4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., jand read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister, if he has not already done so, place himself in communication with the Mother Country in reference to a question which has the most vital interest for Australia in its future relations with the new and old world - I refer to the decision of the American Congress in regard to the Panama Canal, which appears in to-day’s cablegrams.
– I have read, with much regret, the press report that the Senate of the United States has decided to take a course in regard to the Panama Canal which seems clearly at variance with the treaty between that country and Great Britain, and affects our interests. I do not think that this is the time to discuss the matter. This Government has already expressed the views of the Commonwealth to the Mother Country, and asked to be associated with it in any protest that might be made. What has happened since serves to emphasize the opinion then expressed. We wish to be publicly associated with the Mother Country in a protest against the action taken, and we indulge the hope that the matter may not end with the decision of Congress.
– Does not the Prime Minister consider that, no matter what the United States Senate may do, the construction of the Panama Canal will be of extra ordinary advantage to the trade and commerce of Australia ?
– I do not think that the value of the Panama Canal is in question! As the Senate’s decision affects treaty rights, it cannot very well be discussed here. This Government will congratulate any and every Government that may open up the waterways of the world, and promote commerce. Undoubtedly, whatever may happen, the opening of the Panama Canal will be an advantage.
– I have received from the Chamber of Commerce, at Cairns, a telegram in which it is stated that the new regulations appeared in the local news columns, were at once enforced, without regard to existing arrangements between labourers and. farmers, and that the bounty is withheld from farmers who were unaware that the new conditions existed. My correspondent says that the local Customs officers are unable to inform the farmers whether the regulations are applicable to both harvesting and ordinary work, and that, consequently, there is confusion among the labourers, and dismay amongst farmers. Will the Minister tell us how he proposes to end this confusion ?
– Agreements entered into between employers and employes, as a body, stand good.
– That does not appear to be understood.
– The statement was made definitely when the regulations were pubished on the 2nd August. The rates that have been fixed are being paid in several districts now. What is proposed is that the bounty should be withheld until the case is submitted to arbitration.
– Will the honorable member see that the local Customs officers are better informed?
– They have been informed.
Ministers laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Act - Military Forces - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 162.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at Port Augusta, South Australia - For Commonwealth purposes.
Public Service Act - Department of Trade and Customs, New South Wales - Promotion of J. N. Silk as Examining Officer, 4th Class.
– Did the Prime Minister, during his recent conference with the Premier of New South Wales, come to a definite arrangement regarding the occupation of the State Government House at Sydney? If so, what are the terms of it?
– I am not in a position to give the terms. An understanding was arrived at which I think will be mutually, satisfactory to the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales, and to the Governor-General. As soon as I am in a position to make a statement, I shall do so with pleasure.
– After the conference with the Premier of New South Wales, when the possibility of a charge being made for Government House, Sydney, was made public, was the right honorable gentleman approached by the Premier of Victoria and asked for payment for this building and Government House?
– No. I hope that nothing that has been done in my negotiations with the Premier of New South Wales will involve any application from Victoria.
– Will the Prime Minister supplement his statement of Thursday night last by laying on the table copies of reports by inspectors and other responsible officers upon the labour employed on the undergrounding work of the Telephone Department?
– Speaking quite frankly, I think it undesirable that reports from engineers and other works officers should be laid on the table.
– I asked for copies of them.
– I do not think that copies of them should be laid on the table. The charges made were not sustained.
– By whom have he statements of “ the man-on-the-job “ *been disposed of? If they have been settled by a report, will the Prime Minister Jay it on the table?
– The charges of “the Bian-on-the-job “ were not sustained, and the matter has been effectively settled.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he considers the complaints made in respect of “ the man- on-the-job “ were disposed of by him reading to the House an unsigned report, and whether he will produce the signed report upon which he bases his claim that the matter has been settled?
– I do not propose to lay departmental documents on the table unless something fresh is brought forward which requires an answer.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman think that the charges made demand an answer?
– -The report came from the departmental officers to me. I do not preside over the Department, and until new matter is forthcoming I decline to lay anything more on the table of the House.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he definitely refuses to supply us with the name of the officer who furnished the unsigned report which he read to the House, and, if so, what is his reason for taking up that attitude?
– The report reached me with a covering letter from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Mi. Bright. Thai fact in itself constitutes ample authority for any Minister laying it upon the table.
– Following up the question which I have already put to the Prime Minister, I direct his attention to the fact that he is reported in Hansard to have said on the 8th August -
The statements in the Argus of 31st July are dealt with separately in the order in which they appeared. The Acting Electrical Engineer submits this report : - “ I submit herewith reports from the respon sible officers in connexion with the various criticisms in the press.”
I wish to know whether the Prime Minister will give the names of responsible officers to whose reports he referred?
– The covering letter was from Mr. Bright, Deputy Postmaster^ General of Victoria. If the reports are challenged as being incorrect or “ faked,” that is another matter. I do not propose” to submit the reports.
– We do not want the reports, but the names of the officers. Am I to understand that the Prime Minister definitely refuses “to give to thi*
House the names of the officers whose reports in connexion with this matter have been furnished?
– I submitted to the House, in answer to the Leader of the Opposition, the reports furnished under cover of a letter from the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Victoria. I rely upon that absolutely, and think it is sufficient.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, in order to save the shipping companies a large expenditure, and also to shorten the period of quarantine, anything has been done to intercept the vessel upon which there- is an outbreak of small-pox ?
– I presume that the honorable member refers to the steam-ship Montoro. A case of small-pox has occurred on that vessel, and the patient was landed at Sourabaya. The Department endeavoured to get into touch with the steamer with a view to intercepting her at Thursday Island. The agents desired the vessel to proceed to Sydney, but instructions have been issued that her Queensland passengers are not to be carried beyond Brisbane. They are to be landed there. The Brisbane station is in a fit state to. accommodate them, and only passengers for New South Wales and more southern ports will be brought on from there.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs when we are likely to have the scheme for the electoral redistribution of New South Wales before us?
– We are now assured that we shall have it on the 30th inst.
– I desire to ask’ the Minister whether it is a fact, as ~ reported in the press, that the Queensland Commissioners have completed their second redistribution of that State into electoral divisions, and, if so, what is the reason for the delay in the New South Wales Commissioners presenting their first report to this House?
– The delay is caused by the fact that the printing office of that State is overworked. The people of
New South Wales are so prosperous, and everything in that State is booming so much, that we are compelled to wait until the report of the Commissioners reaches us. It has, however, been promised for the 30th inst.
Australian Garrison Artillery: Prosecution of Cadets
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence if he can say why warrant officers, sergeant-majors, and sergeants of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery have not participated in the increase of pay which has been granted to those ranks in every other branch of the service?
– I am not at present in a position to say whether the officers mentioned have not participated in the increase of pay granted to other branches of the service, as alleged by the honorable member, but I will obtain the information.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether cadets whom it is desired to punish for non-attendance at drill could not be proceeded against under the First Offenders Act?
– It is thought that the action which we have taken to reduce the fines, and to permit all the cadets who have offended to make up the necessary time, will meet the case referred to by the honorable member.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs a question arising out of a reference contained in the Perth Sunday Times of 28th July last to the shortening of the route of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway immediately east’ of Kalgoorlie. The paragraph in question reads -
As a matter of fact, when the question _ of the site of the work-shops was first engaging attention at Kalgoorlie it was the Crown Surveyor, Fred Casey, who impressed on Mayor Cutbush the feasibility of the distanceshortening plan, and blew the hopes of the merry gentleman of Kuramia sky high, as it were. Mayor Cutbush expatiated on the improved route at the public meeting, armed with Casey’s figures and estimates, before Chinn had ever said a word about it.
In view of the importance of his statements as to the reputation of the engineer in charge of the Western Australian section of the transcontinental line, will the Minister make inquiries as to whether the mayor and the town surveyor of Kalgoorlie took the idea of this improvement from Mr. Chinn, or Mr. Chinn took it from those gentlemen?
– I am very much obliged to the honorable member for having produced such splendid evidence in support of the great ability of Mr. Chinn, because they are all in it, and we are only too delighted that we have been able to shorten the route by five miles, and thus save ,£20,000.
– Will the Minister inform the House who are the persons who are “ all in it,” and what is it that they are “ all in “ ?
– They are all concerned in the shortening of the route of the line, according to the honorable member for Perth. If the town surveyor of Kalgoorlie and Mr Cutbush, the mayor of that city, produced this evidence, in the first instance, and if Mr. Chinn was the third party to it, and if I were the fourth, well, we are all in it.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a statement in the Age of yesterday, in which a member of the House of Commons in Canada, who is also the owner of a very large newspaper, expressed the following opinion : -
If Germany is successful in invading England, nothing will keep her out of the United States, although Canada might be the first objective. It is time for thought, maybe for prayer - certainly for action.
I also desire to ask whether the Prime Minister will take any precautions that may be necessary to support the Home land in any trouble, and also to make for as much peace as possible with the United States by refusing to acquiesce in any suggestion which might provoke friction?
– The Commonwealth Government have partly anticipated action -of that kind by three years at least. Whilst I do not attach the same importance to the language to which the honorable member has drawn attention as some others do, we all know that the hon orable member for Ballarat and the Government of which he was the head took an important step three years ago to cultivate the friendship of the United States of America. This Government wishes to cultivate the friendship of all friendly and peace-loving nations. Whilst we do that, I am not one of those who live in trepidation of what will happen if any nation, or combination of nations, attacks the Empire to which we belong.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, what is the nature and extent of the additions and repairs to the post-office at Tocumwal, and, also, when the work is to be commenced and when completed?
– The following items are included in the proposed work at the Tocumwal Post-office: - Extension of office, new telephone exchange, telephone cabinet, extension of porch, minor alterations, painting, and repairs. Tenders were called for this work during the last financial year, but the lowest offer received exceeded the amount available. Funds have been provided, however, on the Draft Estimates for 1912-13, and arrangements will be made to commence the work as soon as the money has been voted by Parliament. It is estimated that the work will take about twelve weeks to carry out.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether he is aware that the Minister of Public Works, New South Wales, recently found fault with the price charged for bricks, and established a brick industry on behalf of the Government, promising to supply the public with bricks at £1 per 1,000? Is the Minister also aware that the Minister of Public Works referred to has been charging £3 per I, 000 for bricks, which is a higher price than private enterprise is asking ? If he is not aware of these facts, will the Minister look into them before starting any brick industry in connexion with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway ?
– We d’d not intend to start a brick industry in connexion with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. We do intend to start one in connexion with the Federal Capital. I am very sorry to hear the honorable member’s statement that the Minister of Public Works in New South Wales made a miscalculation.
– Is the Minister of Home Affairs aware that some time ago the Victorian Government started brickworks, and that the affair “ burst up “ altogether?
– I was not aware that the Victorian Government started brickworks. I know that the late Sir Thomas Bent, while Premier of that State, talked of doing so ; but I did not think that he carried out his intention.
– A notice of motion stands in my name to the effect that the representatives of the Age newspaper should be excluded from the press galleries of this House until such time as an apology is made for misrepresentation. I gave notice of the motion when I was smarting under what I thought to be a grave injustice. Since that time, the journal in question has apologized through its columns. The matter of which I complained appears to have been inserted in consequence of a mistake. Since I arrived in Melbourne to-day I have also had an interview with a representative of the newspaper, and can plainly see how the error crept in. As the mistake was committed unintentionally, I have to request that I have leave to withdraw the motion.
.- On the question of privilege, I wish to know whether I am not, as well as the honorable member for South Sydney, entitled to an apology from the Age newspaper? That journal has called me alazy member.
– That is what the honorable member said he was.
– I never said that I was a lazy member. I said that I did not like work; but if I do work, not liking it, I cannot be said to be lazy.
– Do I understand that the honorable member objects to the withdrawal of the motion?
– No, Mr. Speaker; but surely there is nothing to prevent me from submitting a similar motion on my own account. I, as well as the honorable member for South Sydney, want an apology from the Age.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Mr. WATKINS (for Mr. Webster) asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether he intends to adopt the first paragraph of Recommendation No. 45 of Postal Commission’s Report ?
– This matter has been considered by two Conferences of Deputy Postmasters-General. It was reported that the expenditure incurred in sorting English mails between Fremantle and Adelaide would be very much greater than if done on the trains, and that the only advantage to be gained, even when the weather permitted the proper sorting of the mails between those places, would be a slightly earlier delivery in Adelaide, the sorting on trains giving quite as expeditious and satisfactory a service as could be gained by sorting at sea. In these circumstances, I do not consider it advisable to make any alteration in existing arrangements at present.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Has he received a report on the experiments that have been made with different lights, from which it is proposed to select one for the better illumination of country post-offices, and will he lay a copy of such report on the table of the House ?
– This matter is in the hands of the Department of Home Affairs, which advises as follows: -
Experiments are still being conducted. Several systems of lighting are at present on trial, some of them have only recently been installed, and a report as to their relative merits is not expected until sufficient time has elapsed to afford a proper test.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Melbourne, has furnished the following information : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Have any contracts been entered into for the supply of rails and sleepers in connexion with the construction of the Transcontinental railway?
– The undermentioned purchases have been made for temporary roads -
South Australia. - 10,425 sleepers, Karri and Jarrah Company, £3,518 8s.9d. ; 4 miles steel rails and fishplates, South Australian Government, £3,600; 12 sets points and crossings, Thornley and Sons, £327; rails for ditto, Public Works Department, New South Wales, £122 7s. 6d.
Western Australia. - 12 sets points and crossings, Hosking and Co., Perth, £270; rails for ditto, Government Stores Department, Perth, £67 13s.5d.
The Western Australian Government have also agreed to supply rails, fastenings, and sleepers for temporary road.
An intimation has also been sent to the Western Australian Government that their tender for the supply of one and a half million sleepers has been accepted.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
An intimation has also been sent to the Western Australian Government that their tenderfor the supply of one and a half million sleepers has been accepted.
Naval and Military Uniforms : Minimum and Maximum Cost - Prosecution of Cadets - Australian Garrison Artillery : New South Wales - Armament Artificers - Long Service Medals - Small Arms Factory : Preference to Unionists
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The information desired will take some time to prepare, and will be furnished in the form of a return which will be laid on the table of the House.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Mr.ROBERT S.- The following gives the desired information in respect of all States except Western Australia. The particulars regarding the latter State will be furnished when received from the Military Commandant, who has been asked by telegram to expedite his reply : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The Minister has received a further report from New South Wales dated 8th August, 1912, which shows the position to be as follows : -
One officer applied to be placed on the Unattached List, and three officers and 245 noncommissioned officers and men tendered their resignations.
The three officers referred to have asked that their resignations be returned pending reconsideration. Sixty non-commissioned officers and men have withdrawn their resignations, and many replies are yet to come in.
The regulation restraining smoking in camp applies only to cigarettes.
Parliament passed the clause prohibiting canteens in the Defence Bill 1909.
As the clause referred to was adopted in the House of Representatives without a division the Minister does not feel called upon to express an opinion thereon at the present juncture; but during the ensuing camps Commanding Officers will be asked to report as to the effect of its operation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
When is it intended to distribute the longservice medals which have been promised so long to those members of the Naval Brigades of the Commonwealth who are entitled to them?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
The medals have been received and lists of applicants were called for by Naval Order on 24th May last. These lists are now being scrutinized, and it is hoped that medals will be presented in about a month’s time.
Delay has occurred through the non-receipt of the medals from England.
Mr. W ATKINS (for Mr. McDougall) asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will lay upon the table of the Library all the papers relating to the service, seniority, and promotion of armament artificers, together with a copy of the local regulation of the various States prior to Federation?
– The papers will be laid on the Library table as soon as full information regarding local regulations prior to Federation is available. Some time ago the honorable member for Echuca asked the following questions: -
The honorable member was then informed that the papers were being obtained, in order to enable replies to be given. These have now come to hand, and the answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
.-I desire to refer, Mr. Speaker, to what I think is a question of privilege.
Mr. SPEAKER.- If the honorable member raises a question of privilege, he must conclude with a motion.
– I desire, sir, to ask you a question as to the procedure that should be adopted in the House in regard to questions of which notice are given. I take it that such questions should be answered, unless some reason for not doing so is given. A question of great importance was addressed this afternoon to the Minister of Home Affairs, but he took no notice of it. He glossed it over.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY.- I asked that the question be postponed until to-morrow.
– 1 am referring, not to that, but to another question concerning the size of sleepers, their cost, and other matters of which the Minister took no notice.
Mr. SPEAKER. - It is purely a matter of courtesy whether a Minister will, or will not, answer a question. I cannot compel a Minister to answer any question.
– If a Minister does not wish to answer a question, he ought to say so.
– I answered it.
s. - The question was answered. The written reply is on the table.
– I am verv sorry if I have made a mistake. I did not hear it answered.
R asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
When will the new electoral rolls for South Australia be ready for circulation?
Mr. KING O’MALLEY. - The new electoral rolls for South Australia will be ready for circulation not later than the end of the current month.
S asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr. TUDOR. - The suggestion of the honorable member is entitled to consideration, but it appears to me desirable we should first make inquiry in London as to the precise facts and practice of the trade. We should then be in a position to approach the Imperial authorities on the subject generally. It is quite possible Austra ian butter is subject to other forms of adulteration than that mentioned.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Mr. FISHER.- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 9th August, vide page 2013) :
Department of Home Affairs.
Rifle Clubs - Rifle Ranges - Mobilization Store Buildings and Drill Halls - Unexpended Votes - Victoria Barracks, Sydney - Temporary Naval College - Woollen Mills - Military College - Preference to Unionists - Small Arms Factory, Lithgow - Aviation Corps - Senior Cadets : Rifles - Purchase of Harness and Saddlery - Naval Bases - Post Offices - Wireless Telegraph Stations - Improved Telegraph Instruments - Telegraph and Telephone Facilities - -Undergrounding Wires : Conduct of Work : Production of Papers- Bound Volumes of Hansard: Delivery - Customs Launches - Northern Territory: Immigration Depot : Horse Breeding Farm : Annual Reports : Railway Construction : Gauge : Artesian Bores : Houses for Government Employees. “Division 3 (Defence), £609,099.
.- There is a general impression, which I hope as unfounded, though there appears to be good ground for it, that the military authorities have not much sympathy with rifle clubs. That opinion is held very strongly by riflemen in Western Australia. They have complained bitterly that they do not even receive the same consideration which is extended to members of rifle clubs in other States. They complain especially that in the matter of rifle ranges they are treated with scant consideration, and generally have to take what is left after all other branches of the Defence Force have been attended to. I think that these Estimates show that there is something which justifies this complaint. I hope the Minister of Defence will give his attention to the matter. It will, I think, be agreed that this very desirable and useful branch of our Defence Force, composed as it is ‘of mature men who take an enthusiastic interest in accurate rifle shooting should be encouraged to the utmost extent. I notice that, taking the Estimates as a whole, last year ,£61,376 was voted for rifle ranges, and only £22,504 was expended ; £16,943 was voted for drill halls, and only £3,799 of this amount was ex pended. In connexion with these two items, no less that £52,016 was unexpended out of a total vote of £78,319. Referring especially to Western Australia, included in the subdivision now under consideration, £49,328 was voted last year, and only £18,780 spent. Honorable members will see that the votes for rifle ranges and drill halls count for a considerable proportion of last year’s vote. Under the subdivision, ;£3°>548 of the amount voted last year was unexpended. For rifle ranges, £11,665 was voted, and only £801 spent, leaving £10,864 unexpended. In the circumstances, it is not to be wondered at that riflemen should be discontented, and should feel that they are not receiving the consideration to which they are entitled. For drill halls last year there was £5,531 voted, and of this amount £5,156 was unexpended. I see that only £3,783 is asked for this year under this heading, or less than the amount which remained unexpended from the vote for last year. We pass Estimates in this House, and that seems to be about the end of the matter, for the Department apparently does nothing. Last year £2,700 was voted for three items - £1,300 for a boatshed, £800 for medical field equipment, and £600 for a port war-signal, and not a penny of this money was spent. Then there was an item of £1,409 for command telephones at Fremantle, and only £89 of this vote was spent. In spite of this fact, only £100 is asked for this purpose on these Estimates. It is evident that some one must have blundered. I see that £1,029 was voted last year for a storeroom at the Tammin Railway Reserve, and only £28 of this vote was spent. The Departments ask for money, and do not spend it when it is voted. They then ask for much smaller votes for the same purposes in the next year, and this shows that those concerned really do not understand what they are about. They do not appear to know what is wanted. I was told the other day that it is intended that all the rifle clubs in Australia shall be treated in the same way. All I can say is that they have not been treated in the same way up to the present. In some States members of rifle clubs receive railway passes, while in my own State of Western Australia they do not. A good deal is done to make provision for rifle ranges in some places, and very little in others. I ask the Minister of Home Affairs to see that money is spent when it is voted. Nothing is so unsatisfactory as to induce people to believe that they are going to be given something and then not to give it to them. Rifle clubs should be treated with great consideration. They represent a branch of our Defence Force capable of great expansion and usefulness. Our defence system . is a system for the youth of the country up to the age of twenty-one, and to a smaller degree up to the age of twenty-five; the mature manhood of the country has no obligation for any service except in time of emergency. The mature manhood of the country must, therefore, be encouraged to take up the rifle club system and practice shooting. We know, however, that the riflemen are enthusiastic, and enthusiasm should be encouraged wherever and whenever found - in rifle clubs or in any other direction which tends to the good of the country. The Boy Scouts, for instance, are looked at askance by the military authorities; but those boys are enthusiastic, and will, I hope, eventually merge into the military system. I urge the Minister to take into consideration the matters to which I have drawn attention, and to see whether he cannot to a greater extent than in the past year see that the money voted for any year is expended in the directions intended during the year.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Swan has called attention to the question of rifle clubs. Some months ago an enthusiastic supporter of these clubs spoke to me about what he considered the damper that is. thrown upon them in South Australia by the military authorities, who do not seem to give the support that might be expected to what I think can be shown is a very good associated body in connexion with our Military Forces. I made a few notes on the matter at the time, though I do not intend to refer to them now except to say that it is somewhat significant that MajorGeneral Hutton, when he went back to England, after telling us that 45,000 troops in time of war and 25,000 troops in time of peace were sufficient, expressed his belief in the compulsory training of cadets as likely to lead to voluntary enlistment. In a speech which he made at the Isle of Wight, and which was reported in the Times of 10th March, 1906, he recommended that the rifle club system should be encouraged as a means to the creation of a solid system of national defence. He believed that a national militia army provided the best means of defence under our Anglo-Saxon form of government ; and to this end he particularly recommended theencouragement of rifle clubs. I took the trouble at the time to consult the statistics relating to rifle clubs, and I found that in 1901, when we had a militia and volunteers of the total strength of 28,812, there was a rifle club membership of 32,833. We seem to have gone back by 1905, owing to the fact, if my memory serves me aright, that when we commenced our Fede1ral Defence Department with an expendsture of about ,£890,000, we struck off £196,000 the first year, without the slightest regard to the possible objective either of defence or offence, or to the proportion that should exist between the naval’ and land forces. In fact, we did this, as I mentioned at the time, in blind disregard of the fact that we had not settled on anydefinite policy. In 1903-4 we had almost reached the nadir in connexion with military matters, when the military expenditurewas only £458,000. By 1906 there seems tohave been a little encouragement given to/ the rifle clubs, because the membershipthen was 37,000. In 1907, the then Minister of Defence, who was, I believe, Sir Thomas Ewing, expressed the opinion that we ought to prepare for an armyreserve of 800,000, to be reached in nineor ten years by the annual training of 200,000. Subsequently this estimate was: brought down by Lord Kitchener to about 120,000 men. I have my own opinion on this question of conscription, but I do not intend to enter into the matter now, though I may have an opportunity on a subsequent occasion. In that year, when the Deakin Government was in power, some encouragement was given to rifle clubs; and Sir Thomas Ewing stated that the total force, including .rifle clubs then amounted to 68,000 men, including a club membership of 48,000. My purpose is served if I call attention to the fact that there is an opinion abroad that the military authorities desire uniformity to the exclusion of everything else. This is characteristic of military men, though it does not follow that they will stick to the one line of development they have adopted, because none vary so much as they. Without speaking too strongly, we may say that the military authorities do not seem to be affording that enthusiastic encouragement to the youth of the country to join rifle clubs that ought to accompany the development of our Military Forces.
.- The question of rifle clubs is one that should be earnestly grappled with by whatever Government may be in power. This is not a question of making grants to clubs in the general expectation that increased grants will bring increased political support. It is a question of what is owing to the country as well as to the rifle clubs - of how to properly encourage Australia to take an interest in rifle shooting, and, at the same time, to make the rifle club organization fit in with the general purposes of the Defence Department. My own view is that the riflemen of Australia are only too anxious to fit in harmoniously their skill and patriotism with the necessities of the Department; to help in the training, especially in the direction of musketry, of the levies that are being made under a system of compulsory training. But the Defence Department is not treating the rifle clubs well ; it is not even treating them fairly. The Department is, apparently, coquetting with them ; and, at the same time, ignoring them when they come half way to meet the Department. For instance, a week or two ago - since when I have been absent through ill health - I gave some information to which I once more direct the attention of the Minister. I cited instances where the Defence Department had been, on two separate occasions, in communication with rifle clubs ; and in one of these cases when the rifle clubs actually came forward and enthusiastically agreed to do what the Department desired, the whole matter was pigeon-holed and left in abeyance. That is not the way to encourage and bring within still more useful confines an invaluable movement like that of the rifle clubs - it is the way to kill it. The present Ministry is, in my opinion, deserving of a certain amount of censure, inasmuch as they have either permitted this state of affairs, or have not taken sufficient steps to prevent such things occurring. I suggest that the Minister take an early opportunity to go into the whole matter.
s. - The permanent heads are trying to kill all the militia spirit.
– As the honorable member knows, in Defence matters I have no regard for party. What I say is that, in this particular case, the Ministry is to blame for either one thing or the other ; cither they have connived at the present state of affairs, or they have not been keen enough to prevent it arising. I hope it may be found to be merely a lack of keenness ; and that some real anxiety will now be shown by the Department to avail itself of the patriotism and skill contained in our rifle club organization.
I take this opportunity to refer to a matter on which information has been, I am afraid, denied to me and the country. I refer to the item of £80,000, under the head of “ Various States and Federal Territory,” for the acquisition of sites for and the erection of mobilization store buildings and drill halls for the Defence Department. I think I may properly refer here to a piece of departmental maladministration during the course of the present year with regard to a proposal to transfer the Victoria Barracks from Paddington to Double Bay. For a long time the Paddington Municipal Council have wanted - and every honorable member who has studied their case must sympathize with ft - the Commonwealth either to shift the Victoria Barracks from the municipality or to make them some payment in lieu of the rates which the Commonwealth would have had to pay for municipal services rendered, but for its constitutional exemption from taxation. The Government said, in reply to the municipality, that if they could be given a site in some other place equally suitable for military purposes, and at equal cost, they would be delighted to make the desired transfer. The next thing we know is that General Gordon, whose opinion was asked on the matter, strongly resisted any proposal to leave the Victoria Barracks. He stated that the site was one of really very great value. His exact words appear in Hansard, and I do not wish to weary honorable members by quoting them again. He pointed out most clearly, and in the most unequivocal language, that, from the departmental view, it was absolutely essential to retain the Victoria Barracks at Paddington. Then there appears on the papers which I hold in my hand a minute from the Minister directing General Gordon to inquire about a site for barrack purposes in Double Bay. The Minister’s direction was very vague. It gave no indication of how the matter originated. It simply directed General Gordon to make a report on this question. He took his orders from the Minister - he looked into the matter. It is very singular that on a matter of such importance, involving, according to those interested, an expenditure amounting to £120,000, but which, with proper esti mates of depth of water, and so on, would have landed the Commonwealth in an outlay of at least £250,000, General Gordon, forgetting his previous report, with the greatest expedition recommended this new proposal. What are -its advantages? The Minister, who is taking upon his own shoulders now the whole responsibility in order to shield a man prominent in the Labour movement outside, says, and wishes the House to believe, that he had himself set before General Gordon the advantages of this proposal, and possibly that is why General Gordon changed his opinion with extraordinary speed - in a fortnight ! The alleged advantages beggar description they are ludicrous. Let me give some of the advantages for which the Minister wishes to take the fullest responsibility. He says that we will save rent. How shall we save rent if we incur a capital expenditure of £250,000? It means that the interest on this enormous charge is going to be the rent. The Minister says that offices and other places will be concentrated. _ They are already concentrated in the Victoria Barracks, far more so than the exigencies of the Department require, because it is decentralization more than concentration which is needed under the area system. The next alleged advantage of this proposal is that it will provide access to the forts by water. Why, every fort in Sydney already has access to the water ! An expenditure of ^£250,000 in Double Bay is not required to give access by water to the forts surrounding the heads in Sydney. Other alleged advantages of the proposal are said to be the saving of expense on cartage, wharfage, and handling, the better supervision of a number of things, and that all stores for camp can be lightered to the various places. Why can they not be lightered at the port in” Sydney, instead of being lightered to Double Bay, handled, and put back on board a train in Sydney? Again, we are told that in the event of an expedition to the Northern Territory stores can be placed directly on board the steamer. Did any one ever hear anything so ridiculous as that ? The great city of Sydney, with a population of half-a-million, and the biggest shipping south of the line, is unable to provide sufficient wharf accommodation for ships bound to the Northern Territory, and it is, consequently, necessary for the Commonwealth to Buy private properties in Double Bay, and reclaim land at an expense of about £250,000. We are also told that drill grounds can be obtained at Double Bay, and that the site is handy to the forts. A number of places are handy to the forts, but we do not wish to obtain them. It is stated, too, that the site is equally close to Sydney as the Victoria Barracks. It is also claimed that it is safe from bombardment j so is Yass-Canberra. Now, that stamps the reply of the Minister as a piece of humbug - endeavouring to take the responsibility on his own shoulders, because we know that he is a sensible man. He would not, looking at the thing from the Commonwealth p6int of view, himself put forth anything so utterly ridiculous and silly on behalf of the site.
The plans and estimates give this proposal a still more sinister appearance. In estimating the cost of reclamation, the depth of water is, of course, a matter of enormous importance. But what do we find here? The depths of water given in the plan are actually less than the depths of water shown on the Admiralty chart, and, to my knowledge, a great deal less than the depths of water in the bay. I was bred there, and, as a boy, I sailed boats there very often. The depths shown on the Admiralty chart are the lowwater depths. When a man thinks of reclaiming land, it is necessary to go some 5 feet above high-water mark in order to get an estimate of the amount of filling-in which will have to be undertaken. That item is grossly underestimated, and, remembering the secrecy with which the whole matter has been covered up, I consider this most sinister. The Committee is entitled to the fullest information as to how and why the proposal originated. Whoever got it carried into effect would have made a bit of money. The properties that were to be resumed are of great residential value, among them being one belonging to my own family. It was largely because a person - myself - interested in a place known to be for sale came to the Department of Home Affairs, and told them that the thing was a swindle, that it was stopped. That the Minister has practically admitted in this chamber, as reported in Hansard. Now, when a man has a large residential property for sale which cannot be sold easily, he is prepared to give a pretty high commission to any one selling it. For that reason I have asked - and I have been refused - -information as to the prices put upon these properties by their owners. If a property can be bought by a private individual for, say, £16,000, and is under offer to the Commonwealth for £30,000, it is a matter of considerable public importance that the fact should be made known. Why should Ministers keep these facts secret?
– Who said that a property was under offer for ,£30,000 ?
Y. - I only want the information. There would have been some large commissions had this project been carried out. Furthermore, there would have been occasion for a vast amount of filling in, which would have necessitated the use of a number of dredges, which would have had to be bought from some one who sells dredges, who would have made money in that way also. I know as well as the Minister who it was originated this proposal which the honorable gentleman, with his hand on his heart, says originated in his own brain. If the connexion with this matter of the most prominent man in the Labour movement for many years, of the man who was leader of the Australian Labour party a few years ago, is one of which my honorable friends are proud, why cannot they say that he brought the matter before them ; that the proposal originated in their ex-leader?
– He did not do so. He did not speak to me about the matter.
Y. - The Minister of Home Affairs did not know anything about it. He told me that he had not seen the papers when I first went to his Department about this matter. There was such despatch that, no sooner had the papers reached his Department, than they were sent to Sydney, before he had even seen them ! The Minister of Home Affairs had nothing to do with the matter ; it was a Defence Department job.
– The Minister can, perhaps, explain it.
Y. - I doubt whether he would care to explain it now, since the Minister of Defence, in an effort to shield a brother politician outside Parliament, has taken the whole responsibility on his own shoulders. The Minister of Home Affairs does not wish to give the Minister of Defence the lie on a matter involving such an immense expenditure of public money.
– Is the honorable member justified in imputing motives? Why not deal with facts?
Y. - The facts are denied us. What reason can the Minister of Defence have for telling the House something that isinaccurate and misleading?
– The honorable member has not proved that statement.
Y.- Will the Ministry give me a Select Committee to inquire into the matter, so that questions can be put to persons on their oath ? Will the Government take up the challenge? I could prove my statement at once were I permitted to examine the witnesses on oath. ‘ It was Mr. Watson who started the proposition, and the Minister knows it.
– No; I do not.
Y. - Let the Government give me a Select Committee, so that I may examine witnesses, and if I cannot substantiate my statement that Mr. Watson was concerned in the initial proceedings in connexion with this proposition, it can demand my resignation.
– Demand, but, perhaps, not receive it.
Y. - I promise to give it.
– What is the charge against Mr. Watson?
Y. - My charge is not against Mr. Watson, but against the Department. If, in the first instance, they had said, “ This proposal came from Mr. Watson,” my comment would have been that it was a stupid one, and 1 should have let it go at that. But when the Minister takes on his shoulders a responsibility which does not attach to him, I ask why is he shielding Mr. Watson?
– How does the honorable member know that he is doing so? The Minister has not expressed his mind.
Y. - He has made, through his representative in this Chamber, the statement that the proposal originated “in his own mind, as the result of private inquiries he made in Sydney. This is a very important question, and I do not labour it simply to put my honorable friends in a difficulty. I asked for the information in the first place, and expected to get it, but it has been denied. The Minister now says that he has given all the information that he will give as to the origin of the proposal. I have made public the information which has been denied, and I challenge Ministers -to give me a Select Committee to inquire on oath as to the origin of this proposal.
– This is the funniest thing T have heard in this Chamber.
Y. - The proposal to expend ^250,000 on the most ridiculously foolish and dangerous project that has ever been put forward by a Works Department in Australia may well be characterized as funny. It is useless for Ministers to say .that the Minister of Defence thought of this stupid thing himself. Considering his knowledge of Sydney, of the properties for sale there, and of their value, it is useless for him to say that he thought of this thing himself. He must say who did it. I know that Mr. Watson was interested in the early stages of this proposition. Whether it originated with him, or with the owner of the property, is another matter.
– The honorable member says that Mr. Watson “ was interested.” What does he mean?
Y. - I mean that he was “ engaged” in the early stages of the negotiations.
– What does that mean ?
Y. - It means that he was consulting with persons, going into estimates of cost, and that he was voicing the advantages of this proposition.
– How does the honorable member know all this?
Y. - Because I was informed toy somebody whom Mr. Watson saw in reference to this very matter.
– Who was the somebody ?
Y.- I will tell the Honorary Minister outside of this Chamber if he desires the information.
– The honorable member has complained that the Minister will not give him the name of the person who originated the proposal, and yet he now declines to give me the name of the somebody whom he alleges Mr. Watson saw in reference to it.
Y. - I am not going to allow honorable members opposite to have a scapegoat for having been found out. But if they desire the facts to be elicited, let us have them inquired into upon oath, and we shall then see whether we obtain the same answers as have been given in this House in reply to questions during the past month.
– Does the honorable member know that Mr. Watson did not move in this matter at the instance of the Minister ?
Y. - I could not swear that, but if I were a punter, I should be prepared to wager a heavy amount upon it. There is not a single person an Sydney who would suspect for a moment that the Minister of Defence would be aware of what properties were for sale there, or of what depth of water was available in the hundreds of bays to be found in Sydney harbor. On the other hand, Mr. Watson was interested in the earlier stages of the proposal. He was in Sydney, he knows that city thoroughly, and is acquainted with some of the persons whose properties would have been dealt with under this proposal.
– Is the honorable member interested in the proposal?
Y. - I am. We have a property for sale there which the promoters of the scheme wished to purchase. But as soon as I learned this, I waited upon the Minister of Home Affairs, and told him that, in my humble judgment, the proposition was a fraud.
– The honorable member feared that he would not be returned if he agreed to it.
Y.- I am delighted to hear that statement. The honorable member admits that there is not a man in the eastern suburbs of Sydney who is not aware that the proposal is absolutely ridiculous.
– I did not say that.
Y. - The honorable member states that I would not be returned for the district which I represent if I stood up for this proposition. In other words, he admits that it is so egregiously silly that any person who had anything to do wilh it could hardly expect to be returned to this Parliament for the eastern suburbs of Sydney.
– I have received a communication from the Woollahra Council in regard to it.
Y.- So have I. Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence give us the fullest information as to the. origin of this proposal, instead of endeavouring to conceal it by saying in reply to questions that it emanated from “ private sources,” leaving us to infer that he will not say what were those private sources ?
– Nothing has been hidden. The honorable member has in his hand every paper in connexion with it.
Y. - And the papers do not disclose how the matter originated. The Minister’s minute, which was written just about a fortnight after Brigadier-General Gordon had denounced any proposal to remove the Victoria Barracks–
– The proposal arose out of a desire to remove the Victoria Barracks.
The people of Paddington do not care where they are located, so long as they are removed. I have three more proposals in reference to that matter which I could tell the honorable member about.
Y. - Unfortunately my time is limited. The honorable member will have an opportunity of addressing himself to this question if he desires to do so. T repeat that the proposal has been covered with secrecy from the outset. We have only one paper in connexion with it which is of any real value. It emanates from the Department of Home Affairs, where there does not appear to exist the same extraordinary desire for secrecy. The Director of Works in New South Wales was asked to submit a report in a paper headed “ Confidential.” When that report gofto the Department of Home Affairs the matter became above-board, and this paper is consequently on the file. The document in question reads -
Please regard this as extremely confidential.
– Who says that?
Y.- Mr. David Miller, the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs. Out of consideration for the Defence Department the inquiry is evidently to be regarded as “ extremely confidential,” although, afterwards, when the papers were called for, no objection was raised to placing them on the departmental file. But there must be other papers in the Defence Department.
– There are not. Even a confidential communication has been placed in the honorable member’s hands. I think he has been given too much information.
Y. - Perhaps, but certainly not by the Minister. The following is a minute by Senator Pearce in reference to this extraordinary “ wild cat “ proposition -
I understand that a site at Double Bay, a property known as Redleaf, is available.
When I asked how the Minister came to understand that, the reply I received was that he understood it from “private sources.” That is not the way in which to give information to this Chamber. The Minister ought to tell us whv he was about to do this thing. He ought not to attempt to humbug it by implying that he evolved it from his own inner consciousness, and that outside friends had nothing to do with giving him information.
– I should like to obtain from the Minister of Home Affairs some information with regard to several projects. The first is an item on page 227, “ Acquisition of sites for and erection of mobilization store buildings and drill halls” for the Defence Department. The expenditure proposed is £80,000 ; a commitment to expenditure of £300,000 is involved. Can the Minister give us some idea as to the purpose of the expenditure, and where the sites are to be obtained? On page 228 there is an item of £45,000 for the Military College. Will the Minister tell us what has already been spent, and to what extent the proposed expenditure goes towards the completion of buildings? What is the total expenditure up to date ? A third item bundles together a number of details - “ Naval colleges, naval barracks, submarine depot, naval, gunnery and torpedo school, naval training schools, sites and buildings.” On what sites are these buildings proposed to be erected? A footnote informs us that the expenditure of £50,000 is in addition to £40,000 contributed from the Dreadnought fund. I presume that the Naval College at Jervis Bay is included, but I should like to obtain details.
– The expenditure on mobilization store buildings and drill halls is necessitated by our compulsory service system. Drill halls are required in which the trainees may receive instruction during inclement weather, and upon other occasions. It is also necessary to provide stores for the accommodation of arms, equipment, &c., used by the trainees, and for other purposes.
m. - In what States are the buildings to be erected?
– The sites, have not yet been selected by the Minister of Defence, but they will be spread all. over Australia. The item in reference tonaval colleges, and so forth, includes expenditure on Osborne House, Geelong, the college at Jervis Bay, and the naval works at Westernport and Port Stephens.
– - The information which has been given by the Minister of Home Affairs is so sketchy and meagre that he has no justification for asking the Committee to votesuch large sums of money without additional particulars. There is so much doubt and hesitancy about his answers as to suggest that he, himself, has no idea of what the money is for, or where it is to be spent.
If the Minister is unable to give us information, how on earth can honorable members find it out for themselves?
y. - The Minister of Defence has not yet decided where some of these works will be carried out.
– When the Minister of Home Affairs comes down with estimates of this kind he ought to be in a position to give us a clear idea as to where works are to be carried out, and why they are required. We are told that some of the money is wanted at the Naval School at Osborne House, Geelong, but we are not informed how much money is wanted for that purpose. There are many objections against spending money on Osborne House, not the least important of which is that the place was reported upon adversely by naval experts when it was proposed to use it for a naval school,
– The naval cadets who are to man our vessels must be trained.
ON.- But we may reasonably object to the expenditure of a large sum of money upon a place which is ostensibly intended only for the temporary ‘ housing of the trainees. When a naval expert was appointed to designate a suitable place for the establishment of a naval school Osborne House was not reported upon favorably. I think that sound objections were made to it, and that the site considered most advantageous was at Burraneer Bay, Port Hacking. Osborne House was considered unsuitable.
– Not at all. The honorable member’s memory is defective.
ON.- I shall have an opportunity of re-perusing the report to refresh my memory. I know that reports were made by Captain Chambers on several suggested sites, and that the one at Burraneer Bay was preferred over all others. The Minister of Home Affairs also spoke in the most eulogistic terms of that site. Everything was going on swimmingly and Colonel Miller, or some other officer, was sent to inspect the place. All the reports were most favorable. The Prime Minister, when questioned, also referred to it as the best site in the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding all these eulogies, the site was ultimately turned down, because of the pressure of Victorian members supporting the Government, and others outside.
– That is in keeping with other statements made by the honorable member. -
ON.- It is true.
– It is absolutely incorrect.
ON.- It is absolutely true, and those sitting on either side of the honorable member will support my statement. Pressure was brought to bear from within and without.
– That statement is deliberately untrue.
ON.- That remark is personally offensive, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it.
ON. - The statement I made was that the site at Burraneer Bay had been approved, and every honorable member knows that that is so, and the honorable member himself knows it, and can see it recorded in Hansard of a few short months ago. The negotiations had actually gone to the extent of valuing the territory for the purpose of its acquisition. The Minister of Home Affairs told us that he was going to acquire the site, and the Prime Minister said that the Government were going to’ take it over. Then some of the owners of the land objected to its being taken from them, and their action assisted the Victorian section in an agitation against the selection of any site that was not in the Federal Territory. They urged that the College must not be established anywhere save in Federal Territory, and that was the plea on which the site at Burraneer Bay was turned down. At that time there was no talk about the Geelong site. It was urged that the College should be established in the Federal Territory, and a site was selected there, but that was not what the Victorian members wanted. Notwithstanding all their talk about “ a broad national outlook,” notwithstanding their contention that all Federal establishments should be erected in Federal Territory, they really desired that they should be established in and around Melbourne, and, after all, Geelong, figuratively speaking, is only a biscuit’s throw from this city. As soon as the Government, taking these honorable members seriously, decided ultimately to turn down the New South Wales site, and to establish the Naval College in Federal Territory at Jervis Bay, what happened ? By some peculiar process of working unknown to the Opposition
– Hear, hear ! It was an intellectual process.
ON. - We have heard a good deal of the undergrounding of the telephone wires, and I think that some wireless communication must have reached the Government through the same channel, inasmuch as it was suddenly announced that they were going to establish a temporary Naval College at Osborne House, Geelong. When that announcement was made, did we hear anything from these honorable members regarding the necessity for taking “ a broad national outlook “ ? Not a word. Did we hear any of them say that the College must be established in Federal Territory ? Not one. As long as it was to be established in Geelong they were satisfied. The Government could erect every factory and institution required by the Commonwealth at Geelong without hearing a word from these honorable members about the necessity for taking a “broad national outlook.” ‘The more money we expend upon these temporary premises, the stronger will be the argument later on for their permanent use as a Naval College. The honorable member for Bourke, speaking in this House on 7th November last, said, as reported in Hansard, Vol. LXI., page 2295-
I have no wish to inconvenience the Government, which I support, but I have always understood that the Military College and the Naval College would be established in Federal Territory. I thought that the Naval College was to be at Jervis Bay, and in communication with the Military College ; although there is no statement to that effect on the Estimates, I assumed that that was intended.
I need not quote the rest of the paragraph.
– Does the rest of the paragraph tell against the honorable member?
ON. - Since the honorable member makes that insinuation, I shall make a further quotation from the honorable member for Bourke’s speech, as follows -
If the Federal Territory is to be of any value, it ought to be developed. If there was any justification for the establishment of a Military College at Yass-Canberra, then all the arguments advanced by the Ministry in favour of its location there must apply equally to the establishment of the Naval College within Federal Territory.
At page 2296 we have this statement by the Postmaster-General -
The Minister, to the best of my knowledge and belief, appointed a Committee to select the most suitable site on which to establish a Naval College to train the youth of Australia who are ultimately to be drafted into the Australian Navy. The Committee selected .a site the sum of ,£43,000 was made available, and we now submit an item to give effect to the proposal in order that we may have the officers and men necessary for our Navy.
That was a reference to the site near Port Hacking, to which I have already alluded. Although that site was reported upon as the most suitable for the purpose, the Government, yielding to the various opinions expressed by some of their supporters, and the .pressure of Victorian criticism from some other quarters, turned it down, and said that they would establish the College at Jervis Bay. The last thing that these Victorians desired, however, was the provision of this, or any other Federal requirement, in Federal Territory. What they desired was the spending of money in Victoria. The present proposal was then brought forward. Certain influences were at work, the result of which was that Osborne House was ultimately selected on the plea that it was necessary to establish a temporary College. On that plea, the Geelong site was selected, and the Government now propose to spend more money on it. The Estimates do not show how much is to be spent.
– They do. I shall point out the item to the honorable member when we reach it.
ON.- The item is included with a number of others under the heading, “ Various States and Federal Territory,” and it reads as. follows -
Naval Colleges, Naval Barracks, Submarine Dep6t, Naval Gunnery and Torpedo School, Naval Training School, Sites and Buildings - Towards cost, ^50,000.
– About £8,000 will be required for this work.
ON.- When this money has been expended to fit this building for the use to which it is to be temporarily put, we shall find that, as soon as a proposal is made to remove the trainees, honorable members who are so ready to declare that this expenditure should be in Federal territory will argue that it would be a pity, since so much money had been expended on this building, to allow it to go for nothing. That will be used as an argument to keep Osborne House in permanent occupation as a Naval Training College. I have no doubt that is what is intended. I shall oppose this item. We have had no reasons submitted for the expenditure of this money on premises of a temporary character. It would be far more to the purpose to vote the amount asked for to secure the more rapid completion of the permanent Naval Training College at Jervis Bay. Money must be spent for this purpose, and it should be spent where the College is ultimately to be established. We should not fritter away thousands of pounds on temporary establishments in and around . the temporary Seat of Government. Another matter about which I should like to have some information is the works at Westernport. I understand that some of this money is to be expended at Westernport.
– Westernport is to be a naval base.
ON.- Perhaps the Honorary Minister can give us the information we require, since the Minister of Home Affairs does not seem to know very much about the item.
– The Minister gave the information.
ON.- He told us that some of this money was to be expended on Osborne House, and some on works at Westernport ; but not what works are to be carried out there?
– A barracks will have to be erected, dredging must be done, and other necessary works for a naval base.
ON.- It would be very much more satisfactory if the detailed items were set out, so that we might know what we are voting for. I think that the Minister representing the Minister of Defence should be supplied with a statement of the details of this proposed expenditure. Apparently the honorable gentleman has not the information which honorable members require to justify their action in voting the large sums of money required for these works. If, when our constituents ask us what this money was voted for, we are unable to tell them, we shall be placed in a very unsatisfactory position. They have sent us here to represent them, and they will be justified in saying that we have been very careless in dealing with the finances of the country if we have voted money for purposes of which we are entirely ignorant. I do not say that we should have details of every item of expenditure proposed, but we should know the nature of the works upon which _ the money is to be spent. There is another item to which reference might be made - “ Woollen Mills - Acquisition of Site, and Construction of Building - Towards cost, £8,000.” Where are these mills to be established ? There is nothing in these Estimates to supply that information. The item is included under the heading “ Various States and Federal Territory.” Are we to have woollen mills established in several of the States and in the Federal Territory, or are they to be established at one spot in a particular State?
– There is only one spot - Geelong.
ON.- I ask the Minister to say whether that is so. Will he tell the Committee what is the estimated total cost of the aquisition of the site and the erection of the mills. The vote now under consideration is only a vote on account, and gives no hint of what will be the ultimate cost under this heading. These woollen mills, again, should be established in Federal territory. Why does not the honorable member for Corio, who views these matters from a “broad national standpoint,” raise his voice against the establishment of these mills at Geelong? Here is the honorable member’s opportunity. I should have expected him to say, in dealing with this vote, “ I had not the slightest idea that this item v.as on the Estimates. I am amazed to find that it is proposed to spend this money in my district. I am not a provincialist, but a nationalist. From the broad national point of view, therefore, I ask that this item should be struck out of the Estimates, and the money expended in the Federal Territory, in acordance with my previously expressed principles.” If all the Victorians have a “broad national outlook,” surely the honorable member will not let that outlook be bounded by the confines of Corio Bay. I cannot believe that he belongs to that parish pump type of politician whose views are so circumscribed. Let us see whether there is that patriotism in his composition about which we have heard so much, and whether he is statesman enough to rise to the occasion, and demand that these works shall be placed in Federal Territory. I await with expectancy the speech of the honorable member, in order to learn how far his patriotism and nationalism extend, and how much sincerity there is behind this cry we have heard so frequently and so loudly from the Victorian section about taking a “ broad national outlook” in regard to this public expenditure. I have read the report submitted, and it seems to me that there has not been sufficient inspection of the Federal Territory by the expert, Mr. Smail ; that a number of districts within the Federal Territory which are suitable for woollen mills have net been visited by him. Before this money is expended, there ought to be more complete investigation, in order that we may have a more reliable report on which to form1 a judgment. The claim that there is not sufficient water in the Territory is absolutely discounted by the records of the gauges of the various rivers, which show an abundant supply for electric lighting, the domestic use of a large population, and all other purposes. There is not only one source of supply, but several, seeing that there are six or eight rivers and watercourses ; and to suggest that there is a scarcity is a view which cannot be substantiated by other reliable engineers’ reports in possession of the Committee. I move -
That the item, “Woollen Mills … towards . cost, ^8,000,” be left out.
– Permit me to express my deep regret that the honorable member for Wentworth, owing to ill-health, is temporarily absent from the chamber. I should have much preferred him to be present, in order to hear what I have to say in reply to his extraordinary effort this afternoon at sensationalism - an effort that really amounted to an attempt at misrepresentation in so far as the Paddington Military Barracks are concerned. He seems to have associated with this matter some idea of secrecy - some idea of an expenditure of £250,000 or thereabouts, and of keeping back papers and withholding names. All of these are mere figments of his imagination.
k. - No, no; do not say that.
– Those ideas of the honorable member have no foundation in fact. So far as I can gather, the honorable member has been given some information by a certain person, or persons, whom he point-blank refused to name this afternoon when asked. The Ministerial position can be very shortly stated. There are barracks at Paddington, New South Wales ; and the Paddington Municipal Council, for a considerable time past, has been urging their removal.
– For twenty-five years.
S.- Well, for a considerable time past ; and this Ministry is not the first that has been applied to. The Municipal Council of Paddington has invoked the aid of the New South Wales Ministers ; and the reply of the Commonwealth Government is that if the municipal council, in conjunction with the State Government or anybody else, can place the
Federal Government, so far as site, buildings, and all conveniences are concerned, in as good a position as they now occupy, the Government will favorably consider the question of removal. Much correspondence has taken place, all of which is on the file, and all of which has been in the hands of the honorable member for Wentworth for a considerable time. That honorable member has submitted certain questions, the whole of which have been as fully replied to as it is possible for the Minister ot Defence to reply to them. Some few months ago, when the Minister of Defence was in Sydney, he was, as pointed out in some of the replies given, in conversation, I believe, with Mr. Flowers, a member of the State Ministry; and this question is a public one, all over New South Wales, at any rate. Some third person happened to be present at this interview, and overheard a portion of the conversation; and that person is stated by the Minister to have said in casual terms, “ If you are thinking of making an alteration there appears to be a good property known as Redleaf.”
– Who made that suggestion?
S.- That the Minister of Defence declines to say. The Minister himself paid a cursory visit to the place, and then instructed Brigadier-General Gordon, the State Commandant, to inspect and report. Nothing further has been done in any way - good, bad, or indifferent - and there is no secrecy.
– Has any price been named ?
S.- Not that I know of - no. It was a casual reference to the property. Some report has been furnished by the State Commandant, and is amongst the papers, all of which the honorable member for Wentworth has had access to. There the whole matter ends. I desire to say again that there has been no secrecy, and no withholding of papers. Even confidential papers, which are not generally laid on the table of the House, have been placed at the disposal of the honorable member for Wentworth, and his questions have been frankly replied to. The name of the third person who happened to be present, and casually mentioned Redleaf, has not been given to the honorable member; and the Minister of Defence accepts full responsibility for witholding it.
– We know who it was.
S.- The honorable member may; I do not. The honorable member for Richmond seems to be in possession of information that I, at any rate, have not.
– The Honorary Minister knows the name as well as I do.
S.- The honorable member is mistaken ; and he ought not to make that assertion. I do not know; no name has been mentioned to me. I am not acquainted with the name of the person who is reported by the Minister to have casually mentioned this property, Redleaf.
– Could the HonoraryMinister not guess it?
S.- No, I could not; I know nothing whatever about the matter. The honorable member for Wentworth asserts that he knows, and has this afternoon mentioned a name. He further said that he is in possession of certain information; but when I asked him from whom he got it he point-blank refused to give the name.
– So does the Honorary Minister.
S.- I think that the honorable member for Wentworth is well within his rights in withholding the name in the circumstances; for really there is nothing at present to worry about. Not a penny has been expended, no guarantee of expenditure in any shape or form has been made by the Minister. He has not proposed to do anything in the matter up to the present moment, further than in a general sense to say, as I mentioned before, that if the Paddington Council can place the Federal Government in exactly as good a position in respect to sites, barracks, and buildings as they now occupy at Paddington, he will favorably consider the proposal, which has been made for many years.
– The site at Double Bay is not a fourth or a fifth of the size of the Victoria Barracks at Paddington.
S.- I do not know the size of either the barracks or Redleaf.
– Redleaf is a private residence, while the barracks occupy some acres of ground.
S.- It seems to me that there is nothing wrong in certain persons or public bodies submitting particular properties which, in their opinion, would put the Federal Government in an equally favorable position.
– The Victoria Barracks occupy a very large non-ratepaying area in the middle of a thickly-populated suburb.
S.- I understand all that. The Minister permits me to make a brief reference to some remarks without any connexion with the item respecting drill halls under immediate consideration. On Friday the Ministry were charged with not erecting a sufficient number of drill halls. There was a general complaint about laxity or indifference in this matter. The item before the Committee provides for the expenditure of money on the erection of drill halls. But, as honorable members will understand, it is impossible for us to say precisely where every drill hall will be erected during the next year. At the same time, it is essential that the Minister should be in a financial position to erect a drill hall the very moment that its necessity has been pointed out and a site located.
– What proportion of this item of £80,000 before the Committee will be expended in the erection of drill halls?
S.- It is impossible for me to answer the question. The sites for the drill halls have not yet been selected, but the general policy of the Ministry is to protect the lads from inclement weather, to keep them as far as possible away from the streets, as well as to insure that the drilling shall be more effective and the instruction better given. The very moment that sites are selected, and the necessary specifications and plans are provided, drill halls will be erected in particular places.
– Will the Minister give a preference to areas where there is a heavy rainfall ?
S.- I should say that the Minister necessarily would. Personally, it is of no consequence to him whether a drill hall is erected in Western Australia or in the division of Richmond. If the exigencies of the case demand that the latter shall be given the preference, I have not the shadow of a doubt that the Minister, being absolutely impartial, will readily fall in with an arrangement in that direction. I hope that, in the circumstances, honorable members will recognise that the Minister is not asking for a penny too much for this purpose.
– Can the honorable gentleman give the Committee an idea of the localities where it is proposed to spend this money ?
S. - Eighty thousand pounds is the departmental estimate of the expenditure which will be required throughout the Commonwealth during the current financial year.
– Can the honorable gentleman give us an idea of the States where the money is likely to be expended?
– What I do not quite understand about these Estimates is that, while a large amount of the money for expenditure on drill halls is itemized, we are now asked to vote a lump sum of £80,000 for the erection of drill halls anywhere. I do not suggest that there is anything wrong in the amount, or in the method of presenting the Estimates, but we are asked to vote a sum for a drill hall here and a drill hall there, and then to vote a lump sum for drill halls anywhere.
s. - Where a separate item appears on the Estimates the Minister has approved of the erection of a drill hall on a. site which has been decided upon. Applications for drill halls are coming in, and will continue to come in.
– Is it proposed to spend the whole of this item of £80,000 during the present year?
– That is the intention of the Minister of Defence. He believes that the requirements will absorb that amount.
K.- It seems to me that the Minister’s explanation does not quite fit the facts. I know one or two cases where there are large improvements asked for in rifle ranges, and all sorts of expenditure have been required and promised There is no allusion here to these matters, but, as to other places, we find the items set out in full detail. It seems to me tobe an unusual way of presenting this large vote. I suggest to the Honorary Minister that he might take a note of this criticism for the preparation of the next Estimates.
– I have already mentally decided to bring the matter under the Minister’s immediate notice.
K.- This method of presenting the Estimates looks invidious, to say the least of it. In some cases all the details are given as well as the amount of money to be spent, but in this case we are asked to vote £80,000 for the Minister to spend where and how he likes.
-It is anticipated that it will take £300,000 to build the various drill halls.
K.- I am not talking about the footnote on page 227, but about the item of £80,000, which we are asked to vote without being furnished with the slightest details; nor have we heard a word about the sites for mobilization store buildings. Will the Minister say where these are to be erected ?
– They will be put up in different parts of Australia.
K.- What does the Minister of Home Affairs know about this matter ?
– I have gone into it.
K.- I hope that included in this vote for erecting store buildings, is not the shed which the Minister purposes to build at Darwin, as to which absolute preference to unionists is to prevail.
– The honorable member does not object to preference to unionists?
K.- I object to this Government preferring one citizen over another. I say that unequivocally. Every citizen is in this union. Every citizen pays into its funds, and takes responsibility for it, and, therefore, no preference of one member of this union over another member of the same union should be given. As to the criticism of the Honorary Minister of the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth, I do not hesitate to say that, were I as intimately associated with one of the sites as he is, and were it, in addition, in my electorate, I should feel bound to probe the matter to the bottom. He believes that an examination of the water adjoining the proposed site will show that it is unsuitable, and asks the pertinent question : Who proposed the acquisition of the site? The Minister has produced the papers, but on them there is no suggestion as to who first brought the matter forward. There are one or two points which merit attention. Brigadier-General Gordon would not look at the site at first, but a few weeks later reported it to be admirable for the purpose required. He knew the site all the time and the locality.
– He disapproved of it.
K.- Yes; but afterwards made a favorable report on it.
– That is rather a serious charge against the Brigadier-General
K. - If the Honorary Minister has read the papers, he knows that what I am stating is true. In the first place, Brigadier-General Gordon said he did not consider the site to be a suitable one ; but a little later, when instructed by the Minister to report on it, he declared it to be a good site.
– Was he sent to make a report in the first instance ?
K.- About that I am not quite clear.
– Perhaps, in the meanwhile, he had examined the site?
K.- An explanation should be given to us. There cannot be too much detail in any explanation relating to the acquisition of private property by Ministers of the Crown.
– This property has not been acquired, and the Minister does not propose to acquire it.
K.- I understand that it has not been acquired, and that nothing has been done.
– Absolutely nothing.
K.- Is nothing to be done?
– I do not know the Minister’s personal opinion about the place; but, so far as I can gather, no.
K.- The existence of the Victoria Barracks in Paddington is an old grievance, and if another site equally serviceable can be obtained, the sooner the Paddington site can be given up the better. It is not quite proper that a barracks should be situatedin a populous suburb, where land is extremely valuable, and if equal facilities can be provided elsewhere, it will be the duty of the Government to surrender the present site to the local authorities, so that the development of Sydney may not be retarded.
– That is, in effect, the position taken up by the Minister.
K.- Yes; and I commend him for his attitude.
– What about surrendering the barracks site on the St. Kilda-road? That land is valuable.
K. - No doubt. The Minister is right in saying that the Department must not be put to inconvenience, and its work must not be fettered or hindered by any removal. Those seem reasonable conditions. The. proposal was made that the property known as Redleaf should be acquired. I understandthat the honorable member for Wentworth has mentioned the names of private individuals in connexion with this matter. His remarks indicate that the thing is not quite as simple as the Honorary Minister would have us believe. The honorable member for Wentworth would not make statements which he had not ground for thinking to be correct.
– The trouble is that he imputed motives.
K.- If the facts are as stated, the fullest and most searching inquiry is needed. It all comes of the Minister not having replied frankly, plainly, and fully to the honorable member’s question as to who are at the bottom of the proposed exchange, which would not be to the advantage of the Department. That is what needs probing. For the rest, I commend the Minister for his attitude regarding the barracks. It is the attitude that I and every other Minister of recent years has adopted. We have said, “ So long as the work of the Department is not impeded, if a site equally good for our purposes is found, we are willing not to stand in the way of the development of Sydney.” The Minister should keep an open mind. He should not tie himself down in any way to any particular proposal. I know that it is difficult to get a piece of land which is equally good for our purposes.
– Would the honorable member surrender this valuable site to the council ?
K.- That is a matter the final determination of which may very well be left till all the facts are available. The Minister should not commit himself to any course of action until the complete proposition is before him. He will then weigh one fact against another. He will consider the interests of the Commonwealth as the owner of the land, the relationship of the Commonwealth to the municipal authority, and also its relationship to the new site which has been offered. The question of finance would only come into the final adjustment of the matter. It is one of those questions which do not need to be treated in a merely business spirit. So many factors will operate that the Minister will do well not to commit himself beforehand, except to the broad principle that he does not wish to stand in the way of the development of the city so long as the work of his Department is not impeded.
. -I am in favour of striking out the item of £8,000 which it is proposed to expend upon the acquisition of a site for the Commonwealth Woollen Mills. When the report upon this matter was before the House, it was distinctly stated that the Geelong Harbor Trust would give the Commonwealth 10 acres of land free, and also water free. Consequently, I cannot understand why this item appears on the Estimates.
n. - We have to pay for the transfer, I suppose?
– It would be a very costly transfer if it involved an expenditure of £8,000.
– These few words were in print before we were aware that the land was to be given to the Commonwealth without payment.
N. - Then the whole matter must have been fixed up before the expert started out to inspect the list of eligible sites.
– The £8,000 is for the “ acquisition of a site and the construction of buildings.”
N. - If the site is to be given to the Commonwealth, where is the necessity for the item? Some explanation other than that we have received appears to be necessary. At Liverpool, in my own electorate, there is a site which is a Commonwealth property, and where the Government could have had water free for all time. I am of opinion that the country could have been saved the expense of sending the expert all over Australia. His inspection has been a farce. Two sites in Queensland were brought under the notice of the Minister some time ago, and the representatives of the districts in which they are located were informed by him that the expert would probably report upon them. They were given that information upon a date subsequent to that upon which his report had been completed, and forwarded to the Minister. These facts justify me in saying that the whole matter appears to have been fixed up beforehand. Consequently, I shall support the striking out of the item.
Mr. WEST (East Sydney) rS-37]- I regret that honorable members cannot discuss questions which demand their attention without reflecting on individuals outside of this House, merely for the purpose of scoring political points. The question of the removal of the Victoria Barracks from Paddington is one which has seriously exercised the minds of the councillors of that suburb for some time owing to the large area of road and footpath round that building which they have to maintain.
– There is only an ordinary street.
T.- Oxford-street is woodblocked, whereas Oatley-road and Green’sroad are merely asphalted and kerbed and guttered on both sides. I assure the honorable member that I can look after the interests of East Sydney without assistance from anybody else. I know the she which has been suggested for the barracks at Double Bay very well. I have no hesitation in affirming that by purchasing a portion of the landed property there, and by reclaiming an area which is now under water, we could make one of the finest parade grounds to be found in any part of the world. Such an undertaking would also provide facilities to persons on the other side of the harbor to cross over to the south side by water.
– Why would the people of North Sydney wish to cross over there?
T. - The great objection to the proposed site is that it is not in the centre of population. The barracks that we require for our Permanent Forces ought to be as near to a centre of population as possible, because we have also to consider our cadets, the ambulance corps, and the nursing corps, all of whom have to travel backwards and forwards to a particular place to receive their training. If the barracks are to be removed from their present site - and I Know that is the desire of the electors whom I represent - they ought to be removed to a centre of population so as to afford the best possible facilities to compulsory trainees. However, I believe that the Government do not intend to go on with the project which was mentioned by the honorable member for Wentworth, whom I should have liked to have been present.
– He is not well.
T. - I am sorry to hear that, and I regret his absence from the chamber. I am afraid that some are more anxious to devise an electioneering dodge than to look after the interests of the country. Coming to another matter I dare say that many New South Wales members will be astonished at the attitude I take up in regard to the Commonwealth Woollen Mills. But I have no hesitation in saying that if I had been in the position of the expert appointed to inquire into this matter I should have reported in exactly the same fashion as he has done. He puts the case very plainly, and no honorable member who is not biased, or actuated by party feelings, will hesitate to come to the conclusion that his report is based on practical knowledge. It is said, that the Woollen Mills should have been located in the Federal Territory. As a man who has’been acquainted with sanitary engineering all his life, I say, without hesitation, that there is no place within the Federal area where woollen mills could have been erected.
– Rubbish !
T. - The refuse and drainage from a mill of this description require to be removed so that they may not become a source of injury to the lives of people. What system of drainage is capable of being carried out in the Federal area under present circumstances? Where are the habitations for the workers in the mills to occupy? We shall have to employ numbers of girls and youths who will have to be trained to the woollen industry. We could not get the necessary labour within the Capital area. I give the Government credit for their decision in this matter. They have determined that each of these Federal enterprises shall stand on its own basis. The manager has to show that he can manufacture woollen articles such as are required by the Defence Force, at a cost which is not in excess of that for which they can be manufactured by private firms. I believe the actual cost will be much lower, but the manager could not obtain such results if he has to overcome obstacles in the matter of labour and sanitation. Moreover, if the factory were established at the Federal Capital, there would be no facilities for conveying material to various portions of Australia when made up. No doubt honorable members opposite would be very glad to have the opportunity of showing that this Federal industry was a failure from the point of view of cost of production. But that is not our object. 1 have spoken as one who has been returned to this Parliament to devote such abilities as he has to the service of my country. I believe the people of East Sydney will appreciate a member who looks to the country’s interests first, and does not merely try to fly party balloons which will be pricked immediately after the election.
– The honorable member believes in Caucus first and country afterwards.
T. - The honorable member for Parkes could not get the people of East Sydney to accept him at all events. Would he not like to have the “ opportunity of claiming that our so-called Socialistic schemes had proved a failure, as would be the case if the Woollen Mills were not established at a suitable site? The Minister of Home Affairs has shown sound business ability in adopting the expert’s report. No Minister, indeed, with such a report staring him in the face could conscientiously have acted otherwise. Evidently the expert - whom I do not know - is well fitted for his position. He has brought sound knowledge to bear upon the problem, and has reported to the best of his judgment. I am not acquainted with Geelong. I have never been there. I have no personal interest in this matter, because I am well aware that there is no suitable site in East Sydney. But I believe that the Government have come to a wise decision. I am glad to know that the Government are in earnest in reference to the barracks at Paddington. The late Government did nothing in the matter. I have earned credit as being the only live member who has ever represented East Sydney, and who has got anything for the constituency. I believe that the Government are with me in the matter, and that, at the earliest moment, the barracks will be shifted, and the present area turned into one for business or habitations. I regret the exhibition which the honorable member for Wentworth has made over this subject. Those who look at it calmly will realize that what is proposed is wise. The Redleaf site might be made into a splendid one for the purpose without great cost. I know the shores of Sydney Harbor, and know the property well. I am aware that the Woollahra Council are up in arms on the subject, as are also the Paddington Council. Both fear that the roads in their districts will be much injured through the removal of material from one place to another. I quite sympathize with them in that respect. A number of gentlemen who have palatial residences in the neighbourhood of Redleaf are also concerned. The site is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. It is one of the finest residential parts of Sydney, and house-owners there fear that the building of a barracks in the district will destroy the value of their property. They are quite justified in drawing attention to that aspect of the matter, and I am prepared, as I am sure every honorable member is, to assist them. But f cannot use language strong enough to condemn this attempt, on the part of the honorable member for Wentworth, to try to belittle a gentleman who believes that he is doing something in the interests of the country. Presuming that that gentleman believed that he would be doing something in the interests of the Defence Forces by causing the present barracks to be removed to another site, he had a right to take action, and slurs should not be cast at him. Innuendoes should not be made to the effect that he took this action because he thought it would be of some financial use to him. Public questions should not be treated in that way. We should take a broader view of public matters. 1 hope that, instead of casting slurs upon each other in this House, we shall all try to work in the best interests of the people, and that honorable members will deal with possibilities, and not suggest impossibilities, with a view of endeavouring to create the impression that there is something dirty involved in the action of the Government. I am satisfied that there is nothing dirty in this matter, and honorable members ought not to resort to such tactics. Suggestions of such a character should be treated with contempt. If an honorable member has not obtained a truthful statement concerning any public question, he should not set out on a fishing inquiry, with a view of casting aspersions on others who are doing that which they believe to be in the best interests of the community. Parliamentary life would be greatly improved if honorable members refrained from making imputations that have no foundation in fact - imputations the making of which show that they have diseased minds, and are not fit to represent the people of Australia.
– I had not the privilege of hearing the speech made by the honorable member for Wentworth, to which such heated reference has just been made by the honorable member for East Sydney. The honorable member for East Sydney, according to his own statement, is so capable of looking after the affairs of his electorate that I do not propose to assist him in that work ; but I wish to point out the miserable failure of his attempt to whitewash his own action and that of the Government in connexion with the selection of a site for the Commonwealth Woollen Mills. Although he protests that he is acting in the best interests of the country, and that he does not view these matters from a parochial stand-point, the electors of, not only East Sydney, but New South Wales as a whole, will want to know why various sites in that S:ate. which were submitted to the expert, were not examined by him. The honorable member for Nepean twice stated in this House that the Government expert was “ nobbled “ before he left Melbourne to make his inspection - that he was not permitted to make a full examination before he came to a determination as to the most suitable site.
k. - Did the honorable member for Nepean say that the expert had been “ nobbled “?
– Yes ; he said twice that the expert was “ nobbled “ before leaving Melbourne - that the matter was fixed up before he left this city. That is a very serious statement, especially when made by an honorable member supporting the Government. Are Ministers prepared to sit quietly under such a grave accusation coming as it does from one of their own members? The Government cannot allow to go by the board the charge made by one of their own supporters, that they “nobbled” this expert; that the whole matter was fixed up before he left Melbourne; that it was only a farce to send him on tour, and that he did not investigate sites which, in the opinion of many, are superior to that which has been selected. I support the honorable member in the view that it is a disgrace that the expert was not allowed to visit sites that were prominently brought before him. The Government have declared that their policy is to establish ‘ all Commonwealth factories and Federal institutionswithin the Federal Territory itself. It was in accordance with that principle that a site for the Naval College was selected at Jervis Bay. But in this case the Government expert was not even sent to inspect the Federal Territory. It is ridiculous for the honorable member for East Sydney to say that in a territory comprising 900 square miles it is impossible to find a place where the refuse from a woollen mill could be discharged.
– What about the Marrickville mills?
R. - The Marrickville woollen mills are in the centre of one of the most thickly-populated parts of Sydney.
– But Marrickville has a drainage system.
R. - Is it impossible tohave any drainage in the Federal Territory? I cannot understand why the honorable member should do an injustice to his own State and to the policy of his party by declaring that there is not in the whole of the Federal Territory a spot where the refuse from a woollen mill could be properly drained. Such a statement will not bear investigation. The honorable member supports the statement of the expert that he visited the Federal Territory, but I say that he did not do so; he visited only one portion of it. It is true, as the honorable member has said, that the expert visited Yass-Canberra, but he did not go to that portion of the territory which the Commonwealth Government insisted on taking over, with full sovereign rights, from the Government of New South Wales. He did not go within 150 or 200 miles of it, and it is therefore begging the whole question to say that he went to the Federal Territory to look for a site for the Commonwealth Woollen Mills. The municipal authorities of Wollongong and the Progress Association at Port Kembla brought before the Minister the suitability of a site for the .woollen mills in that district, yet when the honorable member for Nepean and I saw the expert at the Commonwealth offices, Sydney - at a time when he could easily have inspected the proposed site there - he knew nothing about it. He did not even know that it had been brought before the Ministry. Why was that site overlooked? This fact appears to bear out the strong accusation made against the Government by the honorable member for Nepean, that the expert was “ nobbled “ before he left Melbourne. The honorable member for East Sydney referred to the difficulty in the way of securing workmen for the Woollen Mills at the Federal Territory, but if that line of argument is to be pursued we shall have no factories there whatever.
– There would have been no trouble had Dalgety, where there is a good water supply, been selected as the site of the Federal Capital.
R.- There is a good water supply there, and in the Federal Territory there is one of the best that is to be found. It is all very well for the honorable member, who is another provincial Victorian, to suggest a lack of water in the Federal Territory. Since the Territory came under the control of the Commonwealth, absolute tests carried out by the Home Affairs Department have more than justified the statements of the experts at the time we decided upon Yass-Canberra as the site for the Federal Capital.
– The rainfall statistics do not show that.
R.- That kind of statement may go down with the electors of Wannon, but it shows that the. honorable member is not serious, or is not very careful about the statements he makes.
– A sneer at provincialism does not become the honorable gentleman very well, because he is now asking that the mills should be established in his own State.
R. - I am asking the Government and their supporters to carry out their own policy, and establish the mills in the Federal Territory, and not in the State of New South Wales; but if sites outside the Territory are inspected, the sites suggested in New South Wales ought to have been visited and reported on.
– It is not a matter of provincialism, but of alleged corruption.
R. - It is more than merely alleged corruption. We have had a statement definitely made by the honorable member for Nepean to the effect that corruption has taken place in connexion with this matter. We could not have a stronger accusation of corruption than the statement bv a supporter of the Government that the expert who was supposed to go around the country to select a suitable site for a woollen mill was “nobbled “ before he left the city of Melbourne.
– Shameful !
R. - The Honorary Minister would better consult the dignity of 4»s position by resenting such a statement in the strongest possible terms than by laughing at it.
– Does the honorable member believe the statement himself?
R.- I believe that what the honorable member for Nepean has stated is correct, and that it was a fixed-up job before the expert left Melbourne.
– The honorable member is barracking for his own constituency.
R. - I am not so keen about that sort of thing as is the honora”ble member for Maribyrnong. Looking through these Estimates, I find no less than six different votes fixed up for Maribyrnong. That makes me disposed to think that the honorable member has been very keen to consider the wishes of his constituents. This fixedup job seems to have been arranged to suit the honorable member for Corio.
The CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member is not in order in speaking of it as a “ fixed-up job.”
– Does the honorable member say that it is a “ fixed-up job “?
R. - I am repeating the words of the honorable member for Nepean. I have not the evidence on which to make a definite statement. Perhaps the Honorary Minister has evidence to prove that it was a fixed-up job. I have to depend on the statement of the honorable member for Nepean, and on the action taken by the expert. I understand that representatives of Tasmania have a grievance in connexion with this matter also, but I am able to say that when the expert visited New South Wales he did not inspect some of the sites brought under his notice, and he certainly did not visit the Federal Territory to see whether a suitable site for the purpose could be discovered there.
– The dear old Mamma State is being treated badly.
R. - In view of the way in which the honorable member for East Sydney has given the interests of the State away, it is about time that something was said for New South Wales. The” vote before the Committee covers expenditure for naval colleges, naval barracks, a submarine dep6t, and other purposes. I had not the privilege of hearing the statement by the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, but I understand that he did not refer to the permanent Naval Training College at Jervis Bay. I would ask the honorable gentleman to say now whether any of this vote is to be expended on the permanent Naval College at Jervis Bay, or whether the whole of it is to be expended on the temporary College at Geelong.
– It is the honorable gentleman’s fault that he was not here when I was speaking.
R. - Of course, we ought all to be present when this superior Minister is addressing the Chamber.
– The honorable gentleman will agree that a Minister cannot be expected to make a statement in reply to every honorable member who chooses to speak.
R.- The Minister might very easily answer the question I put to him. If the whole of the money is to be spent on the temporary College at Geelong, and none on the permanent College at Jervis Bay, that will be a gross breach of faith.
– Only £8,000 is to be spent at Geelong.
R. - And how much on the permanent College at Jervis Bay?
– The balance.
R. - That can not be so, because there are other works included in the vote. I repeat that if none of this money is to be spent on the permanent College at Jervis Bay that will be a gross breach of faith on the part of the Government. In connexion with these matters, Ministers would appear to be merely the creatures of their environment. They are influenced in every matter by the fact that the Parliament meets in Melbourne. In the first instance, Geelong was selected as the site of the Naval Training College, and it was only after the visit of the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Home Affairs to Jervis Bay That that place was selected. They had never seen the place before. They had opposed the establishment of the College at Jervis Bay in the previous Parliament, but after visiting the place they were delighted with it, and considered it the finest site they had seen for the purpose. They would not at the time give a definite answer as to whether the College would be established there. They came back to Melbourne, and a Cabinet meeting was held. I have the result of that meeting in a letter from the Minister of Defence to the effect that the Naval College, both temporary and permanent, should be established at Jervis Bay. But a movement was started again in Victoria, with the result that Victorian influence was sufficiently strong to secure the establishment of a temporary College at Geelong. So far as I can see, it is not the intention of the Government now to devote any of this money to the establishment of the permanent College at Jervis Bay. This is a departure altogether from the announced policy of the Government. The honorable member for South Sydney is as much annoyed about this breach of faith in connexion .with the Woollen Mills as is the honorable member for Nepean. I hope that these honorable members will not be advised by the honorable member for East Sydney, but will insist that before the Government establish the Woollen Mills at” Geelong the expert shall be required to visit the sites which have been referred to in New South Wales, and also to visit possible sites in other States. I am not speaking specially for New South Wales, but for the Federal Territory. The woollen factory ought to be established within the Capital area ; or, if it be established outside, all the States should have a fair deal in the choice of the site. The expert ought to be so instructed by the Government before this expenditure is entered upon at Geelong, to visit the sites submitted to the Government.
.- I have listened to the honorable member for Illawarra with some surprise. The honorable member poses here as a Nationalist, and says that he does not appeal for New South Wales, but is only desirous of having the mill established within the Federal Territory. The other day the honorable member spoke in a similar strain; and, according to Hansard, said -
All these big questions, affecting the establishment of- factories or other undertakings necessary to the defence of Australia and other purposes, and belonging to the Federation, ought to be dealt with from a national point of view, independent altogether of the particular State affected.
r. - Hear, hear !
– It is all very well to say’ “ Hear, hear “ ; but, in the same speech, the honorable member went on to say -
While not expressing an opinion on the climatic conditions necessary for the establishment of a woollen mill - that being a matter for an expert to decide - I consider that the site at Port Kembla absolutely fulfils, better than any other place in the Commonwealth, the other seven conditions which Mr. Smail lays down.
There is the Nationalist ! If the Woollen Mill had been established in the honorable member’s own electorate, he would not have said a word. Mr. Smail, when he came to Australia,’ was told by the Government to first go to Yass-Canberra, and see if it were possible to select a site there. One of the conditions that the expert was instructed to observe was the quality of the water and its quantity ; and we know that in the Capital area the water is hard.
– Nonsense !
E. - It is all very well to say “nonsense”; but has the honorable member had the water analyzed or tested? The expert distinctly tells us that the water in the Territory is not suitable, whereas in Geelong it is known to be soft and adapted to the manufacture of woollens. Further, in Geelong there is a permanent supply, not only from a reticulated service, but from the river. Of course, in winter time there is an abundant supply of water at Yass-Canberra, but in the summer the rivers become a mere series of waterholes.
– That is not true.
E.- The .statement is true; and, moreover, the water supply for the Capital city will have to be brought from a great distance. I am pleased to see, however, that the New South Wales repre- sentatives are not all parochialists, but that there is one broad-minded Nationalist amongst them. I have to compliment the honorable member for East Sydney, who stated this afternoon, as an expert, that, from a sanitary point of view, the -Capital site is impracticable. That view I must accept on the authority of a gentleman whom I admit to be an expert. Mr. Smail was directed to make his inquiries under certain conditions, as follows -
Proximity to wool markets. Railway and shipping facilities. Condition of labour market. Geographical position as a distributing centre. Local conditions, re efficient and economical working.
Keeping these instructions in mind, Mr. Smail visited some thirty-three centres, and many honorable members, in their places in the House, asked that he should be directed to inspect other places. Why did the honorable member for Illawarra not avail himself of the opportunity to place the possibilities of Port Kembla before the Government ?
– I had not returned from England, but the municipality of Woollongong brought the matter prominently before the Government.
E.- That was too late; and if the honorable member, instead of attending to the needs of his constituency, was holiday-making in another country-
– Nothing of the sort; I was representing my country at the Coronation.
E.- The manager of the Woollen Mills is under the great obligation of being responsible for the efficient, safe, and economical working of the factory ; and Mr. Smail, in his report, says -
My first visit to Yass-Canberra, the site of the Federal city, embracing from Queanbeyanto the junction of the Cotter River with the Mumimbidgee, Duntroon, and Acton.
It will be seen, therefore, that he covered a great area in the Federal Territory -
Although the climatic conditions are not up to my idea of the requirements, it would be quite wrong to say that a woollen factory could not be established there, because, with the development of the city? it is certain to have factories of all descriptions, and, no doubt, conditions will then prevail whereby cloth manufacture could be fairly successfully accomplished.
Mr. Smail goes on to say ;
However, I can only report on the conditions existing at the present time -
I wish to impress on the honorable member for Illawarra that he should not look to future possibilities, but to present conditions. Mr. Smail proceeds - and I have no hesitation in saying that the idea of establishing a factory there is a long way in advance of the economic conditions that must prevail for its successful establishment.
And his reasons are given in the following words -
There is no definite lay-out plan of the city, no water supply, no drainage, no railway, no population ; in fact, everything is against the establishment of an isolated factory.
Mr. Smail says further and I quote this particularly for the benefit of the honorable member for Illawarra, who, apparently, has not read the report -
Presuming we did establish it there in spite of the present conditions, we should be up against abnormal cost on every preliminary item towards erection of buildings and fitting of plant and machinery.
Mr. Smail goes on to state that a big population would be necessary; and this Government, as an economical Government, with a desire to save as much of the taxpayers’ money as possible, have taken their present action. Only the other day honorable members opposite were charging the Government with extravagance; and yet it would appear that the desire is to induce the Government to still greater expenditure by establishing the Woollen Mills in the Federal area. Would honorable members opposite establish the mills in Federal Territory ? Honorable members opposite are silent. If they can use this argument against the Labour party they are only too happy to do so; but, when we ask them if they would establish the factory in the Federal area, they are as silent as the grave.
– We should not establish it at Geelong.
E.- The other day the honorable member for Wentworth asked whether the Labour party knew anything about “ garden cities.” And apparently, he is under the impression that the Woollen Mills are to be established in a densely populated centre, but that is not the fact. The mills are to be established in North Geelong, on a site which is about a mile distant from the post-office. North Geelong is surrounded by large green paddocks where it will be possible for the Government to build houses and to treat the employ?s in a generous way. I feel sure that if honorable members will only take into consideration the report of the expert they will indorse the principles which emanated from the honorable member for
East Sydney this afternoon. I ask them to look at the question from the national, and not from the parochial, point of view, and to show that they are nationalists by approving of the site.
.- It is not of very much use to appoint experts to report upon various sites for the construction of a clothing factory, or naval college, or anything else, because we find that they are either “ nobbled,” or their expert advice is absolutely disregarded. With regard to a site for the clothing factory we are told that the expert was “ nobbled “ before he left Victoria, and we know, as a matter of fact, that he did not visit many very suitable sites in New South Wales. Many of the arguments which have been brought forward against establishing the Woollen Mills at Yass-Canberra have been quite ridiculous. For instance, the honorable member for East Sydney said that it could not. possibly be established there because there was no drainage. If the plans and specifications are drawn out for the erection of a great city in the Federal Territory surely there must be plans drawn out too for sewerage, and drainage. We know, of course, that a sewerage and drainage scheme must be carried out before the Capital can be built. If we can carry out a scheme for the drainage of a large city there should be no difficulty in providing for the drainage of a woollen factory. With regard to the other expert who was employed, I assume at considerable expense to the Government, to report upon a site for the Naval College, what became of his advice? Was this report ever published, or put before the House? I confess that I have not seen or heard of the report. We do not know even now, and I am not aware whether honorable members opposite know, which site Captain Chambers recommended as a site for the Naval College. Experts are employed by the Government, and honorable members on the other side have told us that either they are “ nobbled “ or that their expert advice is absolutely disregarded We find that, although Captain Chambers is employed as an expert to report on the various sites, the Government were not satisfied with his report, and appointed a Committee to inquire into various sites, and they selected a site at Burraneer Bay.
s. - Is that near Jervis Bay?
– It is near Cronulla, I think. I propose to quote a few remarks that were made when the last Estimates were under consideration. Speaking here on 7th November, 1911, with regard to the establishment of the Naval College, Mr. Frazer, the Postmaster-General, said -
Whether the college is established at Middle Head, in Sydney Harbor, or at some other site, the necessity for it is immediate. Its establishment is not dependent upon a view which might subsequently be held as to the suitability of Jervis Bay or any other place for the purpose. It must be undertaken at this particular time. The Government, under the advice of, I may be pardoned for saying, the most distinguished Minister of Defence, who has occupied that position in the Commonwealth, propose to establish the College at the site which has been chosen.
He was referring to a site chosen by a Committee, and not by Captain Chambers. Continuing, he said -
This is an urgent matter recommended by the distinguished Naval officer who was brought from the Old Country to advise the Commonwealth Government in the matter of Naval defence, and are we to refuse the generous offer of the subscribers to the Dreadnought fund because the proposed Naval College is not to be established in Federal Territory? What did we do in connexion with the Cordite Factory?
It seems, from these remarks, that last year the Postmaster- Genera I was in favour of accepting the recommendation of Captain Chambers, namely, that the Naval College should be established on Federal Territory, in order that the Government should secure the Dreadnought fund. On the top of that we read of the appointment of a Committee. On this subject the PostmasterGeneral said, in a later speech -
The Minister, to the best of my knowledge and belief, appointed a Committee to select the most suitable site on which to establish a Naval College to train the youth of Australia, who are ultimately to be drafted into the Australian Navy. The Committee selected a site, the sum of ?43,000 was made available, and we now submit an item to give effect to the proposal in order that we may have the officers and men necessary for our Navy.
The Government met in caucus, I believe, and, in spite of the recommendations of experts or Committee, decided that, after all, the Naval College should be erected in Federal Territory at Jervis Bay. Why did they employ experts ; why did they appoint a Committee ; why did they go to all this trouble, if they did not intend to take the slightest notice of the recommendations? I take exception to the expenditure of this large sum, if some of it is not to be spent on the permanent site for the college, and that is at Jervis Bay.- These Estimates are very vague. Ve are not told whether any portion of this money is to be spent on the per- manent site for the college or not, but I believe that a considerable portion is to be allocated to Osborne House, at Geelong.
E. - Everything seems to be going to Geelong. The Woollen Mills are to be established there, and so, too, is the temporary Naval College. The Victorian section in this Parliament seem to run the show ; and it appears to me that they are going to get everything.
– Why does not the honorable member take a broad view ?
E. - I want to do so. I am a Nationalist, but I wish New South Wales to get her fair share.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– There is something in the contention that it would cost more to erect woollen mills in the Federal Territory than in a populous centre.
– And transportation afterwards would be more expensive.
E. - Yes; but by establishing the Commonwealth factories in populous centres we shall aggravate the congestion that we already deplore. Our policy should be decentralization. We should try to scatter population all over Australia. To do this we might well put up with slight drawbacks, such as the increase of cost in the erection of buildings and transport. Those who say that there is no water supply at Yass-Canberra have never been there. Even after a severe drought there is enough water coming down the Cotter to supply Sydney and Melbourne.
– And Geelong thrown in.
E. - Yes. Even then not half the flow would be used. The honorable member for Lang was quite right in moving the amendment as a protest. Victorian members want to run the whole show, but it is time that we looked on these matters from a national stand-point. It is time that we did away with this parochialism, and let New South Wales have her fair share. There is a sum of ?80,000 set down for the acquisition of sites for the erection of mobilization store buildings and drill halls, the voting of which will really commit us to an expenditure of ?300,000. We need to spend a great deal on drill halls, but we should be told where they are to be built.
– That is not yet settled, but they are needed all over Australia.
E.- No doubt; but the Department must know where it intends to erect drill halls. The Honorary Minister said that applications for drill halls were being received every day. The Department should not wait for applications. If drill halls are erected only in places whence applications for themhave been received, matters will not be properly conducted. The Department knows where drill halls are needed, and we should have some information regarding its intentions. We are not told even how much of this money is to be spent in New South Wales, how much in Victoria, and so on. I hope that the Minister will see that the vote is distributed in a national spirit, and that the money does not all go to Victoria. At the present time great inconvenience is felt from the want of drill halls. It is a good suggestion that, in determining where drill halls shall be erected, local rainfall records shall be considered, because there are places where the rainfall is not half as great as it is in other places. The sum of £50,000 is set down for Naval Colleges, Naval Barracks, Sub-marine Depôt, Naval Gunnery and Torpedo School, and Naval Training School, and, in addition, £40,000 is to be contributed from the Dreadnought Fund and credited to the Trust Fund. How many Naval Colleges are there?
– There is one at Geelong.
E. - The only permanent Naval College is to be at Jervis Bay. The Geelong College is only temporary. To speak of Naval Colleges is, therefore, misleading. What is the distinction between the Naval College and the Naval Training School? Where is the Naval Training School ?
– There is one at Rushcutters Bay.
y.- The Naval College will be at Jervis Bay ; the Naval Training Schools may be at Westernport, Sydney, and other places.
– We should have more information on the subject. I am glad that £40,000 is available from the Dreadnought fund, although I did understand that the trustees had to be satisfied with the site which was chosen for the Naval College. A site having been selected at Jervis Bay, I am very pleased that this amount is available. I intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for Lang as a protest against the establishment of Commonwealth Woollen Mills at Geelong.
– I desire to draw attention to the item of £8,000 which appears upon these Estimates for the acquisition of a site and the construction of buildings in connexion with Commonwealth Woollen Mills. I understand that the Geelong Harbor Trust offered the Government a site of 10 acres of land free, and also undertook to provide it with water for five years free of charge. In such circumstances, why does this item appear on the Estimates? The Honorary Minister has assured us that it was placed there before the woollen expert had recommended the Geelong site?
n. - Are we getting it for nothing?
– The Commonwealth may have to pay for the transfer of the land, but that is all.
Y.- The. mere fact of £8,000 being placed on these Estimates is an indication that the Government are not prepared to establish the factory in the Federal Territory. I do not blame the expert in this matter. Had he been told that it was the policy of this Government to locate all its factories in the Federal Territory, I am sure that he would have been able to select a suitable site for woollen mills there. In his report he does not find fault with the quality of the water that is obtainable at the Federal Capital. It is of a soft character. Indeed, it is the softest water that it is possible to get, because the stream there is fed by the snows from the mountains. The honorable member for East Sydney must imagine he is talking to a lot of children when he speaks of the want of a sewerage system there. Some time ago I had the pleasure of visiting Brisbane, and I found that there is no sewerage system there.
– There is none at Geelong.
e. - One has just been started.
– I remember visiting the clothing factory of Messrs. Vicars and Sons, in Sussex-street, Sydney, over twenty years ago before that city could boast of a sewerage system. When the honorable member for East Sydney endeavours to mystify the Committee with his expert knowledge upon sewerage matters, he is absolutely lopsided in his argument. He affirmed, for example, that we cannot get the necessary labour in the Federal Territory. If that be so we had better abandon the Capital, because his argument will apply with equal force to the building of the city itself, the construction of railways, and all other public works. The district from which I come produces the best wool tops in the world - I refer to Botany. Nevertheless, I desire to see the Woollen Mills established in the Federal Territory. If we are going to locate our factories in different States, the Seat of Government will not grow as we should like it to grow. We have 900 square miles of territory there, and how are we going to make it valuable except by means of population ? If we are to spend £8,000 upon a woollen factory at Geelong, and £15,000 upon machinery which is to be installed at Clifton Hill, we shall only be adding to the value of the private lands at those places. T quite concur in the statement of the honorable member for Nepean that, it is time a strong protest was made against the policy of establishing factories in different parts of the State. I shall vote against the Government locating the Woollen Mills at Geelong.
.- The Government may very well give serious attention to several of the points which have been raised during this discussion. Honorable members are, I think, unanimous that, as far as possible, we should avoid the centralization which is going on in Australia at the present time. Population is crowding into our big cities, and we are creating enormous vested interests there. When, therefore, an opportunity presents itself of adding to the value of the lands of the Federal Territory by attracting a population there, it is our bounden duty to embrace it. We must not forget that these enhanced land values may be used very serviceably in connexion with the building of the city itself. These are very cogent reasons why we should, as far as possible, endeavour to draw into that centre all those Federal activities and utilities which it is possible to attract there.
n. - A very fine Socialistic scheme. ,
– There are some Socialistic schemes of which I heartily approve, and this is one of them. I noticed in the report which the Inspector-General of our Forces made a little time ago a complaint that it took fifteen contractors, drawing supplies from as many .different points in the Commonwealth, to clothe a single artilleryman in Western Australia. If the Government are determined to establish all these factories, they should endeavour to centralize them at one point ; and if there is one point where it is to our interest to centralize, it is in our own Federal Territory.
– I thought the honorable member began his remarks by advocating decentralization ?
E.- I did, and if the honorable member has followed me closely he will understand that this is decentralization from the point of view from which I was speaking.
– To centralize is to decentralize ?
E. - It is. in this instance. I wish to say a word as to drill halls. I have drawn the attention of the Minister to the fact that there are a number of districts in Australia where the rainfall is very heavy indeed, and where the cadets have to face the possibility of a wetting every time they go out to drill, especially in certain seasons of the year. T should like, therefore, to have an assurance that in allocating this vote of £80.000 the climatic conditions of various districts will be taken into consideration. My district is one in which there is probably the heaviest rainfall in Australia.
– No, mine.
E.- Probably there are more wet days in the Minister’s electorate, but I doubt whether the rainfall is So heavy there as on the north-east coast of New South Wales. Another point to which I wish to draw attention is that as to every item in this subdivision, the amount that we are asked to vote is “ towards cost.” In only one instance are we given any idea of the expenditure to which we are finally committing ourselves. As to other votes we have not the faintest idea as to the ultimate sum that will have to be expended. I have gone through the Estimates pretty carefully, and I am inclined to think that the sum of £4,000,000, which we are asked to vote, will commit us finally to not less than £16,000,000. In every, case the Minister ought to give us a clear and detailed estimate as to the ultimate sum involved. There is at the present time a greater reason why this should be done than there has ever been before, because the Government are pledged to carry out the greater part of these works by day labour. We have no check whatever as to whether the works will be conducted on a reasonable basis, or whether they will be finished at a cost anywhere near the departmental Estimates. In every case where an amount is voted “ towards cost “ we should be supplied with an estimate showing the utmost expenditure contemplated.
I should particularly like some information in regard to the sum to be voted for the Military College. Last year we expended £[68,454, and this year we are asked for another £45,000, making a total of £113,454. I should like to know how many of the permanent buildings of the Military College will be completed when this money is spent? I understand that the greater part of the expenditure, so .far, has been upon temporary buildings, which will eventually be supplanted. How much will the Military College cost when completed?
.- I quite agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond in regard to the Military College. We ought to know definitely to how much expenditure we are to be committed. As he has observed, we have already spent £68,454, and we are now asked to vote another £45,000. There is no guarantee that even this will be the final expenditure on the College. I admit that it is necessary that the buildings should be erected. But at the same time our military expenditure is growing too rapidly altogether. While it is growing in one direction there are others in which there is not sufficient expenditure in the interests of those who are compelled to serve. It is not fair for honorable members to be expected to vote money for this purpose year after year without knowing whether next year and the year after another £[50,000 or £100,000 will not be required. How much will it cost to complete the College?
e. - I believe that very few of the permanent buildings have yet been erected.
– If we are spending this money on temporary buildings we are wasting a good deal of it. We ought to know the estimated cost of carrying out the complete plans. I enter my protest against this sort of thing, and hope that the Minister will be able to explain how much the Military College is expected to cost altogether. As to the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, I agree that, as far as possible, Federal works should be established in the Federal Territory. I have asked myself, however, whether it is possible at present to erect these mills upon a satisfactory basis in the Federal Capital, and I have come to the conclusion that it is not. It has been contended that if we do not establish Commonwealth works in the Territory, we shall never populate it. It is well known, however, that provision cannot be made to-day in the Territory for employes, and especially for the class of employes that would be required in a woollen mill. Boys and girls rather than adults are required, and where, I ask, should we be able to obtain them ? The Federal Capital has no railway communication. It is in its infancy. The formation of its streets has only just been commenced, and those who go there at the present time have to camp in tents. In such circumstances, what hope is there of establishing the Commonwealth Woollen Mills in the Territory.
– Why not delay their erection ?
N.- The .question we’ have to consider is whether it would be profitable to delay these works for five, eight, or ten years, as the case might be, until we could obtain facilities to establish and carry them on profitably in the Capital. To my mind, we ought to be able now to provide the requirements of the military, and, in fact, of the whole Commonwealth service, so far as woollen goods are concerned. I therefore think that the Government are acting wisely in proposing to erect the Woollen Mills on the site recommended by the expert appointed to make a selection. The question with me is not whether they should be in this State or that, but whether they should be established, and whether the site chosen is the best for the purpose. I cannot say that it is, or is not. I have to be guided by the expert, who has no reason for recommending ‘ any particular site, other than the belief that it is the most suitable for the purpose. After all, the main point to be considered is that we should establish these works where they can be carried on as profitably as possible. If we were to erect them, either this or next year, in the Federal Territory, I venture to say that they would be a failure. The* product of the mills would cost considerably more than it would, perhaps, in any other part of Australia, and the result would be that we should have the cry that a Commonwealth venture - something savouring of Socialism which had been taken in hand by a Labour Government - had proved a distinct failure. If we were to erect the Commonwealth Woollen Mills in the Federal Territory before the provision of the necessary facilities for carrying them on, they would be doomed to failure. For that reason, and believing, as I do, that it is necessary to establish them in the interests of the Commonwealth, I am going to support the Government proposal.
– As to the question which has been raised in regard to the Military College, I have to say that £12,000 out of the total of £68,000 was spent on permanent buildings.
h. - Where?
– At the present College. The balance relates to buildings that will have a life of about thirty years.
– Are those buildings intended to be used for the next thirty years ?
– What would be the life of the buildings which the honorable member describes as “ permanent “ ?
Y. - We hope that they will last for ever. I trust that honorable members will understand that expenditure on such an institution as this must be perpetual. It is impossible to say what amount will be spent on a Military College. The Military College at West Point, in the United States, has been established for nearly 100 years, I think, and money is still being expended on it. The position will be the same here.
– But surely it is being expended in accordance with some plan?
Y.- Yes. The works this year at the Military College consist of quarters for professors and officers, six yardsmen’s cottages, six cottages-
– Are these permanent buildings?
Y.- They will have a thirty years’ life. Then there are three barrack blocks for cadets, cadets’ renovation room, gymnasium and fittings, rifle range, magazine, observatory, two other buildings, and provision for lighting and heating. All these works will have to be carried out in conformity with what we have already done. After all, £113,000 is not so much to spend on a great Military College for 4,500,000 people. So far, I think, we have been very economical,, but there can be no doubt that we shall have to spend money on the College almost every year if it is to keep pace with the growth and prosperity of Australia. After we have laid the foundations, however, the expenditure will not be large. During the consideration of these Estimates, several members have complained that we do not spend money fast enough - that during last year too many votes lapsed. To-night, however, the honorable member for Richmond seems to fear that we are committing the country to some enormous expenditure.
– No; he says that the Government are not letting the Committee know on what plan they are proceeding to spend this money
Y. - I am glad of the honorable member’s interjection. Time after time, during the last two years, complaint has been made of the failure to build drill halls, particularly in districts where the rainfall is heavy. On the north-west coast of Tasmania, the rainfall is not very heavy, but on the west coast, I believe that the annual fall ranges from 7 feet to 10 feet. It is often impossible for young men to drill there at night time.
– The Department did not spend the money that was voted last year. ,
Y.- I am trying to explain why we did not do so. Sometimes a vote cannot be expended for the reason that an agreement cannot be arrived at in regard to the price asked for a particular site. In several places where I thought we should have no trouble in securing a site for a drill hall, the price asked was so high that it was impossible to go on unless we engaged in litigation, and made a lot of trouble. We do not wish to take citizens into the Law Courts in regard to every little question that may be raised, and, that being so, we have often to refrain from purchasing a site, with the result that work for which provision has been made has to be postponed. I desire to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that we have now decided to have in readiness a large sum on which we can draw without keeping people waiting when a drill hall needs to be erected. I agree with the honorable member for Richmond that we ought to spend this money in those parts of Australia where the rainfall is heavy, because in such districts it is often impossible for young men to drill at night time. On the west coast of Tasmania, I have seen young fellows take shelter under verandahs until a shower has passed, and then resume their drill. If we are going to make the compulsory training system a success, we must not be afraid of spending a few pounds. A few pounds for the defence of this great country is nothing. This item of. £80,000 is part of a total of .£300,000, which will, we think, complete the drill halls throughout Australia.
– Is that amount based upon requests already made?
Y.- It is as good a calculation as can be made in regard to the drill halls that will be required. We shall have £80,000 to start with, and as we have our own Works Departments in New South Wales and Victoria, those States, more especially as they have the largest population, will probably secure the greater part of this vote. We shall be able now to go right on, wherever a hall is required, to build it by day labour, but honorable members should remember that we cannot do everything in a day. We received ,£40,000 from the people of New South Wales towards the establishment of a Naval College at Jervis Bay.
– Out of the Dreadnought Fund.
Y.- Yes. We hope this year to be able to make big headway with the work there, but it took a good deal of time to get it” started. We are going to spend only £8,000 on Osborne House, at Geelong.
– How long do the Government expect to occupy Osborne House?
Y.- One can never tell, but I may inform honorable members that in the United States there are many schools or colleges established from which boys are sent to the college at West Point.
– The Minister says that he is only going to spend £8,000 at Geelong ?
Y.- Yes, but that is only a temporary affair.
– I do not mind telling the honorable gentleman that he is wrong.
Y.- Now with respect to the Woollen Mills. I may say that we went into that matter very carefully. No one was more anxious than I, if it were possible, that the mills should be established at Yass-Canberra. I wish to see them a great success. But we had to take into account the cost of transportation to and from the Federal Capital if the mills were established there. We had to consider exchanges also, and, dealing with the matter as a cold business proposition, we found that that could not be done at present, though it may be possible later. If we were indifferent as to whether it paid or not, we might, of course, adopt the suggestion that has been made. If it were a failure, as the result of our mistake, it would only be like many other propositions that did not have the advantage of a good start. I hope that honorable members opposite will now see the necessity of Letting, these Estimates go through as quickly as possible.
– How much will the Woollen Mills cost?
Y.- I suppose that we can start with a comparatively small amount, and it will increase as time goes on.
– - What is the present estimated cost?
Y.- The amount asked for on these Estimates is £8,015, but, as honorable members are aware, that must be quite insufficient. It would not pay for the wheels.
.- This kind of debate in Committee has its advantages and disadvantages. It is an advantage to some honorable members to be allowed to skirmish over a great many subjects, but the disadvantage is that the views expressed are of a superficial character, and we do not seem to get at the root of any matter. I recognise that the Minister of Home Affairs is willing and anxious to give the House information. I think he has proved that by the publication of his periodical hand-book, in which he undertakes to give in a readable and portable form information as to the progress he is making in the different branches of his Department. But the Committee would like to know a great deal in connexion with some very important items in these Estimates which the Minister has not yet told us. One of the most important is the progress of the Federal Capital. We have heard a good deal about what ought to be established there, the plans of railways, and so on, but we have been given no idea of even the approximate time within which we may hope to see this Parliament settled there. Some six years ago the Government Architect of New South Wales .informed me that he was not only prepared to place before Parliament plans of all the Parliament Houses in the ‘world, but to undertake to erect what he called the kernel of a Parliament House to accommodate the Senate and the House of Representatives, buildings for the public servants, and a residence for the Governor-General with- in two and a-half years, at a total expenditure of £250,000. I brought that before the House some years ago.
r). - Does the honorable member propose to connect his remarks with the item under discussion ? The Federal Capital is not referred to in the item before the Chair.
– No, but it ought to be referred to in the item. I am dealing with it, because it has so intimate a relation with the railway which is proposed to connect it with the Capital and with the resumption. of land that we should have some explanation from the Minister.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must not pursue this line of argument, as there is no reference to the Federal Capital in the item before the Chair.
– There is a reference to the proposed Woollen Mills, anc it has been contended that they should be established in the Federal Capital. .One of the arguments which has been used against that contention is that there has been so little progress made with the establishment of the Capital that there would be no habitations and no sanitary provision for those who would require to be employed in connexion with the mills. It is altogether impossible to start an enterprise of this kind in the Federal Territory under existing conditions. I want to know why the existing conditions are such as to prevent that? If the Government had made some attempt to carry out the designs upon which so much money has been spent, honorable members would not have been able to use as an argument against the establishment of the Woollen Mills in the Federal Territory that it is at present a wilderness, and that there is no provision made for the people who would be employed in connexion with them. It is on this account their establishment in Victoria, in temporary premises, at the cost of about £9,000 is justified. Two years ago I asked the present Government to take into consideration the suggestions of the Government Architect of New South Wales, and begin what that gentleman had called the kernel of the Parliament House. Directly that is commenced and occupied, habitations will spring up, notwithstanding that the land is leasehold ; and we shall immediately have the nucleus of a city which will enable us to place an enterprise of this sort within it. I feel that, instead of investing money in a place from which we shall eventually have to remove it, the factory ought to be located in the Federal Territory. Is the Minister doing anything towards the erection of the Federal buildings ?
– The plans came back from Sydney only yesterday.
H.- The Minister of Home Affairs has to some extent thrown the work back, because he framed the conditions in such a way that British architects were unable to take part.
– It is a beautiful design.
H.- I totally disagree with the argument of the honorable member for East Sydney to the effect that it would be impossible to have these factories in Federal Territory owing to the absence of sanitary provisions. We were told that Geelong affords the sanitary facilities that the Capital area does not ; but we have just learned from its own member that Geelong itself possesses no sanitary arrangements except those old-fashioned, antediluvian arrangements to be found in any advanced country town. Notwithstanding the advanced character of the honorable member who represents Geelong, and who is never tired of advertising the place, we find that it is an unsewered area.
– We have started a sewerage system.
H.- I have started to become a better man, but I have only started.
– The contract for the work is let.
H.- The honorable member talks as if he were representing a model city.
– It is a model city.
H.- I knew Geelong before the honorable member was in knickerbockers, or even in long clothes ; and, however much we may admire the place, it is a comparatively stagnant city - a city which is standing still.
– Not now.
H.- Ever since the railway went inland to Ballarat, Geelong has been a stagnant city.
– When was the honorable member last there?
H.- About a year ago.
– Then the honorable member is not speaking of what he knows.
H. - Geelong must be intellectually stationary if it elects the honorable member in the place of his predecessor.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member has exceeded the bounds of debate.
– There is no point of order.
– I now desire to say a word or two in regard to the question of the removal of the Victoria Barracks, Paddington, to a piece of land which is known by the name of “ Redleaf.” Those barracks cover an area of, I should say, 5 to 8 acres, which represents an enormous property in the centre of one of the most populous neighbourhoods of Sydney - a neighbourhood as populous as Collingwood, in Melbourne. This area at present is devoted entirely to barracks purposes. If the Commonwealth Government are prepared to make some arrangement, I know that the municipal council of Paddington would be very glad to get rid of the barracks, for the simple reason that they would like to see the ground covered with houses, from which rates could be obtained. I do not agree with the honorable member for East Sydney as to the roads. The long road which runs on one side is the main road, and carries a tramway, and it is a road which will exist when the barracks are forgotten. The other two roads at the end are filled with terrace houses, and entail no more expense to keep in order than do the roads of an ordinary suburb. The lower road has not much traffic, because on one side is a reserve, and on the other side the barracks. However, the primary cause of the desire of the municipality to get rid of the barracks is that they may be able to obtain rates from the area. The proposed substituted land known as “ Redleaf “ is a private ‘house on the margin of a beach, with ‘Other private houses to the right and the left.
– And the morass all round !
H.- No : it is one of the most beautiful suburbs in Sydney. I do not suppose ‘the honorable member has ever been allowed to go there ; but, if he were. I have no doubt that, in his more ambitious moments, he would like to have a residence there. However, to talk of Redleaf as a substitute for the barracks area at Paddington is to compare a pockethandkerchief with a. sheet - it is an absur dity. Unless it is proposed to resume the houses to the left and the right, in order to utilize a point stretching out into the harbor, I can only say that the scheme will be useless. 8
– It is proposed to fill up the harbor there.
H.- If so, I can’ only say that the Government will interfere with the fairway, for there is a fair amount of shipping in Double Bay.
H. - Yes, shipping. I have seen ships entering with coal and stone. If any great extension is to be made by filling up the harbor, there will be an encroachment on the fairway, and a nowbeautiful suburban area will he turned into a commercial one. I do not know how far the Government have progressed.
– We have not done anything.
H.- It would be absolutely necessary to take the properties turtle right and the left in order to have an area- in any way comparable with that of Paddington. My own opinion is that the Paddington area is worth nearly £[250,000. It was obtained by the Government of New South Wales in exchange for Garden. Island when the Imperial Government required the latter for naval purposes.
H.- Excuse me. When the Imperial Government took over Garden Island for the purpose of a naval station they surrendered to New South Wales the Victoria Barracks.
– No, land at Circular Quay was given up at the request of Sir John Robertson in exchange for Garden Island.
H.- That is my recollection, and the Minister will be able to learn for himself whether that is not the case. I think that these Estimates contain an item which will allow me to refer to the question! of Sydney Government House. It has been referred to during this discussion. The Prime Minister has been to Sydney in order to see whether he could make an arrangement by which the building could be occupied by the Governor-General.
– Under which item: does the honorable member propose to discuss this matter?
– I have not the Estimates before me, -sir, but I saw an item which seemed to me to admit .of this,’ matter being discussed now.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the matter on this part of the Estimates.
– Then 1 want to touch upon another question which I think has been discussed very fully, and that is the site for the temporary Naval College at Geelong. I wish the Minister to tell us how it is that we have been informed again and again that the Harbor Trust of Geelong undertook to give up a site for nothing if the Naval College were placed temporarily in Geelong, and that at the same time there is an item of £8,000 on these Estimates in such a form as to suggest that some purchase is necessary. I want to know whether the Harbor Trust ever made such a promise, and, if so, whether they are carrying it out, and, further, why we are asked to spend £8,000 on something which they undertook to give us for nothing. If the Minister will inform us on that point, with which several honorable members have dealt, I think that the Committee will be much more satisfied.
– There has been no expenditure.
– The more I think over these Estimates the more it seems to me to be an amazing fact that the Ministry have asked us to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds without even submitting a sketch plan of the expenditure. In no other Parliament in Australia do honorable members consent to vote money away in chis reckless fashion and without having first submitted to them some plan of the proposed expenditure. Here, for instance, is an item of £80,000 towards an estimated expenditure of £300,000 for the acquisition of sites for the erection of mobilization store buildings, and drill halls. Where are these store buildings and drill halls to be erected? Surely there is some plan or purpose in the mind of the Minister” when he asks for the expenditure of this huge sum ! Let it be remembered that in voting this item of £80,000 we shall commit ourselves to the expenditure of £300,000. I am not complaining of the amount of the expenditure, but of its purposelessness and its planlessness. In New South Wales, and I believe in Victoria, any public work involving an expenditure of £20,000 is first of all inquired into by a Public Works Committee, and the details of the -expenditure, together with plans and -almost specifications, have to be laid on the table of the House. But in this case we have the bald statement that a sum of £80,000 is wanted towards building mobilization store buildings and drill halls. Where are they to be placed, when are they to be built, and of what material ? Have we nothing to do with these matters ? Every other Parliament insists upon being furnished with information of this description. We have nothing of the kind here, but are asked to vote the money, and put our blind trust in the Government. It is a case of “ Open your mouth and shut your eyes, and see what King O’Malley will send you.” “ Pay up and look pleasant, and do not ask any questions “ seems to be the idea dominating these Estimates. It is about time that honorable members awoke to a sense of their responsibility as trustees for the expenditure of the public money. I submit that we will not discharge our duty unless we get from the Government a broad plan of this expenditure indicating to us where, how, when, and under what conditions it is going to be incurred. Questions have been asked tonight about the erection of a woollen mill and a temporary Naval College at Geelong. The Minister does not know anything about these matters I am sorry to say.
y. - Only £8,000.
– Only £8,000. The honorable member for Melbourne may laugh, but this is not a laughing matter. I am sure he knows that we cannot build a woollen mill for £8,000.
– It will make a very good start.
K.- Allow me to tell the honorable member that we cannotput up a modern woollen mill for less than £80.000.
– I have not denied it, but I say that we can make a good start with £8.000.
K.- That is 10 per cent, of what the expenditure will be.
– I will sell you a good mill for £10,000.
K.- The Government expect to spend ten times that amount. I shall now give the Committee some information which I happened to get the other week for quite another purpose from the Minister of Defence, who is responsible for the erection and control of the woollen mill at Geelong. He estimated the cost of the building at £[70,000, and the cost of the machinery at £40,000, making a total of £[110,000. The Minister of Home Affairs has been trying to bluff the Committee to-night, for it was nothing but bluff when he told us that the woollen mill is going to cost £8,000.
– I said that that amount is down on these Estimates for the mill, and that the expenditure will increase as we move on.
K.- Is it not beyond a joke when we are asked to fool away money like this without being told anything about the details? We are asked to vote £[8,000 towards the cost of woollen mills. When are they to be erected ? The sum of £[8,000 will not pay for them. If you are going to clothe your army - and that is a very urgent matter - is it not time that a serious proposal was put before Parliament? The sum of £8,000 is asked for towards an estimated expenditure of £110,000. Were I a Ministerial supporter, believing in the Socialistic enterprises which honorable members opposite believe in, I should not allow this bunch of carrots to be’ dangled before my nose. Then, whereas the Minister of Home Affairs has assured us that the temporary Naval College at Geelong will cost about £8,000, the estimated cost of establishing and equipping the College is given under the hand of the Prime Minister at £13,000. My point, however, is that Parliament is being asked to vote money without being given details of the proposed expenditure, and no other Parliament in Australia would think of consenting to. these huge commitments without the fullest explanation. We are asked to commit ourselves to an expenditure of £300,000 on mobilization store buildings and drill halls alone. Should we not be told where the drill halls are to be placed, in what States, and districts, and with what objects?
– I thought that the Estimates, under an agreement made with the honorable member’s leader, which he has broken, were to go through last week.
K.- The honorable member is repeating a statement that he has been told is absolutely incorrect, an offensive statement, as all statements are which impute the breaking of agreements.
– The honorable member’s leader looks annoyed.
n. - At the repetition of a misstatement which has been already contradicted two or three times.
– After that I withdraw it,
K.- The honorable member, having nothing to say, indulges in that sort of statement. As Ministerial supporters are content to allow the Government to spend money as it will, with- » out giving any explanation, we, on this side, must be content with uttering a protest against the reckless expenditure of the people’s money.
– That is a reckless statement for which there is no justification.
K.- The honorable member cannot controvert what I have said.
– The honorable member’s ramblings on this point can easily be controverted.
K.- In that case, I hope that the honorable member will controvert them,- and will give us the information that we cannot get from the Minister. The statements which I have given> contradict those of the Minister, although, mine are based on official estimates.
– The honorable memberrefers to the complete expenditure.
K.- I have pointed out that the Committee is being asked tosanction the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds. In one instance, weare asked to commit the country to an expenditure of £300,000, and in “another roan expenditure of £110,000, without any explanation as to how the money is to bespent, or concrete proposals for the spending of it.
– For the third time during the debate on this part of the Estimates, it appears to be necessary- to tryto make the honorable member for Parramatta understand them. He, and other members of the Opposition, have repeatedly asked for information, and haveas repeatedly been supplied with as full and’ complete information as was ever given’ in an Australian Parliament during the consideration of Estimates.
k. - Emphatically, no !’
– Were the honorablemember a new member, unacquainted with* the method in which Estimates are submitted, there might be some small excusefor his action in occupying so much time, and demanding repeadtedly information thathas already been given to him. Last week: he asked particularly that the Government: should proceed with the erection of drill halls. He did not name any States or districts where they should be erected, but, in a large, general, and - he will pardon me for saying - loud way, asked that drill halls should be erected.
– Quantum sufficit.
S. - The condition of boys drilling in muddy streets while it was raining, and going home to their mammas in wet clothes, was pictured in most pathetic language by members of the Opposition. While on the one hand they declaimed against the Government for its reckless extravagance, unparalleled expenditure, and other superlative misdemeanors, they, on the other hand, rated us for not having undertaken a larger expenditure than is proposed. Wherever it has been decided to erect a drill hall, the site is named, and the estimated cost stated in separate items, as will be seen by a perusal of the Estimates. Having entered on the policy of constructing drill halls; that policy cannot be stayed in any one electorate. We cannot say that the little boys of Parramatta, the future electors of that constituency, shall have drill halls, but that money shall not be spent on drill halls elsewhere. But having embarked upon this policy, it follows as a matter of course that where drill halls are required, they will have to be erected. As the whole system is entirely new, and as we are quite unable to say where drill halls are needed, or how many of them are required, it is impossible for the Government to set down either the places at which they will be erected, or what will be their cost. But, in keeping with the general policy of this Parliament, and with the desire of the Government that our boys shall be provided with sufficient shelter’ to be drilled under, we have set down £80,000 upon these Estimates-
– Is that amount for drill halls alone?
S- And for mobilization store buildings. When we were discussing a previous item, and before this particular item had caught the eagle eye of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, he loudly exclaimed, “ You are not spending half enough on drill halls. Look at these trivial amounts. They are absurd. Spend more, and more, and more.” But the moment he finds an amount of £80,000 set down in connexion with drill halls - that is the sum estimated by our military experts as likely to be required during the current financial year - he reverses his atti tude, and cries, “ This is a huge amount to spend in the absence of details.” I tell him frankly that I cannot inform him how many weatherboards will go into a drill hall, how many square feet its area will embrace, how many doors or windows it will contain, how many men will be put to work upon it, and whether it will take them a week or a month to erect it. In these Estimates, we have followed the form in. which Estimates have been submitted to the Committee for a number of years. I hold in my hand a copy of the Estimates for 1909-10, for which the honorable member for Parramatta was responsible, and thereI find the various ‘items set out in precisely the same way as they are set out here. In some instances, Parliament was asked to authorize votes for buildings at particular places. In others the expenditure of a lump sum was sanctioned without any details being given.
– Will the Honorary Minister supply me with particulars?
S.- Certainly. I may instance that highly Socialistic institution, the Small Arms Factory, which was establishes! at Lithgow, and for which a vote of £6,016 appeared upon those Estimates.
– Was not that factory started before the acquisition of the Federal Territory ?
Mr. ROBERTS. No. The Federal Territory was decided upon in 1908, by ballot, and although it had not then been actually acquired, it was well known that it would be in a particular locality.
k. - The singular thing is that I never asked that it should be placed in the Federal Territory.
– I repeat that in the Estimates for 1909-10 there is a vote which reads, ‘ ‘ Lithgow Small Arms Factory, towards cost of site and construction, £6,016.” In the present instance, we have an item which reads, “ Towards the cost of site and construction of woollen mills, £8,000.” The position is precisely similar. There is scarcely a line, letter or comma of difference. When the honorable member was responsible for Estimates, they were perfect, but when similar Estimate.1 are submitted by another Ministry, there is not a line, letter, or comma in them which is perfect. It seems to me that we ought, to be fair to each other no matter upon which side of the chamber we may sit. Even if we are opposed to each other, there ought to be some moral sense in debate
– Will the Honorary Minister point me to the items to which he refers ?
S.- The honorable member should send for a copy of the Estimates for 1909-10. He can obtain one in 30 seconds.
– But the Minister said he would read the items.
S.- I will do better than that. I will allow the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to read them for himself. I say that theEstimates which we are now considering in their general construction, and in the information which they give to the Committee, are identical with the Estimates which have been submitted in previous years. Each year, as the result of experience, Ministers supply a little more information in connexion with the Estimates of their Departments than has previously been supplied.
– Will the Honorary Minister give me the reference for which I ask?
S. - The honorable member will find it on page 276 of the Estimates for 1909-10. I desire that he shall be supplied with the fullest information, butI do not want to see either him, or anybody else, stand up in this chamber, and make statements which misrepresent the position, and which may be used by party political organizers to mislead the electors. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition inquired in tones of real alarm, “Where is this item of £8,000 leading us.” Yet in his own Estimates for 1909-10, there appeared an item of £6,000 towards the cost of a site for a small armsfactory, and the construction of the buildings.
– And the total amount was stated at the bottom of the page.
S. - Yes, the estimated expenditure was set down at £25,000. So that three years ago we were asked by the honorable member to vote £6,000 towards a total of £25,000 for a small arms factory. But as evidencing how utterly unreliable was that estimate, I find that before it was completed the factory cost £68.690, or nearly three times what we were informed would be its total cost when we were asked to agree to the vote of £6,000.
– Including what?
S.- The erection and equipment of the building.
– If the facts are as stated, some official ought to be sacked.
S.- I am not prepared to make so sweeping an assertion.
– You cannot calculate these things to a shilling.
S.- The Minister of Defence is anxious that honorable members should have the fullest possible information. If there be some details that I am not now in a position to give, and that honorable members require, they have but to submit their requests, and the particulars will be supplied to them to-morrow, either publicly or privately. Let them put their inquiries in the form of a question, and the information will be given openly. As far as the woollen mill is concerned, it is impossible to say precisely how many bricks, stones, boards, and other material are going into it. We are asking, during the financial year, for £8,000, in keeping with general methods. At the present time the plans are only being prepared, and it is estimated that that sum of money will be spent during this year. The whole of the details are not yet forthcoming. Under the circumstances, I submit that it is scarcely fair to make charges of a general character, alleging an absence of information of which honorable members ought to be in possession.
– Mr. Chairman-
.- The honorable member has already spoken.
– Only once on this item.
– The honorable member spoke after the honorable member who moved the amendment, and he spoke a second time at 8.48.
– I do not intend to intervene in the quarrel between the Minister representing the Minister of Defence and the honorable member for Parramatta.
s. - There is no quarrel as far as I am concerned.
– Two such strong fighters may very well be left to battle it out for themselves. But with regard to the assertion of the Minister that it is impossible for the Department to give anything like an approximately correct estimate of what the cost of any particular structure will be, I have to say that it has always seemed to me that one of the defects of our system of carrying out public works is that no proper estimates are made as the first step in the process of erecting public buildings. lt is well known that in connexion with private contracts, when plans have been completed and specifications prepared, contractors can estimate the cost to a nicety. They can say how many bricks, how much mortar, how much timber, and what quantities of other materials will ba required. They can calculate the cost to a few pounds, even in a very large sum. I contend that the business of the Commonwealth will never be conducted on a satisfactory basis until something of that sort is done in connexion with every undertaking that is proposed to be carried out.
– There are frequently “extras” in connexion with contracts.
R. - No doubt there are, but even as to extras a margin can easily be specified. I may say, also, for the benefit of the honorable member for Corangamite, that extras are very often attempts made by contractors to squeeze a few more pounds out of a job than they are entitled to get, and a competent architect or valuator is able effectively to checkmate a great many of them. At any rate, nothing seems to be estimated with respect to the carrying out of Federal contracts, and, consequently, work is not conducted on a satisfactory basis. If this debate has the effect of causing our officers to pay more regard to this phase of their duties than they have done in the past, the time will not have been wasted.
– I wish to enter my protest against this method of bringing forward estimates. The Minister has not satisfied me with his explanation in connexion with the Military College. The sum of £68,454 _ has been expended, of which between £12,000 and £13,000 was spent on permanent buildings, leaving something like £56.,000 to be spent on temporary buildings. I go a long way with the honorable member for Parramatta in thinking that there should be some estimate of the cost of a building, showing also its size, the specific purposes for which it is required, and its character. These particulars should be laid before honorable members when they are asked to vote money. At present we do’ not know where we are. I object to voting money without knowing what the total expenditure on a particular work is going to be. The Government architects ought to draw up complete plans, and we should know the anticipated cost of every building. I do not say that they can esti mate the cost to a pound, or even to a few hundreds, in the case of big buildings ; but we should have some guide. At the present time we drift along from year to year, and do not know what we are doing. This year it appears £45,000 is to be added to the £12,000 already expended on permanent buildings for the Military College. That makes £57,000, in addition to the £56,000 spent on temporary buildings. I think it is a fair thing that we should be informed whether the £56,000 ir likely to be sufficient for present requirements. I should say that that sum ought to’ be enough to provide all the accommodation necessary in the initial stages of training officers.
y. - There are not eighty cadets there.
– We have spent quite enough on temporary buildings, yet we are asked to spend £45,000 more. Perhaps next year we shall be asked to spend another £80,000, or even. £100,000. It is only right that we should have an objective in view. We should know what we are making for. We ought to know the departmental estimate for a given time, and money should be asked for that purpose., and that only. At present we have no guide as to finality in expenditure. I enter my protest against this method of voting money. It is not a proper way of carrying on the business of the country. When any extension of the buildings is required Ministers should submit to the Committee the necessary plans and we should then bc able to consider whether we ought to vote any money in excess of the expenditure for which provision had already been made. To go on in this slipshod manner is very unsatisfactory. T hope that next year a better system will be introduced, so that we shall know the amount of money that we have to vote for any particular purpose. If that is done we shall be able to keep a curb on the expenditure.
.- I think that the Honorary Minister was hardly fair to the honorable member for Parramatta. He tried to score considerably by referring the Committee to page 276 of the Estimates for 1909-10, where there appeared only a small item of £6,000 odd in connexion with the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, whilst the footnote showed1’ that the total estimated expenditure was £25,000. He then flourished before the Committee figures to show that the total expenditure came to over £60,000. Had the honorable member been fair, he would have pointed out also that at page 294 of the very Estimates from which he was quoting, there was an item of £49,000 also in regard to the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. As a matter of fact the honorable member’s statement was absolutely inaccurate.
s. - It was not.
– The honorable member had in the Estimates themselves the refutation of his own statement. But he did not point to the fact that in the very Estimates to which he was referring, there was included, in a total of over £1,000,000, the very £49,000 which brought the amount up to over £60,000.
– That is another matter * altogether.
M.- That is the first statement that is absolutely incorrect. The Honorary Minister might have thought that he was correct, but if he knew the facts, and did not make reference to them, I am surprised at his action.
– The item of £60,000 does not include the £49,000 to which the honorable member is referring.
M. - There was some criticism in regard to a proposed expenditure of £80,000, and the Honorary Minister said that he was going to turn to another portion of the Estimates in which a similar item occurred. As a matter of fact he cannot ‘point to a similar item in any previous Estimates introduced in this House.
– Not for drill halls, because the Government of which the honorable member was a member did not erect any.
M.- That is not correct.
– If the honorable member turns to page 283 of the Estimates to which I have referred he will see an item of ,£11,000 in respect of the purchase of sites. It is a general item, and no place is mentioned.
M. - The Honorary Minister will not find any similar item in previous Estimates.
– The (Honorary Minister points to an item of £11,000, but here we have a proposed expenditure of £[300,000.
M. - The honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Richmond put a question which has been repeated by the honorable member for Hunter. Their action is not taken in any spirit of antagonism. Their desire is to help both sides. That is generally the spirit in which the honorable member for Parramatta speaks, and the object of the criticism is generally to assist honorable members opposite. As to this, particular item, the point made by him is perfectly clear. . He says that we have here an item of £80,000, which purports to be a commitment for £300,000, and that neither the Minister of Home Affairs nor the Minister representing the Minister of Defence can mention one district in which it is intended to expend any of that money. If the Minister is to have a blank cheque for £80,000, I shall be very much surprised if he is not inundated with requests for drill halls.
– The honorable member will look after the interests of Toowoomba in that regard.
M.- I will look after the interests of Australia. I know that whatever benefits Toowoomba must benefit Australia. Apart from that matter, however, I think that this objection ought to be seriously entertained. We are asked to authorize an expenditure of £80,000 in respect of this item, yet the Minister has not given us the slightest hint as to what proportion of that sum will be required in respect of sites, how much will be required for mobilization stores, and how much for drill halls. The Minister ought to take it for granted that this Committee is prepared to vote all that is necessary to make the compulsory defence system absolutely efficient, but at the same time we want to know that we are working according to some definite plan and system. If we are to have these mobilization stores, surely they are to be built according to a definite system. Surely their location is not to be fixed in some haphazard way. Our contention is that before these proposed vor<-s are agreed to, the Minister should give the Committee some information as to the lines on which this expenditure will be made. That was the point made by the honorable member for Parramatta, but instead of being given the information for which he asked, he was subjected to extraordinary criticism. The Minister said with perfectfrankness that he did not know what it would cost to put a piece of mortar here or a bit of timber there; but surely those who are advising him have before them a definite scheme. They must know the lines on which they intend to work. If they do not, there will be chaos in the Defence Department. I hope that the Minis- ter will show us that the money is to be expended according to a definite system. The Committee, I am sure, is willing to vote all that is necessary for the Military College, but we ought to have from the Minister an assurance that these so-called temporary expenditures are to be limited in some way. As regards the College it is about time that we had some idea of the permanency of its design, so that we may know that the money now being expended in connexion with it will be devoted to the establishment of permanent buildings in accordance with a definite plan, even if the work is being carried out’ piecemeal. It will be a costly matter for the Federal City itself if the Government spend a lot of money upon temporary wooden buildings, which they will have to pull down later on. I believe that the Minister will keep his eye upon all expenditure on the Federal City so that what we are building now may become part of the permanent buildings of that city. Our desire is that the city, when completed, shall be something of which Australia can be proud ; but we certainly do not wish to see a large sum wasted there. As to the Commonwealth Woollen Mills I am not going to raise any question in reference to the site, but I should like to obtain some information. Will the hands who are employed in these mills be on the temporary or permanent staff of the Commonwealth “Public Service?
– The hands in all the Commonwealth factories are on the temporary staff, and their engagements are terminable with the usual notice.
M.- That being so, I wish to know whether the principle of preference to unionists is applied to all these temporary hands in the Commonwealth factory i
– The point has not yet been raised.
M. - I am raising it now. We have a Harness Factory, a Clothing Factory, a Woollen Mill, and a Small Arms Factory, and are contemplating other factories, and I should like to know. from Ministers who have been controlling the factories already in operation whether this principle of preference to unionists will apply to persons working in them. It will be seen that a very large number of people will be engaged in these factories throughout Australia.
– Other things being equal, I think it should.
t. - They will all be members of unions. The honorable member knows the benefits of unionism.
– I am aware of the benefits of legitimate unionism, and I do not wish to see legitimate unionism perverted. These factories are being established and carried on out of the revenues contributed to by unionists and non-unionists alike, and it is, in the circumstances, important that we should know whether those who are to find employment in them will be limited to the members of a particular section of the community. I ask for information on that point.
– I listened with interest and anxiety to the Honorary Minister. I did not expect any information from him ; he never has any. There never has been a Minister in this House who could give so little information upon any matter connected with the Department with which he was associated. Of course, the honorable member for Adelaide makes up for this in theatrical gasconading. His rhetoric was very fine indeed, and his acting perfect ; but I complain of his singular lack of knowledge concerning public matters about which we should be informed. I am still wanting information. I am representing the great taxpayers of Australia. The Government are at present proposing to spend the taxpayers’ money.
s. - The honorable gentleman is at present wasting the taxpayers’ time.
– I never wasted as much of it as the honorable gentleman did when on this side.
– When we asked for information, the honorable gentleman put the “ gag “ on.
K.- My honorable friends have adopted a refinement of the “ gag.” They move the adjournment of the debate. They have not the pluck to impose the “gag’ straightforwardly as we did. We have had the Estimates for 1909-10 flourished this evening. I have been told a score of times in this House, by the Attorney-General amongst others, that we never did anything on those Estimates. But the Honorary Minister was busily engaged for ten minutes in pointing out that we really did something after all in connexion with the new scheme of defence. I will take an opportunity later of referring to those Estimates more in detail, because they will answer a great many of the reckless statements recently made by members 01 the present Government. In the meantime, by this vote for mobilization store buildings and drill halls, we are asked to commit the country to an expenditure of £300,000. No details are forthcoming - the Minister has none.
– The Committee are committing themselves to an expenditure of £80,000, and not £300,000.
K.- It is understood that we are committing ourselves to a £300,000 proposal, as the footnote shows.
– Why did the honorable member not ask for details about the Federal Capital?
K.- Because every detail about the Capital was given to us last year by the Minister. The honorable member for Gippsland took very good care to note the details down, and to keep his notes for a whole year.
– The honorable member must keep to the question.
– I am replying to the unruly and disorderly interjections of the honorable member for Capricornia.
– There is no obligation to reply to interjections.
– But the honorable member is always taking me off the track. How much money is going to be spent on drill-halls, and how much on mobilization stores ? What is the estimated cost of these works? Does the Minister of Home Affairs know anything about the matter ?
– I do not know how much we are going to spend on either - I know the money is to be spent.
K.- The Minister only knows that the money is to be spent - so much for this great business man !
– I have to get the information from the Defence Department.
K.- The Minister tells us that everything is done in a business way, and yet he helplessly and limply says, “ I do not know how much is to be spent, but it is to be spent.”
– I do not know how; but when I get the adjustment from the Defence Department, I shall be on their track.
K.- Perhaps we who have to do the paying have no right to ask the question?
– I have to pay a good bit towards it myself.
K.- We ought to know now what plans are in progress in regard to the Military College. Last year we voted a good round sum, and now we are asked to vote a further £45,000, and still there is no plan or programme. What isthe total amount to be expended? Why is there not a footnote as to other items ? Weought to have an estimate of what the College is to cost fully complete and equipped ; and the same information ought to be forthcoming in regard to the mobilization storesI can do no more than enter my protest against the scurvy way in which the Committee is being treated by responsibleMinisters.
– Here are theitems of expenditure at the College.
K.- I see there is art item in connexion with a hospital, other items for a shed for bicycles and a cricket pavilion, and an item the details of which are not decided. The last is very illuminating. It is not my intention, however, to criticise these items ; my point is that, when we are asked to vote these large sums, we ought to have some plan of the complete building ; and that remark applies to every item here. We are committing ourselves to an expenditure of nearly £500,000 without any plan or specification showing the total expenditure.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division No. 4 (Post-office Buildings), £400,275.
.- I should like some information as to why there is no provision for the post-office at Casino. A new post-office has been recommended ; and I must say that the present building is absolutely dangerous. The Deputy Postmaster-General was at Casino a little while ago, and he said he did not know why the building did not tumble down.
y. - Will the honorable member not find an item in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department ?
– I have looked very carefully through the Estimates, and I do not see any proposed vote for a post-office at Casino. I know that it was one of the offices recommended to the Government for consideration in connexion with these additions. I should like to know why it has been omitted from the Estimates.
– It will probably be in the Estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
E. - I can assure the .Minister of Home Affairs that it is not in the
Estimates, and I should like to have some information on the subject from him.
– Unless a proposal to erect a post-office comes down from the Postmaster-General to me, I take no action.
E.- I thought that, in all probability, it was struck out of the Estimates, because I know that it was recommended by the Department. I have a letter to that effect.
– Presumably it has not come down from the PostmasterGeneral.
s. - I shall get the information and let the honorable member have it in the morning.
– If the Honorary Minister will do that I shall be satisfied.
– I should like to know when the wireless station at Pennant Hills is to be taken over by the Government and completed. Last year £5,800 was appropriated, and only £2,881 was expended. There seems to be almost a fatality about these wireless stations. For a year or two everything was almost in a matter of scare as to the urgency of these buildings, but somehow or other matters have fallen into a state of strange quietude during recent months. I think it is time that the Minister was able to tell the House that some of these buildings have been completed, and that soon we shall have them in working order. How long the erection of the station at Pennant Hills has taken I do not quite know. I know that a year ago it was being built. Why, at the end of a year, has it not been taken over?
y. - I believe that there is some dispute with the contractor. It is complete as far as my Department is concerned, except as to a few trifling things.
– Suppose that the contractor keeps on disputing with the Department is the safety of the country to be imperilled because of a row with him?
– It is not with us.
K.- This is supposed to be part of our Defence scheme, and a very useful and integral part of it, too. I do not think that a mere squabble with the contractor ought to prevent this wireless station from coming into use at the earliest possible moment. It seems to me that all he has to do is to keep on picking a quarrel with the Department, and it may be years before we take over the station. I should like to know what is the cause of this continued delay in connexion with the completion of wireless stations, and why we cannot get them properly under way.’ Is it because of some faulty specification in the first instance? Is it because the contractor is unable to complete his contract satisfactorily, and make the engines run as they should do? What are the prospects of this trouble being remedied and the service being brought into use?
– So far as my Department is concerned the matter is completed, but there are a few little things to do.
Pennant Hills - Wireless Station. - Provision of oil store and drainage - £607 - authorized on 26th October, 191 1, 27th October, 191 1, and 20th March, 1912.
Tanks : - Contract let to T. W. C. Raw on the 12th December, 191 1 - £86. Terms, three weeks. Date for completion, 2nd January, 1912.
Drainage : - Contract let to W. Greenfield on the 27th March, 1912 - £5141s. 6d. Terms, ten weeks. Date for completion, 5th June, 1912.
Works Director, New South Wales, on the 20th June, 1912, reported concrete foundations complete. Drainage half done.
s. - Is the apparatus effective? That is what we want to know.
– There is a number of little things like these to do before we take over the station.
Septic tank -£150 - authorized on the 27th October, 1911. Matter waiting until building more advanced.
Three residences - , £4,279 - authorized on the 6th November, 1911. Contract let to Hocking Bros, on the 22nd November, 1911,£4,279. Term, nineteen weeks. Date for completion, 3rd April, 1912. Works Director, New South Wales, 20th June, 1912, reported that one will be finished very shortly; others in progress.
– What has that contract to do with the wireless station ? It is for the erection of cottages for the men.
Y.- We want to get everything completed before the station is taken over. This contract is in the Postal Department, not in my Department. We only do the work, and then we are finished with it.
– Of all the explanations I have ever heard, commend me to that of the Minister of Home Affairs. I asked him when the contractor is likely to complete his contract for the erection of this wireless machinery, and he replied that the wireless station cannot be handed over until he has drained the country and built some houses for the men who are to live there.
h. - The honorable member knows full well that the station will “be taken over as soon, as it has passed a satisfactory test.
– That is what I want to know.
– That is what the Postmaster-General said the other night.
K.- Thanks for the information. It seems to me that a Minister is the last person we must apply to for any information.
– It is in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
K. - I dare say that the ex-Postmaster-General can tell us what the trouble is in connexion with the contract. Is the machinery wrong, or what is the trouble? Surely the wireless station is not to be held up until some houses are completed, and the country is drained ! Those are works which could proceed at any time while the public were getting the benefit of the wireless machinery. I do not want to know when the erection of the houses or the drainage will be completed, but when the machine itself will be working, and when wireless messages can be sent by the public in the performance of their daily business. I think it is time that the Committee got from the Minister a statement of what really is the trouble with the contractor.
– Last year for post-office buildings in Western Australia £38,136 was voted, and only £18,254 expended, leaving a balance of £19,882 unexpended. I have spoken about this matter before during the consideration of these Estimates, and now that we are dealing with the Works Estimates for the Department I must refer to it again. I cannot understand why a number of post-offices which people are very anxious to have, and for which money was available, were not constructed during the past year. For the Swan electorate, which sends me here, there are no less than nine post-offices on this small list.
r. - The honorable gentleman is lucky.
– I may mention that the Swan electorate is bigger than the whole of Victoria. The rule applies in Western Australia as in Victoria, that before a post-office is granted the existence of a certain amount of revenue must be shown. The sum of £[8,787 was voted for the erection of nine post-offices in my electorate, but not one of them has yet been begun. Were I not very generous minded, I should ask if this comes about because I am a member of the Opposition.
– They will be started very soon.
.- I am glad to hear it. There is probably no matter about which honorable members receive so many letters as the provision of POS 1 office accommodation and postal conveniences, and I hope that the Minister will push on with these works.
Great dissatisfaction is felt in Western Australia at the delay in opening for public use the wireless station at Fremantle. When I saw it some time ago it seemed to me an excellent piece of work, well constructed, and in every way suitable for its purpose,, and I understood from those in charge that it was almost ready for use. That was four or five months ago, and only the other day I heard that it is possible to easily and satisfactorily communicate from the station with Sydney. In the meantime the people of Fremantle are unable to use it to communicate with the vessels of the Peninsular and Oriental, Orient, NorddeutscherLloyd, and other steam-ship companies trading with the port. The Pennant Hills station, near Sydney, is still unutilized ; and we are not told from what cause. If there are any legal difficulties making it inadvisable for Ministers to give us information, I do not wish to complicate the position, but if Ministers have information that they can give us, I should like to know for the satisfaction of the people of Western Australia when the station will be open. “ Hope deferred maketh the heart sick,” and we should like some assurance that the station will be open for business within a short period’.
.- The sum of £128,000 is set down towards the cost of sites for post-office buildings. Does it include the cost of the site of the Perth Post-office?
y. - No; that is not on the Estimates. It was £[166,400.
– Is any amount set down here towards the construction of the Perth Post-office?
– Only £5,000.
– The resumption of .the Perth Post-office site is to be paid for out of loan money. The item- to which the honorable member directs attention is to provide for the purchase of post-office sites in important centres, but we have good and sufficient reason for not making known the various places where we intend to negotiate for sites. In the public interest it would be unwise to name the places where we hope to purchase sites. Of the amount on the Estimates, £26,000 will go to pay for a site already purchased in Melbourne; the rest of the money is for sites for which we are negotiating.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 5 (Telegraphs and Telephones) £830,000.
– I regret that it is necessary to refer to certain matters relating to the postal, telegraph, and telephone services, in the absence of the Postmaster-General ; but, no doubt, the Minister of External Affairs, who preceded him in office, will have some information to give us, and there may not be another opportunity for saying what I wish to say. It is not with any satisfaction that I criticise unfavorably the administration of this Department, because I recognise the magnitude of its work, the complexity of many of its problems, and the difficulty of keeping abreast with its vast business. It is the duty of honorable members to take an interest in this great, valuable, and important service, and to bring under the attention of the Postmaster-General matters of which he ought to be cognisant. By so doing, the public may be granted the increased postal facilities to which they are entitled, especially in view of the fact that we have now reached a period when no plea of insufficient funds can be put forward. The time was when Postmasters-General, upon being confronted with numerous demands, were obliged to give the stereotyped reply that, owing to lack of funds, those demands could not be granted. Today, however, there is an abundance of funds available in this connexion. Yet the Department scarcely keeps abreast of the improvements effected in other parts of the world. In view of the lateness of the hour, I shall endeavour to summarize my complaints as much as possible. In the first place, I wish to draw attention to certain suggestions which I made to the PostmasterGeneral on the 27th October last, shortly after my return from England. They were to the effect that the Department should institute inquiries into a number of improved and progressive telegraphic and telephonic instruments which are in use in London. As will be seen by reference to page 1950 of Hansard, I asked the PostmasterGeneral whether he would cause inquiries to be made and official reports obtained respecting the practicability and advisability of introducing, in connexion with the Commonwealth Telegraph Department, a number of telegraph instruments, said to embody the latest improvements in telegraphy. Among these were the Creed receiver and attachment, used to translate electrical signals sent by Wheatstone methods into printed messages ready for delivery. This Creed receiver is really a wonderful instrument, and it is strange that in a Department like our Post Office no attempt has been made to introduce such a time and labour-saving appliance, which would greatly add to the efficiency of the Wheatstone instrument. It is an appliance which actually prints the messages from the tape as it emerges from the Wheatstone instrument. I also asked the PostmasterGeneral whether he would inquire into the Hughes telegraph instrument. This appliance is fitted with keys corresponding to the letters of the alphabet, and these are worked like the keys of a piano. The instrument is capable of printing messages as they are received from the tape, and forms one of the marvels of the Central Telegraph Office in London. But an even more wonderful instrument is that to which the third paragraph of my question relates, namely, the Baudot instrument. This is fitted with five keys, and is capable of sending four messages each way at the same time along one and the same wire, and of printing each message asit is received. All these appliances have been demonstrated by experience in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, and India, to be of great value, and ought, therefore, to be utilized in all great Departments, such as the Postal Department in Australia. Fancy an instrument which is so wonderfully constructed that eight messages can be sent over the same wire simultaneously, and these messages actually come out of the instrument printed ready for delivery. When I saw these marvellous demonstrations, it struck me that, despite all our boasted progress, we in Australia were not sufficiently up to date. I could not but wonder what our officers had been doing that they had not directed attention to these scientific devices, by which not merely time and labour, but money might actually be saved. I was informed that when the Baudot instrument was introduced into India, it resulted in the saving of thousands of pounds, which would otherwise have been absorbed in the construction of telegraph lines, because of the possibility of utilizing one wire to send four messages each way simultaneously.- I invited the attention of the Postmaster-General to these matters on 27th October last year, and I was informed that -
No unnecessary delay will take place in the introduction of the system when a decision has been arrived at.
Since then Mr. Hesketh has been to London. What he has done I do not know. But I invite the Postmaster-General to redirect his attention to these matters, in the hope that something will be done to hustle the Department, and to insist upon our officers bringing our telegraph and telephone services up to date. They cannot plead poverty or want of funds ; and, particularly in connexion with the building of new lines, such as the proposed transcontinental railway and other means of communication to our distant outposts, the Postmaster-General should insist on these new instruments and devices, which have been demonstrated to be successful in England, India, and on the Continent of Europe, having a fair trial. The reproach should be no longer laid against our Post and Telegraph Department that it is behindhand. I have not seen any reports from Mr. Hesketh as to those services.
s. - He has only just returned to Australia.
– I hope that the Postmaster-General will place himself in communication with Mr. Hesketh, and insist on something being done. The head man in the Central Office in London told me that there would be no difficulty in introducing these machines into Australia ; that if our Department required advice or assistance, or the loan of some of their experts to teach our officers to use these delicate and, it may be, complicated instruments, men would be lent on the same terms as they were lent to India, without any premium. I hope that the Postmaster- General will devote his best judgment to this matter. I shall be happy to place at his disposal the report which I have received from the Central Telegraph Office in London. I have no desire to worry or nag at him, but I do think that the time has now arrived when I might reasonably expect an answer to a question that I put last year. I think that if the Postmaster-
General gives special attention to this subject, he will be forced to give these improved machines a fair trial, and not allow Australia to lag behind any longer. The result will be a saving in money, and also in working expenses, which will fully justify any extra expenditure incurred in procuring these instruments, and bringing them into action. I wish now to draw attention to a matter which requires explanation. Although Parliament last year placed at the disposal of the Postmaster-General a very liberal grant for erecting telephone and telegraph lines in various parts of Australia, the Department has not seemed to be able to avail itself of the money that it applied for. Upon referring to page 239 of these Estimates, honorable members will find that £700,000 was actually appropriated last year for new telephones and telegraphs. Below that sum is mentioned an amount of £600,000, which was ordered to be placed to the Trust Fund for telephones and telegraphs, constituting special works. It was pointed, out that that procedure might result in difficulties, and consequently the £600,000 was included in a special Appropriation Act. The Act is to be found on page 95 of the Volume of Statutes for 191 1. It contains a schedule, appropriating an amount to special works. So that this sum was set .aside under a special Act of Parliament in addition to the £700,000 contained in the Appropriation Act. I find by reference to the Prime Minister’s Budget speech, Hansard, page 1575, the following passage -
In addition to the amount of ,£830,000 provided this year for telegraphs and telephones and for wireless telegraphy, the Department will probably spend ,£429,460 the balance unexpended of the ,£600,000 specially provided last year and paid into a special Trust account.
What I wish to draw attention t.o is that of the £600,000 paid into a special Trust Account for telephones and telegraphs, only the small sum of £171,000 was spent last year.
– It was not intended to be spent in one year.
.- It ought to have been spent on works duly authorized.
– The Department spent within £7,000 of the amount appropriated.
.- There was a balance of £429,000 out of the £600,000.
– The £600,000 was for two years.
.- That was intended to be spent on works required in addition to the .£700,000.
– But it was not expected to be spent in one year.
.- But why did the Department want the extraappropriation if it was not ready and willing to go on with the proposed expenditure?
– The Department did. spend £171,000 of the special amount.
.- It ought to have been prepared to go further, and carry out other works which were authorized at the time; because I know, as a fact, that numerous other works were authorized. Many of them had been waiting for two years.
– Had the Department the material ? They could not do the work unless they had the material.
.- I can mention several works that have been delayed, not from want of material, but through extraordinary and unexplained delay. I know of two lines that were authorized two years ago, and are not finished yet. One was a telephone line between Kangaroo Flat and Laanecoorie. The Minister will be interested to know the particulars, and will Form his own opinion as to whether there is not reasonable ground for criticism. This case is typical of the delay that occurs. Thje work was authorized in 1910. The money was voted. There was a delay of three inonths in the preparation of the bond and of the maintenance agreement, and on inquiries re another line. That brings us to September, 1910. From that time onward, there was adelay of ten or eleven months in the execution of the bond and maintenance agreement.
– That may have been the fault of the people.
.- The bond was sent in, but the Department evidently slept upon it. I should like to know why, when a work is approved, the necessary money made available, and the requisite bond sent in, the Department does not draw attention to any little informality in that bond. There was a delay of eleven months in the execution of the bond and maintenance agreement in this case.
– I think the honorable member ought to be thankful that it was not a delay of eighteen months.
.- Perhaps so. This brings us up to September, 191 1. Since then I have received official information from the Minister in this House that ten months have been occupied in laying out work, preparing details, calling tenders for poles - iron-bark poles having been tendered and rejected - and calling for fresh tenders for cheaper timber not to exceed the estimate. This brings us up to 25th July last. Ten months have been absorbed by these extraordinary delays.
– Is the line finished ?
.- I do not think it has been started. The line in question is to extend from Kangaroo Flat to Laanecoorie, a distance of 20 miles, and the estimated cost is £300. In regard to this small work there has been a delay of two years. As another example of delay, let me point out what has happened in regard to a proposed telephone line from Raywood to Kamarooka, a. distance of 12 miles. The estimated cost of this line, which was authorized two years ago, would not be more than £250. I asked the Minister recently to give the reasons for the delay. I had no desire to refleet on any one, and I made my request as polite as possible. The official statement as to the causes of the delay is set out in several paragraphs. First of all, we have the statement that the delay was due to failure on the part of the residents concerned to execute the maintenance agreement until a period of nine months had elapsed from the time they were notified of the terms upon which the line would be constructed
-That was not the fault of the Department.
– It was. The agreement was sent in, but the Department evidently slept upon it, and did not send it back at once for rectification. Then we have the further excuses -
That may be a circumstance over which the Department has no control; but, on the other hand, one cannot help wondering why the Department has not a big stock of wire-
– Did not the honorable member say it was difficult in the past to obtain money for the requirements of the Department ?
.- But since July, 1909, when I took office as PostmasterGeneral, there has been plenty of money available for the Department. There was plenty in my time, and there has been plenty ever since. We have been granting between £800,000 and £900,000 a year for telephones and telegraphs, and one would think that the Department ought by this time to have accumulated a fair stock of wire.
– The Department has spent all that has been appropriated.
– No ; evidently the sum of £600,000 has not been expended. Surely some of it should have been spent in securing a supply of wire. That would not have involved the employment of a large staff. Honorable members generally complain of the delay in carrying out these works, and one of the causes assigned is the want of material. This expenditure of £600,000 was authorized last year, and one would think that the Department could have obtained a supply of material from the Old Country within six months. I ask the Minister to inquire what orders for material have been sent to Londonsince the Department have had money available for the purpose, and why this shortage of material has occurred. It seems to be to a large extent inexcusable. Even the occurrence of the shipping strike extending over three months is not a sufficient ground for the extraordinary delay that has taken place. A further cause of delay in constructing this line was stated as follows: -
– The honorable member was promised an inquiry into that matter.
.- I was; but I think it of sufficient importance to bring it again under the attention of the Minister. These delays, which may be occurring in other directions, show the necessity for Ministerial scrutiny and vigilance. If these matters are not closely followed up by the Minister, the Department may get behind with its work, and there is sure to be a slackness which will lead to criticism. I offer this criticism with a view of placing before the Minister information that will give him a more commanding position in his Department. Unless he is informed of the facts, he cannot rectify a grievance. Something ought to be done to speed up the Department, and to induce it to obtain a ready stock of material for carrying out small works of the kind to which I have referred. If I were in office, I should insist upon an ample supply of such material being available. If the trouble were due to a lack of delicate telegraphic instruments, one could understand that there might be delay in securing them; but there cannot be any scarcity of wire»in the great markets of the world such as would justify the plea of the Department. I hope that as the result of these suggestions the Minister will be able before long to announce that the Telegraph Branch has been equipped with some of the up-to-date instruments that I have specified, and that the departmental resources have been brought up to the demands of the public. I could enumerate complaints of the character to which I have referred, which have come from various districts, but I do not desire to do so. Complaint as to delay in carrying out small works is general. Only to-day I received from a constituency which I do not represent, and shall not mention, a letter complaining of delay in carrying out ordinary telephonic extensions.
– That may be; but taking Victoria as a whole, there was never as much money spent by the Department as was spent last year.
– I should like to know how it is that all these orders are given, and the money taken, while the work has not been carried out.
.- I wish to indorse what the honorable member for Bendigo has said with regard to what appears to me to be the altogether unnecessary delay in making telephone extensions. Just before the close of last session the Postmaster-General was asked how many country telephone lines were approved, how many lines the Department expected to construct during the year, and how many were under consideration. Speaking from memory, I think that the answer was that ninety-six lines were approved, that fortyeight were expected to be constructed during the financial year, and that 132 were under consideration. The work of telephone construction has been going from bad to worse in the last twelve months. There is a gross lack of ordinary business management evident. If the Department were run on business lines, it would not be in the position in which it was placed in New South Wales, when it had not a coil of wire to carry on necessary telephone extensions.
n. - They say they were held up by the strike in London.
– Even if they were, surely, if the Department were run on business lines, they would have more than three months’ supply of material on hand.
I Can mention the case of a rather long line, from Tabulam to Tenterfield, a distance of 49 miles, the construction of which has been approved, for a long time. The first excuse given for delay in construction was that the Department could not get the necessary labour. After consultation with the mayor of Tenterfield, and some residents along the line, I had all the necessary labour promised, and expert labour at that. When I sent this information to the Department, they sent back word that they had no wire. I went to Sydney, and discovered not only that they had no wire, but that the quantity under order would not have kept them going for more than a fortnight. I believe that in due time some wire did come to hand, and when I made fresh application for the construction of this line, I got the reply that the Department had no insulators. So we get one excuse after another. The figures given by the Postmaster-General, in answer to the question put to him last session, were a sufficient indication that the Department were getting behind with their work. The Postmaster-General told me here, two days before the session closed, that he was ashamed to give the House such an answer to the question. But since that time matters have gone from bad to worse. Necessary work that has been approved is piling up, and people have been waiting for years for necessary telephone lines.
– We spent more money than was appropriated in New South Wales last year.
E. - That may be so, but it was not upon country telephone lines. The money was spent in undergrounding city lines, and I have no doubt that the work cost a good deal more than was anticipated. There are two centres in my electorate where butter factories have been established, and have applied for lines which have been approved. The population is increasing, and there is any amount of business waiting for the lines. Any one who knows anything about a butter factory will know that it must be in direct communication with a shipping centre, so that the managers may learn exactly when to ship their butter. This is particularly the case in the district to which I refer, where shipping is somewhat uncertain, owing to the state of the harbor. I hope the Government will endeavour to carry out these works expeditiously. They have the money, and all that is required is a little ordinary business management, to see that supplies of the necessary stores will be kept on hand. I can assure the Government they will have no difficulty in securing the necessary labour, if they will provide the material and a man to supervise the work.
– I agree with the remarks of the honorable member . for Bendigo with respect to the short stocks of material for telephone extensions. It may be admitted that the work with which the Department have to cope is considerable; but the task of storing large supplies of necessary materials should be about the easiest with” which they are faced, in view of the fact that they have plenty of money.
s. - They are spending all the money they have.
– I am aware of that, but money might very easily be provided for the purchase of necessary supplies of material. One branch of telephone construction which should be encouraged is the trunk-line branch. I know of three or four trunk lines in my own constituency which have been- delayed, not because the Department have not been able to carry on the work of erecting the necessary poles, but because they have not had a sufficient supply of copper wire. I should- like the Minister to take note of a phase of telephone construction that requires more attention than has so far been given to it. I refer to the building of party, or private, telephone lines. We should encourage farmers and residents of sparsely-settled districts to erect private lines, and have them connected with the public lines in a district or with the local exchange.
– That is where the Department do not do the work themselves.
N.- Quite so. I am in a position to state that in quite a number of instances there have been undue delays on the part of the Department in having necessary agreements signed, arrangements made, and sanction given for the undertaking of works of this kind. There is another phase of telephone construction which requires reforming. I refer to the case where residents are prepared to contribute a certain proportion of a total cost of a line, either in material or cash, if the Department find that they are not justified in constructing the line under the guarantee system or as a public line. The Department declines to make any refund even when a line becomes payable, and earns full interest and working expenses ; and this seems to me to be an injustice. Every possible encouragement should be given to the construction of private lines; and this is a matter of serious import which should not be treated lightly.
– Who is treating it lightly ?
N. - Doubtless the Department has had a Herculean task in connexion with the construction of telephone lines, owing to the great number of applications from all parts of Australia, and it was only in 1909 that the honorable member for Bendigo,as Postmaster-General, initiated a bold policy of construction in connexion with the Post Office. The present Government have done much in the way of voting large sums of money, the bulk of which, I believe, has been properly expended in country districts ; but it is, perhaps, impossible for them to keep pace with growing requirements. Private telephone lines mean that money has not to be paid out of the Treasury, and that, in the future, so much money will not have to be borrowed as might otherwise be the case. I certainly think that, as the residents are prepared to take the risk to the extent of one-third or one-half of the cost of construction, there should be a refund in the case of the success of the line, for the Department derives the whole of the benefit of the revenue. There is no necessity for a subsidy from the people, for, in other cases, where a line shows an immediate prospect of paying, the Government bear the whole of the cost. Some time ago, when this matter was under discussion in connexion with some lines in Sydney, the Postmaster-General said, when I unsuccessfully moved an amendment, that he would like to look into the -matter, and try to liberalize the conditions. The amendment I then moved was to the effect that in the case of all those lines where a contribution had been made to the cost of erection by private persons or public bodies, and the lines had subsequently become paying lines, the Governor-General in Council should refund the full amount contributed. The request I make is a reasonable one, and I think it ought to be granted.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta; [11.0]. - I notice that while the sum of £17,850 is proposed for the installation of metallic circuits in New South Wales, £98,500 is proposed for a similar purpose in Victoria ; and there was the same disproportion last year.
– There were more metallic circuits in New South Wales in years gone by.
K.- I do not know of any metallic circuit in an exchange in Sydney; and the sooner the whole thing is taken in hand seriously the better. We keep on voting huge sums of money for this Department, and we do not seem to get any nearer to the end of our difficulties.
– This year it is proposed to vote £234,000 for the construction of works, instruments, the undergrounding of wires, and so forth, in New South Wales.
K.- I am not complaining about the amount proposed to be expended ; I merely wish to know if there is any prospect in the near future of our getting silent telephones in Sydney. I do not care how much money we vote - the more we vote, perhaps, the better - but is it in the mind of the Postmaster-General to convert the system to the metallic circuit?
– I should say that that is in the Postmaster-General’s mind, when he proposes to expend £234,000, in view of the fact that only £124,000 was spent last year.
K.- There is nothing in the Estimates to show that this £234,000 is for the purpose of providing silent telephones. Some ten years ago a Royal Commission, or the Public Works Committee of New South Wales, submitted a report showing what the cost of this conversion would be. I think that the cost was estimated at about £140,000. We have spent, I should think, millions in Sydney alone in construction work of one kind and another since then, and the system is not as silent now as it was at that time. I know that it is a much bigger and more complex system, but it will not get any easier year by year unless a definite move on a bold scale is made to convert it at some point or other. I should like to know what is in the mind of the Department, as they go on from year to year putting down this new plant. Is it all done in preparation for a complete conversion of the whole system at some time or other?
.- I should like to know whether the Estimates before the Committee include that very important extension from Wollongong to Nowra and Jervis Bay, which was ap proved of about two years ago, and which I understood was delayed in consequence of the Department running out of copper wire,?
s. - I cannot say, but I will get the information for the honorable member.
– I shall be very much obliged to the Minister if he will. I also wish to get some information regarding the line from Mossvale to Robertson via Burrawang, which was approved of a long time ago by the Department, and which I was notified two or three weeks, ago would be carried out as soon as funds were provided. Is that extension also included in these Estimates?
– I shall inquire and let the honorable member know.
R.- As the Minister has promised to get the information I desire, I must be satisfied. I want now to refer to the answer which was given to me this afternoon by the Prime Minister, when I sought information regarding what is now known everywhere as “ the manonthejob.” I, in common with other honorable members, was anxious to obtain from the right honorable gentleman information regarding this matter, which he considers as settled, simply because he read a report to the House, although he mentioned in a statement last week that it was the result of reports furnished by different inspectors. He takes it for granted, that because the report he read bears the signature of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral for Victoria that absolutely settles the matter. Surely we are entitled to know the names of the inspectors who made the reports on which that officer based his communication. I can easily understand that in diplomatic matters it might be advisable to suppress names in connexion with reports, but not where we are asked to vote the people’s money in this way. Although accusations of a very strong character had been made by one of the leading journals of Melbourne, and also by honorable members supporting the Government, yet the Prime Minister refused to give the House the information on a matter which he contends is settled. That is, I think, slighting Parliament, to say the least of it. Surely the representatives of the people are entitled to know the basis of the report of the Deputy Postmaster-General. I object very strongly to being treated in this fashion. I hope the Prime Minister will see that we are as much entitled to know these names as he is.
– I do not know.
R.- It is the duty of the Prime Minister to find out the names, lt is the duty of the Postmaster-General to know these things, even if his leader does not.
– I said to the honorable member that I accepted Mr. Bright’s word absolutely.
R. - I am not satisfied with that.
– And I’ do now.
k. - Does Mr. Bright say that he accepts these reports in every detail? He does not.
- Mr. Bright does nothing of the sort. He sent a report along merely with his signature attached to it. 1 can assure the Prime Minister that I am not the only member who is dissatisfied with the situation. I believe that there are honorable members on his own side who are not satisfied with the way in which he has treated the House generally in this matter. I hope that he will reconsider the position, and see that the House is given the information to which it is entitled.
– The Prime Minister will remember that he made . a statement to this House on this subject at a very late hour on Thursday night.
r. - I made it at the time the Leader of the Opposition asked me to do so.
– I do not deny that for a moment, and I am sorry that the honorable member is withdrawing from the Chamber.
– There will be another “ man on the job “ !
R. - The Prime Minister’s statement on Thursday night was referred to briefly by the Leader of the Opposition, and immediately afterwards honorable members were confined to the item before the Committee. I did not complain of the action of the Chairman, because it was in accordance with the rules of the House, but I was not satisfied by any means with the Prime Minister’s statement.
– No one would expect the honorable member to be satisfied ; he was disappointed.
R.- I was satisfied to this extent, that the Prime Minister admitted generally the allegations made by the press,
– Did not that satisfy you?
R. - The Prime Minister admitted sufficient to whet the appetite of honorable members for a good deal more information. I have reason to know that the Department concerned has in its possession written statements by inspectors and officers responsible for the conduct of this work which justify the allegations that were made. On the first opportunity to-day I asked ihe Prime Minister that the written statements of inspectors and other responsible officers in the possession of the Department might be laid on the table. The honorable member for Parkes, and, I think, another honorable member, urged the same request, but the right honorable gentleman refused to lay the information on the table. During twenty years of parliamentary experience, I have never known a Government to refuse to lay on the table documents relating to a matter on all-fours with this. There may be papers respecting negotiations not completed, which a Government is justified in withholding temporarily, but I have never known a refusal on all-fours with that under discussion. It was stated in Saturday’s Argus that a representative of that newspaper waited “on a member of the Government, and asked to be allowed to see the papers, but was refused. The Prime Minister may plead justification for withholding the information from the press, though, in my view, his action was evidence of weakness ; but honorable members, in their representive capacity, have an absolute right to see these papers, and to know what complaints have been made, and how they have been dealt with. Why are Estimates submitted to Parliament if it is not for analysis and criticism, and how can the representatives of the people justify their election if Ministers will not inform them fully and clearly of the actual position of affairs when allegations are made such as have appeared in the press? What must be the result to the taxpayers of inefficiency in connexion with the public expenditure? We are asked to vote upwards of £4,000,000 on public works, and I protest against the action of the Government in refusing our requests for information, which is unprecedented in the history of British Parliaments.
– The request of the honorable member for Illawarra is absolutely reasonable and justifiable. Is the Committee to be refused access to the official documents dealing’-with important questions raised by the consideration of these Estimates?
n. - The information was given last week.
– It was not. It was asked for this afternoon, and refused, and when the request was repeated this evening, the Prime Minister walked out of the Chamber.
– He replied three times to-day to the questions that were put to him.
M.- He thrice declined to give information. The rights of all honorable members are at stake.
– That is what we thought when we asked the Government of which the honorable member was a Minister for information regarding the Premiers’ Conference.
M.- The House was given all the official information. No papers were refused.
– That Government pointblank refused any information.
– The request was unreasonable ; that is why.
– It was unreasonable, probably because it was not based on the existence of written documents in the possession of the Ministry. There must be a curious reason for refusing this information. Evidently we are to have government by secret methods. This is not a party matter; it affects the rights of all members, and honorable gentlemen opposite are supporting a precedent which they may find later is a dangerous one.
– What information is wanted?
M. - The names of the inspectors who furnished reports, and copies of the reports. This is the first time in the history of this Parliament when important information relating to public affairs, for tlie keeping of which secret no reason is given, has been refused. The Prime Minister sa’ys that the whole thing is settled. By whom has it been settled? There has been no vote to settle it. In these Estimates the sum of £80,000 is set down for the construction and erection of telephone lines in Queensland. What lines is it proposed to construct with the money during the financial year?
– I can get the particulars for the honorable member.
M. - I shall be very glad if the Minister will supply that information to-morrow.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes) L”-2S]- - I was very much surprised to hear a Minister of the Crown justify the Government for refusing to produce public papers because on a previous occasion some other Ministry had declined to disclose the proceedings of a secret Conference. The Honorary Minister appears to think that it is a complete answer to the complaints which have been made regarding “ the man on the job “ to remind the honorable member for Darling Downs that some years ago a Government of which he was a member refused to reveal the proceedings of a Conference at which secret questions of finance were discussed. It has been said again and again that the charges have been looked into and explained. They have never been explained. Honorable members upon this side of the chamber have asked that the reports written by officers of the Department, and addressed to Ministers, should be laid on the table of the House in order that we may see what truth there was in the scandal which was pointed at the Government in connexion with this matter. They have refused to put those reports upon the table.
– Have they ever been asked for before?
H. - They have been asked for several times. I happen to know that if those papers are laid upon the table of the House they will condemn the Government before the people of this country.
– How does the honorable member know that?
H.- I know it from persons who have seen them, and I challenge the Government to lay them on the table. They are afraid to do so. because, after repeated contradiction, they will stand condemned by their own officers. I am not talking without knowledge. I know from persons who’ have seen them, that there are in the Department reports which, if their contents were disclosed, would condemn the Government, and support the charges made.by the Argus. I again challenge the Government to produce them. In my thirty years of parliamentary life I have never heard of a Ministry refusing to lay public reports on the table of the House. I know that they are afraid to do so. I challenge them publicly to do so, and thus to save a continuance of a gross scandal in this country.
– I challenge the honorable member to disclose the name of his informant.
– I wish to know from the Minister in charge of the House how long we are expected to stay here to-night?
s. - Until these Estimates are passed.
– We will count out the Committee again.
s. - Honorable members opposite were only able to do that because I was absent through illness.. They cannot do it now.
– That seems to be a reflection on the Acting Government Whip. He did his best, under the circumstances, and if the honorable member for Newcastle had been present he could have done no more. But if we are expected to finish these Estimates to-night all I have to say is that there is no honorable member opposite who can stay here longer than I can. I think that the request made foi the production of the reports relating to the charges made by the Argus is a reasonable one. I have never known official reports to be laid on the table of the House without the signatures of the persons who made them being attached to them. But what have we in this case? A covering letter from Mr. Bright, the Deputy Postmaster-General, who is technically, but only technically, responsible for these reports.
– He is a very reliable man.
K. - I have not said that he is not. But I have asked previously, “ Will Mr. Bright say that these reports are authentic, and that they are all the reports which are available upon the subject?” He has done nothing but forward them to Ministers. He says that they are the reports which have reached him. From where? From the Electrical Engineer? Where did that officer get them? Nobody knows. The reports are nameless.
– Is the honorable member reading from Hansard?
K.- I will oblige my honorable friend by telling him that I am.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the honorable member is in order in quoting from Hansard of the current session?
.- I understand that the honorable member for Parramatta was reading something from the current debate in Hansard, and, if so, he was perfectly in order.
– This is the most extraordinary presentation of reports that I have known during the whole of my parliamentary experience. Here is a matter which has assumed grave proportions outside of this Chamber. It affects the expenditure of the taxpayer’s money. 1 almost beg the taxpayer’s pardon for daring to mention him in the presence of the Caucus. He seems to be the last person in the world to be considered here
– We have never “gagged” things through this House.
s. - Some poor manual labourer has been found taking a little rest and honorable members opposite desire to hound him down.
– It is the poor labouring man who has to foot the bill for this kind of thing.
– Is he paying the £1,300,000 land tax?
K.- I venture to say that the working man is finally paying the great bulk of the land tax. Every one should know that. He is paying it in the shape of increased rentals in the city.
– How can it be a class tax then?
K.- It is a class tax all right, and that is why it is being paid in that manner.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the land tax.
– I am addressing myself to these Estimates, and pointing out that the working man has to foot the bill. He is, therefore, interested in seeing that he gets full value for the money he has to pay, just as he has to give full value for the money he earns. That is a sound principle. We are entitled, in view of what has taken place, to have the reports of the responsible officers, with their names attached. Moreover, we are entitled to have the reports of the officers who were engaged in the supervision of the work in question at the time the alleged offences took place. They are the only men who can report responsibly. If the reports are favorable to the Government, why does not the Government make a triumph for itself by presenting them ?
– Because Ministers denied the charges before they had seen the reports.
y. - All the other charges than those replied to have been proved to be frivolous
– That is a frivolous remark. First, we have the report of Mr. Bright, who says that he forwards a summary of the reports to the Acting Electrical Engineer. Then the Acting Electrical Engineer submits this report -
I submit herewith reports from the responsible officers in connexion with the various criticisms in the press.
I should like to see the reports from the responsible officers concerning the facts mentoned in the Argus.
– So should I. Quite right. We want the truth.
K.- I am afraid that we cannot take the matter much further. We are not strong enough on this side to-night. But somebody ought to be able to stand up and demand the production of these papers. If the Minister has acted bond fide, what has he to fear? He cannot see everything that is taking place. No one expects him to do so.
– I will tell the honorable member what the Minister fears. He fears that he will be condemned by his own officers.
s. - Has some one in the Department been telling the honorable member that?
– Sooner or later the facts will come out. If they cannot be got out by the Select Committee asked for by the honorable member for Wakefield, they will come out some other way, I have no doubt. Facts like these cannot be kept back, however much the Government and their solid supporters may try to blink the matter; I say that we have a perfect right to know what the facts are. I have that right as a member of the public, and as a representative of Australia. When I ask for information concerning the expenditure of public money, I have a right to get it from the Government. It is said by honorable members who appear to know that there are reports in the office which condemn the work in question -
– How do they know?
K.- How do these things leak out of public offices ?
– By somebody going found, spying and sneaking.
K.- I do not know of any one who has been spying and sneaking.
– It is the only way they can get these things.
K. - I have heard some information about the honorable member - that he is remarkably successful in getting his people jobs.
– I wish I were. I have tried very hard, but I have failed.
K.- The honorable member has been pretty successful. Two or three of his prominent supporters at the last election have been very comfortably fixed up.
– What luck did the honorable member himself have?
K.- The luck of the honorable member for Corangamite is in. Good luck to him, I say, if the men are good men. Do the Ministry intend to give the House the information asked for?
– If the honorable member would sit down the Minister of Home Affairs might give him some information.
K. - This Minister?
K.- As a rule the Minister in charge of Estimates does give explanations on items. But during the consideration of these Estimates there appears to have been nothing of the kind. When things get a little sultry and awkward honorable members opposite put up one of their party to make a political speech, and to indulge in fireworks without reference to any particular matter. Honorable members opposite applaud, and there the whole thing ends. They do not desire any explanation. They do not care how the money goes as long as it does go, and is spent. They do not desire that the country shall have any information on the subject. They, therefore, applaud when these small political speeches, are being made, but the fact is that there has never been a Ministry that has furnished so little information as the present Government have done concerning a proposed expenditure of millions, such as that to which the Committee is now asked to agree.
– I wish to protest against the way in which the Committee has been treated in connexion with this matter. The Prime Minister has not only refused to give the information which hie has been asked again and again in this House to supply - he has not only refused to lay certain reports on the table of the House - but has read to us only portion of a report, and has suppressed a large portion of it. He did not read the whole of the report, and when he was requested once more to supply the information he walked out in a cavalier fashion, and, while in the gallery, said, in a loud tone of voice, “ I will leave someone else on the job.” ,He should not treat the Committee in this way.
e. - Does the honorable member know that what he ‘says is correct?
– I have very good reason to believe that it is. I say that the Prime Minister did not read the whole of the reports that he had here, and which he refused to lay on the table. As a member of this House I have a right to know the contents of these reports, and who made them. They should be public property, and we should know what is in them.
– Does not the honorable member know what they contain?
– Then, how can he say that any portion of them has been suppressed ?
E.- We know that the whole contents of the reports have not been given to us. Reports were sent in with a covering letter by Mr. Bright, but he cannot take responsibility for them. There must be a reason for these reports being refused to us._____
– Suppressed !
E. - Yes, suppressed. It is quite evident that the publication of the reports would be against honorable members opposite, or against the Government; otherwise they would have been given to us at once. Very serious allegations we’re made by a responsible newspaper - the Argus - allegations about workmen getting drunk; allegations of workmen assaulting those in authority over them, and other charges. In that part of the report read by the Prime Minister those allegations were not denied. Part of the report read by the Prime Minister bore out the charges made by the Argus, but we have been refused full information upon the subject. The Prime Minister’s action will reflect, not only upon him, but upon the Government, and the public will want to know as 1 do what is in these reports.
– The public have to pay.
E.- The public have to foot the bill for all these works, and, although honorable members opposite may treat this matter with levity, they will find that the public will not regard it in the same light.
– Does the honorable member think that this case is as bad as the McSharry case?
E. - That is ancient history. Ask the honorable member for Parkes about it. He will give all the information.
– What did the newspapers of New South Wales say about the McSharry case?
E.- That has nothing to do with this matter. We are here as representatives of the people, yet we are refused certain information regarding very grave charges that have been made by a responsible newspaper. The public want to know what is at the bottom of these charges. The Prime Minister, however, has refused us information and has not treated us with the courtesy to which we are entitled. I enter my protest against the way in which we have been treated.
– The amounts involved in this subdivision are very large indeed, but with that slovenliness which has characterized the Government’s treatment of these Estimates, they have simply been flung on the table. No information has been volunteered by Ministers in charge of the various divisions of the Estimates, and when the Opposition in pursuance of their bounden duty as representatives of the people, and as supposed custodians of the public purse, ask for information they are treated with the utmost contempt.
y. - Oh, no.
– They have been treated with absolute contempt by the Prime Minister, whose arrogant demeanour is becoming intolerable, while other Ministers, either because they know nothing about the details, or are unwilling to disclose them, have refused information for which the Opposition have asked.
– This is another evidence of the way in which the Caucus is destroying Parliament.
ON.- It is. It shows that: our system of parliamentary government is being undermined, and that some other system unknown to responsible government, as the term is understood in the British Empire, is being substituted for it. I have never known or heard of an Opposition being treated as we are being treated by this uncouth Government. VVhen an honorable member on this side of the House’ asks for information respecting any item of expenditure he is treated with contumely by Ministers, and is received with jeers by Ministerial supporters. How would honorable members opposite like to be treated in the same way if they were on this side of the House, and what sort of a time would a Government, no matter what its majority might be, have at their hands if they were in Opposition? I wish to institute a comparison between these items. The first item to which I refer reads, “ Construction and extension of telephone lines, instruments, and material, including construction of conduit and placing wires underground - £234,600.” We ask where these works are to be carried out, and we can get no reply. The next item is, “ New trunk lines,” for which £20,600 is asked, and no information is afforded as to where they are to be erected. Because we request this information we are treated with scorn, and as if we were guilty of gross impertinence in asking how the money we are; asked to vote is to be expended. There is another item, “ Metallic circuits in existing single- wire networks - £[17,850.” This is the amount asked for this service for New South Wales, but for the same service in Victoria no “less than £98,500 is asked, although the population to be served in New South Wales is certainly very much greater than the population in Victoria. Surely it is reasonable that we should ask how this money is to be expended? We should be given some information also as to when the Government propose to establish silent telephones in New South Wales. The Minister who is supposed to be in charge of these Estimates is not paying the slightest attention to a word that is being said, and as a protest against this disgraceful way of dealing with, public expenditure I move -
That the item “ Metallic circuits in existing single-wire networks, ^98,500,” be reduced by
.- I do not know how long the Government are prepared to submit-
k. - I think that before the honorable member begins his speech we. should have a quorum.
– There is a quorum present.
– I do not know how long the Government are prepared to accept the extremely humiliating position in which they have been placed. The Prime Minister has refused to lay on the table the reports of inspectors which have been asked for. The honorable member for Parkes has made a direct challenge to the Government. He says that he is in possession of information which enables him to say that if these reports are laid on the table the Government will stand condemned by their own officials. The Minister of External Affairs, with the supercilious air which he has so much affected recently, nods his head, but very few men occupying such a position would be content to nod their heads in that selfsatisfied fashion as the only answer to the direct challenge of”the honorable member for Parkes. This is only on a par with the action of the Government when one of their own supporters this afternoon charged them with having “ nobbled “ an expert before he left Melbourne.
– Order ! ‘ The honorable member must now confine himself to the amendment.
– I think, with all respect, that the Estimates and the amendment are both before the Chair. Do you rule, sir, that I cannot speak to the general motion?
– Not until the amendment is disposed of.
– I presume that I can now speak geneally on the motion before the Chair. I was pointing out that the present position of the Government is on a par with the position in which they were placed by an accusation of one of their own supporters.
h. - In which he charged the Government with “ nobbling.”
– Yes, with having a matter fixed up before an expert left Melbourne. They are now faced- with a direct challenge from the honorable member for Parkes, who says that he knows that if the reports of certain officials are laid on the table the Ministry will stand condemned by them.
– How does he know that ?
R.- That is not for me to say. There is the direct challenge, and if it were not true we know that the first thing the Government would do would be to lay the reports oh the table, in order to put the honorable member for Parkes in the position which he would deserve to occupy if his statement was not correct. If members of the Government had any sense of the dignity of their position they would not remain passive under such a challenge, but would see that the matter was sifted to the bottom.
– We challenged honorable members opposite three years ago, and they maintained the dignity of their position by putting the “gag” on us.
R. - In what connexion?
– In connexion with information respecting the finances of the country.
R.- It was the party to which the honorable member belongs who introduced the “ gag,” and has since introduced other “ gags,” not only for . this Chamber, but for the press. This makes me think of the old leaders of Parliament. When I went into the Parliament of New South Wales, nearly twenty years ago, the old leaders-
– I must ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question.
– I think my remarks are relevant. What did the Prime Minister do to-night when I was speaking?
– I must insist on the honorable member confining his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– Surely I can refer to the conduct of the Prime Minister? He got up out of his chair, and walked out of the chamber during the time the honorable member for Wakefield was attacking him on this matter, and made a remark at the gangway such as no Prime Minister-
– When I stopped the honorable member he was not discussing the Prime Minister, but past leaders of Parliament.
– By way of comparison, surely I may refer to the leaders of the past, and contrast them with the leaders of the present time? If we cannot make comparisons, there is an end to all debate. What I was about to say was that in the. old days of Parliament, when I, as a young member-
– The honorable member is not in order.
– What I say is that the Prime Minister–
– Order 1
– Surely I may refer to the action of the Prime Minister in walking out of the chamber when the honorable member for Wakefield was speaking?
– The honorable member was not dealing with the Prime Minister when I stopped him.
– I do not know; you must have a very curious turn of mind if you could not see I was dealing with the Prime Minister. I was endeavouring to make a comparison - I hope I make myself clear - between the present Prime Minister of Australia and the leaders of Parliament in days gone by. I was going to say-
– The question pf the leaders of past State Parliaments is not before the Chair.
– I rise to a point of order. In connexion with this very vote, the Prime Minister has read a report in this Committee, and the complaint is that that report is an inadequate one. I submit that the honorable member for Illawarra is perfectly in order in criticising the Prime Minister’s action, and in contrasting it with that of Ministers who have held similar high office, and adopted a different attitude in relation to the expenditure of the people’s money. If that be not fair debate, I should like to know what fair debate is. It is the complaint of the honorable member for Illawarra that the Prime Minister has given us no information concerning the amounts we are expected to vote. I submit that the honorable member for Illawarra is quite in order in instituting a comparison between the present Prime Minister and the State Premiers in connexion with the expenditure of public money.
.- I gave the honorable member for Illawarra, as I have given every other honorable member, considerable latitude; and, while a general reference or a comparison may be permitted, an honorable member must confine himself closely to the item before the Chair.
– In accordance with your ruling, Mr. Chairman, that this incomparable Prime Minister must not be referred to-
– I have not said anything of the kind; the honorable member has no right to say that.
– With your permission, sir, I shall proceed to refer to the Prime Minister, and to point Out again that by his action he has deliberately flouted Parliament, by taking, in his high and mighty way, this matter as settled, and refusing to lay on the table the reports of his inspectors and officials on which he bases his contention. In the face of the deliberate and direct accusation of the honorable member for Parkes, any man who had a sense of responsibility and dignity, such as ought to be possessed by the Prime Minister of this country, would not hesitate for a moment to say that the matter must be probed to the bottom, if only for the sake of protecting his own honour.
– Mr. Poynton-
.- The honorable member has already spoken twice on the general discussion.
– I can assure you, sir, that I have not. Have you got me down as speaking full time?
– Then I have spoken only to the amendment.
– The honorable member spoke at 11 o’clock and at 11.30, and the honorable member for Lang did not move his amendment until 11.53.
– In order to enable the honorable member for Parramatta to say what he desires to say, I move -
That the proposed vote, “ Telegraphs and Telephones, £830,000,” be reduced by £1.
– I appeal once more for a little information in regard to this huge item of £800,000, or nearly £1,000,000, in regard to which we have not heard a syllable from the Government.I desire to know what is the policy of the Department in regard to metallic circuits, a matter to which I referred last year, and the year before. At what period may we expect a big installation? The telephone system in Sydney gets worse every year ; it is more difficult now to get a satisfactory conversation than ever it was. I should be perfectly satisfied to hear that Ministers expect to bring about some radical alteration. Surely that is a matter on which we may very reasonably ask for an explanation of some sort or other. With what object are these huge sums being spent, and at what time may we expect a complete transformation of a system which is so unsatisfactory ? We are asked to vote £17,850 for metallic circuits in existing singlewire networks for New South Wales. In many of the other States I believe they have this system. In
Queensland only a few pounds are to be spent in this direction ; a small amount is set down for South Australia, and a less amount for Tasmania; but in the worst place of all, so far as the utility of the telephone is concerned, there is practically nothing being spent to bring about the desired change. I should like to know from the Minister whether one of the bigger items in this subdivision is intended to achieve the result. There is nothing to indicate that that is the case, or what is being done by the Department in respect to making a reasonably silent system in Sydney in the near future.
– I moved that this item be reduced by £1 because there is a number of things which still require to be explained. I have been informed that the Minister himself will not give us any information. A sum of £830,000 is involved, but we cannot get a word of information from the Minister in regard to any of the details, or even a general statement as to what the proposed expenditure covers. That is a most extraordinary position. Such a free-and-easy, slipshod way of dealing with public finances would not for a moment be tolerated in any public company or business concern. I do not think that in any other Parliament it could be possible. An honorable member informed me that he had reason to believe that a good deal of this expenditure, so far as Victoria is concerned, is intended to take place in the district of Wannon, whose representative sits behind the Minister perfectly silent, and who, I suppose, knows all about the matter. It was the honorable member for Bourke who gave me the information which I have imparted to the Committee. I do not think that he meant his communication to be regarded as confidential ; at any rate, he did not say so. I think that, if the honorable member for Wannon knows anything about the matter, he might come to the assistance of the Opposition, who are endeavouring to do their duty by the country, and give them the information which the Minister refuses to furnish, and, in order that he may have an opportunity to do so, I shall most cheerfully resume my seat and listen to his explanation.
l. - For small mercies let us be truly thankful.
– Does the Minister decline absolutely to make any statement about this matter ?
s. - Does the honorable member really want information?
-I do; I assure the honorable member I would not ask the question if I did not. What motive could I have?
– After being here for two or three hours, I naturally felt that the honorable member did not want any information, and that he was only filling in time.
– Order !
-I shall be glad if the Minister will furnish some information to the Committee.
– I accept the honorable member’s statement, and win try to give some information. I understand that he refers more particularly to the item of £17,850 for metallic circuits in Sydney, and that his complaint is that there is not so much money proposed to’ be spent for this purpose in Sydney as in other places.
k. - No. I want to know whether there is anything in the mind of the Department in regard to the speedy installation of a quiet telephone system. That is all.
– Does the honorable member really think it is necessary to ask that question, in view of the amount which is asked for this year for New South Wales?
– This item relating to metallic circuits gives no indication of what is in the mind of the Department.
S. - I have not at my disposal the exact information, but it is obvious from these items that there are a great many more metallic circuits in Sydney than in Melbourne or some of the other cities. Last year the appropriation for New South Wales was £16,900, and only £14,833 was expended. Evidently all that can be spent this year is £17,850.
– Is the metallic circuit in use in Sydney to any extent ?
S. - Yes. There are metallic circuits connected with the big central exchange. What is needed in Sydney is the transfer of wires from the poles to the conduits, the work there being somewhat backward as compared with the Melbourne position. This year £234,600 is asked for in order that the undergrounding of the telephone wires may be carried on more energetically and extensively. The undergrounding of the wires will materially improve the system.
– The mere undergrounding of the wires will not do that.
S.- Yes, it will, because the wires carried underground are much better than the wires on the poles.
– Not a bit.
S.-Of what use is it for me to try to give information to the honorable member if he knows more than I do? All the lines that have been put underground provide metallic circuits.
– Then there are not metallic circuit lines on the poles.
S. - A great many metallic circuit lines are on the poles, too. The cables which are carried on the poles contain metallic circuit lines.
– But they are not being used as metallic circuit lines.
S. - Yes. they are.
- Mr. Chairman
– The honorable member has already spoken twice.
– I merely asked a question, and gave way to the Minister. You are applying the rule too strictly, sirIs a member to be taken as having spoken when he merely asks a question?
.- The honorable member spoke for two minutes.
– I did not speak for two seconds.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Division 6 (Government Printing Office), £2,000.
– I wish to know from the Minister responsible for this proposal why so much delay takes place each year in connexion with the delivery of the bound volumes of Hansard. It may occasion no inconvenience to honorable members who livein the capital cities, but those who have to live in the country are greatly inconvenienced in not being able to turn up a recent Hansard when they wish to do so. Six months for the mere binding and delivering of Hansard is an unconscionably long time, and this delay occursevery year. When may we expect to have it remedied? Are we still relying on the State Govern ment to do the work of publishing Han sard, and, if so, is any step being taken to make us independent of it ? We have been told by the Minister that the reception of the redistribution scheme for New South Wales is being delayed because the printing of the maps is being done in the Sydney Government Printing Office, which is a State concern, where State work takes precedence.
– For printing done in Victoria, we rely on the State printing office, though much of the machinery in that office is our own property. Delays are due to the exceptional amount of printing to be done, and, of late, because of the need for additional modern machinery. The proposal before the Committee is to provide for an increase of machinery in Melbourne, which will remain here during the pleasure of Parliament.
k. - But this delay occurs every year.
– I have personallyand so have other honorable members - referred to the delays which take place in the printing of particular information. An inquiry is now proceeding into the general methods of working the Department, and a report will be shortly furnished to the Ministry upon which possibly they may take some action. But it may be that they will decide to wait. Attention has previously been called to this delay. I recollect one occasion upon which it was necessary to obtain printing ata more rapid rate than it could be executed at the Government Printing Office, and accordingly the work was given to an outside office. An inquiry is now being made with a view to ascertaining the reasons for the delay, and of placing the whole position before the Ministry. Whatever the report of the Committee may be, I hope that more expedition will be shown in the future; if not, presumably the Minister will have to seriously consider the position in respect of printing generally.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division No. 7 (Stamp printing), £2,400.
– I should like to know from the Minister when we shall be able to obtain a uniform stamp throughout the Commonwealth.
s. - I should say that it would be at least six or sevenmonths.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Division 8 (Rifle clubs and ranges), £17,820.
– I should like some information from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence in regard to the item “ Arm racks for Senior Cadet rifles, £1,025.” Last year, we appropriated for the same purpose no less a sum than £10,160, of which £6,987 was expended. This year we are asked to spend an additional £1,025 upon these racks. To my mind, it is a ridiculous expenditure. This is the only item to which I take exception.
– I wish to refer to the item “ Grants to rifle clubs for ranges, £8,200.” I want to impress upon the Minister representing the Minister of Defence the necessity for giving more encouragement to rifle clubs. From official returns, I learn that in 1905 there were 686 rifle clubs in the Commonwealth, with a membership of 40,842 ; in 1909, there were 1,075rifle clubs, with a. membership of 53,926 - an increase in four years of 13,000; whilst in 1912, there were 1,120 rifle clubs, with a membership of 50,615 - a decrease of 3,300. I very much fear that this decrease in membership may be due to want of encouragement by the Government of these clubs. I do hope that the Ministry will this year remove the impression which exists that our rifle clubs have not the sympathy of the military authorities that they ought to have.
– In this division, there is an item “ Miniature rifle ranges for Junior Cadets, £6,100.” Last year, £4,090 was appropriated for this purpose, but only £154 was expended. It is idle to vote money unless it is going to be spent.
s. - All Treasurers like to have a nest-eggat the end of the financial year.
– It is useless to inflate the Estimates if there be no prospect of expending the money. These miniature rifle ranges are very important, especially in view of the small amount of practice which our Junior Cadets are likely to get until they become older. As a matter of fact, nothing has been so neglected as the provision of facilities for rifle shooting. If our Cadets cannot shoot over the . big ranges, they must make the best possible use of the small ranges. Why is it that only £154 was expended last year out of the £4,090 appropriated, and is there this year a prospect of the whole amount of £6,100 being spent? I wish also to know what is the meaning of the item “ Grants to rifle clubs for ranges.” Are these private ranges which the Government subsidize ? I note that the item “ rifle ranges “ crops up everywhere in these Estimates. I should like an explanation as to whether this is money voted to the associations which control rifle shooting in the various States, or whether it is the usual grant made by the Government to rifle clubs direct.
– I wish to assure the honorable member for Wakefield that so far as I can gather as the result of investigation, there is really no antipathy on the part of the military authorities to our rifle clubs. The Minister of Defence is distinctly sympathetic, and desires to assist them to the very best of his ability. The item “ Grants to rifle clubs for ranges “ relates more particularly to clubs formed in country districts, where members of the Military Forces do not engage in rifle practice, and where, for all practical purposes, the clubs control the whole business. Whilst last year only £4,259 was expended in this direction, we are asking this year for £8,200, and the Minister has assured me that he is hopeful that the whole amount will be spent. The honorable member for North Sydney knows that there are many thousands of cadets in the Commonwealth, all of whom have rifles, and it is necessary that we should provide racks for the reception of these weapons when they are not in use. The fact that the cadets are required to put them away in these racks is indicative of a certain amount ofdiscipline and order, and reminds me of the saying of the old sailor who declared that there was a place’ for everything, and everything should be in its place. With the more accurate knowledge which we have gained since last year, we think that the expenditure of another £1,000 will fully equip theForces in this particular direction. With regard to miniature rifles for cadets. I regret that only £154 was expended last year. The reason for that was that what were considered to be more important features in the development of the cadet movement were given first consideration. As to miniature rifle ranges, the Department was somewhat at a loss to know precisely where they should be placed, and how they should be controlled. Now it has been decided that they shall be at the schools, and the Minister is desirous that they shall be established at the earliest possible moment. The boys themselves are also keen. I hope that the money to be voted will be expended before the financial year expires.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 9 (Military Stores, 6fc), £544,450.
– Can the Minister give us some information as to the output of rifles from the Lithgow Small Arms Factory? Is it intended to rely entirely upon that establishment for rifles this year? Last year £4,000 was put down towards the establishment of an aviation corps. Can the Minister inform us what steps are being taken this year in that direction ? Is any money proposed to be spent on aviation ?
– I notice that only £1,000 is set down for rifles for Senior Cadets. Are we to take it that the whole of the cadets are armed? A sum of £[65,000 was required last year. I regret that no rifles are being manufactured in Lithgow yet.
m. - Are the cadet rifles to be manufactured there?
– I take it that they are. I understand that there are 14,000 extra cadets this year. Has every cadet a rifle?
– The Lithgow Factory is at present manufacturing rifles, and many thousands of parts have already been finished, though none have been assembled. It is not expected that any rifles manufactured at Lithgow will be ready for use by the troops during the current calendar year; but by next year some may be ready. As far as I know, cadet rifles are not being manufactured at Lithgow. It is estimated that £[1,000 will be sufficient for cadet rifles this year. As to aviation, the Minister of Defence has been successful in securing the services of two experts, and they have been appointed. The reports concerning them are excellent. They are believed to be able men. The Minister has not yet undertaken the purchase of machines. He will obtain the advice of his experts before doing so.
– I observe that £[300,000 is to be voted for harness and saddlery, with other war-like stores. Does that mean that we are going to purchase harness and saddlery from outside sources? We have established a factory for the manufacture of such equipment, and a considerable sum of money has been voted for the purpose. I do not know how far the Government propose to supply accoutrements for the troops. If it is intended to buy harness and saddlery, we ought to have an explanation, because the understanding was that we should manufacture our own. We have a building and plant. Why, then, is this item required?
– I am not aware that an item for saddlery and harness appears twice over: There was an item in connexion with the Home Affairs Department, but it had to do with the building in which saddlery and harness is to be manufactured. The item now referred to deals particularly with the purchase of harness and saddlery. Even if we manufacture our own it has to be accounted for and paid for in the ordinary way. Moreover, contracts are in existence with outside firms for the supply of these accoutrements, and those firms are still fulfilling orders. Payment has to be made to them. This item is a portion of an item required to equip the whole of our Forces up to a war standard. Nearly £300,000 was spent last year. We ask for a similar amount this year, and it is estimated that about £100,000 will be required next year, by the expenditure of which the whole of the Forces, so far as arms, accoutrements, ammunition, stores, &c, are concerned, will be placed upon a war footing.
m. - Will the Minister explain what the item of £[12,600 “to be paid to credit of Trust Fund Small Arms Ammunition Account” means?
– We have a Trust Fund in connexion with ammunition into which money is paid, and upon which a charge is made by the. factory in respect of the ammunition that it manufactures. Some of the ammunition produced by it is turned out for clubs, and some - a very small proportion - is supplied free of charge. Then again some is sold, and the money so re- ceived is returned to the Trust Fund Account, it relates wholly and solely to the Small Arms Ammunition Account.
– It is merely a trading account.
S.- Yes, so far as ammunition is concerned.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 10 (Naval Works,&c.), £318,050.
– Will the Minister inform the Committee what the item of £200,000 in respect of “ Naval Works “ involves?
– It refers more particularly to naval bases at Westernport, Victoria ; Port Stephens, New South Wales ; and Cockburn Sound, Western Australia. These places, in accordance with Admiral Henderson’s report, are to be naval bases of a more or less important character. That at Westernport will include a torpedo and gunnery base and barracks, as well as a submarine depot, while that at Port Stephens will include a torpedo and submarine base and works in association with them.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 11 (Construction of Vessels for Other Departments), £20,605.
– In this division, provision is made for nine or ten launches - four for New South Wales, two for Victoria and South Australia, and one for Queensland - the cost of some of these is to be£4, 750. Will the Minister explain for what these launches are required?
– For the last few years there have been many complaints in regard to the Customs launches. Last year it was decided in consultation with the Naval Board to have a standard launch, so that when required, standard parts could be obtained for any of them, and could be taken from place to place.
m. - Where are the launches to be built ?
– In Australia. The Customs launch at present in use in Victoria is not, in my opinion, safe in bad weather, and if the honorable member for Hindmarsh were here, he would tell the Committee that there has been constant trouble with regard to the use of a launch in South
Australia. There we have had to hire one from the Tug Boat Company, inasmuch as the Department has not a launch of its own. Sydney is in the same position. The other boats for which provision is made in this division are quarantine launches for fumigation purposes. The launches are to be built in accordance with the plan drawn up by the Naval Board, and all are absolutely necessary.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Division 12 (Northern Territory), £58,540.
– We have on this division an item of £2,000 in respect of a depot for immigrants, in the Northern Territory. Does the Minister seriously contemplate bringing immigrants into the Territory during this year ?
s. - It is necessary to make provision for their coming.
– It would be necessary to have this depot completed before immigrants were brought out, yet the item is only “towards cost” of building it. Why not complete the immigrants’ depot if it is proposed to bring out immigrants for the Northern Territory during the year? If that is not the intention of the Minister, why does he ask for this vote? My own impression is that there will not be an immigrant for the Northern Territory during the present financial year. Much remains to be done before the Government attempt to invite immigrants to go into these tropical latitudes, and to begin to push them up there before we wereready to receive them would be to invite disaster.
– Those who have visited Port Darwin must realize that it would be useless to ask people to go to the Northern Territory unless we had at that port some place in which they could be housed until they went inland. There is practically no accommodation at present, because, although there are two or three hotels at Port Darwin, they are always full. Our idea is to erect a building where people - whether they come from the southern States or from any other part of the world - can be housed until they go inland. I think the work will cost more than £2,000, but I venture to say that we shall not be able to spend more than that amount during the present year. I should be very glad if we could, but I am afraid that, owing to the difficulties intimately associated with the Northern Territory, we shall not be able to spend more than the amount for which the item provides.
– No provision is made on these Estimates for a horse- breeding farm at the Northern Territory, although last year £2,000 was voted for that purpose.
s. - The honorable member will find provision made for it in the general Estimates.
– Does the Minister propose to expend the amount for which provision is made in the general Estimates on improvements to the farm or the purchase of stock?
– It is intended to enable us to carry on. I think the honorable member will End that we have provided for a larger expenditure than that for which provision was made last year.
– We have an annual report from the Lieutenant-Governor of the general progress and development of the Territory of Papua, and I suggest that, in considering the general Estimates for the Northern Territory, some report should be submitted to give honorable members a complete detailed knowledge of the policy of administration adopted, and the development of the Territory.
s. - There is a report every year from the Administrator.
– I am aware that was the practice under South Australian control of the Territory. The Minister will agree that it is a reasonable request that we should have a report upon the Territory before us when we are considering the Estimates referring to it.
– It would be necessary for that purpose to have a report from the 1st January to the 31st December, and not for the financial year.
M.- The development of the Northern Territory is a very important matter, and such a report as the Minister has suggested would be very useful. We get the report from Papua after we have discussed the votes for that Territory, and it is then too late to be of any practical value.
– I see no reason why a report on the Territory from 1st January to 31st December should not be presented.
M. - The Minister last session gave us a brief sketch of the policy of the Government for the development of the Northern Territory. Perhaps he will now promise that when we come to deal with the general Estimates he will make a detailed statement of the policy which the Government propose to adopt. In connexion with the proposed vote of £4,200 for railway and construction survey from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, I should like to know whether it is intended that the survey shall be for a continuation of the existing line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek and on the gauge of that line.
– No; the survey will be for a line on the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge.
M. - Is it the intention of the Government later to construct the line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek on the same gauge ?
– Ultimately, yes.
M.- The Government are committed to the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge ?
– That is so.
M.- There is a vote of £21,000 on the Estimates for houses for Government employés. Is it intended that these housesshall be let at a rental to employés ?
M.- I should like to ask, further, if the £2,000 set down for artesian bores represents the total estimated expenditure upon artesian bores for the current financial year?
– That is all that we at present contemplate will be required. If more is necessary, it maybe possible to secure funds from the Treasurer’s Advance.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 13 (Port Augusta Railway), £3,580, agreed to.
– I ask leave to move -
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order that all steps may be taken to pass the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill through all its stages without delay.
m. - When?
– Oh, no.
House adjourned at 1.13 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 August 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120813_reps_4_65/>.