine to be of any value must be effective. We are unable to say at present what expenditure will be necessary to make our quarantine stations thoroughly effective, but, as I have already mentioned, inquiries are being made. Pending the receipt of the Director’s report, we intend only to carry out works that are immediately necessary.
– I should like to know whether it is proposed to establish an up-to-date quarantine station in North Queensland in the neighbourhood of Thursday Island?
– There is a station at Thursday Island.
– Thursday Island is the first port of call for vessels coming from the east which are most likely to bring to Australia infectious diseases. It is, therefore, very necessary that we should have in the north of Queensland an up-to-date quarantine station, so that vessels arriving at the entrance to Australia from the east with cases of infectious diseases on board will not have the experience of the steam-ship Eastern, which was recently sent down to Sydney to be quarantined at tremendous cost to the owners, and also to shippers of cargo and passengers by that steamer. Will the Minister state where the sum of £1,200 towards the cost of new quarantine stations in Queensland is to be expended, and whether a new station will be erected with a view to provide for such a contingency as I have mentioned?
– - I believe that Port Darwin is the first port of call for vessels coming to Australia from the East, but if the establishment of a quarantine station further south instead of in the tropics would meet the requirements, I think it would be preferable to the spending of a large sum in establishing a quarantine station in the neighbourhood of Thursday Island. If we can make effective the quarantine station already in existence there we shall do so, but if, in addition, a new quarantine station is necessary, I think that it should be erected in a more temperate latitude than that of Thursday Island. We expect to receive the report of the Director in February or March next, and unless this item be” passed, it will be impossible for us to acquire a site should a new site be necessary at Brisbane, or between Brisbane and Rockhampton. We desire to have this money available if the report of the Director is favorable to the construction of another quarantine station.
.- In regard to the item of £500 towards thecost of a new quarantine station in Tasmania, I wish to ask the Minister what steps are being taken in the matter? Last year we had on the Estimates an item to provide for the purchase of a site at Triffitt’s Point, but every one now recognises that the establishment of a quarantine station there would have been most undesirable. Land in the district is now being subdivided into building blocks. I think that the Department stayed its hand-
– No; inquiries are being made.
– It is very essential that something should be done. Several good sites are available, and the establishment of a station should be proceeded with without further delay. Hobart is the first port of call for vessels of the Shaw Savill Company, and for many other steamers ; yet there is no quarantine station there.
– There is one at Barnes Bay.
– That has not been taken over by the Commonwealth. It is a most excellent site, and I regret that the advisers of the Government did not seetheir way clear to recommend that it should be taken over. I hope that the Government will establish a quarantine station in Tasmania without more delays
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra- Minister of Trade and Customs) [4.9J. - Last year we expended £16 under this heading, that representing the cost of inquiries to ascertain the best available site for a quarantine station in Tasmania. I understand that Dr. Purdey, Chief Health Officer for Tasmania, and also, I believe, Quarantine Officer for the Commonwealth, is malting inquiries either independently or in conjunction with others, and that the selection has been narrowed down to three sites.
– Where are they?
– I cannot say from memory. When the honorable member put a question to me a fortnight ago in regard to the matter I made inquiries from the Acting Chief Officer of Quarantine, and was told that the selection had been narrowed down to three sites. He expects to have a report from Dr. Purdey as to which is the best of these. The honorable member may rest assured that we are fully alive to the necessity for a quarantine station at Hobart. I agree with the honorable member for Lang that it is undesirable to overcarry either passengers or cargo where that can be avoided, but we do not want to expend large sums of money upon the upkeep of quarantine stations when it may be possible at slight inconvenience to avoid anything of the kind.
.- At the beginning of the year, I wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs about the Flemington rifle range, on the Sydney side of the Nepean electorate, and was informed that a contract had been let for repairs to it, and later I received a letter saying that the work was being expedited. Since then I have been told that the range has been resumed for railway purposes. I have suggested that further provision for rifle practice could be made in the neighbourhood, as there are about six clubs to be accommodated. I thought that something could be done for the extension of the range at Ryde, but my suggestion was unfavorably received, as was also another suggestion relating to the Parramatta range. The Flemington range having been resumed by the New South Wales Railway Department, the Treasurer will have received money for it, and that money might fairly be expended in purchasing a new site in the district. If further accommodation cannot be given at Parramatta or Ryde, a new site should be purchased. The departmental replies on the subject have been very unsatisfactory, and I should like a definite answer from the Minister this afternoon. It is a hardship to members of the Granville, Clyde, and Technical College rifle clubs to have to pay fares to visit the Randwick range, frequently to find that the targets are in use by members of the regular Forces, they and the Randwick rifle club having the first call on the Randwick range. The members of the rifle clubs in the district to which I refer are beginning to think that the Government discourages rifle shooting.
.- In quite a number of items provision is made for the construction of drill-halls, an expense which, no doubt, will grow, as in time every centre of population will demand a drill-hall. In view of the big expenditure which would be needed to meet these demands, I suggest that it would be better to do without drill-halls, and to disband the boys on wet nights, without counting it against them as a drill lost. I rose, however, to direct attention to a more important matter, namely, the need for providing facilities for drilling within reasonable distance of the places where the boys who have to be drilled live. I regret that the Department has been very slow to attend to a complaint which I made regarding the practice of requiring the lads from Morpeth, a fairly large town, with a considerable population surrounding it, to travel to East Maitland to be drilled, a distance of from 3 to 5 miles. I have protested against the arrangement on two occasions, but have not yet received a satisfactory reply. It is not fair to ask parents to pay the expense of railway fares in cases of this kind, and the boys cannot be expected to walk. Drills should be held close to where the boys live. The case to which I have referred should have been dealt with by this time; the Department ought not to need five or six weeks for its consideration.
– The honorable member for Hunter points out that the expenditure on drill-halls will greatly increase in the future, and at the same time suggests an increase to facilitate drilling.
– I suggest that the area officers should drill the boys in the localities where they live.
-I understand the honorable gentleman to suggest the securing of sites for drill-halls, within a reasonable distance of the places where the boys live.
– The general instruction to area officers is to facilitate drilling in every way possible, meeting the convenience of the lads by paying the fullest regard to local conditions, which, of course, vary greatly. In the providing of drillhalls, local authorities have in some cases, assisted the Government, but, in other places, there has not been the same patriotism. I cannot undertake to suggest that on wet nights ladsshould be dismissed without there being a drill ; because, during a wet year, the efficiency of a corps might, under such an arrangement, fall below the necessary standard, which those belonging to it would not like. The Minister will, however, do his. utmost to remove inconveniences. I shall suggest to him the advisability of getting the area officers to do a little more travelling, so that the lads who are being drilled will have to do less.
Mr.McWilliams. - Some of the area officers work well.
– I am glad to hear it. I hope that that can be said of all of them. It requires exceptional tact to bring our new Defence scheme into smooth working ; but when it is thoroughly understood, its individual, as well as collective, benefits will be generally recognised.I am unable to give the honorable member for Nepean the details for which he asks; but, whereas last year only £17,000 was expended on rifle ranges, this year nearly £70,000 will be spent. While there may be irritation in some localities, rifle shooting is receiving so much consideration from the Department, that I think generally the efforts will be appreciated. I shall put the remarks of the honorable member before the Minister, and hope to be able to furnish a reply to-morrow.
– Can the Minister give us information respecting the progress of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory ? Personally, I regret that it was not located in Federal Territory. Is it too late to reconsider the question of site?
– We regard the whole of Australia as Federal Territory, and think that no one place can command the whole expenditure of the Commonwealth. The Small Arms Factory is nearing completion, but there are circumstances regarding it which may demand the attention of the Attorney-General’s Department; and, therefore, I suggest that honorable members should not press for detailed information.
– The request is a very fair one. If the subject were not receiving the attention of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Committee would be entitled to demand an explanation regarding the delay in the completion of the contract.
– I ask the Minister whether it is intended to provide accommodation for the men who will be employed in the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow ? It was announced in my electorate some time ago that land would be resumed, and cottages erected for their accommodation ; but there is no provision for that in the Estimates. If the factory starts within the next six months, it will be difficult to secure accommodation for those who will be employed there. Houses are not to be obtained in the district for the number of workmen that will be required there. A scheme was propounded some time ago for the acquisition of land and the building of workmen’s dwellings on it by the Government. I do not know whether that is the best thing to be done, but in any case the Government ought to be able, at this stage, to give the Committee some satisfaction in the matter. I am told that at present, on account of the strike, there are about ninety empty houses in Lithgow, but fully 300 men will be employed at the Small Arms Factory, a large proportion of whom I presume will be married. The moment the trouble at Lithgow is over the houses will all be filled again. Rents around the Small Arms Factory have gone up enormously, and a good many questions are being asked in Lithgow about this matter. The proposal that was put forward for the Government to build houses for workmen really prevented private people in the neighbourhood from speculating in the way of putting up new dwellings, and in that respect it has done a certain amount of injury, and has rather aggravated the evil. If the Small Arms Factory is opened by the new year, as we all expect, the Government will be met with a serious difficulty, and I should like to know if any arrangement has been made to overcome it. Three hundred workmen cannot be accommodated there under present conditions.
.- The point raised by the honorable member for Nepean is very important, and deserves the consideration of the Minister, especially inview of the steps which are being taken by private enterprise in Great Britain to properly house the employe’s in large industries, and cater for their amusement in their leisure hours. Garden cities are springing up in connexion with large enterprises, and the Commonwealth Government should set a good example in Australia in connexion with the treatment of their employes in these large factories. No doubt the Minister has been giving it consideration, and has ordered his Department to look into the question of the proper housing and catering for the welfare of the employes in Commonwealth factories. Better work is got out of a man if he is properly fed, housed, and looked after. This question is a big one, and Australia seems to be very far behind ‘the times in regard to it.
– Take what has been done by Cadburys’ for their work people.
– I could mention Cadburys’ garden city, the Sunlight soap city, and others established in the country in England. When we begin to establish our Australian factories, we should work them on similar lines. I shall be quite satisfied if the Minister will promise to let us know exactly what has been done by his Department in this matter. Perhaps the best tiling would be for him to lay the papers on the subject on the table.
– The Minister representing the Minister of Defence will make a statement, because the matter is in his Department.
– The whole question of the construction of the factories would be in the Home Affairs Department.
– I shall be glad to let the honorable member see the papers.
– Will the honorable member lay them on the table of the Library?
– The Minister’s promise is entirely satisfactory to me.
– When a previous item was under consideration, nearly all the members representing Victorian constituencies were unanimous in regarding it from the “ broad national standpoint “ - as viewed through Victorian spectacles. I hope they will take the same broad national outlook with regard to the proposed votes for the expenditure of large sums of money in connexion with the cordite and other factories at Maribyrnong. The Victorian members recently agreed, with wonderful unanimity, that institutions of that kind should be within Federal Territory. I should like to test the depth of that national spirit, which always comes so much to the fore when any expenditure is proposed in New
South Wales. Every Victorian representative objects on “ broad national grounds “ to all expenditure in New South Wales, especially anywhere in the vicinity of Sydney. I now expect a number of Victorian members to rise and insist on the Cordite Factory and Clothing Factory being placed in Federal Territory, and not at Maribyrnong. No less than £6,500 is set down towards the cost of the Clothing Factory, which, I take it, is to supply uniforms for the Naval and Military Forces. There is also a Harness Factory to be established at Clifton Hill, which is near Melbourne. Are any Victorian members going to move for the excision of these items, and to insist on all these industries being carried on in Federal Territory? There is to be a total expenditure in the neighbourhood of Maribyrnong alone of close on £30,000 for various Federal and national items. I shall resume my seat for the present, with a view of giving some, of the Victorian representatives an opportunity of expressing their opinions on the wisdom of having all these . works established in the Federal Capital area, and not in and around Melbourne. I shall expect the hon’orable member for Maribyrnong to be amongst the first to move in that direction.
.- Instead of my being satisfied with the amount of money proposed to be expended in Maribyrnong, the Minister of Home Affairs knows that I am very much dissatisfied that another item does not appear in the Estimates. There is one item here for the repairing of a road which the military authorities have put into a state of disrepair, and, in fact, made almost impassable for the ordinary ratepayer.
– Look at the rates that they bring in.
– The Commonwealth Government have bought land on either side of the road, and so have taken away the only rateable property from which the shire of Braybrook could obtain revenue to keep the road in a proper state of repair. The Government put up the Cordite Factory, and cut up the road by carrying the necessary materials there. In my electorate, and in the electorate of’ the honorable member for Nepean, the Government ought to declare these roads military roads, especially when they take away the rateable property, and the Defence Department should construct them free of cost to the community.
– Something ought to be said about these items from the broad national point of view. It is most peculiar that the honorable member for Maribyrnong should have £55,000 on these Estimates for his electorate, and yet complain, with the audacity of a highwayman, that that is not enough. At the same time, I cannot get £50 spent in my electorate, which represents half of Queensland. The honorable member could have the £50,000, and I should be quite satisfied with the odd £5,000, without complaining about roads. Did the honorable member expect the Commonwealth Government to carry the material for the Cordite Factory by flying machines, so as not to interfere with the roads? If he wants those works constructed in Maribyrnong, he ought not to complain about the roads being used to carry the materials necessary. Does he want that part of his electorate wet-nursed or spoon-fed ? Where does the national spirit come in in his case?
– Is Beerburrum in your electorate ?
– It is in the Prime Minister’s electorate. I am reminded by the Minister of Trade and Customs that I get for my constituency the large vote of £410 towards the cost of a new post-office. For cool cheek and audacity, the honorable member for Maribyrnong “ takes the bun.” The Government have spent £50,000 in a little corner of Melbourne, and yet the honorable member desires that we shall also make the roads, because the cost is heavy on the local council. Of course, I am glad that money is being expended in this particular direction, because it shows that the Minister of Defence means business. I have been pressing on the Government, ever since I entered this Parliament, the necessity for manufacturing our own explosives; and, notwithstanding what I have said, I am gratified to see that a commencement is being made in this connexion.
.- It is no doubt desirable to establish our military works as early as possible, but that is not the attitude of some honorable members in connexion with an equally important feature of our Defence Forces. When we were discussing our Naval College, we were told, Oh, the College is all right, but the location is all wrong “ ! Victorian members protested against the establishment of that College at Sydney, although the advisers of the Government had recommended the site ; and the protest led to a definite promise by the Prime Minister that the question would come up for further consideration. I make no attack on the choice of Maribyrnong as a site for a cordite factory ; but I think that the Prime Minister should make a similar promise in regard to this and other works of the kind as he has just made in connexion with the Naval College. This is not an ordinary vote like that for the extension of a post-office or the granting of telephonic or telegraphic facilities; it is for the establishment of a factory or factories for the service of the whole Australian people. If the development of the Federal Territory is so important that the Prime Minister was willing to withdraw from the Ministerial position, and assure the Committee that he would not proceed with the establishment of a military college near Sydney until we had had further opportunities of discussion, we are entitled to the same treatment in this and other cases. I am willing to vote the money, and to believe that Maribyrnong is the right place, and to further believe that Melbourne is the right place for harness and clothing factories - I am not in a position to judge - but if, in the case of the Naval College, we are to decide offhand, not against the claims of Sydney - for none have been made, so far as I know - but against the recommendations of the official advisers of the Government, we ought to take the same course in regard to all these works. The honorable member for Maranoa is as keen as myself in the desire that the Cordite Factory should be pressed to a speedy completion; and I have no doubt that he recognises that the same argument applies to this factory and to the clothing and harness factories, as to a college for naval training.
It is deplorable that we should have this provincialism in a Chamber of this kind; but the best way to stop it is to show that it does not pay. I confidently hope that the Government will give us identically the same assurance as was givenin the case of the Naval College.
.- There is all the difference in the world between a cordite factory and a naval college.
– One is in Melbourne, and the other is not !
– The great difference is that, in the case of a manufactory, it must be near a supply of labour.
– In England they are manufacturing soap and chocolate in garden cities.
– England is a different proposition from Australia. For many years there will not be a sufficient supply of labour at either Yass-Canberra or Jervis Bay. I have no great objection to all these factories being in the Federal Capital eventually ; but for a great many years they must be near a labour supply. All that has been suggested is that if the Naval College is established at Port Hacking, it should be of a temporary character.
– Does the honorable member make the same suggestion in regard to the factories in Melbourne?
– I am not sure that cordite can be manufactured in a temporary building, but if I can, I should make the same suggestion. If we spend . £75,000 on a Naval College near Sydney, that will fix the College there for all time. I contemplate that, at some time, all these factories will be on Federal territory, for that is the general trend of opinion ; but to establish an intricate factory, which requires a great supply of labour, in a bush capital, would be midsummer madness.
– Do not shearers come to the honorable member’s station when he has sheep to shear?
– That is a ludicrous suggestion. The shearing, which is the manufacturing part of the pastoral industry, is carried on for only six weeks of the year by practically casual labour. No sensible man would ever suggest bringing sheep to Maribyrnong to be shorn, or even taking them to Port Hacking.
– I am not concerned about the manufacture of harness or clothing, but I think we are making a great mistake in establishing a cordite factory in a suburb of a large city. In spite of what the honorable member for Fawkner says, the same principle applies to the cordite factory as to the Naval College. We are establishing one of the most important works that the Federation could establish in the manufacture of our own explosives.
– There cannot be temporary buildings for that purpose.
– The buildings should be permanently established in the Federal territory. I thought we had made a great mistake in seeking to establish a Federal Capital at this stage of our history, but Parliament, in its wisdom, or otherwise; has so decided; and we have taken over a territory stretching to one of the best harbors in Australia. Although we have all this land, we are purchasing in a suburb like Maribyrnong, at an enormous price, land on which to establish a factory. It would be better for the Federation, and infinitely better for the workpeople, if the factory were erected where more room and better conditions could be provided than are possible in a closely settled suburb of a city like this, especially when, at a great cost, we are attempting to establish a city of our own. I hope that the Prime Minister, as in the case of the Naval College, will promise another opportunity for the discussion of the location of all these factories.
– The Cordite Factory is very nearly finished.
– Cordite is being manufactured there to-day.
– Then we have made a very serious mistake. I understood that only the site had been purchased.
– On the last Estimates, we voted £31,000 for this factory.
-But a great deal of that went in the purchase of land, I understood.
– It is a pity we are too late !
– It is a pity that “the broad, national spirit,”whichis beginning to dawn on this Parliament, was not manifested last year; because I am afraid this is only one more of the very serious blunders we have made in starting. I hope that in the future all such works will be established on Federal territory, instead of our adding to the population and business of the two large cities, which already, unfortunately for Australia, contain much too great a percentage of the population.
. -I hope that this Cordite Factory is only astart, for I should like to see other explosive factories erected at different parts of the Commonwealth, so that, in time of trouble, the permanent staff might be distributed. This is a country of magnificent distances, and it would be a national calamity if, in time of war, some parts of Australia were cut off from our only explosive factory. We ought to establish factories in other parts of Australia.
– One in the West, and one in Tasmania.
– We ought also to have one in Queensland.
– To supply explosives to the miners ?
– To supply explosives to all parts of Australia. I think the time will come when we shall have explosive factories established in different parts of the Commonwealth. No harm can be done in establishing one in Victoria.
– But we need not make it big enough to supply all Australia.
– It could not do that. As to another suggestion which has been made, I think that our defence requirements will be sufficient to keep the factory going for some time, without widening the scope of its operations. I hope that we shall have buildings and machinery provided in Western Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales for the manufacture of explosives. I do not say that they should all be put into work, but they should be ready to meet an emergency.
– I desire to have an explanation in regard to the item of £4,700 to provide for the harness, saddlery, and leather accoutrements factory at Clifton Hill. If this proposed vote is to provide for additions to that factory, I must protest against it. The factory at Clifton Hill is only a temporary one, and any further development of the work should take place in the Federal Territory. There is also an item of £6,500 for “ clothing factory, Melbourne.” Again I protest against additions being made to other people’s property. We have our own Territory, and should build there.
– The permanent harness and saddle factory is established at Clifton Hill, and the proposed vote is to put it into more effective and economic working order.
– I understand that it is to complete the purchase of the present factory.
– And what is the explanation in regard to the clothing factory ?
– We are erecting the building now.
– This House was never consulted in regard to it.
– Provision was made for it in last year’s Estimates.
– For a temporary building.
– The building is being constructed of galvanized iron.
– I should like to know where it is being established.
– At South Melbourne?
– It is a very temporary looking structure.
– If it is only a temporary building I shall not object to the item, but I think that the permanent factory should be established in the Federal Territory.
– We would not get any employes there.
– We should be able to obtain them without much trouble, provided the conditions were satisfactory. I hope some explanation will be given in regard to the item relating to the clothing factory.
– The clothing factory is being erected on land owned by the Defence Department at the rear of the Victoria Barracks, South Melbourne. It is being constructed of galvanized iron, which, when we shift to the Federal Capital, can be utilized for other purposes.
– That is all right; it is only a temporary building.
.- I thought the Minister was going to give us an explanation of the item relating to the Cordite Factory. Speaking subject to correction, I understand that the Government considered one of two alternatives, or, in other words, that they had to determine between the suitability of Sydney and Melbourne as a site for a cordite factory. If those two cities only be taken into account, I believe that Melbourne is the better site for the establishment of a cordite factory. It is a question of humidity; cordite can be manufactured more advantageously in a drier than in a humid atmosphere.
– Quite so.
– Then the Federal Capital would be a still better site.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member for Laanccoorie say “ Quite so,” since there is infinitely less humidity in the Federal area than there is in Melbourne. If we are to consider the development of the Federal area on the lines suggested by the honorable member for Laanecoorie and others, why should we not establish the Cordite Factory where, by doing so, we should not only be developing the Federal territory, but where cordite could be manufactured more advantageously than in Melbourne? I am not going to lay down at present any hard and fast lines, but the Labour Government appear to be frightened of the difficulty of getting workmen to go out where work is to be done.
– There would be no difficulty.
– None at all. If private enterprise in a country like England can succeed in this direction, I fail to see why our gifted Minister should not act with equal success. I am not going to urge at this juncture that the Government should recede from what is being done at Maribyrnong.
– What has been done there?
– The Government have started to erect a factory there.
– It is virtually complete.
– Then why all this expenditure”?
– Exactly the query I was going to put. If the factory is virtually complete, why is it necessary to spend another £29,000 upon it? I presume that the Minister was speaking in the language of his Department, where “ virtual completion “ is arrived at when the plans have been decided upon.
This Labour Government, as soon as it found that the bulk of honorable members in the Chamber required it, gave a very easy assurance that the House would be allowed a further opportunity to decide the location of the Naval College. We ought to have identically the same assurance with regard to all these matters. If we do not, then I think Australia may take it that provincialism is triumphant in this Chamber - that certain honorable members from this State, acting without the knowledge of the people of Victoria, who, so far as I can gauge, are not provincialists, but acting on the secret influence of a section of the Melbourne press, are trying to get money spent in the neighbourhood of this city, whilst at the same time they try to prevent money being spent where the advisers of this Government have -said that it should be expended.
– Is it the honorable member’s tongue that causes that lump in his cheek?
– I do not think that the honorable member is an authority on the construction of the human frame, let alone on the observance of common decency in regard to the expenditure of public moneys. “Broad Nationalists” like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who, with his colleagues, was highly indignant at the spending of the funds of the Australian public where the Government’s advisers ad vised that it should best be spent, now seek to ridicule us when we suggest the application of the same principle to votes relating to their own constituencies.
– I have not said a word.
– Because the honorable member has not a case which he, even with his effrontery, could submit to the Committee and claim that it should receive support. I hope that the Minister is going to make some explanation in this regard. I am not asking for any more than he was prepared to concede to the broad Nationalists of Melbourne. If the advice of the Government’s expert advisers is to be subordinated to the views of narrow provincialists in this Chamber, let the principle apply all round. If provincial jealousy is to apply in respect of one item, let it apply in both cases, and when it is found that such a system will not pay, this will become in reality a National Parliament, and not the playground for provincial jealousies.
– The sum of £29,000 is the total estimated cost of providing for the following: - Permanent Battery: Officers’ quarters, stables (120 horses), forage store, barn, sick bays, pharmacy, forge, wheelwright and collarmakers’ shops,’ water and sewerage, gun parks, mobilization store, company offices, guard room, men’s barracks, noncommissioned officers’ (married) quarters, earthworks, and lighting. Militia Batteries : Orderly room, store, gun parks (two batteries), harness room, shelters for men, and fencing. I am sorry that this provincialism has entered into the consideration of a great issue. The Committee does not appear to recognise the necessity of scattering these establishments. I am just as much for the Federal Territory as is any living man, but if a great army concentrated and captured the Federal Territory, we should lose everything if we had all our establishments there. If the United States Government had had everything at Washington in 1814, when the British Army took the city, it would not have had a gun, or even a factory to manufacture any of its requirements.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the item - “ Williamstown Temporary Gunnery and Torpedo School - Alterations and Additions to Naval Depot, ,£2,000.” I fail to see why this item, like that relating to the proposed establishment of the Naval College at Port Hacking, should not also be reconsidered. A school of gunnery would fit in very nicely with the Naval College. I wish also to have some information regarding the item - “ Maribyrnong - Access to Defence Property - towards cost, £500.”
– The total estimated cost is £2.000.
– I have forwarded to the Department half-a-dozen letters from the Lithgow Municipal Council in regard to the upkeep of roads used in connexion with the Small Arms Factory there, but have been informed, in reply, that the Government will pay nothing towards the upkeep of roads in New South Wales.
– Then why should they do so here?
– That is what I should like to know. If the Government are prepared to provide on these Estimates £500 towaids the cost of constructing a road leading to the Cordite Factory at Maribyrnong, they should be prepared to extend the same principle to other States. I ask for an explanation from the Minister, as a very grave principle is involved. If these payments are to be made in one case, they should be made in all, and the equivalent of rates should be paid to the local governing authority wherever there are military or naval properties to which roads of access have to be made or maintained. In this case £500 is proposed to be paid.
– But we are committed to an expenditure of £3,000.
Mr. CANN, Yes, according to the footnote.
.- I should like to draw attention to the claims of my electorate. It cost the municipality £20,000 to woodblock the road in front of Victoria Barracks at Paddington, and in addition two streets with asphalt pathways have been made. If £500 is to be spent in compensating a local authority in the electorate of Maribyrnong for the damage done to a road in the conveyance of material to the Cordite Factory, the local authority in my electorate should be similarly treated. I would also point out that something should be paid for the maintenance of the roads serving the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne.
– We have a great deal of land at Maribyrnong, and the road in question became so terribly bad that we agreed to give £500 for its repair, on condition that the shire would maintain it in future.
.- I do not regard the Minister’s reply as satisfactory. I think that the Commonwealth should make good any damage done to roads, and if a shire in the Maribyrnong electorate is to be paid £500 to repair the road serving the Cordite Factory, the municipality of Lithgow should be compensated for the damage done to its roads in carting material to the Small Arms Factory there.
– The same principle should apply all over Australia.
– Yes. When it can be proved that the Commonwealth is responsible for material damage to any road, it should pay the local authority for effecting the necessary repairs. The honorable member for Nepean has received no satisfactory reply to his request for consideration, yet in a Melbourne electorate, £500 is to be given to the road-making authority, committing the Commonwealth to a total expenditure of £3,000.
– The £3,000 is to be spent on Commonwealth property, to provide a wharf on the Saltwater River, and a road to connect the powder magazine, and to improve the gradient of the road leading from the magazine to the public street.
– The footnote would make it appear that £3,000 is to be given to the shire. Although the explanation puts a different complexion on the matter, it does not get rid of my objection that the same treatment is not being meted out to all local authorities in Australia. It is not fair to compel the Lithgow municipality to spend perhaps £1,000 or £2,000 in mending roads brought into disrepair by the carting of material to the Small Arms Factory, when a shire in the Maribyrnong electorate is given £500 to repair the damage done to the road over which material has been carted for the Cordite Factory.
– Cases should be treated on their merits.
– The damage done in Lithgow has been admitted, and application has been made for compensation, but it has not been granted. Why is the honorable member for Nepean treated differently from the honorable member for Maribyrnong? A little while ago,I said that I favoured the establishment of all Commonwealth works, so far as possible, in the Federal Territory. Ministers say that labour cannot be obtained there, but I am certain that all the labour needed could be obtained if it were made known that it was required. I have never taken exception to a proposal on the ground that it would benefit any particular State, but Victorian representatives are so fond of asserting that no money should be spent in New South Wales except in the Federal Territory, that it is time that we pointed out the need for locating all Commonwealth works there, so far as that may be possible. The sum of £6,500 is put down for a clothing factory, which the Minister says will be temporary, but why spend money on a temporary establishment? It would be better to build a permanent establishment in the Federal Territory. I desire that the Federal Capital shall grow, and the only way to insure its growth is to bring as many persons as possible to live there. The honorable member for Maribyrnong gets no less than £29,627 for his electorate this year, including £500 for the road under discussion. Other honorable members should be similarly treated to prevent invidious comparisons. The electors will think that because they are far removed from the Seat of Government no notice is taken of their applications.
.- The principle supported by the honorable member for Hunter is one whose adoption I have advocated for some time past. The Commonwealth might very well agree, as an act of grace, to meet its obligations for municipal services, just as private persons have to do. If this is not done, logrolling is likely to take place. A shire council might allow its roads to fall into disrepair, to compel the Commonwealth to spend money on them. My suggestion is that the Commonwealth should pay a fair charge, but no more, for municipal services. There should be a uniform basis.
The Minister has not made it clear whether this road is on Commonwealth territory or within the municipality. I know he says that it is “ access to defence property,” but the access itself might belong to the Commonwealth or to the municipality. If it belongs to the Braybrook Council, not a penny piece should be expended upon it until all claims of a similar kind have been equitably met. There are roads in the electorate of Nepean, in the electorate of East Sydney, and in my own electorate which are heavily used by the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth refuses to pay a penny in rates and taxes. We are not here to dole out public funds without responsibility, simply because one honor able member is a little cleverer behind the scenes than another.
– He had nothing to do with it.
– Some previous member for the district may have been cleverer behind the scenes than others.
– We cannot use our own property unless we have this road.
– Then we are asked to vote this money because the municipality has let its own property run down?
– I understood from the Minister of Home Affairs that the £500 was for building a road which the Council would afterwards maintain. I presume, therefore, that it is the council’s road. The claims of Nepean, East Sydney, Wentworth, and other electorates where roads may be proved to have been cut up, and in some cases almost destroyed, by Commonwealth use, will have to be taken into consideration if we are to spend money on this road.
– They ought all to be treated on their merits.
– Will the honorable member for Nepean say whether he has succeeded in getting the claims of his constituency considered on their merits? The honorable member has not, nor has the honorable member for East Sydney, nor any other honorable member except the fortunate representative of this Melbourne constituency. Either all electorates should be put on an equal basis, everybody being treated alike, or we should not pass this item. The honorable member for Nepean is in a peculiar difficulty owing to the roads about Liverpool, and especially at Lithgow, being cut to pieces by Commonwealth usage, and the Minister’s reply ought to be made to him. He is the most aggrieved. I do not suggest that he should move at this stage to reduce the amount, because the Minister might yet meet him and the Committee, whose general feeling is that the principle now introduced should apply all round or not at all.
.- I understand that the Lithgow Municipal Council made an offer to the Federal Government to form and metal the road to the Small Arms Factory, and that the Government refused absolutely to have anything to do with it. The road in the middle of last winter was simply impassable. The Lithgow Council are still willing to perform their part of the matter. If the Minister will give me an assurance that he will treat my electorate in the same way as he has treated that of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, I shall be satisfied. It is not a question merely of the Lithgow municipality or the shire of Braybrook, because throughout the Commonwealth, wherever these large Federal properties are situated, an assurance ought to be given that the same kind of treatment will be extended to the local authorities as is being accorded in the district of Maribyrnong. It is “ up to “ the Minister to give that assurance. I do not wish to move a reduction of the item, because I think it ought to be voted to pay for the upkeep of the road. If, however, the cost of the upkeep of the road is paid for in that case, the upkeep of every other road in the Commonwealth used for similar purposes ought to be paid for.
– I hope the Minister will make the statement asked for. I am not prepared to allow the item to go through without that_ statement, because it establishes the principle - of which I approve - that where the Commonwealth has been proved to do damage to certain roads, it should give something to repair the damage. If that principle is to be established by this vote, then representations which have been made from other quarters ought to be given similar consideration. If the Minister has not had time to consider them so as to allow amounts to be placed on the Estimates to repair the damage, he should be in a position to assure the Committee that all applications that have been made in that direction will receive consideration. When the Commonwealth has damaged roads, we should be assured that it will pay a fair amount to put the roads into repair again. I do not say that the Commonwealth should take on any responsibility in regard to the upkeep of the road afterwards, but if the Commonwealth is going to continue to use and damage the road, it would be fair to come to an understanding as to the amount to be paid for upkeep. The State Government adopt that principle in many_ cases, apart altogether from the subsidy given to the municipalities and shires. _ I am not prepared to pass items concerning one particular electorate or one particular State night after night without an assurance that the same principle is to be extended throughout the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister is present, and I expect the Government to give an assurance that consi deration will be given to every claim for compensation for damage done to roads by the Commonwealth. If not, there will be trouble’ in connexion with these matters in different localities. A municipal council has to levy rates from residents for the maintenance of its roads, and if the Commonwealth establishes a factory in a district, and damages the roads to the extent of £500, it is unfair to compel the poor people of the district to pay additional taxes to make good that damage.
– And we pay no rates.
-The Commonwealth is exempt from rates, but we do damage and snap our fingers, refusing to take responsibility for repairs”. I do not say .that we should establish the principle of acknowledging responsibility in these cases, but certainly we should, by an act of grace, vote money to repair damage done by us. That need not necessarily be done simply on the application of the council concerned. The fullest investigation can be made by our own officers as to whether the amount of damage done is as stated in the claim, and the amount voted accordingly.
– If honorable members had listened carefully to what was said by the Minister of Home Affairs, they would not have indulged in their recent remarks. If the principle of assisting municipalities to repair roads for any purposes whatever was involved, honorable members would have a perfect right to call attention to the matter, and demand an explanation from the Government, but I understand that that principle has not yet been approved by the Federal authorities.
– How does the Minister ac-‘ count for the honorable member for Maribyrnong getting £500 for that purpose, and the honorable member for Nepean getting nothing?
– That principle is not. involved in the vote now before the Committee. The whole of the expenditure in this item is for the repair of Federal property.
– That is not so; there is £500 for the shire of Braybrook.
– I am afraid honorable members unconsciously allowed themselves to be misled by the mischievous mood of one particular honorable member, and did not pay strict attention to what was said by the Minister of Home Affairs. Certain property was acquired at Maribyrnong on which a factory has been built.
Access to the factory from water, and from the shore side, is indispensable for its proper working. The property is several acres in extent, and the building does not cover the whole area. A certain portion of the property has to be put in such a condition of repair that vehicles can reach the building from the public street. The total cost of providing for the necessary access to the building, both from the water and from the shore side of the property, is £3,000. The sum of £500 is now on the Estimates towards defraying that total cost of £3,000.
– Will the Minister state that this £500 is not to repair damage done to the road of the municipality ?
– I say, clearly and unmistakably, that not one penny of the £500 will be spent on any public road or public place other than this property, which is absolutely owned by the Federal Government. All the references to the honorable member for Maribyrnong being particularly keen behind the scenes are beside the mark. He has had nothing whatever to do with the matter. The principle of repairing public roads is in no way involved. In the circumstances, therefore, I hope honorable members will permit the item to pass.
– Is the amount being paid to the Braybrook Shire Council?
– The Minister of Home Affairs said it was.
– I think honorable members misunderstood the Minister. There was considerable cross-firing at the moment. The honorable member for Wentworth, whose tones are not always silvery, was endeavouring to impress upon the honorable member for Nepean and others that they ought to take strong exception to something that was being done by the Government.
– Then this road is altogether-
– Within Government property.
– The Honorary Minister has now stated that the road is entirely on Government property - a fact which the Committee did not know previously. He also states that, not only do the Government own the land, but they have bought the road.
– They have not bought, the road ; they bought certain property.
There was no road on it when they bought it.
– If there was no road, how could the Commonwealth break it up?
– These ideas about breaking up a road are in the honorable member’s imagination.
– The Minister now says we are drawing on our imagination when we speak of roa*ds being broken up. The Minister of Home Affairs and the honorable member for Maribyrnong led us to believe that £500 had been paid to the local council on account of the damage done to the road by the Federal Government. We are now informed by the Honorary Minister that this is a Government road on our own property; but, even so, that does not destroy the argument that where the Commonwealth does considerable damage to any road, the local authority ought to be recompensed.
– I approve of that idea, but the principle does not operate in the present case.
– The Honorary Minister said just now that if the principle were Once accepted, we did not know where its operation would end. I may say that the Honorary Minister made a mistake if he alluded to me as a member who was in a mischievous mood.
– I did not allude to the honorable member.
– I have never taken up a parochial view, but when I heard of the treatment of the local authorities of Lithgow, I desired to know why the same principle is not adopted in every case. I hope that the Government will, in thefuture, consider the necessity of making, grants to shire councils and other local authorities for any damage done to roads, by reason of Commonwealth works.
.- One point has not yet been cleared up. The Minister of Home Affairs distinctly stated that £500 had been paid to the Braybrook Shire Council on the understanding that in the future that council would be responsible for the upkeep of the road. If that be so, the road is under the control of the shire council, and not under the control of the Commonwealth Government; and the principle that I stood up to defend is still in doubt. Is this road under the control of the Federal Government, or under the control of the local council? If an arrangement of the kind can be made with the Braybrook Shire Council, it can be made with the Lithgow, or any other shire council.
– Points are put and reput, and yet honorable members seem no nearer understanding the position. We have not paid the local shire council anything.
– Will the Government pay the shire council anything?
– We shall, under certain conditions. This road is our own. Are we to shut the factory up? 1 say to the honorable member for Nepean that every case will be treated on its merits, and receive careful consideration; but we do not lay down any fixed principle.
– Is this road on the property of the Commonwealth, or is it not? The Honorary Minister said the road was on the property of the Federal Government, while the Minister of Home Affairs tells us it is on the property of the Braybrook Shire Council.
– Does not the local council have any control at all in our territory ?
– If the Minister of Home Affairs is right, this road is on our own property, and to speak of it as for the purpose of giving “ access “ to our property is not correct, for that shows it to be outside our property. I am sorry, but I think the Honorary Minister has misled the Committee.
– No, he has not - here is the statement.
– If this road is outside the property of the Commonwealth, then every other road used for a similar purpose in any other part of Australia should be treated in exactly the same way.
.- The Honorary Minister drew a red herring across the trail. I have been assured by persons who know, and who are interested, that this is a public road, used by the public to get to certain village settlements on the other side of the factory property.
– That does not square with the statements we have heard.
– But it is a fact; and the road, I am told, is under the control of the shire council. The Public Works Department of the State are giving an amount to make the road available, and the shire council desires a certain amount from the Commonwealth also. The road is to be put in a state of repair, and then -the Braybrook Shire Council is to keep it in repair for the future. That being so, why all this fencing? Why not tell the truth about the matter? This road is not Commonwealth property, but public property; and the treatment that is good enough for the Braybrook Shire Council ought to be good enough for the Lithgow local authority. The road at Lithgow has been destroyed by the carting of heavy material, and turned into a perfect bog; but the Minister of Home Affairs, seeing that he is in a corner, gets up and says that each case will be treated on its merits. The honorable member for Nepean has questioned the Minister repeatedly on this point ; and if the Commonwealth has destroyed the road at Lithgow, we, as reasonable men, should see that it is put in the same state as that in which we found it. If the honorable member for Maribyrnong, being near Melbourne, is able to get the ear of the Minister and of the Public Works officials, surely the Minister will do something for his own supporter who is sitting behind him - will do for him exactly what has been done in the case of the Maribyrnong electorate.
– Not because he is a supporter, surely ?
– I am not asking for that. There is a military road in Sydney, from the main road to Middle Head, and it is maintained by the Department.
– It is only called a “military “ road.
– It is maintained by the Department.
– I have assisted to pass votes for the purpose. It is of no use the Honorary Minister trying to “ throw dust in our eyes,” because we have been long enough at the “ game “ to know just as much as he does. We ought to see that local authorities do not suffer anything by our destruction of the roads, seeing that we do not pay a single penny in local taxation. In order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
That the item “ Maribyrnong - access to Defence property - towards cost, £500,” be reduced by £1.
– I have no personal knowledge where this road is, nor whose property it is, but”I am informed, by means of a communication, with the.
Minister of Defence, who is in a position to say, that the road is on Federally-owned ground.
– Is it a public highway?
– I hope it is, but I do not know.
– If so, it is not Federal ground.
– Why do the Government wish the municipality to interfere ?
– I cannot tell the honorable member. I have just seen an officer of the Home Affairs Department, who has been in communication with the Minister of Defence, and I am told that the road is on land belonging to the Federal Government.
– Then the word “ access “ is wrong.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Laanecoorie in the construction he places on the word “ access.” I did not agree with him when he was making his speech, but I did not think it worth while to intervene. The word “ access “ may mean from a waterside to another building at a distance.
– It is not a waterside.
– Yes, it is.
– The road may cross some property temporarily belonging to the municipality ; but that would not in any way qualify the statement I have made. I desire to see the facts laid before the Committee.
– We have had two different statements from Ministers.
– I shall personally consult with the Minister of Defence and ascertain the position. It is impossible for any Treasurer to be conversant with all these details.
– What about the Lithgow road ?
– Not only the Lithgow road, but all other properties under like conditions will be considered on their merits as the cases arise.
– The honorable member for Nepean has already presented the case.
– That may be so; but if honorable members think that any injustice is being done at Lithgow they are mistaken. It is under consideration whether a railway shall be constructed ; and it would be inadvisable to lay down a permanent highway when there is a possibility of an iron way.
– Did the Prime Minister ascertain whether this road, when completed, is to be kept in order by the Braybrook Shire Council?
– I think so.
– So that the Commonwealth is going to hand over to a shire council, in a State, the upkeep of a road which is on the property of the Commonwealth, and belongs solely to the Commonwealth ?
– I can conceive of such an arrangement being good business. In addition to the land belonging to the Commonwealth there may be, at the end of the road, a large area of land belonging to the municipality or shire council. The road would thus give access to the property of the local authority as well as to Commonwealth property.
– Are we to understand from the statement made by the Prime Minister that we are practically making a roadway across our own property, and dedicating it to the public, so that the ratepayers of the shire of Braybrook may use it to gain access to other private lands? It would appear from the statement made by the Minister that the Government are dedicating this road to the use of the public, and saying to the shire council, “ We will put it in good orderif you will in future keep it in good order.”’ I am slightly sceptical regarding promises that are made as to a municipality keeping a roadway in good order for all time. Perhaps the Minister of Home Affairs will give us some information.
.- I appear to have been made the butt of considerable criticism this afternoon, but I take the remarks of honorable members in that truly national spirit with which I always receive their comments. I admit straight away that the expenditure in connexion with the Cordite Factory site and land purchased for a horse depot goes on automatically without the intervention of any member of Parliament. It is a national work, and the National Government must carry it out. The complaint I made was that the very part of the road in respect of which I had desired that assistance should be given to the Braybrook Council had not been provided for on these Estimates, notwithstanding that the Federal Government has cut up that roadway very considerably. The property on each side of this road, as well as the roadway itself, is owned by the Commonwealth.
– Then it is a public highway running between public property.
– No; it was part and parcel of the old Maribyrnong Estate, and was the approach to the homestead. It was practically a private roadway, from one end of which there was no outlet, since it was cut off by the Saltwater River.
– In that sense only it was private property.
– No; it was originally part of the Maribyrnong Estate ; it was like a carriage-way running up to the old homestead. The State Government, however, having purchased land on the other side of. the Saltwater River, and having established a village settlement there, constructed a bridge across the stream, and offered to pay half the cost of making this road. The position now is that the Public Works Department of Victoria is contributing £500, whilst the Commonwealth is contributing a like amount for that purpose.
– And the roadway is to be open to public use?
– Yes ; but the Federal Government have power at any time to say that no one but those desiring to approach the Cordite Factory shall be allowed to use it.
– They could not justly impose such a restriction.
– They certainly would not.
– Who is to maintain the road?
– In consideration of a mere handful of the ratepayers of the shire of Braybrook being allowed to use this roadway, the shire council is prepared to keep the road in order after the Public Works Department of Victoria and the Commonwealth Government have constructed it.
– Will they accept all liability for negligence and so forth?
– I presume that they will. The shire engineer will act in conjunction with the State and Commonwealth Government engineers, and they should be able to make the road to our satisfaction. Another point to be remembered is that the Commonwealth Government, by purchasing land on the other side of this road, have deprived the local council of a revenue of at least £60 per annum, since, as honorable members are aware, municipal rates cannot be levied on Commonwealth property.
– The Commonwealth should re-imburse the shire to that extent.
– Yes. I shall always be prepared to assist honorable members in securing the construction of military roads in their electorates. Certain roads should be declared military thoroughfares. Portion of the road under consideration has been badly cut up by the carting of heavy loads of machinery and the materials used in the erection of the Cordite Factory. Failure to make the roadway now would involve the Government in still further expense. Heavy loss was sustained during the winter months since, in respect of certain parts of the roadway, big loads had to be conveyed through a veritable quagmire, which meant the employment of double teams. The Commonwealth Government have not gone off their own property. To all intents and purposes, the property still belongs to them ; but they have deprived the shire of Braybrook of certain rateable values, and it is only fair that this road should be constructed. As the result of this expenditure, the cost of cartage to the factory will be reduced. The Saltwater River skirts the Cordite Factory as well as the Military Horse Grounds, and access to those grounds will be obtained both by water-way and by road. Hence we have a proposed vote of £3,000, which is likely to be used for the construction, amongst other things, of a wharf. Together with members of the State Parliament, I played some little part in an effort to have the river made navigable, and that work is now being carried out at the expense of the State Government. It will be very useful to the Commonwealth Government. We are asked really to spend a very small amount to put the roadway in order.
.- The misunderstanding that has arisen has not been due to any fault of the Committee. We have had four distinct and mutually conflicting statements - three from Ministers, and the other from the representative of the district - and I think that that made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong is really the first explicit statement we have had bearing on the situation. The principle still involved in this question could be settled immediately by the Prime Minister saying that he would take the whole question into his consideration, and would inform the House, on some future date, of the view taken by the Government regarding the desirableness of recompensing muni- cipalities that are put to undue and exceptional charges in the maintenance of their roads as the result of particularly heavy Commonwealth traffic thereover. I do not think anything else need be said. As to the particular road under consideration, I think that the Minister will have to dedicate it to the public as soon as it is constructed. As a matter of common justice to the men who are being settled by the State Government upon land on the other side of the river, continuous and perpetual access to their property must be guaranteed them. But if we are going to construct a road which may, later on, according to the honorable member for Maribyrnong, be closed to the public-
– I did not say that it would be closed up. I said that the Government would have the power to close it.
– If the Government do not intend to exercise that power, they might as well dedicate the road at once to the public. That re-opens the whole principle to which such strong exception has been taken by the honorable member for Nepean, and the honorable member for Hunter. I do not think it is fair to ask the Prime Minister to make an immediate statement, but he should take the matter into his earnest consideration, because grave injustice is being done to certain municipalities which cannot afford the expense of repairing roads badly cut up by Commonwealth traffic.
– In reply to the statement made by the Prime Minister, I should like to explain that the construction of the railway does not enter into the matter of paying for damage done to the Lithgow roadways. The railway, to be of any use in this regard, should have been constructed before the factory was erected. The damage was done in connexion with the cartage of the machinery as well as the materials used in the construction of the factory. The road will be used for other purposes whether the branch line of railway is, or is not, constructed.
.- I think most of us are convinced that the Government have not given us full information in regard to this matter, and that to their failure must be attributed the trouble that has arisen. They do not seem to know exactly what the facts are, but it is only reasonable that the Committee, when asked to pass certain proposed votes, should be afforded full information in regard to them. We have been told by one Minister that the municipal council has something to do with this matter, while from another source we learn that it has nothing to do with it. Then, again, we have been told by the honorable member for Maribyrnong that the roadway is altogether - within Government property.
– I said that it was completely within our own property.
– Is the roadway, when constructed, to be Commonwealth property, or are the public to have access over it? Notwithstanding the long discussion that has taken place, I am not yet satisfied as to the exact position. I do not think any one present knows the facts. The Minister of Defence is not a member of this House, but the Minister of Home Affairs, who ought to know all about these matters, has made a. statement at variance with that made by the Honorary Minister representing the Minister of Defence, who said that the road was outside the Government property.
– We want to know whether the road will be a public road, or belong exclusively to the Commonwealth. I do not wish to prolong the consideration of these Estimates, but the explanation so far given regarding this matter has been very confusing.
.- It would appear from the explanation made by the Prime Minister that I did the Honorary Minister an injustice by saying that he was stating what was at variance with the facts when he declared that the road was through Government property. As the Prime Minister assured us that he had it from the Minister of Defence-
– That it is Government property-
– Does the road run through Government property, or is the road itself Government property?
– It runs through Government property, I am informed.
– I wish first of all to withdraw the imputation that 1 made against the Honorary Minister that he was misleading the Committee. I know that he would not wilfully do so, but it seemed to me, owing to the conflicting statements of the Minister of Home Affairs and the Honorary Minister, that something was being hidden which the Committee ought to know. I think that the honorable member for Maribyrnong has given the true version of the facts. This was a private roadway, and was sold to the Commonwealth
– I do not know what it is.
– I think that the honorable member, who has had a lot to say about roadways, has been confusing the Victoria Barracks, Sydney, with the Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, and the Maribyrnong factory. The Prime Minister knows that this is the only opportunity afforded honorable members for the criticism of the Government’s policy and administration. Two sessions ago the right was taken from us by a brutal majority which applied the “ gag,” but I hope that that will not happen again.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the item, in which there is no reference to the “gag.”
– Then I shall deal with the items as they occur. For instance, £35 is set down for fortifications, and £370 for new services. It is proposed to spend £877 on barracks. Is that to make them habitable after the recent outbreak of scarlet fever or some other epidemic? The sum of £347 is a re-vote for rifle ranges, and £386 a re-vote for drill halls.
– Additions only.
– To how many drill halls are additions to be made?
– How many new drill halls can be built for £47, which is the amount set down for new works? In Queensland only £5 is proposed for new drill halls.
– The Minister is never very lavish towards Queensland. The sum of £250 is proposed for new works on fortifications, with a re-vote of £88. Where is that money to be spent? £450 is for new works on barracks, and £2,703 is asked for to provide the emplacement of guns, lights, and accessories, or, with the revote, £5,000. Is the work to be carried out at Queenscliff, Point Nepean, or Swan Island? At Fort Nepean £850 is to be spent on the reconstruction of the jetty, and £750 on the installation of electric light, £322 being a re-vote. Then we come to that blessed word “ Maribyrnong,” the sum of £16,615 being set down for the site, buildings, and engineering works for the Cordite Factory. I ask the Minister to give us information regarding those items.
– The £16,615 referred to is to complete works in course of construction during the previous financial year, and to provide lightning conductors for the protection of dangerous buildings, a guardroom, and bicycle stable, drainage, and approaches to buildings, three store buildings, heat test room, and store for inflammable liquids, an oil paint and general store, fencing, &c.
.- I wish to draw the attention of the Honorary Minister to the fact that in nearly every case in the Victorian and New South Wales divisions the re-vote is greater, or almost as great, as the expenditure on rifle ranges during the past financial year, which is evidence of the great difficulty in getting the Department to spend the sums appropriated by Parliament. I do not know whether it is the experience of other honorable members, but my experience is that often after rifle clubs have been formed the members have to wait two years or more before they can fire a shot. I ask for an assurance that the Department will initiate more expeditious methods. I know that delays are frequently due to difficulties with the State Lands Departments, but more could be done to expedite works. 1 hope that next year the Department will be able to spend the money voted.
– The sum of £5 is put down for new drill halls in Queensland. Is that all that is to be spent there during the coming year? In New South Wales an enormous sum is proposed. There seems to be. a forward movement in that State in regard to construction of the necessary drill-halls to meet the needs of the compulsory training system. That question is becoming more and more a matter of urgent policy in all the States, and I should like the Minister to outline the proposals of the Government with respect generally to the provision of drill-halls in the future. Many new drill centres in Queensland are coming under the Compulsory Training Act. Is it the intention of the Government to build halls, or to continue to negotiate with the municipalities and other bodies for the use of local halls?
– I frankly admit that I am not in a position to make a general statement regarding the future policy of the Government with regard to the provision of drill-halls, but the item to which the honorable member for Darling Downs has referred is for the sum of £5 towards the completion of works for which the money was voted on last year’s Estimates. The policy, so far as drilling cadets in drill-halls is concerned, will be to look at the local requirements in each case. In some instances the local authorities have very generously assisted, whereas in other centres we have not beenable to secure halls in the same manner.
.- Will the Minister give some information regarding the item of £556 for a rifle range at Roma ?
– The information is: “Roma rifle range, £556 to completing work begun during the previous financial year.”
– Have the Government gone any further in the negotiations for the transfer from the State of Queensland of lands necessary for the completion of the Toowoomba rifle range ?
– The amount asked for is: “ For the acquisition of land and extension of range, removal and re-erection of ten targets, and provision of firing mounds up to 600 yards ; also alterations to existing range.”
.- There is an item of £13,608 for the Beerburrum manoeuvre area. There is a manoeuvre area at Liverpool, New South Wales, over which trouble has occurred for some time.
– The honorable member should not deal with the Beerburrum area, which is in Queensland.
– I was. assured by the Minister of Home Affairs that no similar areas were being resumed anywhere else in the Commonwealth.
– This was done some time ago.
Sitting suspended from 6.31 to 7. 45 p.m.
-I can find no provision in these Estimates for the resumption of the Liverpool manoeuvre area, and therefore this is the only item on which I can ask the Minister for an explanation. I have written officially on several occasions, and the Minister has definitely promised me three times that this long-standing grievance in my electorate would be settled. Yet no provision is made towards it, while an item of £13,608 is provided for a similar purpose in Queensland. The Minister has distinctly stated time after time that the Federal Government have no power to resume land in New South Wales for this very purpose. If so large a sum can be set apart to resume land for a manoeuvre area in Queensland, the Minister’s previous statements to me must be incorrect. The Liverpool manoeuvre area in New South Wales is tied up with the transferred properties, and I can get no satisfaction from either the State or the Federal Department. It is “up to” the Minister to do the straight thing to-night, and tell me exactly where the matter is hung up. The Government should say straight out what they intend to do. I am not against the manoeuvre area being at Liverpool, because I think it is central for a large part of the population of New South Wales, but at present the owners of the private lands in the area are being squeezed between the Federal and the State Governments, and can get no satisfaction from either. This vote for Queensland proves that the letters I have received from the Department with regard to the Liverpool manoeuvre area have been so much bluff. It is quite time that a definite statement was made, and bluffing discontinued, so that I may let my constituents know the true state of affairs.
– We started negotiations, with the New South Wales Government over the Liverpool manoeuvre area, and were working together very conciliatorily and harmoniously, until suddenly the New South Wales Government decided that they could not go on with it until certain things were fixed with regard to the transferred properties. The New South Wales Government were to resume the land in the area, and the Commonwealth Government were to pay them interest on the cost of resumption, and then the land was to be dedicated for military purposes. We have not got any further with the matter at present, but as the whole question of transferred properties has virtually been settled, or nearly settled, I think it will not be long now before it is brought up again for consideration.
.- If the New South Wales Government and the Federal Government do not come to an understanding, will the Federal Government take, with regard to the Liverpool manoeuvre area, the same steps that they are taking with regard to the Beerburrum manoeuvre area ? I cannot understand why different methods of procedure should be adopted in different States. In Queensland, the Government resume the land direct for military purposes, which the Constitution gives them power to do, but in New South Wales they get the State Government to resume the land, and pay the State interest on the cost of resumption. What puzzles my constituents and myself is why that method of procedure should be followed in New South Wales, and not in Queensland. If the New South Wales Government will not resume the land; will the Minister state clearly what the Commonwealth Government intend to do?
– As Minister of Home Affairs, I am not in a position to state what the intention of the Government in that regard will be, because I simply carry out what the other Departments want done. This is purely a Defence matter, and not a Home Affairs matter, so that I shall ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to speak on it. If I am ordered to do a work, then I do it, but I cannot say myself what will be done.
– Where is the Minister representing the Minister of Defence ?
.- Can the Minister of Home Affairs giveany information about the provision of a new postoffice at Yarram ? The matter has been in hand for a considerable time, and I understood that an item of £2,000 was to appear on the Estimates. I do not see it, and do not know what has happened to it.
– Have we got the site?
– The Department bought the site about three years ago. There is a miserably insanitary building on it now, and the necessity for a new building is admitted.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 6 and 6a (Postmaster-General),
– - Division 6a relates to a proposal to pay into a Trust Fund on account of special works connected with telegraphs and telephones the sum of £600,000, and the Prime Minister has already promised that a special Bill will be introduced to deal with this matter. He intimated his intention to make a statement to the Committee, and I would like to know when he proposes to do so. I would remind him that when the honorable member for Darling Downs suggested that a footnote should be inserted setting out that this money is to be appropriated by a special Act the right honorable gentleman stated in reply that he had no objection to the adoption of that course. The honorable member for Darling Downs further asked whether a special schedule would be provided, and the Prime Minister answered that he would think over the matter. Will the head of the Government inform the Committee of the position of affairs at the present time, and state whether he intends to bring in a special Bill to deal with this appropriation ?
.- I do not think that the paying of so large a sum as £600,000 into a Trust Fund on account of special works connected with our telegraphs and telephones is a good precedent to establish. When the matter was previously discussed I took exception to the course which it is proposed to follow. Although it may be legal, I think that the paying of so large an amount into a Trust Fund to be expended on telegraphs and telephones just as the Treasurer chooses is stretching the Audit Act altogether too much. The only reason which I can see for the adoption of this course is a desire to get this money away from the control of Parliament so that the Government may do as they please with it. At the close of the financial year the ordinary votes will expire, but the proposed Trust Fund will be a continuing one. If it be a good thing to deal with £600,000 in this way, it is equally good to deal with other amounts in a similar way. For instance, the sum of £700,000 which we are asked to vote in connexion with the extension of telephones and telegraphs might just as reasonably be paid into a Trust Fund. It is a travesty upon parliamentary government to place such a large sum as £600,000 to the credit of a Trust Fund for the purpose of special works on account of telegraphs and telephones. The same practice might just as well be adopted in respect of other items. Why is this £600,000 required ?
– To bring the Post Office up to date.
– Why not supply the Committee with details?
– I will do so.
– Why not deal with this expenditure in the same way as other expenditure is dealt with?
– Because we propose to extend it over more than one year.
– If we allow the Treasurer to pay £600,000 into a Trust Fund for a special purpose, and to expend it as he chooses, it means that we shall take that amount away from the control of Parliament. The Government have no right to exercise a discretion as to what sum they will expend during the financial year. They have to ask Parliament for what they require, and they are in duty bound to expend the amount voted by Parliament unless good reason exists for their failure to do so. They cannot ask Parlialiament to vote money and afterwards spend it or not spend it, just as they may choose. It is proposed to vote a large sum of money which the Treasurer may or may not spend as he chooses. That was the old procedure under an autocratic form of Government, when Ministers could do as they liked ; but that has all passed away in the States, and there have to be Estimates setting out exactly what works are to be taken in hand. In my opinion, the Audit Act does not permit of the Treasurer putting £600,000 in this way into a Trust Fund. We have already voted £700,000, without a single word of explanation as to how it is to be spent.
– Would the right honorable member have any objection if the items were set forth in a Bill ?
– No, but there is no reason why this should be treated differently from any other vote. If we vote £10,000 to construct a building or for some other purpose, and only half is spent, the balance has to be re-voted ; and I. do not see why there should be any distinction made by hiding the money away in a Trust Fund.
.- I suggest to the Prime Minister that he should adopt the suggestion to create a fund by a special Bill. The general scheme of our finance, under the Constitution, is annual services, as shown by the references in sections 53 and 54, where such services are clearly contemplated. This £600,000 is not an annual appropriation, and, therefore, I think there arises a serious constitutional objection.
– I regret the remark of the right honorable memberfor
Swan in reference to “hiding” away money in a Trust Fund, because, coming from an ex-Treasurer, it leads to misapprehension.
– There was nothing personal intended in the remark; I did not mean that it was done surreptitously.
– Hansard is read by a number of people who are not so well acquainted with the forms of the House and the Audit Act as we are, and they do not know that such a thing as ‘ ‘ hiding ‘ ‘ away money is not possible. Owing to my temporary absence from Melbourne,I was not able to get the schedule of expenditure printed andcirculated, but I have the schedule here, and will have the matter seen to.
– I hope it will deal with the £700,000 also.
– The details as to that sum are all set forth.
– A sum of £42,300, for instance, is set down for the construction and extension of telephones lines, but there are no details given.
– A schedule of details might have been provided had any one desired. I can assure honorable members that there is no desire or intention to hide anything.
– Does the schedule cover the whole of the expenditure?
– Yes. The reason we desire to have this £600,000 over a period longer than twelve months is that we discovered that a good deal of money is lost to the Commonwealth owing to the absence of continuity in work - that continuity is necessary to economy and efficiency. This £600,000 is particularly required to bring the Post and Telegraph Service up to what may be called the standard. It may be possible during the financial year to expend the greater portion of the vote, though, on the other hand, we may not be able to spend more than 25 or 30 per cent.
– Then why ask for so large a sum?
– For the very obvious reason that we desire the work to be continuous until the money is expended and the works completed. This is a difficulty which we inherited, and did not create. The honorable member for Darling Downs knows that, when he was in office, the Government did not, during any financial year, expend all the money that was available, and some £6,000,000 was handed back to the States, while the Post Office was going behind in the matter of permanent works and efficient working. The present Government found a difficulty, even by means of large annual votes, in bringing the Department up to a reasonable standard ; and the scheme now proposed presents itself as the most reasonable. I admit the force of the contention of the honorable member for Darling Downs, and, perhaps, it would be better to set out these works in a Bill. We should then not be in any way likely to come into conflict with the Senate, and we should secure continuity in the work. I feel sure that if the Opposition accept the principle they will not discuss the Bill itself. I did not pledge myself to deal with the matter in that way, but I said that I would look into it, and I am satisfied that the finances will be protected by the adoption of this plan. Every detail of information will be given to the House, as far as I can do so. I have not been able to get the schedule put into print, but if I read the principal items honorable members will understand what is meant.
– That is a terrible lot. I wonder that the Treasurer can afford it.
– There is also a sum °f £71,000 on the Estimates for Queensland.
– Fortunately, Queensland expended a large sum of public money on up-to-date telegraphy and telephony while the honorable member for Capricornia and I were members of its Parliament.
– That is all right; and we have suffered ever since for it.
– I am sure that the honorable member is Australian enough to wish the services of other States to be standardized. That is what is meant by this proposal.
These are the works which we thought absolutely necessary to bring the PostmasterGeneral’s Department up to a state of efficiency ; and we ask Parliament to appropriate £600,000, leaving it to the engineers, and those who are capable of advising the Ministry, as to the best way to proceed, to recommend when the money should be expended, and generally to accomplish what we are aiming at. It is, I think, the only practical plan which can be recommended to Parliament. That is the position of the Government ; and, in accordance with my promise, I have no hesitation in stating that we shall bring down a Bill, framed on the lines set forth in this schedule, and empowering the Government to spread the expenditure of the money over a period of two or three years, perhaps over a period of two and a half years. At any rate, I think that it ought to be left to our experts to. say how the money can be most economically expended in the interests of the Commonwealth, and of the people generally.
.- I think that we can accept, with satisfaction, the Prime Minister’s statement that he will bring down a special Bill ; but there is one thing to which we would like to draw his attention. We all admit that, owing to certain financial difficulties and problems which we had to face, and also attempts which were made to assist the States, a sum of about £2,000,000 is required to put the postal, telegraph, and telephone services in proper order.
– This means a total expenditure of £2,000,000.
– And the honorable member helped to give the States £6,000,000.
– The honorable member for Maranoa did, too.
– We were all very glad to get the money.
– I was not.
– Honorable members are quick to forget the serious troubles through which Australia went during the first five years of Federation, and the attempts of all parties, Commonwealth and State, to try to remove the burdens on Australians as much as possible.
– All the States made a surplus with the money which was handed back by the Commonwealth.
– No. There was not a surplus in all the States, because Queensland had a large deficit.
– Only in one year.
– The only object in looking back is to try to gain a lesson, in order to prevent the occurrence of mistakes in the future.
– Of course, the honorable member wants to smother up his tracks.
– I would smother up the honorable member’s tracks, but I am afraid that they are difficult to smother up. It requires, I repeat, an expenditure of about £2,000,000 to put the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services in proper order. I think that the Prime Minister is quite right, now that the money is available, in trying to make it available for the purpose of making the services efficient. I dare say that he has now received a report from the officers showing exactly wherein the services as a whole are deficient. The statement which he has just read to the Committee cannot possibly reflect the relative deficiencies in the different States. For instance, out of this sum of £600,000, New South Wales alone is to receive £266,000, or very nearly one half of it. I do not object to that State getting all the money which is necessary, but when we find that £28,400 represents Queensland’s share of the £600,000-
– There is a sum of £71,000 on the Estimates for Queensland.
– I am speaking of this particular vote, and will refer to the other presently. Relatively speaking, £28,400 cannot possibly be a fair proportion of the total sum for Queensland, when we bear in mind the deficiencies of its services. I do not know whether it has been improved during the last few months, but constantly telegraphic communication between Brisbane and Sydney has been stopped, at one time for two or three days, owing to the deficiencies of the lines between those two cities.
– Only because of storms.
– The honorable member is in error. Delays are often caused by congestion of business. I recently received a telegram bearing a stamp to the effect that it had been delayed by interruption of business. My object is only to show that these services in the northern State are not yet sufficiently supplied. Knowing as I do the capacity of the officers and their desire to push on with these undertakings, I am sure they will recommend necessary works, and I hope’ that when we have before us the complete scheme in respect of the £700,000 we have voted, the £600,000 we are now voting, and the £700,000 to be voted next year, we shall find that the Queensland services were being fairly considered.
– The Treasurer is too modest in regard to his own State.
– Like the honorable member, he believes, I trust, in being a good Australian and a good Queenslander. I wish to know whether, when this vote is agreed to, he will have prepared a short statement showing the whole work in details with respect to each State to be carried out in connexion with the total proposed expenditure of £2.000,000.
– This is linked up with the proposals for next year.
– I think that the Prime Minister misunderstood a remark made by the right honorable member for Swan in regard to the question of Trust Funds. All that the right honorable member urged was that it was inadvisable to have moneys placed to the credit of a lot of Trust Funds unless those funds came from time to time under the review of the Parliament, so that we might know their character, the amount to their credit, and the manner in which they were being expended. As a matter of fact, the AuditorGeneral’s general statement gives a good deal of information with regard to such items, but we are apt to receive that statement too late to enable us to take special action.
– The Budget-papers also give the information.
– I dare say they do, but they do not come before the House in the direct way in which the right honorable member for Swan suggests the information should be put before us. We shall have later on, however, an opportunity to deal with the individual items.
.- After listening to the remarks made by the Prime Minister regarding the proposed disbursement of this £600,000, I feel that, as a Queenslander, I cannot compliment him.
– Compliment him as an Australian.
– As a New South Welshman, the honorable member should compliment him, because more than half of this £600,000 is to be expended in New South Wales. The Prime Minister enumerated the works to be carried out in Queensland, and the list is all very good in its way; but I wish the Committee to understand that because Queensland prior to Federation put her house in order by spending large sums in standardizing her telegraph and telephone lines, she has now to suffer. All that work was paid for out of loan moneys. The honorable member for Darling Downs tried to smother up the tracks regarding the expenditure of the £2,000,000 necessary to bring the Postmaster-General’s Department up-to-date, but he knows very well - and I am just as guilty as he is, since I was a member of Parliament at the time, although not a member of any Administration - that we starved our postal services in order to pay to the States £6,000,000 more than we were required under the Constitution to return to them. We find ourselves, consequently, up against a brick wall to-day. As I interjected while the Prime Minister was delivering his Budget statement, there has not been a single mile of developmental telephonic or telegraph lines erected in Queensland since Federation. Can it be said that Queensland has had a fair and square deal ?
– What does the honorable member mean by developmental lines?
– I refer to the erection of lines where none exist to-day - to the system adopted in pre- Federation days. I remember reading a speech made by the honorable member shortly after his first election to Parliament, in which he said that telegraph lines should precede the railways, and so bring the outer settlements of Queensland into speedy communication with centres of population. I have made a similar protest year after year. Since Federation, the population of Queensland has increased by 100,000.
– She has robbed us of Victorians.
– It is Victoria’s own fault. If she cannot retain these people, then it is Queensland’s gain and Victoria’s loss. Some of the best men we have in Queensland to-day, I am proud to say, are exVictorians. They have blazed the track for others to follow.
– Let Queensland be careful that she does not follow our bad example.
– The leasehold system is so much appreciated in Queensland to-day that it is impossible to sell land there. That is the secret of the whole business.In 1902, Queensland had a total revenue of £3,535,062, whereas to-day her total revenue is £6,251,694. We have doubled our revenue, and largely increased our population, our exports, and our imports. The State is going ahead by leaps and bounds ; yet the Treasurer comes down with a proposal to spend there a miserable £28,000 on developmental works in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s Department. If a telephone or a telegraph line is desired in western Queensland today, local residents are called upon by the Department to pay half the cost, and to give a five or seven years’ guarantee. It was not on the half-pay system that Queensland was made what she is to-day ; she was developed by the progressive Governments that have gone before.
– But has not this Government made a 25 per cent, reduction in charges ?
– They have not done so in the case of my electorate. Here apparently is another favour for Victoria, which has not been extended to any of the other States. She has received a favour in regard tothe maintenance of roads, and now she has another “ lift “ on the rest of the Commonwealth to the tune of 25 per cent. I received a letter to-day, in which the Department not only asked people who are living in the back-blocks of western Queensland to find the money for a telephone, but also to pay half the cost of the service. Penny postage, indeed ! What does postage mean to people who are living in western Queensland? It means shilling postage ! Tens of thousands of pounds have been spent on constructing conduits for telephones in the big cities. In Melbourne the Department ripped up the bowels of the streets to construct tunnels for the same purpose. But they have done nothing with the tunnels since. If only a portion of that money had been spent on services to make the lives of pioneers in the remote parts of this country more comfortable and easy, by giving them better communication with the outside world, I should have said that this Government had really undertaken a truly national work. We claimed that our Government was going to be a Government of progress. We were going to show other parties what a Government could do. But what have we done? We have followed in the same tracks as previous Governments pursued. We have not done one whit better. I ask honorable members, in all seriousness, Is it fair to spend such enormous sums of money in and around the big cities, whilst leaving the outside districts languishing? For my own part, I think it is about time we took a leaf out of the book of country members in the State Parliaments, and formed a country party. They know how to squeeze Governments to some tune. I cannot understand the Treasurer of the Commonwealth coming down with such a miserable sum for a State like Queensland, knowing what is required for developmental purposes there. What does the Treasurer intend to do with the £28,000 ?
– It is all to be spent on newlines .
– I will guarantee that the Treasurer intends to spend the money in Brisbane. If he can show me that a single penny of it is going to be spent outside Brisbane, or on work that is not to connect directly with that city, I shall be very glad. That leads me to mention that I fought a battle for the Treasurer some years ago, when telephone communication was required between Brisbane and Gympie. I put up the fight of my life to get the condenser system between those two places. The departmental officials said that the work could not be done for less than £8,000. But there was a post-office official in Tasmania, Mr. Hallam, who knew how to do what was required. I induced Mr. Sydney Smith, who was then PostmasterGeneral, to let this gentleman go up to Queensland, and he did the work for about £250.
– And afterwards some of us had great difficulty in securing even a slight recognition of the services he performed.
– Mr. Hallam knew a great deal more than did many of the officers in the professional division. Yet the Public Service Inspector set up a barrier to prevent him from getting over it. However. I am glad to say that his merits have since been recognised, and that to-day he is an electrician in the professional division. I am getting tired of asking Governments year after year to do something more for the remote districts, not only in western Queensland, but also in western New
South Wales. Whenever a telephone is asked for, guarantees are required. The Department does not ask people in the big cities to give guarantees. Here, however, letters are delivered three or four times a day, and if the letter-carrier happens to be a quarter of an hour late people telephone to the Superintendent of Mails to know what has become of him. In my electorate (he Department is actually reducing mail services. In some parts the people have a mail only once a month, and are told that they are lucky to have any mail at all. Those who represent constituencies in the interior of this country know very well that the arrival and departure of the coach is a red-letter day in some small towns. Of course, some honorable members regard this kind of thing with a great amount of levity, but let me tell them that these are the people who are making this country better for future generations to live in. They are the pioneers who are blazing the track and increasing the prosperity of Australia.
– The honorable member is quite right, though what he says sounds like a tale of fifty years ago.
– Whenever I go out amongst these men I have to listen to complaints about lack of telephone services and mails. In one instance the Department wanted a guarantee of £2,000. I would not ask the people for it, because I knew very well what they would say to me if I did.
– Did the honorable member get the line?
– No, I got a promise. But people cannot live on promises out there any more than we can who live in Melbourne. If this Government does not intend to do something to relieve these backblockers, I am afraid I shall have to consider my position. I say, without fear of contradiction, that I got more out of other Governments than I can get out of this one. T cannot even get a small telephone or telegraph line. All I can get is the promise that the matter will be “looked into.” Sometimes they are so long “ looking into “ a case that they do not even send me a reply. Will the Prime Minister, during nest recess, “ look into “ a few of these matters himself?
– I will go up and see.
– T wish the right honorable gentleman would. The year before last, at election time, when I was in the remote parts of my constituency, after leaving Thargomindah and going towards the South Australian border, I took some news out with me. I brought the same news back, having heard nothing else in the meantime. I never felt so lonely in all my life. I did not even know what the Prime Minister had been saying, and it was essential that all members of our party should keep in touch with his utterances just then.
– That accounts for the diversity of statements made by members of the party.
– lt was nothing to the diversity of- tales told by members of the Opposition party. At Chinchilla I actually had to answer the accusation of having said, “ To hell with the farmer I “ One of my constituents said to me, “ You are the man who said it.”
– Does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– That observation is merely by the way, I having been drawn off the track by the honorable member for Lang. I wish to know whether the Prime Minister will, during the recess, and before this £600,000 is disbursed, look into the matter of short telephone lines, and put an end to the policy of harassing and pinpricking. If the States followed a policy similar to that of the Commonwealth, no developmental work would have been done in northern Queensland ; there would be no railways, telephones, and telegraphs extending out to distant places. Had the State Government taken the view that a. work must pay from its inception, there would be no telegraph line to Ayrshire Downs, or out to the South Australian border, and Queensland would not have the longest mileage of railways in Australia. But since Federation, no telegraph or telephone lines have been erected, except in connexion with railways. The Department could not avoid giving connexion with places along railway lines, because of the business at the railway stations.
– Then about 1,000 miles of telegraph lines must have been erected in the State since Federation.
– Not so much. At any rate, the Department has paid only half the cost of telegraph lines on railways, the Railway Department paying the other half. In many instances, the places to which railways have been made were within telephone or telegraph communication before the railways were constructed. I ask the
Treasurer to consider the claims of far western Queensland, so that the people there may have some of the comforts which are so freely given to those in the big centres of population.
– We have had an excellent speech from the honorable member for Maranoa, and I do not complain because he has reminded me of the views which I expressed in 1893, and still hold. I think that the pioneers of Australian development should be given telephone, telegraph, and postal services, whether they pay or not, so long as they can be provided at a reasonable cost. I am not unacquainted with the western and northern portions of the continent, and do not think that there can be better expenditure than in the way the honorable member has suggested. But this Government cannot be charged with neglect in the matter, because, during our term of office, we have spent twice as much onthese services as any of our predecessors, while the Estimates for this year are an increase of 50 per cent. on the expenditure of last year, and we propose a further increase of 30 per cent. next year. The sum of £2,000,000 will be expended on developmental work in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s Department during two years, if the £600,000 now asked for is taken into account. Queensland has not been entirely neglected since Federation in the matter of new telegraph lines. Between 1901-2 and 1908-9 the mileage of new lines was 915.
– Erected mostly along the railways,.
– In 1909-10, 241 miles 5 chains of new telegraph lines were erected.
– The line from Cleveland to Redland. Bay is called a telegraph line, because telegraph rates are charged, although only a telephone service is given.
– In 1910-11, the year in which this Government took office, 585 miles were erected.
– I should like to know where they are.
– In 1911-12, for which we are discussing the Estimates,525 miles 10 chains will be erected out of general votes, apart from the £600,000 referred to.
– I would stake £20 that not a mile of developmental work has been erected since Federation.
– I am indebted for my information to the report of the PostmasterGeneral.
– Will the Prime Minister say where the new lines are?
– I cannot give the information offhand ; but, since Federation, 2,266 miles have been erected. I do not know whether they were new developmental lines ; but I promise the honorable member that if more developmental lines are needed, their erection will have early attention from me. If I have the honour to remain in office long enough, I hope to ascertain for myself the conditions under which the people live everywhere in this continent, and to give full consideration to the manner in which telegraph, telephone, and postal facilities may be extended to them, and bettered. Nothing would give the Government greater pleasure than to provide all necessary facilities, and we shall do it cheerfully.
. -I think that this is the sixth year in succession in which I have congratulated the honorable member for Maranoa on a speech similar to that which he has made to-night. The misfortune is that we seem unable to effect an improvement in the system. No more unfair, unjust, or unstatesman-like policy can be adopted than that of the Commonwealth in regard to telephone extensions. The £600,000 referred to is to be spent largely in the cities on the alteration of switch-boards, undergrounding of telephone wires, and other admittedly necessary works, but works not as urgent as the construction of new lines. The policy which our Postmaster-General has followed is cruelly unjust. Only to-day I received . 1 letter from a handful of people who have gone out into the bush miles away from their fellows, and, having asked for telephone communication, have been told by the Department that they must guarantee it against loss, and provide the necessary poles. But, whereas within the cities one may telephone over a large area for1d., the further one gets out into the backblocks, the heavier the charges become. The zone system is one of the most unfair that could be used. While we promise,from every platform, and in this chamber, to do what we can to assist the pioneers who, as the honorable member for Maranoa has said, are building up the nation, and making it easier for others to follow them, nothing is done to give them the telephone facilities for which they ask. I was one of those who opposed penny postage. I consider that it was one of the greatest mistakes the Commonwealth could make to adopt that system before we had removed from people in the back-blocks the handicaps under which they labour in the matter of communication. We carry a letter from one end of Australia to the other for a penny, but in connexion with our telephonic service the further we go from the cities the heavier the charge becomes.
– The further one travels by train the more he has to pay.
– This Parliament should not make the paying of a telephonic service the be-all and end-all of Government action in the matter.
– Can the honorable member tell me of any country in the world in which cheaper and better facilities in the matter of telephone communication are given than in Australia?
– I am speaking of the system already in operation in Australia, and of the facilities and low rates given to the people of cities as compared with the way in which we handicap those who reside in the back-blocks of the continent. It is time that we did something more than bark about this matter session after session. We should take some definite action to secure the adoption of an entirely new system in connexion with the extension of telephonic communication to the outlying districts. Where there is established a fairly wealthy community, and the prospect of a line paying, the Government erect lines at their own cost and risk, and if the district happens to be close to a large centre of population a very low telephone charge is made, but if a scattered community in the back-blocks ask for telephonic communication, a guarantee to cover any loss on the service is demanded before the Government will undertake the work.
– Would the honorable member establish telephonic communication whenever it is asked?
– Wherever we have a handful of people settled in any part of Australia who have no other means of communication, we should provide them with telephonic communication whether it pays or not.
– To what extent?
– I should be prepared to accept a very large loss.
– The Government are prepared to accept 25 per cent. more of loss than any previous Government agreed to.
– Then, in that respect, the present Government are 25 per cent. better than their predecessors, but we desire that they should go another 75 per cent. better.
– What is the honorable member’s limit; let him state it frankly?
– It is the business of the Government to fix the limit. So far we have had no reasonable policy at all in the matter of the extension of telephonic communication in the country districts. I contend that the zone system now in operation is one of the most cruel and unjust ever adopted.
– What does the honorable member mean by the zone system?
– We have a zone system by which the charge for the use of the telephone is in proportion to the distance from the capital cities.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that we ought not to charge more for speaking from Hobart to Lannceston than for speaking over only half the distance ?
– Yes, I say so deliberately. There is no more reason why the charge should be more for the use of the telephone than there is for making the same charge for letters between Hobart and Launceston as for letters carried over only half the distance or for telegrams.
– The honorable member would charge the same for the use of the telephone from Melbourne to Sydney as for its use between Melbourne and Essendon.
– We make the same charge in respect of telegraphic rates.
– And the honorable member thinks that we should follow the same practice in connexion with the telephone?
– I do. I know that it is beyond the Minister of External Affairs. He has not yet grasped what is aimed at. As Postmaster-General he followed, as the honorable member for Maranoa has said, in the footsteps of his predecessors, and no Government has so far dealt with the question of telephonic extension on proper lines. The Department is now losing by the enormous charges which are made for the use of the telephone over long-distance lines. It is cheaper in some instances to send a wire than it is to send a telephonic message between the same two places. We are throwing our telephonic service out of order, and making it a comparative luxury for those who, like most of our pioneers, have very little money to spend. I have no objection to the improvement of the telephone services in our large cities. Those who attempt to make use of them are agreed that there is room for great improvement, but I should prefer that they should remain as they are for the next three years, if the money required to make the necessary improvements in them were to be expended in the extension of telephonic facilities to places where there is no easy means of communication. Honorable members will agree that in some cases it may be a matter of life and death to have telephonic communication in order, perhaps, to summon a medical man. People in the large cities have letters delivered to them three or four times a day. They have their newspapers delivered in time for breakfast every morning, and can use the telephone at any time for a charge of one penny. But there are communities throughout Australia that are without any means of speedy communication. Instead of continually barking about the matter when the Estimates are under consideration, it is time that honorable members like the honorable member for Maranoa, myself, and. others, who feel strongly on the subject, started to bite.
.- I should like the Prime Minister to seriously take into consideration the possibility of withdrawing the guarantee conditions in regard to many telephone lines. I have said before in this House that I can understand that a demand for a guarantee is justified in certain circumstances. Where a line is to be constructed into a district which is not capable of any great expansion, it seems to me a reasonable business proposition to ask those who will be served to subscribe so much to meet the capital expenditure.
– A limit must be set somewhere.
– I have endeavoured to show that the limit should be set where a line is asked for in a district in which there is no possibility of extension, owing to the configuration of the country or for other reasons. If people in such a district ask for telephonic communication there is every reason why the Department should say, “ We want you to subscribe so much of the initial capital cost, or guarantee us against loss for a term of years.”
– Those people might want a doctor just as much as other people.
– I do not say they would not, but there is a reason in that case why the Department should ask for a guarantee. The Department, however, are asking for a guarantee or a cash donation towards cost of construction in very different circumstances. A handful of people who go out to pioneer back country feel the need for telephone communication, and apply to the Department accordingly. To them every sixpence is of importance, and although the Department must see that in a few years additional population is sure to come to that district, there being any amount of room for development, and that a telephone line, if constructed, must eventually pay handsomely, they insist on those few pioneers putting up cash, or entering into a guarantee. That is utterly unjust and unbusiness-like. If private firms were constructing the telephone lines they would have quite enough foresight to recognise that they could stand a loss for a few years if for all time afterwards they were going to have a profitable enterprise.
– Does the honorable member think the telephones are paying now in Australia?
– I do not say they are, but as Australia is opened up and developed the traffic on the lines is increasing, the revenue is growing, and they are paying more and more.
– And more and more telephone lines are going up every year.
– That does not get away from my contention that in circumstances such as I have described the Department should bear the whole of the initial cost, because eventually they are going to have a property that will pay them handsomely. This Parliament can generally do very little to help the pioneers of Australia; but in the postal, telephonic, and telegraphic services it can do a good deal. I should like an assurance from the Prime Minister that he will look into the whole of this question, and do away with the guarantee conditions and cash contributions, and let the Department be prepared for a few years to shoulder a small loss on lines in districts where there is bound to be an enormous amount of extension and development.
– A small loss? We shoulder 25 per cent. of the loss to start with.
– That percentage is based on the Department’s own estimate of the cost of construction, which in nearly every instance is very large, or on the Department’s own estimate of the revenue to be derived from the line, which is invariably very conservative.
– If that is so, it is ali the better for the people concerned, because the 75 per cent, which they would have to pay would be much less.
– The result of the system followed by the Department is to increase the estimated loss greatly.
– That is all to the advantage of the persons who give the guarantee.
– It is exactly the opposite. The people concerned have to put up in some cases a cash guarantee for two years. That money is a considerable item to them,, as the honorable member for Gwydir knows, and they have to stand out of it for all that time. The Department are not treating the settlers as liberally as they might. The Minister of External Affairs says that the Department have consented to bear 25 per cent, of the loss. We are thankful for small mercies, but that 25 per cent, is based on an estimate of 10 per cent, on the capital cost of construction. Ten per cent, on the capital cost is a very large proportion. It is usually considered in the commercial world enough to cover practically everything, and the Department, in cutting the interest down to 7J per cent., have only done what they should have done.
I wanted to ask the Prime Minister particularly about the vote of £600,000 for special works. I gather from his remarks that he proposes to place that sum in a Trust Fund under the very same items as appear in the schedule in relation to the present vote of £700,000. I noticed particularly that the items corresponded with the schedule word for word. Personally, I think there is a great deal in what the Treasurer proposes te do’. At the same time, it is a clumsy way of overcoming a difficulty, which I, and many other honorable members have recognised for quite a long time. Practically, the right honorable gentleman is seeking to put aside this money for the purpose of allocating it to the identical items which appear in the Estimates. Then, when the amounts voted by Parliament lapse at the end of the financial year, he will have in the Trust Fund a sum upon which he can draw, so as to insure the continuance of works which would otherwise be stopped.
– No; these are additions.
– The Treasurer might have included the whole of this £1,300,000 in the annual votes.
– That would not have accomplished my purpose.
– Had the right honorable gentleman done so, he would, at the end of the financial year, have had a considerable sum unexpended, and the works for which that money was voted would necessarily have ceased until re-votes had been made by Parliament. But the Prime Minister has split up the annual votes into two parts. One portion has been embodied in the ordinary Estimates, and the other he proposes to place to the credit of a Trust Fund. The result will be that, when the financial year closes, he will have a sum of money ‘upon which he can draw until such time as Parliament votes fresh expenditure for new works. I have previously pointed out that the system of lapsed votes has resulted in many important public works being hung up indefinitely. But I fail to see why it is not possible to devise a scheme under which moneys voted by Parliament for a specific purpose, which lapse at the end of the financial year, can be expended! for that purpose.
– No British Parliament has tolerated that.
– Nevertheless, that is. exactly what the Prime Minister is attempting to do under this scheme. I think it was possible for him to have attacked the question upon broad lines, and I feel sure that, had he done so, he would have commanded the support of a large number of honorable members.
– I studied the questionyears ago.
– The Prime Minister isdoing, by means of what, for lack of a better word, I must call a subterfuge-
– That is quite an incorrect word to use.
– By this scheme, the right honorable gentleman is doing that which, he says, no British Parliament has ever tolerated.
– I propose to bring down a Bill to authorize the creation of this Trust Fund.
– But, to all intents and purposes, the Prime Minister is doing what I say.
– Does not the honorable member want the Estimates passed ?
– Yes. I am not objecting to the amount which wc are asked to vote, but to the method which it is proposed to adopt. However, I have no desire to labour the question. I merely draw attention to it because I think that the whole of our financial practice, .particularly in regard to public works, needs serious consideration, with a view to its remodelling.
– A great deal has been made by members of the Opposition of the proposal of the Government to pay £600,000 into a Trust Fund for the purpose of proceeding, during a period of two or three years, with , special works connected with the Postal Department. By innuendo, too, the soundness of this method of finance has been challenged. While such criticism may prove interesting to honorable members, its tendency is to create, in the minds of the public, an impression that the procedure which it is proposed to follow on this occasion is illegal. Such an impression is utterly unwarranted ; and, consequently, the line of opposition which has been adopted by honorable members opposite is, to say the least of it, exceedingly objectionable. I think that the action of the Government marks a step in the right direction. As the £600,000 which it is proposed to expend upon special works connected with our telegraphs and telephones is to be placed to the credit of a Trust Fund, the Government will be in a position to insure a continuity of policy, with the result that, before many years have elapsed, this neglected Department will be brought into a state of efficiency. I am strongly in favour of this method of a Trust Fund, instituted by a Bill, a resolution, or a statement on the part of the Government. It is not unusual, at the end of the financial year, especially if times are dull, to find a sudden cessation of work ; and this is very injurious to the community. The fact that the financial year closes on 30th June does not really matter to-day, but it has had serious consequences in the past when prosperous conditions did not prevail. It has meant the stoppage of public works in the winter time, when it should be the aim of the Government to even strain a point in order to insure employment. This is a point on which we have no certainty under our present system, so long as the financial year closes on 30th June. I do not know whether the Government can see their way to an innovation ; but it is ex tremely likely that the inauguration of a Trust Fund system would obviate all such evils as I have indicated.
– I think the remedy is to call Parliament together earlier.
– That may be, but it altogether depends on what Government is in office. It is quite possible that a Government might not be anxious to meet Parliament; and we ought to be constitutionally placed in such a position as to insure continuity in public works. A Trust Fund seems to me to be a perfectly sound financial method, so long as Parliament is informed, through the Government or by an Auditor-General, how the money is expended. There seems to be a fear in some quarters to trust the Government in regard to this and other matters, but, personally, I do not see any danger. The Government will have to be very smart during the next eight months to spend the money we have voted during the last few days. The chances are overwhelmingly against Ministers in this respect; but, in any case, I think they are entitled to some trust, seeing that in about eight months’ time we shall be called together again, and put in a position to challenge any expenditure not in accordance with the wishes of Parliament. I think that if a Trust Fund system had been in operation in the States, some of them would have been in a better position than they are to-day. I never could understand why, in years of prosperity, a Government should not be able to constitutionally appropriate money under some system of the kind for the purpose of providing, say, telegraphic and telephonic extensions. Once this sound principle is admitted, it will apply to all public works; and, so far from condemning the Government, I think they have shown great foresight, sagacity, and statesmanship. Of course, such a method may be irritating to old, pedantic statesmen, who have been brought up in a narrow groove ; but it is a move in the right direction, which, I think, will be of benefit to the community generally. I notice that of the £600,000 something like £41,000 is intended for South Australia, though I dare say that if all the items voted in respect of that State were added, they would amount to a much more considerable sum. I desire to urge, however, that the complaints or representations of the honorable member for Maranoa in regard to Queensland apply with equal force to the back country of South Australia. The Government ought to be most liberal in interpreting the regulations, so that the pioneers of the back country may have all possible advantages of civilization. Their lot is hard enough in all conscience; and the least they can expect is that every effort shall be made in their interests, even though it may entail some sacrifice on those who reside in the centres of civilization.
.- Repeated statements by honorable members who have taken on themselves the exclusive representation of the pioneers of Australia make it necessary for the representative of a city electorate to put in a word of warning with regard to the treatment proposed to be meted out to every man who goes into the bush to make his living. I give way to no honorable member in my admiration of the grit and enterprise of these pioneers ; but if we are to have great public Departments, they must be conducted on business lines. I think that I have seldom listened to a discussion which seemed to be less impregnated with business principles than the present one. The honorable member for Franklin has told us that every man who has gone into the back-blocks is entitled to a telephone by reason of that fact. If we are to make special concessions to pioneers, why not give them something which they can turn to practical use. Take, for instance, a man living a couple of hundred miles from the nearest telephonic installation. It would cost the country a great deal more to connect him with the telephonic service than to give him an outfit of agricultural machinery. I feel pretty certain that if we went round the back-blocks and asked the pioneers which they wanted - telephonic communication or free tools of trade - they would choose the latter.
– Free tools of trade would be of no use to a man 200 miles from a telephone.
– I understand from my honorable friend that a telephone has some peculiar agricultural advantage. As a matter of fact, these honorable gentlemen are not sincere in making these extravagant proposals to the Minister.
– That is not right.
– That is very rough on the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Richmond.
– I would hesitate to make suggestions were it not for the fact that these Estimates offer the only opportunity for encouraging innocent pioneers in the back-blocks to redouble the ardour with which they have supported my honorable friends on previous occasions. If we had an opportunity of using the funds of the people of Australia to provide free agricultural machinery or telephones, and a choice were allowed, I believe that the genius of the honorable member for Franklin, and the undoubted sagacity of the honorable member for Richmond would rise to the occasion, and that they would give the pioneers what they could make use of, not what, no doubt, would be a very ornamental thing. This is the gravest reflection I have ever heard on the capacity of the pioneers.
– This is not a bit funny.
– It is not intended to be funny.
– That is where the honorable member is funny.
– There is no occasion for my honorable friend to be excited. I give him every credit for the apparent sincerity with which he addressed the Committee. I do not propose to traverse his action in that connexion, but it becomes a little tiring to a member who represents a city constituency. It should be remembered that the city constituencies, as well as the country constituencies, will have to bear the cost of these wild-cat proposals.
– We must be humane in the government of the country.
– Certainly ; but does humanity take us in the direction of providing free telephones when they are not necessities of life?
– The honorable member gets the use of his telephone for a penny a time.
– I get the use of a telephone in this building for nothing. We are asked to spend £600,000 in providing increased telegraphic and telephonic facilities.
– Most of this money will be spent in the cities.
– That is probably true, because it is the cities mainly which require these facilities. The persons who use telephonic facilities used to be indicted by my honorable friends as not being supporters of theirs. We were told in those days that persons who used telephones would have to pay for them; that telephonic communications would be made purely a matter of profit, and that the rates would be raised. That was, I think, the gospel as preached according to the late Postmaster-General. The fact remains that while it is proposed to increase facilities to the extent of £600,000 to these particular classes of the Australian community, facilities to the general user of the Post Office are being decreased. It is a common complaint throughout Australia that in order to economize, post-offices are being closed at a much earlier hour than was previously done, and that postal facilities generally, such as the clearance of letter-boxes, and so on, are being decreased. It is a curious anomaly to find through a Labour administration of this great Department, that while on the one hand, £160,000 is to be spent in New South Wales in providing the telephone subscriber with more facilities, and vast sums in other States, in constructing conduits, and placing wires underground, the unfortunate user of the pillar-box, or the unfortunate sender of letters is to be served infinitely worse, in the interests of economy, than he ever has been served, at any rate, since the Commonwealth took over the Department. That is, I think, a curious anomaly, and one which deserves the most serious consideration of the Government.
– I think that it will work out all right. People will get used to it.
– Yes. I believe that there is a saying that one can get used to anything.
– In what way is Sydney worse served in postal matters?
– The postal service is unsatisfactory.
– The people get their letters carried at about half the price which they used to pay.
– The city user of the Post Office does not get his letters carried at one-half of the former price. The people in every metropolitan constituency have always been able to send the bulk of their letters at a cost of id. each, and they were able to. send them too up to a certain time, but now the time within which they can post letters and deal with correspondence is limited in the interests of economy. In the same way, persons who live near pillar-boxes, and use them, find that their letters, instead of being delivered next morning within the metropolitan area are delivered late next afternoon. In fact, the extraordinary rapidity with which the Department, under Labour domination, transacts postal business in a metropolitan area is such that one could walk and get a reply or message much more quickly than he could do if he used the post.
– Does not the honorable member think he is building up a straw man only to knock him down?
– I am sure that I am not. My honorable friend, who represents a metropolitan electorate, knows as well as I do what has happened during the last few months in regard to the times for clearing the post boxes and the time for closing post-offices in his electorate. He knows the truth of every word I am uttering.
– The pillar-boxes are cleared at the same time as they used to be.
– In parts of my electorate the pillar-boxes are cleared a great deal earlier at night than they used to be, and also a great deal later in the morning. If what the honorable member for Maribyrnong says is correct, I want to know why my electorate has been singled out for special attention. It is resented in certain quarters, and is the subject of a complaint which is being investigated.
– The pillar-boxes are cleared at 10 o’clock, instead of at a quarter past 12.
– That is a very considerable difference, and it affects the transmission of the letters. When we are asked to grant facilities to telephone subscribers, who used to be the butt of the democratic zeal of my honorable friends opposite, it is about time, I think, that we considered the general postal facilities enjoyed by the people as a whole. I do hope that when the question of facilities is taken into account in connexion with the back-blocks we shall deal a little more generously with the people there than we do with those who live in congested areas, where the service can be handled more easily. We ought to be very careful not to give way to the electioneering zeal of some of my honorable friends.
– I think that that is distinctly out of order.
– He is referring to the honorable member’s statements regarding country telephones.
– I thought that I might not be flattering my honorable friends if I imagined they were basing their arguments upon reason. I gather that there is something behind the proposition that we are putting to the Committee, and I hope that the Postmaster-General, who is charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the public purse, will see, if we are to make vast inroads upon the Treasury in the interests of the pioneer, that we give him something that is of more use to him than are the telephones which are now being clamoured for.
– We could not give him anything far more valuable.
– I have heard a lot about the use of the telephone to the backblocks subscriber; but if, say, the farmers in the electorate of Indi, could be sure of a handsome grant towards the purcHase of agricultural machinery, or of a telephone - on the chance of their wanting a doctor at some time or other- which do honorable members think they would take? Every man takes an optimistic view of life, and imagines that he will never have to send for a doctor; .all have the business instinct of geting their tools of trade as cheaply as possible. Let us be reasonable. If honorable members do wish to make a plea for the country user, let them, make a plea for cheapening his agricultural machinery.
– The rings and combines are responsible for the high prices they have to pay for their agricultural machinery.
– The rings and combines are eloquently assisted by a law - the Tariff - we have placed on the statute-book in regard to the manufacture of agricultural machinery.
– Keep to the telephones.
– The subject of agricultural machinery is a very bitter pill for some of my stalwart friends opposite. A lot of them would try to persuade their farming constituents that the prices they have to pay for machinery are not due to anything for which this Parliament is responsible.
– The first question I was asked in a farming district last Saturday was the name of the winner of the Derby.
– I can see in that a very excellent reason for a public telephone for these pioneers. We might help them in a thousand different ways; but the PostmasterGeneral, who, after all, has to bear the responsibility for what is done, will see thai; what is done is on business lines, and is not made merely an opportunity for honorable members to gain popularity outside without due consideration to the requirements of the public purse.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 7 and 8 (Treasury), £5,150
.- In regard to the item of £3,150 for stamp printing, I should like to learn from the Treasurer where the stamps are to beprinted.
– They are printed here.
– Is it the intention of the Government to print them in the Federal Capital ?
– Undoubtedly the printing of stamps, as well as of Australian notes, will be done at the Federal Capital, when that is established ; but, in the meantime, I think it is better that the work should be done at the Seat of Government for the time being.
– Special premises are not to be erected?
– We shall need to build special premises for the protection of our gold reserves in respect to the issue of Australian notes, and we shall also need a special building for the printing of the notes. In connexion with that, the printing of stamps will be carried on as well as the printing of debentures that will be issued under the Commonwealth Bank, scheme.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that all that work could bedone in Sydney ?
– We could do it in many places if we had the men and the machinery available there, but as there isonly a small amount of printing to be done, it is wise to carry out the work in one place.
– Is not the stamp printingdone in the King’s warehouse?
– In a special building.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 9 to 13A (Defence), £631,900.
.- Before we adjourned for dinner, I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to explain why the money voted last year in respect of grants to rifle clubs for ranges was not expended, and whether he would take steps to see that the money voted under that heading in respect of the present financial year is expended as rapidly as possible? Last year we voted £3,000- in respect of New South Wales, and the actual amount expended was only £1,660. The amount to be voted this year is not as large, but the clubs have had the greatest difficulty in inducing the Department toexpend the money which Parliament has voted. I should like to receive from the-
Honorary Minister an assurance that the Government will endeavour during the present financial year to expend the money that Parliament votes for these purposes.
– I remember that the honorable member asked for certain information, but the discussion proceeded, and I was prevented in the circumstances from replying to him. Had he been in the chamber a little earlier, he would have known that I gave information in reply to a similar question, put by the honorable member for Nepean, the honorable member for Hunter, and one or two others, respecting grants to rifle clubs, and money to be expended for the purpose of areas for rifle clubs and so forth. So far as the expenditure is concerned, the honorable member will gather from his experience to-night, at all events, that one reason why all the money voted is not expended within the financial year, is that honorable members, undoubtedly in : the full exercise of their rights, delay the passage of the Estimates so long that a large part of the financial year is over before the Government can proceed to carry out the works. I can promise him, however, that every effort will be put forward during the ensuing few months to expend every penny that has been voted for these purposes. The sincerity of the Government in respect of rifle ranges has been Shown by the fact that they are proposing to expend in this direction something like £70,000 as against £17,000 spent during last financial year. Their intention is that every facility shall be given to rifle clubs to secure efficiency.
– Division No. 10, under which the Committee is asked to vote £468,700 in respect of special defence material, is designed to carry out a matter of policy. In the first place we ask for £300,000 for warlike stores, including field and machine guns, vehicles, harness and saddlery, arms, accoutrements, and other regimental and personal equipment, including ammunition. This equipment is required to place the forces in such a state that they could take the field fully armed and equipped with warlike and medical stores, tools, vehicles, &c. At present many articles of equipment are deficient. This amount is complementary to the £200,000 voted in 1910-11. Then again the division includes a proposed vote of £20,000 for the supply of cloth for uniforms required by troops on the commencement of adult universal train ing, the money to be paid into a trust fund - the Military Clothing Material Account. We ask also for £5,000 in respect of a reserve of warlike stores, to provide reserve parts for existing field batteries for war. There is no arsenal here, and the distance from England, and the time therefore occupied, renders necessary the provision of “ spares.” With regard to item 4, £45,000, the purpose is to provide annually four batteries of the Field Artillery complete with guns, vehicles, harness, equipment, &c. The intention is to work up to the Kitchener scheme.
– Why do the Estimates say” towards cost “ ?
– The expenditure is not final. An amount will have to be voted next year towards the completion of the Kitchener scheme.
– Do these votes represent the whole cost for this year’s work?
– This vote is not a contingent vote. It is the total amount to be spent this year to provide for the equipment of the troops.
– The money will give us four batteries this year?
– Yes. We’ may have to provide some ammunition and other things later on; but not to any material amount. The item of £2,000, which stands next on the list, is “ towards providing apparatus for wireless telegraphy in the field.” I need not remind honorable members that wireless is now in use in nearly all Continental armies, and there is no reason why Australian troops should not experiment with it. There cannot be any doubt that wireless telegraphy will be an important feature in future warfare. The sixth item, £65,000, is to provide rifles for the Senior Cadets. I am sure that no honorable member will take objection to that. The seventh item, £31,700, is for a reserve of gun ammunition. The amount provided represents half the cost of providing increased equipment of ammunition for the fixed defence and Field Artillery armaments. I have scanned the whole of these items with the Minister of Defence; and, while much more was asked for, he admits that this expenditure will bring our Forces up to a state of efficiency.
– This matter, of Defence expenditure will be discussed next week in connexion with the Budget. But, meanwhile, the attention of honorable members ought to be drawn to the way in which our expenditure in this direction is increasing. We have just voted, roughly speaking, £500,000.
– The Defence vote is £3,000,000.
– The expenditure on ammunition and stores amounts to nearly £500,000; and it is just as well that attention should be drawn to the rapid increase of our Defence expenditure. I know that it is unpopular to say so; but I am satisfied that, in the immediate future, the House will have to consider seriously the enormous expenditure to which Australia is being committed in this direction. I urge the Committee, and the Government, to consider the subject very seriously, and to watch carefully the manner in which our military advisers are leading us into an enormous outlay.
– I should like to know whether the expenditure of £65,000 on rifles for Senior Cadets will be spent on rifles manufactured at the Federal factory, or whether the weapons are to be obtained from abroad?
– I regret being unable to give the honorable member a definite answer ; but I believe that the rifles are required immediately for the equipment of the Cadets. It is the policy of the Government, and the determination of the Minister of Defence, to have as many of our rifles manufactured at Lithgow as possible.
.- There is one omission from this schedule. No provision is made for material for an aviation scheme. I observe that Division 11 provides a sum of £4,000 “ towards the establishment of an aviation corps.” I presume, however, that that is for personnel.
– I think that it is intended to make some experiments.
– It will be difficult for our men to make experiments in flying unless they have machines to fly with. It will probably be advisable to purchase a machine if any of our Forces are to be trained as aviators.
– Might it not be possible to hire machines and work with them in the meantime ?
– I believe that it would be almost impossible to hire machines. Experience of persons who use hired machines leads one to suppose that they would be smashed up very quickly. Certainly it will be more costly to hire flying machines than to buy a couple.
– The honorable member must recollect that a man who experiments with a flying machine takes his life in his hands.
– As a matter of fact, a man who is learning aviation first practices by going across country. It is comparatively easy for a man to learn to fly. The difficulty occurs when men are taught to observe what is visible to them while they are flying. An aviation scheme requires at least a couple of machines, and I think the Treasurer should consider the advisableness of buying them at once. I cannot understand why provision has not already been made.
With regard to the general vote for defence material, I wish to congratulate the Government upon the steps that have been taken to make our Defence Forces mobile in the field. It is all very well to complain about this kind of expenditure, but I may remind honorable members that an army, to be efficient, must be something more than a mob of men. It must be intelligently led, capable of being led to the scene of action, and capable of being supplied when once it reaches the field of action. In order that these three objects may be obtained, we must have efficient material, with provision for transport on an adequate scale.
– Has the honorable member any idea of the taxation per head for defence purposes in the Commonwealth as compared with other countries?
– I do not want to go into that matter now, but I am delighted to seethat the Government are doing something to equip our troops for effective service. A few years ago it would probably have taken six months to put a brigade into the field. That is not the kind of thing we want if we are to have a Defence Force at all. I am, therefore, glad that the Government are taking the necessary steps.
.- With reference to the item of £20,000 for cloth for uniforms, I should like to know whether that material is to be manufactured in the Commonwealth or imported?
– I should not like to commit myself definitely, but I think, that orders have been given to local manufacturers. I believe, however, that theycannot be fully supplied. In that event, some of the cloth will have to be imported..
As much of it as possible will be produced locally.
– I thought, from the money voted last year, that we were to have a clothing factory of our own.
.- There is an item of £1,200 under division 11 for a special railway siding for the manoeuvre area at Tammin, Western Australia. The Government is creating what may prove a dangerous precedent if, after paying the States all railway charges, it goes to the expense of providing sidings.
– I wish to know whether the item for replacing condemned ammunition - £10,000 - is to make good defective supplies?
– No; it is to replace cordite which has deteriorated in the hot parts of Australia.
– An amount is set down to provide apparatus for testing ammunition. I urge the Government to give consideration to the advisability of establishing a testing station in Australia for all imported powder.
– To provide an Australian test?
– Yes. That is an important matter of which we should not lose sight. Great quantities of explosives are used in connexion with mining, and in gassy mines it is essential that the explosives are such as will not give off fire. A company was formed some time ago to manufacture mining explosives in Australia, but it found that it could not sell its goods because they were not on the permissive list. When inquiry was made as to how their explosives could be put on the permissive list, it was found that samples would have to be sent to the Old Country to be tested. There the testing of explosives is under the control of a Board. If an Australian manufacturer sends explosives to the Old Country to be tested, he runs the risk of having them deteriorate on the voyage. On the other hand, imported explosives which have been tested in the Old Country may deteriorate on the voyage out, and there is also the danger that they may not have been tested. The tests at Home may be made periodically, and defective explosives may thus be sent out here. Seeing that human life is at stake, the Commonwealth should establish a testing station to prevent the use of any but safe explosives.
– Guns should be tested, too.
– Yes, but that is another matter. I am assured that it would not cost more than £2,000 to fully equip a testing station.
– The honorable member for Newcastle brought the matter forward six or seven years ago.
– Then it is time that something was done.
– I am sure that the honorable member for Hunter does not suggest that the Government should make itself responsible for the quality of all ammunition now brought into Australia. Unquestionably the testing of imported ammunition should, in the interests of human life, receive consideration, and the Prime Minister permits me to say that it will get it.
– We need an Australian test, so that explosives may be made here..
– We shall take into consideration the advisability of testing all ammunition, whether imported or locally made. With regard to the question asked by the honorable member for Moreton, where a manoeuvre area is so situated that railway connexion will facilitate the movement of troops, and the transport of ammunition and other material, making the working of the area more economical, the Government intend to provide it. It has been found that the working of the Western Australian area referred to will be facilitated by the expenditure of £1,200 on a railway siding.
-Has the Government of the State refused to make the siding?
– I wish to know where woollen, clothing, and harness factories are to be established. Have the sites yet been decided?
– The harness and clothing factories are to be in Melbourne; the site of the woollen factory is not yet determined.
– Has money been spent on them?
– Yes, on the harness and clothing factories.
– What is the position in regard to the manoeuvre area in Tasmania which the Government took some steps towards purchasing?
– I shall inform the honorable member to-morrow morning.
.- It is proposed to spend £20,000 on the rearmament of the Protector, Gayundah, and Paluma., vessels which, I understand, are obsolete, and for all practical purposes useless. Does the Government hope to make them of service in the event of Naval hostilities, or is it simply jproposed to equip them for the training of our men?
– These items are towards refitting two of the boats mentioned with guns for the purpose of training portions of our Navy. The advice of our experts is that if these vessels are re-armed, as proposed, their usefulness for the purpose will be considerably in excess of boats used for a similar purpose in the Imperial Navy. In the circumstances we have no hesitation in asking Parliament to spend the money.
– Of course, in such matters, the opinions of the experts must have weight, but after the statement of theHonorary Minister one can only say that the vessels used for similar purposes in the Imperial Navy are far inferior to what many of us believed if they are no better than the boats which the Government propose to re-arm. It is a question whether it is worth our while to spend £20,000 on these old “ dugouts.” It seems to me like putting new wine into old bottles.
– We must have our men trained with up-to-date guns.
– Are these boats suitable for the training of our naval cadets ?
– Yes; Admiral Henderson says they are.
– We can accept Admiral Henderson’s statement, but it seems to me somewhat absurd to put firstclass guns into boats that are more fit for the museum than for any useful purpose. Would it not be possible to put these uptodate guns into vessels that are not obsolete ?
– I think this money will be absolutely wasted. The vessels on which it is proposed to expend it -should have been consigned to the scrap-heap twenty years ago. We should endeavour to train our men on vessels more approximating to the type of those on which they will be expected to serve. Year after year we are called upon to sanction votes for tinkering up these vessels, and the money wasted in that way would have gone far to re place them with vessels more suitable for the purpose required.
– Does the honorable member say that these vessels are not seaworthy ?
– They may be, but I should prefer, if I were making a trip to the Old Country, to go by one of the Orient or Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s boats, or by the Powerful.
– The Powerful is being sent Home to be scrapped.
– The Powerful is certainly an up-to date vessel compared with those upon which this money is to be expended. But even that vessel is considered by the Admiralty to be obsolete, although she has been only fourteen years in commission. I hope that this is the last of such votes that we shall see.
– The most experienced, as well as the youngest amongst us, must accept the advice of experts in a matter of this kind. It is proposed to put modern guns on these vessels in order that our Reserve Forces may be trained in the use of such guns if it should be necessary to transfer them later to fighting ships. The vessels in question are efficient for the purpose required, but they must be armed with up-to-date guns.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 14 and 15 (External Affairs), £29,400.
.- The Prime Minister promised that when this vote came on the Minister of External Affairs would give the Committee a full statement of the policy of the Government with respect to the Northern Territory.
– No; on the Estimates in Chief.
– In view of that statement, I should like to refer the Prime Minister to page 2089 of Hansard. He will find that while these Estimates were under discussion he said -
I have asked the Minister for External Affairs to make a statement of policy during this debate.
– That means the debate on the Estimates in Chief. It is really the same debate.
– Honorable members on this side were looking forward with interest to the promised statement, in order that they might know where they were when they came to discuss the Budget.
– Like the honorable member for Richmond, I am extremely anxious to know the policy of the Government with regard to the Northern Territory, but I did not expect that it would be stated on these Works Estimates. The Prime Minister has promised us that the Minister of External Affairs will give us the Government policy when we come to deal with items affecting the Northern Territory on the General Estimates.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs drew my attention to the fact that the Prime Minister had made a statement one day last week to the effect that when these votes came up the Government policy with respect to the Northern Territory would be explained. The honorable member for Darling Downs said -
I wish to know from the right honorable gentleman if a statement of policy is to be made regarding the development of the Northern Territory, where obviously there must be considerable expenditure of public works. We should know what is to be done, what gauge is to be adopted, and whether the line is to be ultimately carried forward to join the Queensland railway system.
To that statement, the Prime Minister replied -
I have asked the Minister for External Affairs to make a statement of policy during this debate.
That referred to the debate on the Works and Buildings Estimates.
– I had it in my mind that the debate on the whole of the Estimates and on the Budget was practically the same.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs then said that he would reserve his remarks until a later stage, being clearly of the opinion, like others on this side, that it was the intention of the Prime Minister to have a statement of policy made before this item was passed.
– Does not the honorable member admit that this is practically the same debate as the Budget debate?
– Practically. If the Prime Minister says he did not mean what the honorable member understood, I am satisfied.
– The Minister of External Affairs could not have made a statement to-night in any case.
– I quite understood that the full exposition of the policy and intentions of the Government with regard to the Northern Territory would be made in the debate on the General Estimates), but I take this opportunity of expressing my great disappointment with the official report which has been presented to the House. 1 never before read such a meagre report from any Department. It would be impossible for any one to take up an equal amount of space and say less in it than is said in that report. If toose in charge of expeditions of this character are to furnish such reports, it is timethatat the Government took action. No Government can ignore the fact that the Northern Territory is a real live question, and a heavy burden on the people of Australia. The subject must be taken in hand and dealt with in a thoroughly practical way, in order that at least some return may be got from the Territory for the enormous amount being spent on it. We all exceedingly regret that the Minister of External Affairs is unable to be in the House this evening, and I hope that before the debate on the Budget proceeds very far he will be able to make the promised statement, so that honorable members can debate the question when debating the Government’s Budget proposals generally. I want it to be known that some of us feel that there must be no mark-time policy in connexion with the Northern Territory. It is far too serious and costly an item for us to sit down and allow the expenditure to go on as at present.
.- There is a vote of £2,500 in connexion with the “ Port Augusta Railway.” We have already passed a vote for the transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. Is this for a different line?
– Under the Northern Territory agreement a certain portion of the railway from Port Augusta north was taken over. It is to that line that the item refers.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; Standing Orders suspended, and resolutions adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means covering resolutions of Supply adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Tudor do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Fisher, and passed through all its stages.
Australian Produce in London.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I wish to say that the Government intend to give the honorable member for Gwydir to-morrow, and, it necessary, the next day, to discuss the recommendations of the Postal Commission.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to an article which appeared in the Melbourne Herald, on Tuesday, 7th November. It is headed - “ Australian Meat.” “ Handling in London.” “Ineffective Methods.” The paragraphs which I wish to quote read -
Complaints have frequently been made as to the haphazard manner in which the meat is dealt with, and Mr. Levy is now satisfied that the whole of the trouble arises between the time the meat leaves the steamer and gets into the hands of the consumer. The meat appears to be well looked after in transit from Australia to London ; after that, there is ample room for improvement in the methods of its handling.
It was somewhat significant, said Mr. Levy, that at none of the hotels or restaurants at which he made special inquiries could he obtain an admission that either Australian meat or Australian butter was used. He thought that something should be done to bring about the recognition of Australian produce. The quality was alright, and the fact that the meat or the butter was Australian should be loudly proclaimed, not concealed.
I desire to ask the Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to do anything towards bringing our Australian products before the public of Great Britain? It was with amazement that I heard the statement made at a deputation which waited on the Minister of External Affairs, that 75 per cent. of our Australian butter was sold in London either as Danish butter or as butter from other countries. I maintain that our product is equal to that of any other country in the world, and that our producers, both in the meat and butter industries, are anxious that their products should stand upon their own merits. My anxiety is that the Government should do something in that direction, so that Australian products, when they reach Great Britain, should not lose their identity. Is it the intention of the Government to do anything in respect of Australian meat and other products, and if so, when?
– The honorable member informed me that it was his inten tion to bring this matter forward upon the motion for adjournment. I may say at once that, at the last Cabinet meeting, it was decided to call for applications for the appointment of an expert in London to advise us as to how our products were treated there. The applications will be made returnable early in the new year.
– For all products ?
– Yes ; but principally for meat. We require an expert who will not only be able to advise us, but who will also be able to advise the High Commissioner, and thus prevent the publication of some of the tales which have been circulated in the press of Great Britain from time to time, to the damage of Australian products. We desire to get a good man for the position. Speaking from memory, the salary, I think, is to be £600 a year.
– Will the Government do anything in regard to butter and other products ?
– The honorable member must know that, although the Commerce Act was passed in 1907, until twelve months ago, the export inspection under that Act was carried on under the supervision of State officers In other words, we had not a single Commonwealth officer to advise us. Since then, we have had one man in the person of Mr. Preedy, who has done good work, considering the wide range of subjects with which he had to deal.
– But do the Government mean to have a man at Home?
– Yes. If we can get a man who is familiar with Australian conditions, so much the better. But if we cannot do so, we must get an officer who, after he has seen the conditions which obtain in Great Britain can come here and inform us of those conditions.
– My advice to the Government is to be sure to send an Australian.
– The honorable member is not keener upon sending an Australian than I am, but we want to secure the services of the best man available. It is quite possible that, on account of the increasing cost of the Commerce Department, we shall have to slightly increase our fees. I think that the Department should pay its way ; and I know that the exporters of meat have said that they are quite prepared to pay something extra in order to insure that justice shall be done. I asked Professor Stewart, of the Sydney University, while he was in England recently, to make a report on what he saw there on behalf of the Government. I have not yet seen his report. But he was familiar wilh Australian conditions, and he is a man who has worked himself from the bottom rung of the ladder up to his present position. I repeat that the Cabinet, at its last meeting, decided to take steps in the direction indicated by the honorable member ‘ for Maranoa.
.- Although the Government propose to appoint an expert in regard to meat, it will probably be found impossible to get one man who is expert in every bunch of trade. For instance, a person who is an expert in meat, will probably know nothing whatever about butter or fruit.
– Is it not possible to get a man who understands both those branches of industry ?
– That may be possible, but it is very difficult. If the Minister proposes to make the producer pay the cost-
– I say that I think we should make the Department pay for itself.
– While there is no doubt a reason for looking after the interest of the meat producers, there are other branches of production that also require safeguarding.
– That I recognise, but if the honorable member knew as much about the meat industry as I do, he would see the urgent reason.
– I hope that if the Minister finds this step a success, he will not lose sight of the interests of other producers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.47 P.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 November 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19111108_reps_4_61/>.