4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– As the Government has commendably decided to establish stores for workmen along the route of the trans-Australian railway, will the Minister of Home Affairs give the House the assurance that intoxicating liquor will not be sold at these stores?
– There will be none sold while the present Government is in power. I cannot say what may happen later.
– Is the Minister aware that the Secretary for Public Works in New South Wales declined to establish Government stores in connexion with a railway in the State which was being built by day labour, because to do so would involve loss by reason of the exercise of political influence, and from other causes? Will the honorable gentleman take that decision carefully into consideration before finally determining to establish Government stores along the route of the transcontinental railway?
– I am aware of the decision referred to, but I understand that the line to which it applies is being constructed through country which is pretty well settled, and that the men employed are able to. get supplies from the local storekeepers. It would be impossible for ‘the men on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line to get supplies in that way.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs when the South Australian electoral rolls will be ready for distribution.
– I shall inform the honorable member to-morrow.
– A telegram from Port
Darwin published in this morning’s newspapers states that the Government employes in the Northern Territory refuse to observe the hours fixed by the Administrator. I ask the Minister of External Affairs, as it is the declared policy of the Government to support the “ man on the spot,” what action he proposes to take in the matter? Does he intend to see that the Government regulations are adhered to by all its employes?
– I saw the telegram referred to. I am in favour of the employes commencing work at 7 o’clock, and’ have notified the Administrator to that effect.
– Is the Minister aware that in Queensland some employers have endeavoured to get their men to work four hours in the early morning and four hours late in the day,which has been objected to? Will the honorable gentleman, before taking action that may mean the discharge of some workmen, invite the men concerned to give their reasons for objecting to start work so early in the morning as 7 o’clock ?
– The hours are not so fixed that there is a long break in the middle of the day. The men are not being asked to work broken shifts. Their time is continuous, as under the . original arrangement, but they start an hour earlier, and finish an hour sooner. This arrangement gives them the cool of the morning to work in, and it seems to me a sensible and proper one.
– Has the Minister made, or will he make,’ inquiry into the circumstances that have led to the absence of tenders for the two stores to be erected in. the Northern Territory? I arri informed that the failure of contractors to send in tenders is due to impracticable conditions in the -specifications.
– Tenders were invited by the Department of Home Affairs. I shall be glad to look into the matter, and to ascertain if there is any possibility of a tender being accepted.
– Has the Prime Minis ter read the press reports of the statements made by the Premier of Victoria about a communication forwarded to him on the subject of the acquisition of State property by the Commonwealth? Is that notification in compliance with the provisions of the Lands for Public Purposes Acquisition Act?
– I saw the statement that the Premier of Victoria is astounded at some communication received from this Government ; but in the letter sent to him no reflection was cast on his Government. All the Premiers have been notified of the provisions of the Act, and have been informed that they will be applied all round. We could not send a notice of that kind to one Premier, and not toall. The Government has found it necessary to send the notice to all the Premiers.
– In the past, have not State properties been acquired by voluntary surrender? What is the need, if any, for a change in method?
– It would be invidious to give the reasons for the change, which has been made no less on the score of necessity than on that of advisableness. The Government has notified all the Premiers of it in a friendly and courteous way, without reflecting on the action of any State.
Fitters’ Pay - Cadet Prosecutions
– I have here an advertisement, dated, I think, 20th August, in which it is notified that the services of a few qualified fitters are temporarily required by the Government, the rate of pay offered being 10s. a day. Is the Minister representing the Minister of Defence aware that under a Wages Board award the rate has been fixed at11s. a day; and will he see that on all military works, and particularly that with which the advertisement referred to is connected,11s. will be paid to the fitters employed?
– I cannot say off-hand what are the awards in the different States ; but it is the policy of the Government in circumstances such as this to pay the rate fixed by the local Wages Board or Arbitration Court. I shall draw the attention of the Minister to the matter, and he, no doubt, will be able to rectify any wrong that has been done.
– As some magistrates are fining parents the minimum of £5, and costs, regardless of the fact that an alternative course could be followed, will the Government take action which will insure its wishes being carried out?
– The Defence Act of this session has been brought directly under the notice of the magistrates. This Government has no power to give them any directions; it is for them to administer the Act as they think right. I regret that in some instances magistrates have seen fit to impose the minimum fine of , £5 ; But, in a day or two, when the Act of the present session takes effect, the minimum will be abolished.
– The lads are being given a chance to do their drill.
– I understand that in one or two cases that chance is not being given, which is a matter to be regretted. Such action on the part of the magistrates is in opposition to the expressed wish of the military authorities. The new Act reduces the minimum, and the whole fine will be remitted to lads who give their personal undertaking to make up the time they have lost.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs with reference to a statement which appeared recently in a morning newspaper regarding the cost of the new Commonwealth Offices, Melbourne,, whether he can inform the House at what price the State officials offered to construct the building in question, and, generally, whether he has any answer to make to the statements published by the newspaper in question.
– I received this morning the following statement concerning the matter, which was addressed to the Secretary of the Department by Colonel Owen, Director-General of Works : -
With reference to the statements made in the Argus yesterday and to-day concerning the new Commonwealth Offices, Treasury Gardens, I am submitting the following information at the desire of the Minister.
The first scheme was submitted by the State Public Works Department, and provided for a building of four floors, and affording 14,000 square feet of net floor space. The estimated cost (by that Department) was £16,000. The building would not have been of fire-resisting construction.
The next scheme submitted by the State Public Works Department included the erection of a building of four stories, with a raised middle portion, giving a gross floor area of about 33,000 square feet, estimated to_ cost £27,000. This did not include the additional wing or the cost - of the Triple Treasury.
The building now erected by this Department has six floors, affords a gross floor space of about 41,000 square feet, and was estimated to cost £27,000, exclusive of the Triple Treasury strong room. Owing to the increased cost of labour and material since the estimate was made the cost will be about £30,000. The building is of fire-resisting construction, and is superior, architecturally and structurally, to the building originally proposed by the State Pubic Works Department.
With regard to the additional wing, the newspaper statements are incorrect. The second project of the State Public Works Department provided for the extension of the building backwards to Gipps-street at an additional cost of £11,000 - a total cost for the whole scheme being estimated at £38,000 (as indorsed on the plans), not £27,000 as staled in the Argus.
The additional wing proposed by the State Government at an estimated cost of £11,000 (which figure would now probably have to be increased substantially) provided for a gross, floor area of 13,500 square feet, affording no. staircase, lift, or lavatory accommodation. The. additional wing now being erected bv this Department will afford a gross floor area of 24,000 square feet, and will cost £17,480. It will be more conveniently accessible than the building proposed by the State Public Works Department, having a staircase, lift, and also will provide, lavatory accommodation.
The attached summary shows that the building proposed by the State Government for £38,000 (which estimate would have to be considerably increased to meet the rise in the cost of materials and labour since it was made.) would provide 34,700 square feet net of office area, whereas this Department is erecting premises giving 49,000 square feet net office space in a building which is more convenient and superior architecturally at a cost of £47,480.
The Triple Treasury is being provided by Messrs. Chubbs Ltd. at a cost of £4,990, and this amount would have to be added on to either scheme.
The building proposed by the State Public Works Department at a cost of £16,000, which the Argus article stated would have met requirements of the Commonwealth, provided for considerably less than one-third of the net office accommodation which will be afforded in the building which is now being erected.
– In reference to the statement just read, I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether we are to understand that it was proposed to construct a building of four stories without either staircase or lift?
– The honorable member has heard the statement of the DirectorGeneral of Works.
– But the particular statement to which I refer is incredible.
– The report just read is signed by the official head of the Works Department. He knows what he is writing about,
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has received any communication from the Sugar Commission, or, if not, whether the evidence taken by the Commission so far has been made available to him?
– I have not received any report from the Sugar Commission, nor have I seen any report of the evidence taken, save those which have appeared in the public press.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a question regarding that which I put to him yesterday in reference to the keeping of a record for statistical purposes of the imports and the Customs revenue for each State, and that portion of the Minister’s answer thereto in which he said that such a record could be kept only by a renewal of the restrictions on and interference with Inter-State trade. Does the Minister seriously mean to assert that the mere keeping of a tally in each. State would involve a renewal of the restrictions on Inter-State trade?
– We keep a record of the Customs revenue collected in each State, and the information so obtained appears in the Budget-papers, as well as in the statis-. tical information issued from time to time. The record relates, however, only to the collection of Customs revenue at the port of entry. No account is taken of any transhipment to or from any other part of Australia.
– We cannot obtain the information from the statistics that have been published.
– It is available.
Relaxationof Restriction on Imports.
– In view of the almost prohibitive cost of potatoes, will the Minister of Trade and Customs take into consideration the relaxation of regulations made, I understand, under the Quarantine Act, in respect to their importation ?
– Owing to the prevalence of the disease known as Irish Blight, the regulations made under the Quarantine Act practically prohibit the importation of potatoes, except in the case of a few that are now being brought in from New Zealand. The facts as to the price of potatoes have been brought under my notice, and, after full inquiry by the Chief Quarantine Officer, Dr. Norris, who consulted the chief quarantine officers for plants in New South Wales, Victoria, and, I think, South Australia, it has been decided to somewhat modify temporarily the existing restrictions until the local supplies are more advanced ; but present precautions must be maintained, and no potatoes will be . admitted unless certified, after thorough inspection, to be free from disease.
– On the 9th instant the honorable member for Cook asked that a comparative statement might be prepared showing the relative prices of meat and butter produced in Australia, both wholesale and retail, as sold in Great Britain and Australia. The retail prices in Great Britain are not available, but have been asked for. The following information is available in regard to wholesale prices in Great Britain and Australia : -
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister whether it is not a fact that produce of the character which he has just mentioned as having been sold in London in August would have been sold six weeks, or, possibly, three months previously ; and whether a comparison of that kind with the relative months in Australia is a fair one?
– I replied to the honorable member for Melbourne, who asked a similar question a month or more ago, that it was possible that the prices of the meat or the produce which was sold in London on the dates mentioned should not be con.sidered but I think that, if the honorable member will look back at the quotations for six weeks, he will find that butter which was sold in Australia in July at 149s. per cwt. was sold in London in April at 106s. per cwt.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a question with reference to the figures which he has supplied, and which are entirely misleading.
– Order ! The honorable member must not comment in asking a question.
– Is the Minister not aware that butter quotations in London during winter are practically nominal, and that if any butter is then sold it is butter which has been stored from the summer?
– The prices we selected were the wholesale prices in London and Australia on the same d’ates. They are purely official figures, which I put on the table without comment.
– I desire to ask the Minister a further question. Why did he start in April-
– Order ! The honorable member must not start a question by deliberately commenting.
– The question I desire to ask the Minister is, why did he select April as the starting point, and not September?
– I selected no month’. The honorable member asked me a question, and I requested that the information should be prepared in the office. If the honorable member desires to be supplied with the wholesale prices from September to April, I shall tie prepared to furnish him with that information in the same way.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that the bullocks which were brought down from the northwest of Western Australia by the State Government, and sold by them as their property, fetched alive in the carcass nearly 4d. per pound at Fremantle?
– I was not aware of the fact.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs kindly have the prices of the same articles prepared for the whole of last year?
– I shall endeavour to have the information prepared for the honorable member.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the hon- orable rnember’s questions are : -
G.O.’s 1451, 1454, 1455, 1456, and 1457 are hereby cancelled, and the following General Order, numbered 145 1, is substituted : -
G.O. 1451.-These minimum rates only apply to those districts in which no recognisedstandard rates have been arrived at by amicable agreement between employers and employes.
Pending consideration and decision by the Commonwealth Court of Arbitration, the payment of bounty will not be imperilled, so far as the question pf wages is concerned, if the rates paid are not less than those mentioned below. - :
With keep, £1 16s. per week.
Without keep, £2 8s. per week.
From 16 to 18 (with keep), £1 4s. per week.
Under 16 (with keep), 16s. per week.
Old, infirm, or non-able-bodied men, and full- bred aboriginals, £1 4s. per week, with keep.
Any person who considers that by reason of age,or bodily infirmity, he is unable to perform the work of an able-bodied, labourer should make application in writing to, and attend personally before, an Officer of Customs, who, if satisfied that the applicant may fairly be classed as incompetent for the purpose of ordinary able- bodied labour, should indorse the application accordingly.
A record must be kept of each application and permit issued, which should include name, age, date of permit, and nature of infirmity; the permits in each case to apply only to the sugar season during which they are issued.
Sugar-growers who propose to employ this class of labour upon a white plantation should ascertain that the person so to be employed has been approved by an Officer of Customs.
Permits must, on approval, be forthwith forwarded to the Sub-Collector for transmission to the Collector.
Contract rates to be such as are mutually agreed upon in writing between employers and employes ; provided that, where labour is employed by a contractor, the wages paid and other conditions observed by the contractor must nol be less favorable than those herein.
It must be distinctly understood that in the case of dispute and in the absence of written agreements between employers and employes as to terms of contract for cutting cane or for other forms of labour, the rates prescribed herein must be complied with before claims for bounty are approved for payment.
In all cases wh.ere remuneration does not include “keep,1’ the value of such “keep” is to be considered at Twelve shillings per week. 2.If the agreement specifies weekly engagement -
G.O. 1458 is hereby cancelled, and the following order bearing the same number is substituted
G.O. 1458.- Copy of G.O.’s 1451, 1452, and 1453, relating to rates pf wages and conditions of employment, must be supplied to all persons who give notice of intention to claim bounty.
The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has temporarily approved that, for the purposes of section 9 of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905, the payment of bounty will not be imperilled, so far as the question of wages is concerned, if the rates paid are not less than those mentioned below : -
During off season, 22s. 6d. per week and found.
For harvesting, 25s: per week and found.
Boys under 16, 10s. to 15s. per week and found.
Youths from 16 to 18, 15s. to £1 per week and found.
Old, infirm, or non-able-bodied men, 15s. to £1 per week and found.
In all cases where employe’s are not “ found,” the weekly wages to be10s. extra.
No deduction for keep from weekly wages to be made on account of wet weather.
Hours of labour. - From 58 to 60 per week.
Contract rates to be such as are mutually agreed upon between employers and employes, provided such rates are not less than an equivalent to the weekly rates abovementioned.
Old, infirm, or non-able-bodied men seeking employment should make personal application to an Officer of Customs, who, if satisfied that they fairly may be included as such, may indorse their application accordingly. Sugar-growers who propose to claim bounty and employing this class of labour should ascertain that the person so employed has been approved by an Officer of Customs.
This supersedes former notifications.
Tbe Minister for Trade and Customs directs that, on and after the 18th May, 1908, the following conditions with regard to the employment of white labour engaged by the day for work during the off season are to come into operation : -
The foregoing conditions only apply to engagements by the day.
The engagement by the day or by the week is entirely at the discretion of the grower, but engagements by the week will be subject to the conditions of Minister’s directions of 8th June, 1907.
In the event of growers not complying with the above conditions, the Minister may withhold the whole or portion of the Bounty payable.
I think it proper to add that the rates of wages and conditions of labour in this as in the more recent notice were not intended to apply to the sugar industry generally. They are minimum rates to apply only to those districts where there are no recognised standard rates of wages, &c, in other words, where there are no amicable agreements in existence between representatives of employers and employes, or no award by a Commonwealth or State industrial authority.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the alleged chronic discontent and dissatisfaction being exhibited in the sugar districts, will the Minister consider the advisableness of at once abolishing the Excise duty and the bounty, allowing the sugar industry to be conducted without aid or interference from the Federal Government?
– A Royal Commission is now engaged inquiring into the condition of the sugar industry. When the report of that Commission is to hand, the Government will be in a position to give full consideration to any proposals for the benefit and further development of the industry.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he give the House the following information : -
The imports and classes of imports into the Commonwealth from the United States of America for the years 1901 to 191 1 inclusive?
The exports and classes of exports from the Commonwealth to the United States of America for the years 1901 to 191 1 inclusive?
– The honorable member will find the desired particulars clearly set out in the volume of trade statistics published annually by the Commonwealth Statistician. For the year 1910, the information will be found on pages 562-568 of the volume for that year. It is anticipated a later publication will be published within a few weeks.
– I desire the information for the House, and not for myself.
– It is all available in the book. Every honorable member gets a copy of it.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 27 th August, vide page 2681), on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That the first item of the Estimates under division 1, “The Parliament,” namely, “The President, £1,100” be agreed to.
– I must confess that, in speaking to-day with the intention of limiting my remarks to one line of argument, I feel somewhat diffident. Ever since my visit to Japan, when my eyes were first permitted to see something of the concentrated millions of the East, and when a casual observer in the streets of Tokio, or any other Japanese city, could see scarcely anything in the ordinary life of the people to indicate that a great war was going on with one of the most powerful nations of Europe, the subject to which I propose to address myself to-day has occupied much of my thought.
Some honorable members here whohave a knowledge of the political lifer of Victoria in past years may remember” that I was returned to the State Parliament as an avowed republican, but I returned from that visit to the East with my views modified, and with the intention,, so far as I was able, by thought or speech, to keep firm and strong thelinks that bind us with the Home Land.. W,hether we regard danger as likely tocome from the northern lands or from theeast, one must study the question of military preparation, keeping always in view the fact that the greatest captains have ever said that to secure peace we must beprepared for war.
I propose this afternoon to read a few quotations from Mr. Archibald Hurd’s latest book, The Command, of the Sea, which has come into my handsthrough the courtesy of a friend, to whom I owe much, but who has not the privilege, of being in this House. The first quotation deals with the subject in such splendid, language that it explains the position much better than it could be explained by any language of my own. It is as follows -
The Germany Navy Law Amendment Act was. passed by the Reichstag on 21st May. This is. the last of the five enactments for the expansion of the German Fleet, and it is the most, notable and menacing to her neighbours.
It is proposed to add only three large ships, two cruisers, and seventy-two submarines to the- “ established strength “ of the Fleet, but thegrave feature of the Act consists in the resolveto set up a new standard of naval efficiency.
For many years all nations, in the interest of economy, kept a large proportion of jtheir men-of-war in reserve. Under the impetus of Germany the tendency of administrations has lately been to achieve rapid action - quick transition from the conditions of pence to those of hostilities. Now the German naval authorities have taken a further step in the same direction, which must impose on Europe the burden of war in times of peace.
In future, within 400 miles of the BritishIsles,all the most effective ships of the GermanNavy - battleships, cruisers, and torpedo craft - will be held on the leash - manned, stored, victualled, and incessantly trained.
The German Fleet as now planned will besuperior in fighting strength and more instantly ready for aggression or defence that the Fleet of any Power in the past.
So far as shipbuilding is concerned, the British people knew in1909 - in . the words of Sir Edward Grey - that “ Germany was creatinga Fleet larger than had ever existed before.” Now it has been decided that, winter and summer alike, at moments when there is not a cloud on the political horizon, and at moments whenthere are signs of storm, the greater portionof these ships shall be kept on a war footing, the remainder being furnished with nucleus crews which can be increased to full strength in a few hours.
The purpose of this volume is to explain the character of the new German Navy Act and to consider ils influence upon the British Fleet and <on some of the correlated problems of British and Imperial Defence.
The present writer can claim that during the twenty years which he has devoted to the study of naval affairs he has never exaggerated the . dangers which have threatened British sea power, and in the present volume he has set forth the facts of the new situation without any desire to excite unnecessary alarm. But it must be apparent that unless adequate measures are speedily taken by the British peoples our naval supremacy will be in serious jeopardy, and our home, our trade, and our Empire in peril.
These words are very weighty; and honorable members must see in a moment, as it were with a flash of intelligence, that to “keep a navy on a war footing - that is 80 per cent, of the navy ready to sail at a moment’s notice - must make the duty of -England much more onerous than ever before. As shown in Lord Brassey’s Naval Annual, the estimated naval expenditure -of England for 1911-12 is £22,544,000, most of which is to be devoted to the build”ing of new war ships; while the estimated expenditure of Germany for 191 1 was ^22,053,000, or practically the same amount. We know, however, that on no fewer than two occasions the estimates of “Germany have been overlapped by a very large margin of expenditure, much larger than the German Chancellor of the day seemed to care to bring before the Reichstag. No one under the British flag, whether, like ourselves, he enjoys the -widest citizenship that the Home Land has -given to her children, or whether he has hardly any citizenship at all, in the highest sense of the word, but must feel that, if the roadways or shiptracks of our commerce are destroyed, it will simply mean ,that. in six weeks, need and hunger may be rampant in Great Britain, and our trade -gone. Our wheat, wool, and exports generally, would, under such circumstances, all be interfered with ; and how we should protect them I shall endeavour a little later on to -show, in the hope that my remarks, like a seed sown, will flourish and give good fruit, not only for the benefit of Australia, which we all love, but for the benefit of the Home Land and the most distant of her posses. sions.
The following are the remarks of the First Lord of the Admiralty in’ the House - of Commons on the 18th March last -
We should have ample margin (because) the -.consequences of ‘defeat at sea are so much greater to us than they would be to Germany or France.
There is no parity of risk. Our position is highly artificial. We are fed from the sea. We are an unarmed people. ‘We possess a very smalt Army. We are the only Power in Europe who does not possess a large Army.
We cannot menace the independence or the vital interests of any great continental State; we cannot invade any continental State. We do not wish to do so ; but even if we had the wish we have not got the power.
People talk of the proportion which the Navies of different countries should bear to the commercial interests of the different nations - the proportion of France, the proportion of Italy, the proportion of Germany - but when we consider our naval strength we are not thinking of our commerce, but of our freedom. We are not thinking of our trade, but of our lives.
These are facts which justify British naval supremacy in the face of the world. We must never conduct our affairs so that the Navy of any single Power would be able to engage us at any single moment, even our least favorable moment, with any reasonable prospects of success.
No one who realizes how the cost of armament is being piled up in the various European countries can deny those wellthoughtout expressions of the ‘ First Lord of the Admiralty; and they explain what may be difficult to understand in many phases, namely, the reason that the English Chancellor of the Exchequer at the present moment is diligently seeking some new means of adding, to the already large revenue which forms such a heavy burden on the shoulders of the people of the United Kingdom.
I should now like to read two further quotations, one from a speech by Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister, and another from a speech by Mr. Balfour, the late Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition. Mr. Asquith said -
Every foreign Power knows that if we have established, as we have, and if we mean to maintain, as we do, an indisputable superiority on the sea, it is not for the purpose of aggression or adventure, but it is that we may fulfil the elementary duly which we owe to the Empire to uphold beyond reach - yes, and beyond risk of successful attacks from outside - our commerce, our industry, our homes.
Mr. Balfour, in the Nord unit Sud, a German publication, in June of this year, writes -
There are two ways in which a hostile country can be crushed. It can be conquered, . or it can be starved. If Germany were master in our home waters she could apply both methods to Britain. Were Britain ten times master in the North Sea, she could apply neither method to Germany. Without a superior fleet ‘Britain would, no longer count as a Power. Without any fleet at all, Germany would remain the greatest power in Europe. …
That is the opinion of Mr. Balfour. I have always hated war, because I regard it as the most terrible thing on earth. But we know that to-day the German Navy is so strong and ready that in a moment fourfifths of it would be prepared for immediate action. In the days of Nelson a few miles of sea presented a serious difficulty to contending fleets, because their ships were entirely dependent upon sails, and consequently might be beating about day after day, thus giving one fleet a better chance of meeting and defeating another. But to-day a steamer may be on the horizon at one moment, and 35 miles distant in an hour. So that the gulf of salt water which in olden times seemed to preserve Great Britain and Ireland from attack by Continental Powers is now much more capable of being bridged over.
Whilst I have lost none of my faith in the potentialities of the British race, I must confess that, during my recent visit to the Old Country, I did not see the stalwart type of men and women that I would have liked to see there. But the laws which are being slowly evolved there will, I believe, achieve what the Germans have been aiming to achieve for half a century. They will assist to build up men and women strong, both physically and mentally.
In the Argus of 26th inst. was published a very excellent article, headed “ Naval Supremacy,” “ Increased Building Proposal,” “ German Rivalry.” Speaking of Mr. Churchill’s utterances in the House of Commons, it says -
His opening remarks brought out the extreme gravity of the new German navy law, the most ominous feature of which is not the increase of capital ships, but the increase in striking force of ships of all classes to be immediately available at all seasons. Four-fifths of the entire German Navy will be maintained in full permanent commission, instantly ready for war. Under the law of 1900, the German estimates would to-day have been £11,000,000; they are actually £23,000,000.
As I have already pointed out, the German Estimates have been very much enlarged upon two previous occasions. The article continues -
But there are now to Be instead four battle cruisers of the Invincible type, while four much more powerfully armed cruisers will replace the four ships now there. The general opinion of critics seems to be that, as a decidedly ‘ more formidable force than we have had at Malta for some years is thus provided for, the Mediteranean situation is verY fairly met - for the immediate future.
I hope that those who have read that article will recollect the facts which arestated therein, and the danger which we have to face. The Age of to-day also contains an article which speaks of the naval danger. It is headed, “ Some Facts of the Position,” “ Mr. Churchill’s Admissions.” In that article Mr. Bonar Law, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, is quoted as saying -
Ten years ago we not only had the command of the sea, but we had the command of every sea. What is the position now? We have the command of no sea in the world except the North Sea at this moment. The change has been taking place before our eyes, and many times I have myself been reminded of what happened in the time of the decline of the Roman Empire, when pressure at the heart forced them to call their legions home to Rome. That has happened to us. We have had to call back our legions, and to call them back for precisely the same purpose. Nothing shows more completely how that has happened than an incidental remark of the first Lord of the Admiralty, when he said that a ship we intended to send to China and a vessel belonging to New Zealand had been retained for home service.
– That is a very striking and clear statement.
– It is quite as clear as the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty. I think I have conclusively proved that a need exists to watch not only the point where the Easterners are established, but also those northern lands where is to be found the heart of our race. I learn from Hazell’ s Annual that whilst the total naval expenditure of Germany in 1900-1 was £7,000,000, her estimated expenditure for 1911-12 was ,£23,000,000. In the olden days the number of guns carried by warships was accounted of far more importance than the number of vessels themselves. On the other hand, the ordnance of to-day is becoming larger, more destructive, and fewer in number. I gather from Mulhall, that prince of English statists, that in 1810 the British ships of war numbered 450, and carried 24,800 guns. Thirty years later the ships had decreased to 392, and the number of guns to 16,000. In 1889 the number of ships had still further declined to 373, and the number of guns carried to 1,460. In 1890 the number of ships was only 370. When we recollect that in the Bonaparte wars 207 ships of the line were destroyed, in addition to 351 frigates and 1,396 brigs and small vessels, it will be at once seen that Nelson had far more ships with which to guard the English mercantile marine than Great Britain has to-day.
The money spent to build one of our battleships to-day would build, roughly, perhaps as many as twenty of what were called frigates-of-war in the old days. If one modern battleship were to sink, down would go at least£2,2 50, 000 of money spent in the ship, its equipment, ordnance, and stores; and with it from 1,000 to 1,200 human lives.
The numbers of men on board the ships of the larger size in the old days were perhaps very much the same as they are now, in order to work the large number of guns that the ships then carried. No one will gainsay me when I say that if jj was known that a single cruiser of the enemy was out, trade on the ocean would be, comparatively speaking, paralyzed. It would be insisted that all mercantile vessels would have to voyage under convoy. Fancy the 30,000,000 tons odd of shipping carrying British trade being put under convoy ! “The line might stretch almost from New York to London, and there we see the difficulty at once. England is estimated to have only six weeks’ provisions. It is not only a question of defeat, but a question of the absolute existence of the population, that its Fleet must be kept dominant; so that if war be declared no fleet of the enemy could fly its flag in safety.
What, then, is my suggestion for giving some assistance to the Homeland? We must all recognise that, whether it comes like a bolt from the blue, or like an earthquake from below, the onset of war will be sharp and sudden. Are we to consider the latest instance, where the armies of Italy went over to Tripoli without a declaration of war? I speak subject to correction, but, if my memory serves me,, there was no declaration of war in that case. The blow was sharp and sudden. Are we “to take that as a criterion? We all know that when once war is declared, even amongst the most civilized nations, acts are committed for which any human being must blush ; and it is possible that a strong and powerful enemy, seeing another nation off its guard for a moment,, might seize the opportunity. I, as a Christian, pray with those who pray in the churches that war should cease, and that such things should no longer be. Unfortunately, the history of the world teaches us to expect a different result j and we are driven to the conclusion that when war is declared the higher instincts of humanity fall into abeyance.
I have a proposal to place before honorable members for their consideration, and’ I ask them not to regard it as in any way a pedantic proposal of mine. I should be glad if they would look at it as a suggestion coming from ohe born in Australia, and loving his native land, with the blood from an English mother coursing through his veins, and desirous of giving to the country that gave his mother birth the best of his help so far. as voice, vote, or hand can do it. If honorable members will take the proposal in that sense, perhaps something may grow from the seed, if not exactly iti the way I shall indicate, at all events, in some way which will show the world that the children of the Dominions are trying to render a loving duty to the mother that gave them life.
In the fights prior to Federation, I think that every speaker on a public platform, and every newspaper advocating the Federation of the States, contended that the State debts should be taken over by the Commonwealth and consolidated. I think I may state, without fear of contradiction, that every one in this House who lent help to the great Federal movement argued in that way or held that view. How to do it was the difficulty. The honorable member for Angas spoke very strongly and trenchantly on the subject before Federation, and at page 1548 of the reports of the Convention of 1898, he is reported to have said -
Some five years hence we may not have to deal with a total indebtedness of 140 millions, but of 200 millions, and consolidation operations will then, of course, be considerably hampered.
As a matter of fact, the total debt is now over . £267,000,000, and every honorable member will recognise that the task of which the honorable member for Angas spoke is still more difficult. If I can stir up enthusiasm and sympathy, and appeal to the logical economic sense of the people, I think I see a way whereby, without drawing upon our own revenue, we can assist the Homeland. My suggestion is as follows : -
The Government to forthwith appoint a Commission to visit England with a view of converting the State public debts of Australia into Commonwealth stock.
The Commission shall consist of twelve members, five appointed by the Commonwealth Parliament (including the High Commissioner), and six representing and appointed by the States, and a President, to be appointed by the Governments of the Commonwealth and States, and to have only one vote.
That the Commission have plenipotentiary authority to enter into underwriting arrangements with the leading financial houses.
That, concurrently with the issue of the future Commonwealth stock authorized under such arrangements, the holders of the State public debts be invited to consent to the acceptance of equivalent Commonwealth stock.
That, dependent upon such conversion, the Imperial Government be assured by the State Governments, through the Commonwealth Government, that the saving of capital and the annual interest during the next ten years so caused by such conversion, shall be devoted to the building of an Imperial Dreadnought Fleet in Great Britain for protecting the trade routes of the Empire, thus assuring the food supply of the United Kingdom.
I might, perhaps, give the actual particulars of the loans. The figures I propose to quote have been furnished to me by that statist who is not only known throughout Australia, but is held in such high repute in the United States of America that one of the leading statisticians of that country said that, for up-to-date statistics of a country, he knew no book to surpass that of Australia, which is edited by Mr. Knibbs. The information is as follows : -
As is well known, loans are sometimes issued at a premium, and at other times at a discount. But when a loan approaches the expiration of its currency, whether trie period be long or short, it tends to come to par. That is to say, £100 issued at a discount tends to rise to par; or a similar amount issued at a premium tends to descend to par. For example, a 3 per cent. Victorian loan issued at £92 stands today at £82 ; whereas a 3^ per cent, loan issued at £93^ is worth £95 ; and a 4 per cent. loan issued at £103^ stands at £100½ If the idea that I have thrown out were taken up with enthusiasm, I believe it would be successful. I have not met with the suggestion before in my reading or verbally. If it has been promulgated previously, we shall, of course, have the benefit of experience ; but if it is new, I hope that it will prove worthy of consideration. I feel certain that people in England, from the King downwards, would approve of it. The money kings, of whom in the past I have not perhaps spoken too kindly, would say, “ This is a gilt-edged security which we can trust.” Here is a tangible chance of saving something like £20,000,000. The financial houses would approve of it; for, however, much we may differ on political matters, the axiom of Euclid always holds good that “ the whole is greater than its part;” and it follows that a stock issued by the whole continent of Australia will be more of a gilt-edged security than the stock of any portion of Australia - that is to say, any State. Moreover, the money kings would say, “ This money is to be spent in the building of warships for the defence of the English flag and the English race.” What for? To protect the trade routes of the Empire. Why? To enable England to import her food. As long as England can feed her people, she can stand foursquare against all the world. But let anything interfere with her food supplies, and England may go down - which God forbid ! This is a way in which we can show our loyalty and love to the Motherland.
I remember reading - though I cannot quote my authority - that great and powerful as the British Fleet was during the Napoleonic wars, the French menofwar destroyed more English merchant ships than English men-of-war destroyed French merchant ships. That is easy to understand, because, whilst the mercantile fleet of France during that time amounted to only some 250,000 tons, the mercantile fleet of Great Britain amounted to 1,330,000 tons. England, therefore, had the bigger mark in the larger amount of tonnage afloat, offering a larger prey to privateers.
– Besides, the French had more privateers. The French Government used to authorize privateers indiscriminately.
– I would not say that in that regard the Mother Country was free from blemish. One reason why the French can float loans more easily than any other European country can is that the French people, for many generations, have been a careful and thrifty race. The French Government, as far as my information permits me to speak, during the great reign of Napoleon, saw fit to issue rentes, by means of which any person having a small saving could take up an equivalent amount of Government stock, corresponding to our Government debentures. This stock was readily realizable at any moment. So that the maid-servant,, the farm hand, the blacksmith at his forge, the bootmaker at his last, could invest a few pounds in Government rentes with great advantage to himself and the State. Let me quote the following passage from the
Age of 8th August, which clearly explains the position -
When it is remembered that, by decree of the Minister of Finance of 1898, one can become a creditor of the French Republic for as little as 66 francs, namely, £2 13s. 4d., at the equivalent of 2 francs per cent, interest, it will be seen that this is an ambition within the grasp of a man or woman of the humblest means.
That passage makes it clear how it is that France, when in need of making an appeal to her children, has her loans oversubscribed within a few weeks. In no country in the world is wealth more evenly divided than in France - if we except Australia. If this scheme which I have outlined were taken up we might issue stock for small amounts - say, £5 worth - payable over a short period. It might be a direction to the proposed Commission to introduce the French system of finance in that respect, payable by instalments, say, during two years. The object of that arrangement can be seen by reference to the fact that it may take three or four years to build what is known as a battle cruiser, the highest type of a fleet unit. The payments being spread over a term of years, a worker having jT.2 10s. might pay in that sum, and pay up the balance later. The bookkeeping involved would not be difficult. That is evident from our experience in issuing certain j£io debentures in Australia. The French Government, by a decree published in 1898, made the instalments as low as £2 13s. 4 Cl., and those who know anything of France are aware that the wonderful financial ability of its people is the basis of the country’s power. I think that this scheme would appeal to the widest area. All British subjects should have an opportunity of obtaining one, if riot more, of the debentures. The wealthy rajah, the Canadian lumberman, and the Australian squatter or laborite should all be enabled to make application. Subscription lists should therefore be opened, not merely in Australia, but in London, and in all the chief cities of the Empire. This scheme would do more to demonstrate to foreign nations- the solidarity of the Empire than any other that can be suggested. Every British subject could assist, and there would thus be developed within the Empire a powerful patriotic feeling. I have read and have heard from friends that when a municipal loan is opened in 37 ranee there is a queue of people waiting before the doors of the bank longer than the theatre queues, and every one of the per sons present, from the humblest peasant to the most ardent worker, feels that he is not only saving money, but also helping his country. The effects of this scheme will not merely he internal. It will not merely bind the various peoples and Governments of the Empire together, but will also show foreign nations that the Empire’s power and prestige securely depends on its unity, and the maintenance of its traditions intact. Instead of patriots giving their money without reward, beyond the applause of the community, as was the case when the
Dreadnought fund was subscribed to, they will be able to at once satisfy their patriotic impulses and obtain a security having a cash value which can be handed down to posterity, and can be of the greatest assistance to the Empire. In other words, the citizen will lend to the Empire on the best security, and thus Australians will be prevented from becoming German helots or Japanese slaves. This development of patriotic finance would undoubtedly be imitated in New Zealand, Canada, and India, and, with the assistance of a permanent Committee to be hereafter appointed, would be a powerful force for the protection of the Empire. I was impressed with the value of the scheme through a conversation I once had with one of the brightest minds that ever left the United States, whom I had the privilege of meeting, when he sv as consul in a far-distant part of the globe. Speaking as man to man, I asked, “ How long do you think the Stars and Stripes would float if Japan decided to take the Manillas?” and the answer came back, “Not six weeks; not three weeks.” “But,” he continued, “if the Stars and Stripes were threatened, although I, being over age, could not take a weapon and fight, everything I had would be handed in to the war fund, for the maintenance of our flag and our race.”
– I do not think that the honorable member could be kept back in our case.
– I would give everything I had.
– The honorable member would go to the front himself.
– Yes, if I could dc the slightest good there ; but when a man is approaching sixty his time for active service is nearly closed. Senator Walker. speaking at the Federal Convention, in 1898, said -
There is a tendency for capital to accumulate so largely for safe investment that, in the course of the next twenty-five years, I shall not be surprised to see Australian consols at par, even if they only carry 2^ per cent, interest. Now, as each i per cent, on £180,000,000 gives a saving of £450,000- the saving on £267,000,000 would be much more.
Let me refer, too, to what has been said on the subject by Sir Felix Schuster, whose position in the financial world causes attention to be paid to his utterances. Speaking at the half-yearly meeting of the Union of London and Smith’s Bank Limited, on the causes of depreciation in the market value of giltedged securities, he said, as reported in the Age of the 27th inst. -
Other national stocks had suffered in this respect. Activity of trade all over the world had diverted money from the investment market into commerce, which yields a higher return. Applications for capital from countries in a state of rapid development are making very great demands on the money markets of Europe, such as even the vast resources available cannot immediately satisfy without some loss in the value of securities returning a lower rate of interest. In addition, there is in most European countries, a rapidly expanding public expenditure, leading to a decrease in the saving and investment power of the nations, while in London the incidence of the death duties throws on the market a constant supply of gilt-edged securities. The action of public trustees, too, is detrimental to the recovery of low interest-yielding stocks, as the last report issued suggests the investment of trust funds in securities- producing well over 4 per cent.
One of the chief reasons why the States agreed to federate was in order that they might secure the consolidation of their debts and die creation of a Commonwealth stock. The difficulties in the way of this were less then than they are now, because the State indebtedness has grown from £203,000,000 to £267,000,000, and each year the position becomes more difficult. In three years the States have borrowed over £15,825,000. Not only will the loans and indebtedness of the States increase, but the Commonwealth will shortly come into competition with them. I hope that the lawyers in the House will pardon ne for making a short quotation from the judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Higgins in the case of the Federated Engine-drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia, In the course of that judgment, His Honor referred to a statement made by the very capable statistician who controls the Government Statist’s Office of Victoria -
A statement furnished by Mr. Laughton, Government Statist, was put in, dated 26th October, 1910, relating to Melbourne and suburbs. 1 understand Mr. Laughton to say that commodities which cost £1 in 1909 could be obtained for 16s. 3d. in 1904, 16s. 8d. in 1905, 16s. 4d. in 1906, 18s. 4d. in 1907, 19s. 5d. in 1908. He treats rents for cheap houses as having increased by 20 per cent, since 1901.
It goes without saying that the purchasing power of a sovereign to-day is not what it was ten years ago. If we defer this matter any longer, we shall only increase the difficulties and complexities of the situation. Every honorable member will recognise that it would be absolutely impossible, in time of war, to make this transfer from the States to the Commonwealth. The sooner the position is faced, therefore, the better. It will have to be faced, and even if there were not other pressure than the present need, this duty should be undertaken at once. The safety of the Empire and its Dominions is at stake. All portents indicate war.
The facts of German aggression are, I think, known to every one, but I have no desire by word of mine to offend any one of German nationality. Germans have been my friends, my mates, and omra des ever since I was a boy. I have visited their country with pleasure and delight. I have seen the strong men of the various callings there, and have inspected the splendid streets in which the workers of Berlin live. Germany’s system of technical education is worthy of every one’s regard and reverence, and1 I could only wish that we would follow its example along equally sound lines. The German navy is being steadily increased, and a corresponding increase is being made in the Navy of Great Britain. The finding of the money necessary to provide for this increase must become more and more difficult for the Motherland, and it is admitted that the fate of the Empire depends upon the co-operation of the Dominions of the Empire.
I would remind honorable members of Canada’s proposal that the naval policy should be outside party politics. That is a. question concerning which differing views may be held, but Canada is privileged, as we are not. Along its southern border it has the greatest collection of the English-speaking race in the world. No foreign nation “woulddare to land in Canada while the Stars and Stripes remained afloat. We have the same assurance, but in a lesser degree, concerning the safety of Australia, because it seems to me that the Manilas stand today sentinel between us and the East. They take steps to preserve our health by means of quarantine regulations more stringent - and I speak with some experience in this regard - than those which prevail in Australia. They will also stand sentinel between us and the East in time of trouble, for it seems to me that, having regard to the kinship of blood and race between the United States of America and Australia, no foe would care to come down south from the East leaving the Manilas under the Stars and Stripes. Great Britain, I think, is sure to sympathize with and help this proposal to make patriotism the basis of the preservation of the Empire.
We have in this regard the example of patriotism furnished in connexion with the Boer War. I still hold the view concerning that war which I expressed while it was in progress ; I have never had any reason to regret that opinion, and never will ; but we cannot forget that, whilst the war prevailed, the need of England existed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, and many kings of finance, with representatives of the Bank of England, met in conference, and a proposed loan to raise funds necessary to prosecute that war was underwritten in one sitting. The first loan issued amounted .to £37,000,000. It was over-subscribed, and the second issue met with the same success. At that time a wave of patriotism spread over Great Britain, and those who had money to lend the country did not keep their purse-strings closed. Although England was at war with the Boers, she was able to raise £214,000,000 by successive public issues, and all these loans were underwritten in four issues. The Australian loan, amounting to £267,000,000, would be a mere trifle, having regard to the enormous resources and strength of the leading bankers in England.
Then, again, British shipbuilders would also be interested in this project, and would be induced to give financial assistance, not only because of a patriotic desire to help their country, but because the carrying out of this project would mean that they would have additional warships to build. If the loan were announced as underwritten, it would readily be taken up by investors. The existing bond-holders would be delighted to accept, in lieu of State bonds, Commonwealth bonds at the same rate of interest, as there would be a larger expectation of appreciation in respect of the Commonwealth bonds.
– Does the honorable member propose to add this expenditure to the expenditure of £88,000,000 recommended by Admiral Henderson?
– I cannot answer for Admiral Henderson.
– Would the honorable member modify Admiral Henderson’s scheme?
– I am merely making a suggestion. I know that the honorable member hates war, just as much as I do, but we must all recognise that if England went down we should be helpless. If England were to go down, the result would be disastrous to the Anglo-Celtic-Saxon race all the world over, whether they were living under the Stars and Stripes, the Union Jack, or our Australian flag. If England were only injured in the northern seas, we should be rendered helpless against one of the greatest fighting nations the world has. ever known.
I shall never utter a word derogatory of the Japanese as a nation. As an artistic nation, Japan is the equal of any_ country, and it has shown a remarkable readiness to assimilate the conditions of other great countries. From the time of mediaeval Europe to this, the twentieth century, no nation has shown more readiness to adapt itself to modern conditions. The great Mikado, whose death occurred a few days ago, was born practically a prisoner. The Shoguns having in their hands the whole control of ancient Nippon, he was, to all intents and purposes, a prisoner, but during his lifetime Japan passed from the use of bows, arrows, and spears to pieces of ordnance, the like of which we cannot manufacture to-day, but which, I hope, we shall be able to make in the near future. What could we do unaided against such a nation? We might die bravely in defence of our country - and I know that Australians would gamely face any odds - but it is as true to-day as it was in the time of Napoleon that victory lies in large battalions of trained men.
In my opinion, the States would readily agree to pay the Commonwealth the total amount of their original indebtedness, and the Commonwealth should be able to issue its loan at a much lower rate than the original issue when subscribed. That, of course, would depend upon those who had the authority to act.
Australia is vitally interested in protecting her trade routes, as her wool and other exports would have no market in the event of war, without protection. No insurance would be effected, and that would mean ruin to all Australian industries. Great Britain would, similarly, benefit by this scheme, which would incidentally protect her food supply. Any one who has read the literature of the time of the Napoleonic wars will recollect how ships, heedless of waiting for a convoy, took the risk, and how often they met with defeat and disaster. Some writer has said that the whole bed of the Atlantic is strewn with ships that were sunk during that time. Economy of time is the first condition, and this Fleet should come into existence within the shortest possible time.
It is urgently necessary, therefore, that the Fleet should be started at the earliest possible moment. To effect this the Commission should be at once appointed. It should be recommended by the Commonwealth and the States that this Commission should be appointed outside of party politics. The whole of the Commonwealth Commissioners should be appointed by both sides of the House. The States should each appoint their Treasurer or a public man outside of politics who holds their confidence. Any agreement that is so made should have the confidence of the whole of Australia and the confidence of Great Britain, and would justify their having complete authority for all necessary arrangements. There is always carping criticism after a thing has been done ; therefore, it is desirable that the Commissioners should be armed with the authority of the community. Upon their proceeding to England they shoud be accorded the support of .the British Government, and also seek the support of the highest authorities, financial and political. There is little doubt that the King would be disposed to give every help and assistance to it, as it would tend to the security of his Empire. The British Government would be pleased to have this added help. The Opposition policy in Great Britain is based upon the Imperial point of view, and they would willingly assist the authorities in England who are intimately concerned with preserving financial stability. They would readily give their help, and the large financial houses would see an opportunity - with very little risk of their guarantee for underwriting being required - of making a substantial profit. The bond-holders of the State securities would be quite satisfied, once it was announced that the scheme was a huge financial success, to accept the equivalent Commonwealth stocks without demanding cash. The difference between the issue price of the Commonwealth stock and the original subscription price of the States stocks should provide a large sum of money, which could be immediately handed over to trustees appointed by the British Government for the purpose of letting contracts approved of by the British Admiralty authorities for constructing the proposed Imperial Fleet.
The elements of patriotism and the protection of the trade routes of the Empire and of insuring the effective continuance of the food supply of Great Britain will all have due consideration by this proposal. It is an opportunity that the Commonwealth should at once seize, and the House should at once give instructions to the Government to carry out without delay the resolutions which would require to be proposed. I find that my time is drawing to an end, and so I must bring my remarks to a conclusion.
The dangers to which I have alluded can only be met by decision, organization, and education. Bravery alone may be a peril ; but if it is organized and guided by skilled brains and armed men, it may conquer, and can at least defend national interests. The time of ironclads is, in my opinion, passing; but we must make use of those weapons to meet weapons of a similar kind. I think that the ironclads are very much like the mailclad knights of old, who, when they fell off their horses, required two or three men to lift them into their saddles, or who, if they fell when crossing a stream, frequently lost their lives. Any one who is conversant with Norse history will remember the Berserker fighters, who, throwing helmet and shield on strong right arms, fought, and frequently conquered, the mail-clad knights of old. The gloom of Odin and the din of the hammer of Thor, though not heard in actual conflict, is ringing to-day louder than ever in the armouries of Europe. The dragon of the Eastern menace looms large upon our horizon, even as depicted years ago by William of Germany in his historical painting. May we, as indicated by him, be prepared when the time arrives. The surplus of our revenue cannot afford a super- Dread- nought every year, but the Home Land, silent in her greatness, and too proud to ask aid of her children, would, in virtue of her very motherhood of nations, welcome the filial offerings, within their means, of her dutiful children.
The course I suggest for the wise consideration of this Parliament - the only one in the history of the world to dominate a continent - is one by which we should win the sympathy and support, not only of the wearer of the great crown of England, but of the money kings who to-day rule the lending markets of the world. The security would be doubly gilt-edged, for the financial brains of the money world would recognise immediately that all profits of capital and interest would be expended in the Home “Land, and what for? The building of the necessary ships of war to defend the trade routes of the English race.
– What about the “ British “ race ?
– Well, it is all the same.
– That is not so.
– The language has conquered us, and when my honorable friends show me Shakspeare, Burns, and Milton translated in any other language that is called British, I shall endeavour to learn it.
The seat of the British Empire is in Europe; the heart of the race is in the capital of the English world. If that be injured or destroyed, then all our hopes and ideals, the greatest the world has seen, must sink into the gloom of oblivion, and the world be the poorer, that our civilization, with all its wider life and greater opportunities, was strangled ere it had a chance.
.- I wish to congratulate the honorable member for Melbourne upon the great trouble to which he has gone in working out his fine patriotic scheme. I shall not attempt to criticise it beyond saying that it appears to depend upon the possibility of making a saving in the consolidation of the State debts. In my opinion, the consolidation of the State debts in the ordinary acceptation of the word “ consolidation “ is not a possible thing to do. All that I think it is possible to do is to accomplish a gradual transfer of the debts, which is another matter. Although possibly, in the course of time there would be a saving in doing that, I believe ‘…… it will be a slow process, and that the saving, such as it is, will not be very much in the long run. At the same time, I congratulate the honorable member upon the fine patriotic sentiment that lies behind the speech he has just made. I feel confident that the only thing which will ever hold the Empire together is that patriotic sentiment. I do not believe that any of what might be called solid ties will ever be required in the first place, or will be desirable in the second place. The more we attempt to tie the Empire together by any bonds other than those of the sentiment of race tradition and so on, the more quickly, I believe, will it lead to the disintegration of the Empire - more quickly than anything else we could attempt to do. Owing to the fact that I have been laid up for most of the last ten days, I have not had the benefit of listening to the debate on the Budget. I am more or less in the dark as to the actual subjects which have been touched upon, and if, in the course of my remarks, I traverse some of the ground which other honorable members have occupied, I hope it will not be supposed that I am guilty of thoughtless repetition. I desire now, for a few moments, to touch on the recent regulations issued in connexion with the sugar industry. The Minister of Trade and Customs has, in the most arbitrary way, suddenly taken it upon himself to raise the wages of those employed in that industry from 26s. to 36s. a week and keep
– Is that in Queensland ?
– In. New South Wales as well. Further, the Minister, by these regulations, has shortened the hours of work from fifty-six to forty-eight per week. I think the regulations have been issued with an utter disregard of the interests of the industry, and without due inquiry as to what the effect will be. When I saw the regulations published in the press, I asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, in this House -
Whether he is aware that the sugar-growers in New South ‘Wales are under contract to sell their cane to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company at certain rates?
To this, the Minister replied -
I understand such arrangements are made, but I am not aware of the prices fixed.
Later on, I asked the Minister -
Does he consider that the rates of payment for labour under the new regulations leave the grower a fair margin of profit between the cost of production and the price to be paid for cane under the agreement with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company?
To this, the Minister replied -
I am not aware what price is to be paid for the cane, nor do I know what the margin of profit will be.
Before the Minister attempted to exercise the powers given to him under the Act, and to raise the rate of pay, he should have made inquiry as to what the conditions were, and have found out whether the wages fixed left the grower with a fair margin of profit. The point I desire to make is that the Minister had no right whatever to use those powers under the Act, unless he was fully aware of the effect on the industry of any alteration that he might make. If the Minister .were here, I should tell him, as I have already told him by letter, that the growers in my district have met, and have, through me, sent a telegram to him, declaring their determination that, unless the rates are altered, no more cane shall be planted in New South Wales this year.
– It will be a good job, too.
– If that is the view of the Minister, and of honorable members opposite - that the powers under the Act should be used to strangle the industry - why does the Minister not say so?
– An industry that cannot pay fair wages has a right to be strangled.
– Does the honorable member for Richmond agree with that sentiment?
– All I have to say is that these regulations have been issued more from the point of view of political bribery than anything else, and with an absolutely callous disregard of the interests concerned. That, however, is only in common with the policy of my honorable friends opposite in regard to the primary producers, whose interests are scattered to the four winds of Heaven. I protest against the action of the Minister, in view of the fact that the Sugar Commission is about to report on these very matters, and that the question of the rates of wages is shortly to go before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. When the Minister of Trade and Customs was approached some time ago in regard to the equalization of the bounty and the Excise, he took up the attitude that, until the Sugar Commission had reported, he could not touch the question in any way ; and he assumed a similar position when asked a question this afternoon. I maintain that the Minister had no right to take any action in regard to the wages, and thus upset an agreement -which has been in existence fo, a number of years, two of which come within the life of the present Government; but, just as the elections are coming on, and, I venture to say, because of the elections, we have these regulations.
– It is a very unpopular thing to do.
– It happens to be unpopular with the minority, and popular with the majority.
– Does the honorable member think that it is wrong to raise the wages to 36s. a week?
– What I say is that, until the Minister had fully inquired - as, on his own showing, he had not - and found out what the effect would be, he had no business to issue the regulations. I now desire to say a word or two in reference to the Post and Telegraph Department. I notice that, according to a press report, an honorable member, in the course of this debate, pointed out that the revenue of this Department is not increasing in anything like the proportion of the expenditure ; and, on referring to the Budget-papers, I find that the revenue earned per man employed is not nearly so large as it was ten years ago. Further, the average rate of wages in the Post Office to-day is not as high as it was in 1906-7.
– What is the use of talking like that?
– I have here the figures issued by the Treasurer; and, if the honorable member cares to turn to page 59 of the Budget-papers, he will see that, in New South Wales, in 1 906-7 the average pay was £130.3 per annum, while in 1912-13 it is only £128.2.
– Give the number of juveniles now employed as compared with the number employed then.
– I am quoting the figures I have here.
– The honorable member knows the reason for the lower average.
– Does the honorable member for Richmond think that the Post Office employe’s are paid too much?
– I do not know that they are.
– Are they, or are they not?
– I am not dealing withthat particular point just now, further than to show the average result over a number of years. Our revenue is not increasing proportionately to our expenditure. That expenditure has not been swollen by any large increase in the average wages actually paid, but in my opinion it is to a great extent due to actual leakage.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ leakage “?
– I will endeavour to show. If the honorable member will turn to page 61 of the Budget-papers he will find that under the heading of “ Contingencies,” the expenditure has increased from £450,233 during the first year of Federation to £1,090,123. That is an increase of approximately £640,000. Similarly, under “ Miscellaneous,” there has been an increase from £10,308 to £50,000.
– Does the honorable member want to have his telephone stopped ?
– No. But these increases have taken place outside of salaries, maintenance, interest on transferred properties, new works, and mails. This fact suggests that there is a good deal of leakage going on in the Department.
– Does the honorable member include “ stores “ under the heading of “Contingencies”?
– I do not think that stores are included under that heading. I know that, in common with many other honorable members, I have been accustomed to receive letters from the Department during the past twelve months, stating that it could not erect certain telephone lines because it had no stores. Coming to “Mails,” I find that there has been an increase in our expenditure from £668,639 in 1902-3 to £965,593;.thatistosay that there has been an increase of only £296,954 in ten years. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that whilst there has been an enormous increase in the total expenditure of the Department, that increase has not been due either to the payment of higher salaries to the officers within the Department, or to granting increased facilities to the general public. I understand that the telegraphs and telephones practically pay.
– What makes the honorable member understand that?
– I am aware that the honorable member does not share my opinion. I believe that a vast amount of this increased expenditure in the Postal Department, which results in a decreased revenue per head of the employes in that Department-
– Then, the honorable member thinks that the Post Office is overmanned ?
– I do not think anything of the sort.
– Then, what does the honorable member think?
– I believe that the increased expenditure is entirely due to a lack of proper supervision.
– Then the men do not do enough work?
– There has never been an honest attempt on the part of those in power to grapple with this question fundamentally. I believe that there is only one way in which we can prevent the Post Office from becoming an absolute sink for public money, and that is by adopting the recommendation of the Postal Commission, and placing it under proper management outside of political control. That is my honest opinion; and I hope some day to see effect, given to it. Until that is done, we shall always have a more or less chaotic condition such as obtains at present, whilst the worst possible service will be given to the public. I heard the Prime Minister deliver his Budget; and the point which impressed me most when he had finished his task was that he had given us absolutely no forecast of the future, and no view of the present state of the Commonwealth finances. It is true that he did read long extracts from the Budget-papers, which any honorable member, by two or three hours’ diligent study, might have taken out for himself. He also gave us a precis of the more important events which had occurred in the different Departments during the year. These statements were presumably drawn up by the heads of the Departments. But the Prime Minister did not attempt to give us a review of our finances. I venture to say that the present financial position is anything but satisfactory.
– What can the honorable member expect from a Labour Government ?
– The fact that a Labour Government have been in power, has, to an extent, accentuated the position. It can be clearly demonstrated that our position to-day is not nearly as satisfactory as it was twelve months ago, and that our prospects are not nearly so good now as they were then. I have here a periodical which, I know, is anathema to my honorable friends opposite, but which, I think, publishes a good deal of sound common sense. It is The Australasian Insurance and Banking Record. In the August number, summing up the second quarter of Australian banking returns, these remarks appear -
Australian deposits not bearing interest show for the past quarter a large decrease, as compared with a moderate increase for the corresponding quarter of 1910 and 191 1, and fixed deposits show a comparatively small increase, the net result being a diminution of over £1,200,000, against an increase of £2,071,000 in 1911, and one of £2,355,000 in [9IO. Advances for the past quarter show an increase of over i£ millions.
In other words, whilst the deposits in our banks have decreased during the last two quarters by £1,200,000, the banks have been called upon to advance £1,750,000 more -
Taking deposits and advances, &c, together, the diminution in banking resources for the quarter reaches nearly 3 millions.
I venture to say that it is a considerable time since our national finances have shown anything approaching such a set-back in so short a time as is exhibited by those figures. It is. a set-back which is very significant, and demands the most serious attention of honorable members. It should certainly draw from the Prime Minister some remarks to show why it has happened. When the figures show such an alarming state of things - and it is alarming up to a certain point - as is revealed by that journal, I think the Prime Minister, in presenting his Budget-speech for the year, should go into these questions and review the finances of the Commonwealth in the light of what is going on in private financial circles. So much for a review of the present. Looking into the future, the position is, perhaps, more significant, and calls for still greater attention from honorable members. During the next three years the States will be called upon to renew no less than £49,000,000 of loans out of the £200,000,000 odd that they now owe. I have not been able to get the complete figures, but I have collected some which go to show that the works in progress at the present time in different parts of Australia will call for the borrowing, within the next three years, of another £12,000,000, apart altogether from those renewals. I think, too, that that is a very conservative estimate.
– Are you talking of the Commonwealth?
– Of State and Commonwealth money.
– Is that expenditure required for works authorized?
– Yes ; I believe that for works which have actually been authorized, it will be necessary to go on to the market and borrow another £12,000,000 during the next three years, in addition to renewing loans to the extent of £49,000,000. These matters should have been gone into by the Treasurer in his Budget-speech. I do not think he should practically throw his Budget-papers on the table of the House, without reviewing the existing financial position or dealing with the probable financial difficulties of the immediate future, and showing us how his financial policy dovetails into the general situation. I find, also, that the Governments of the Commonwealth and States are piling up expenditure on all sides. The Budgets of the Commonwealth and the States provide for the current financial year for an expenditure of £56,000,000 out of revenue, and £15,000,000 out of loans. That expenditure represents a disbursement of £15 i2s. per inhabitant of the Commonwealth. It includes, of course, many of our earning Departments; but it is an enormous disbursement for all that. The tremendous growth of this expenditure is also very significant. In the first year of Federation the total disbursements by States and Commonwealth were £10 15s. 8d. per head of population. Threeyears ago they were only £ti 15s. per head. That was the last year in which the Liberal Government was in power ii* this Parliament. On this year’s Estimates, with the Labour Government in. power, the total proposed disbursement by States and Commonwealth is £15 12s. per head, or an increase of £3 17s. per head. In this particular the Commonwealth Parliament has led the way. The growth of Commonwealth expenditure has been abnormally large, and has outrival led the States in every way. The proportion of the increase in regard to the Commonwealth Parliament is very much greater than it has been in the case of the StateParliaments. That may be, and no doubt is, to a certain extent due to the endingof the operation of the Braddon section. When that happened, it was only natural,, particularly with the growing necessities of the Commonwealth in regard to defence and one or twoother matters, that Commonwealth expenditure should increase; but I venture tothink it is increasing at an altogetherabnormal rate, calling for the most: serious consideration by honorable members. I think, too, that the Treasurer has framed his Estimates on anything but conservative lines. The estimated revenue for the year is £20,422,000. The estimated expenditure for the year is £22,683,541. That is to say, the excess of expenditure over revenue is estimated to be £2,261,541. _ I should have liked to hear the Prime Minister discuss the question which he totally avoided in his Budget-speech : What is going to happen in regard to next year’s expenditure ? Is he going to curtail expenditure, and, if so, in what manner? That is a fair question to ask. Is the expenditure next year to be on exactly the same scale, or is it to be decreased, or is there to be an increased revenue? If there is going to be an increased revenue, how is it to be obtained? By more Customs and Excise receipts, or by more land taxation ? We are entitled to ask those questions, and to expect an explanation from the Treasurer. So far, he has not said a single syllable about them.
– After the Treasurer the deluge !
– Exactly. “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die.” It is a case of “ the devil take the hindmost “ when other Ministers come into power. I have been through the Estimates and Budget-papers pretty carefully, and have tried to find out which of the sums will probably not appear next year, and on what particular items the expenditure is likely to be less. I must confess that I have not been able to discover any item of importance which will not probably require the same amount of expenditure next year as this. Take naval and military expenditure. I venture to say that the expenditure under those two headings next year will be quite equal to that in the present year. It may be more. There is an item of £80,000 for naval bases. That represents the beginning of an enormous expenditure. If the naval bases are to be ready for our ships before they are nearly fit for the scrap-heap, money will have to be expended much more quickly than is proposed this year. We can safely say that the sum total of naval expenditure, taking into consideration the personnel of the vessels now on their way to Australia and under order, will certainly not be less than it is this year. The same applies to military expenditure. It will require just as much money for post and telegraphic services next year, unless a saving is effected on lines that I have already indicated. Certainly, more money will be needed to meet the constantlygrowing requirements of the country. I might go on enumerating items in the Estimates, and pointing out how little in the way of decreased expenditure can be anticipated. What, then, is going to happen? Is there to be sufficient taxation to meet the increased expenditure ? There has been no attempt by this Government, from its commencement, to discriminate between what is properly capital expenditure and what should be expenditure borne out of revenue. There has been no attempt to discriminate between things which might be paid for out of loan funds and things which should be paid for out of current revenue. We are committing ourselves to expenditure to an enormous extent in years to come which’ we shall not be able to meet out of revenue unless we largely increase the amount of taxation. I wish to illustrate from figures appearing in the Estimates some of the items which will entail a large expenditure next year, and which, in my opinion, should always have been met out of loan funds. On page 227 of the Estimates there is anitem of £80,000 which commits us to a total expenditure of £300,000 ; on page 222 there is an item of £2,000 which commits us to a total expenditure of £31,000; on page 220 there is an item of £5,000* which commits us to an expenditure of £30,000; on page 216 there is an item of £5,000 which commits us to an expenditure of £25,000; and on page 232 there is an item of £15,000 which commits us to an expenditure of £108,500. Over and over again in the Estimates we find items comparatively small in amount which commit us to large expenditures next year. They are being met out of revenue, though I believe they should be met out of loan funds. I am not dealing with the way in which the loans should be raised, but I am complaining that there has been no attempt to discriminate between what is properly capital expenditure and what is properly annual expenditure. The Prime Minister’s estimate of revenue for this year has been framed on anything, but a conservative basis ; and, in my opinion, his figures will not be reached. That is the conclusion to which the financial-‘ occurrences of the last twelve months point. Although I listened to, and have since read,, carefully the speech of the Prime Minister,, the only reference to the future in it that I can find is in these words -
Customs and Excise leached the large amount of £14,710,199, being £910,199 above the estimate. I attribute the present large receipts principally to the great prosperity which Australia is now enjoying, and which I hope will long continue.
Although the Prime Minister expressed the pious hope that Australia’s prosperity will long continue, he made no attempt to support it with facts and figures; and he was wrong in attributing the present large _receipts to present prosperity. A little while ago, I quoted figures which show that, during the last six months, Australia has had to use no less than £3,000,000 of its banking resources to keep going. Does that point to present prosperity ? I believe that our large imports are due to the fact that merchants- had entered into indent contracts which they were obliged to carry out, and that the imports have been largely in excess of our requirements. That is why they have increased, although our exports are decreasing. Concurrent with the increase in our imports has been a tightening of the money market, money being dearer just now than at any previous time for many years. That is evidence that our imports have had to be paid for partly with capital, and not from present resources. The Customs duties of last year returned £12,071,514, and are estimated to return this year £12,209,000, or £127,486 more than last year.
– The increase is due to one line of imports only. In regard to all others, decreases are looked for.
– I admit that the increase is accounted for by the likelihood of a falling off of the sugar production of Australia ; and it is worthy of note that the honorable gentleman has chosen the time when the sugar-growers are struggling against a bad season to issue a regulation largely increasing the wages which they must pay to their employes. It is estimated that the sugar duties, which yielded £275,078 last year, will this year give £768,000; and that the return from the Excise duties on. sugar will decrease from £748,670 to £436,000; the decrease in the sugar crop being estimated at 78,168 tons. According to figures which I received from Mr. Knibbs, the value of our total imports last year was £73, I24,989, yielding in Customs revenue .£12,071,514, the average rate of duty being thus 16.65 Per cent. That seems to me a fair average to take, as, in working out the figures for three or four other years, I have found that the average is sometimes 17 percent., and sometimes as much as 18 per cent. The Prime Minister estimates that he will receive from Customs duties this year £12,209,000; so that we may assume that the value of the total imports of the year will be £l3>321,321- The value of our total exports last year was, according to figures supplied to me by Mr. Knibbs, £81,540,022, or .£8,415,133 in excess of the value of the total imports. The value of the gold exported was £14,952,787. That is to say, to meet the balance of trade as between our exports and imports, we had to export last year nearly £15,000,000 in gold. Our exports of merchandise, therefore, were less than our imports of merchandise, after allowing for the sum of £1,528,429, gold imported, by £5,009,325.
– What is the difference between the exports of gold last year and those of the previous year ?
– Our exports of gold have risen from something like £4,000,000 to £I 5’000,000. The difference is simply colossal, and I shall endeavour to show presently what has been the result of this increase. This larger exportation of gold has been caused by a very large increase of imports and a decrease of exports. I ought, perhaps, to qualify the remarks I have made in this connexion by admitting that there is one species of imports and exports which the Customs statistics do not take into account. I refer to valuable securities, loan moneys, and so forth, which, of course, affect the balance of trade. If the Commonwealth or any State were to raise, in London, to-morrow a loan of £5,000,000, and our exports were considerably less than our imports, so that the balance of trade was against us, the net result would be that we should cease to that extent to export gold to the Old Country. Notwithstanding that during the last twelve months the States have borrowed excessively in London, however, we find this very large outflow of gold.
– So that the position is really worse than it looks.
– It is. Australia is a debtor country. According to the Budgetpapers, we have to meet in London every year interest payments amounting to £6,846,917. In addition to that we have to meet interest in the shape of dividends in respect of several large trading concerns in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned some figures in regard to these dividends which, 1 think, are rather in excess of the actual amount paid..
– The information was supplied by a leading banker.
– Having regard to these payments in respect of interest and dividends, it is probable that, at the very least, our exports would have to exceed our imports by £8,000,000 in order to equalize the balance of trade, provided that in the meantime money in some shape or form did not pass between the two countries. Our exports of gold this year total £14,952,787.
– That is the latest return.
– Yes, I obtained these figures from Mr. Knibbs. The Budget figures simply deal with the calendar year, and are practically valueless for purposes of comparison with our national financial year. We require, for comparative purposes in each case, the figures for the financial year, and I have obtained these from Mr. Knibbs. It will be seen that, after allowing in respect of interest payments in London £6,846,917, and not taking into consideration company dividends on capital privately invested in Australia, the balance of merchandise imported over that exported, other than imports of gold, amounts to £5,009,325, which gives a total of £11,856,242. In other words, the gold withdrawals this year in excess of the ordinary balance of trade, have amounted to .£3.096,545. I venture to say that this points to anything but a healthy state of affairs. After allowing for the ordinary requirements of trade, without taking into consideration the fact that we have borrowed largely from the Old Country during the year, we have to meet at Home an excess of £3,096,545. That can have been brought about in only one way. It has been brought about, I believe, by the actual withdrawal of capital from Australia. I may be wrong, but that is my firm impression. Only a few days ago I was informed by a gentleman who knows the circumstances that one very large trustee and agency company doing business in Australia has recently withdrawn for investment elsewhere £5,000,000 which was invested here. Actual sales of land, and so forth, have drawn upon our resources, and, as a consequence, have led, I think, amongst other things, to a tightening of the money market in this part of the world. That, however, is not the whole story. Not only has there been the very large withdrawal of gold to which I have referred, but banks doing business here, and having branches in the Old Country, have reduced to a very large extent the balances which they hold in London. I have not been able to get the whole of the banking figures, but I find that the Bank of New South Wales alone has, within the last few months, reduced its holdings of money at short call in London by £1,365,000. I find that I have some figures in regard to the production of gold which I thought I had mislaid, and which I intended to quote a few minutes ago. The production of gold in 191 1 was £10,551,624, and the imports were £1,528,429, or a total of £12,080,053. The exports of gold amounted to £14,952,787, showing that the excess of exports of gold over production and importation of gold amounted to .£2,872,734. The next question I want to consider is: Can the exports this year, apart from gold, reach the value which they did last year - ;£o6.587,235? I venture to say that, not only will they not do so, but they will fall short of that sum by a very considerable figure. I have made a number of inquiries in quarters where, probably, I would get the best information, and found that there is a general consensus of opinion amongst those best able to judge that our wool clip for this year will be 400,000 > bales less than it was last year. That is, of course, owing to the drought which we experienced at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, and in which a very large number of sheep died. The value of. 400,000 bales of wool will not be less than £5,000,000. In the case of frozen lambs and meat, it is anticipated that the decrease in value will be, at the very least, £1,000,000 - it may be £1,500,000. As regards wheat and flour, the consensus of opinion seems to be that we will just about hold our own. In the case of butter, we are carrying over no supplies at all. We are entering upon the export season on an absolutely bare market, and will probably have to face a lower market in England this year than we did last year.
– You hardly anticipated that the market values in the Old Country last year would be maintained this vear?
– No; and I am glad that the honorable member agrees with me on that point I think that we shall have a decreased production, and a lower market. But I am not taking that into consideration at all. I am allowing that, in the case of our principal exports - wheat and butter - we shall come out somewhere about the same as we did last year. But as regards meat and wool, we shall have to face a decrease of, I believe, about £6,000,000. I think that we shall be fortunate if our exports of merchandise this year realize £60,500,000. I have endeavoured to show that if the Customs revenue for the year yields £12,209,000, as the Treasurer anticipates, our imports must be of the value of £,73>327>3Z7- Owing to our landed interest bill, our gross exports, including gold, must exceed our imports in value by at least £7,000,000, and total about £81,000,000, as against £81,540,022 last year.
– Do you think that the present outlook justifies that expectation ?
– I simply put the figures in that way. In my opinion, the value of our exports, apart from gold, this year will not reach more than £60,500,000 - we shall be very lucky if we get off with that; we may not reach that amount, but I hope that we will.- It is, I think, a fair estimate. What will be the position ? If we import goods to the value df £73,500,000, and have to export £81,000,000 worth of goods to meet our indebtedness, then, with only £60,500,000 worth of merchandise to export, we shall have to export about £19,500,000 or £20,000,000 worth of gold.
– But if we have not the exports, do you think that we shall have the imports?
– That is exactly the point I have been trying to lead up to. If we have not the exports, and cannot meet the payments in gold, our imports must decrease, and that is why I think that pious hope to which the Prime Minister gave utterance .will not be realized. Suppose, however, that his figures are realized, and that we import £73,500,000 worth of goods. Where is the gold to come from to meet that enormous difference in value between the exports and the imports ?
– The Northern Territory.
– I do not know. The places from which the gold generally comes are the banks. We have only to look at the figures to see that the production of gold in Australia is getting less and less every year. It is falling off at the rate of from £300,000 to £500,000 a year. The banks will not get any more gold this year than they did last year, and, in all probability, over and above our production and our importations, to realize the Prime Minister’s figures the banks will have to find out of the reserves which they now hold about £8,000,000.
– Do not forget that we can issue a few bank notes.
– Bank notes are of no use in a matter of international exchange. Nothing is good then except solid coin. I venture to say that the banks cannot find £8,000,000 for that purpose. I do noi mean to say that they have not that amount in their coffers - of course, they have - bur they cannot find anything approaching as large a sum as that at the present time without jeopardizing their position very much.
– Where do they get the gold for China?
– I am talking about the banks of Australia, and not about the banks of the world. It is our Australian banks which will have to find this money, if necessary; and I venture to say that they cannot do it. I have here the Australian Insurance and. Banking Record for 21st August, 1912, which shows the ratios borne by coin and bullion and Australian notes to the total deposits in circulation and the liabilities at call for the last ten quarters. I find that in the beginning of 191 1 the proportion of gold and Australian notes held to the total deposits and liabilities at call was 26.53 Per cent., which was a very sound position for the banks. By June, 19 1 2, however, after the large withdrawals that had been going on during the previous twelve months, the proportion had dropped to 22.85 Per cent., and that is counting in the Australian notes, of which the banks, of course, held comparatively few at the beginning of 1911. We find that the banks have had to weaken their position considerably during the last twelve months ; and I venture to say that it would be impossible for them to still further weaken their position to the extent of £8,000,000 in gold. That would be a most unsatisfactory position for Australian banking, and one that we should be the very last to desire to see. I have endeavoured to show in what way, I think, it is utterly impossible for the Prime Minister’s figures to be realized in regard to the revenue from the Customs. During the next twelve months there must be a sharp decline’ in our imports,’ and, as a consequence, when “the year is ended, we shall, in all probability, be faced, not only with an empty Treasury, but with a Treasury in debt. The Budget has, I think, been framed on lines that are anything but what we should have expected from a man imbued, as we always understood the Prime Minister to be, with Scotch caution; and, as I have said, when the twelve months are expired, we shall find that his anticipations as to the revenue from this particular source will not have been realized, and the Treasury will be in a very parlous condition. Then I endeavoured to show at the opening of my remarks that this year we are really working with a huge deficit. I do not think that the Prime Minister’s figures can be realized unless the States suddenly start borrowing at a great rate at Home, or there is, in some other way, a big flow of capital to Australia.
– We have to “fix up” £30,000,000 of loan money in the next three years.
– That is not a new loan, but the. renewal of old loans; and, further, we are starting the year with an actual deficit of ^2,250,000 on the current revenue. What is going to happen next year? Whither are we drifting ? We are drifting into a cul de sac, and we shall find it absolutely necessary, perhaps at a very awkward time, to go on the market for a large loan. If that should prove to be so, we shall, of course, have to pay through the nose for the money. We should endeavour to shape our financial policy in such a way as not to be the first to take such a step at, perhaps, a most inopportune time, when a large number of loans are maturing, and the London money market is called upon for large sums. The Prime Minister should have framed his Budget on more conservative lines, particularly in regard to imports, and there should have been an honest endeavour to discriminate between what is actual capital and what is revenue expenditure. There is only one other point I desire to make. So far as I am aware, there has been no attempt, since the Prime Minister delivered his Budget Speech, to link up the financial policy of the Government with the noteissue and the Commonwealth Bank. I do not know, but I am inclined to think that the general policy of the Government, if it has a policy at all in this connexion, is to use these particular institutions for the purpose of financing Australia from within. If that be so, I venture to say that it is a most unwise policy for a young country to adopt. We require all the money that we can get in Australia for the development of Australia. There is no one in a position to draw capital from outside Australia on the same advantageous terms as the Government ; and that is why I think the Government should be loath to draw on the internal resources of the country unless there is a very distinct indication that there is more money in the country than the country can absorb. At present there is no sign that we have sufficient money in Australia to carry on the developmental work needed at the present time.We have a constantly rising rate of interest, which points to scarcity of money; and the more the Government endeavour to draw on our existing resources, and the more they endeavour to finance Australia from within, the more they will accentuate this particular phase of the position. As I say, I think that may be the policy of the Government; but we have never had any enunciation, so far as I am aware, from the Treasury bench of what the financial policy of the Government really is; at any rate, such a policy is detrimental to the best interests of the country. I have endeavoured to deal with one or. two points as clearly as possible; and I hope that in reference to these the Prime Minister will see his way clear to make some definite pronouncement to the House and the country.
.- I much regret that the Government cannot see its way to insert in the Defence Act a conscience clause allowing parents who have conscientious objections to their children being trained in the art of war, to make a declaration to that effect. The Honorary Minister, who represents the Minister of Defence, is of opinion that nearly every parent in Australia would make a declaration to that effect.
– I have not said anything of the kind.
– I understood the Honorary Minister to say that, if there were a conscience clause, we should very soon revert to the voluntary system.
– I did not say that.
– Then I misunderstood the Honorary Minister. I know that some persons hold the view that, if there were in our Defence Act a section which exempted from compulsory military training the children of parents who entertain religious scruples, a very large number would avail themselves of it. I do not share that view. I think there are very few individuals who would be prepared to take an oath that they object to compulsory military training on religious grounds. My sympathies are entirely with the members of the Society of Friends who, ever since its foundation by Fox. have objected to the art of war, and to everything pertaining to it. There are very many members of that Society scattered throughout Australia. They entertain the strongest objection to compulsory military training-
– I know some persons who object to wear clothing, but they have to wear it for the general welfare.
– There are men who entertain conscientious scruples about joining a union.
– I know there are some persons who go about the country believing that they are clothed, and in their right minds, when, as a matter of fact, they are not. This is not a humorous question, as some honorable members appear to think. Only the other day, I read in the press an account of the case of a poor widow who lost her husband in the Boer War, and who objected to her children being subjected to military training because the very sight of the uniform reminded her of her terrible bereavement. In another case, the father of three lads told a Court in New South Wales that he objected to his sons being trained, on religious grounds. The Court, however, ignored his objection and imposed a fine of £5 in respect of each of the lads. The fine has doubtless been remitted; but the boys will have to undergo the drill.
-i was fined not long ago because I did not have my child vaccinated.
– Many of us have had to pay a similar fine. I would rather pay it again than subject a child of mine to vaccination. Only the other day, Captain Williams, the Area Officer at Ballarat, received a letter from the mother of a youth who was about to be prosecuted at the local Court, in which she quoted several verses from the Bible to prove that she was taking the right stand in objecting to compulsory military training. She concluded thus -
I am only a weak widow, worn out by nursing, but I will appear at the Court on Wednesday to answer for my action, confident that God is both able and willing to succour me, as he did Daniel, when the law of the land interferes with the free exercise of my religion, loyalty to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and also encourages children to be disobedient to the right commands of their parents contrary to Scripture.
Do honorable members think that any harm would be done to our defence system if the children of a woman holding those views, or of any member of the Society of Friends, were exempted from compulsory military training? I do not think so for a moment.
– It would depend upon how many there were of them.
– I do not believe there would be many. Those persons who would be prepared falsely to swear that they entertain conscientious religious objections to their children undergoing compulsory military training would be of very little use to Australia in time of war. Nor would their children be of any service in time of emergency, seeing that they would probably take after their parents.
– They donot always do so.
– I know that. I remember reading the statement of a German writer - he must have been a philosopher - who said he believed that this earth was the lunatic asylum of the universe. When I listen to the interruptions of some honorable members, I am impelled to believe that he is about right. It seems to me that he must be right when I consider the enormous expenditure incurred by the different nations in preparing for war, and when I recollect that we will have to spend £88,000,000 upon a Naval scheme within the next twenty-one years - that is, if we are to carry out the recommendations of Admiral Henderson. If, on the other hand, we give effect to the proposal of my poetic friend, the honorable member for Melbourne, who wishes to consolidate the State debts, we shall spend an additional £20,000,000. I do not know whether the “money kings,” as the honorable member described them, will be in sympathy with his proposal. Possibly, if they are shareholders in the various ammunition factories, arms factories, and ship-building yards of the world, they will be in favour of it. If the honorable member could only induce the Commonwealth Government, the Governments of the various Dominions, the Imperial Government, and the Goverments of Germany, France, the United States, Russia, and other countries, to nationalize the manufacture of arms and ammunition, as well as the ship-building industry, there would be some chance of limiting armaments, and of bringing about the peace of the world.
– We are doing our share in this country.
– The tendency of the Australian people is in the direction of peace. We have never had a war in this country, and I do not think it will be necessary for us to experience one in order to become a powerful nation. Some persons entertain the idea that we shall first require to be baptized in blood- I do not share that view, To illustrate my argument, let me refer to a question which was asked of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, on the 15th August of the present year, by the honorable member for Wannon. He inquired -
Whether his attention has been drawn to a recent press statement to the effect that -
Japan’s new Dreadnought battle cruiser Kongo has been launched in BarrowinFurness, from the yards of Messrs. Vickers, Sons, and Maxim. She was laid down in January, 1911, and will be completed in 1913, at a, cost of ^2,500,000. . . -When completed the Kongo will carry the largest guns of any warship in the world?
This means that in the British Empire there are people engaged in supplying our possible enemies, not only with warships of that kind, but with the money-
– They are our allies, too.
– Indeed ! Which is the Power that is oftenest quoted by those who are encouraging us in Australia to go in for a huge military and naval defence scheme? Is it not Japan?
– The honorable member for Parramatta says Germany.
– It may be the honorable member for Parramatta’s view that Germany is the Power most quoted.
– I should think both.
– I have noticed from the speeches of prominent men in the Old Country that they do not care to make statements of that kind, although they may believe that .Germany is our greatest menace. Those who have spoken in Australia of a huge military and naval defence scheme use the East as an illustration, and the East is being used, not only in Australia, but in Europe, and especially in America. Mr. Homer Lea’s book, The Valour of Ignorance, is built up on the possibility of the United States being conquered by a nation like Japan. Does anybody think that Japan would be able to get into a position where she might be dangerous to us or to any other Power if it were not for the money kings and money lords mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne this afternoon, who are prepared to lend millions of money to Japan for war purposes, and who are prepared, possibly as shareholders of Messrs. Vickers, Son, and Maxim, and Armstrong, Whitworth and Company, in England, to build Dreadnoughts to be armed with guns superior to those that are to be found on British warships? The paragraph appearing at the foot of a cable in the Argus of 21st May last says -
A special vote was passed by the Japanese
Parliament to enable the Kango to be equipped with 14-in. guns, and, in similar manner, pro vision was made for mounting the Kaso, another Dreadnought battle-cruiser, now building, with 15-in. guns. When completed, the Kango will carry the largest guns of any warship in the world. Germany is building ships to carry weapons of equal size; the United States is constructing battleships capable of being mounted wilh 16-in. guns; and only a few days ago an 18-in. gun for the British Navy was hinted at. The record to-day is held by H.M.S. Orion, with her 13.5-in. guns.
But there is the fact that the Japanese warship is to carry bigger guns than those on British warships, supplied by British artisans, working under the instructions of British employers and British shareholders, some of whom, possibly, are taking part in the government of the British Empire. Is that not a travesty? Does it not go to show that there is some truth in what the German philosopher said? Are we, a presumably sane people, going to allow that kind of thing?
Only the other d ay I saw in a recent Daily Sketch that Armgaard Karl Graves, a German spy, was sentenced in the Scottish High Court at Edinburgh to eighteen months’ imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act. He was, I suppose, deemed guilty of being a spy. If punishment is meted out to him for trying to get at the secrets of Britain, what punishment ought to be meted out to the shareholders in Vickers, Son, and Maxim, and Armstrong, Whitworth, Limited, and the rulers of the Old Country who are willing to allow those firms to manufacture ships for our possible enemies, and supply them with better guns than are supplied to the British Navy? In 1910 Armstrong, Whitworth, Limited” made net profits amounting to £351,921, and in 1911 net profits amounting to £527,866; while Vickers, Son, and Maxim made net profits amounting, in 1910, to £288,044, and, in 1911, to £510,668. Between the two firms, a net profit of over £1,000,000 was made in 191 1 in the way I have been describing. With other members of the Australian Parliament, and some from the Dominion Parliaments, I went last year to Vickers, Son, and Maxim’s yard. In the factory, where we were watching huge pieces of metal, weighing, perhaps, thirty tons, being handled for armour plating, I was very surprised to find that two Japanese were present. I drew the attention of the friend who was with me to the fact, and asked how they came to be in those yards. He replied, “ They are Japanese students. They are here to study, and are allowed here because the Japanese are our customers.” In those very yards were being built - perhaps that is a point to which I should not refer, and I shall say no more about it; but there were those Japanese students, in a British workshop, on British territory, finding out all they could about British methods of warfare, in order that they might take the knowledge back to their own country, and, if necessary, use it against Australia.
– Perhaps they were inspectors, whose duty it was to see that the right material was used.
– I will give my honorable friend whatever may be gained from that point ; but it does not in any way lessen the strength of my argument that Britishers should not supply our possible enemies with warships, arms, and ammunition. It seems that the way out of the present difficulty for the intelligent and civilized nations of the worM, who want to put a stop to huge military and naval expenditure, is for them to come to the conclusion that all arms, ammunition, and war vessels, and all material that may be used in war time, should be manufactured by each nation for itself, and that the element of profit-making should be entirely eliminated. I believe that the great Krupp firm in Germany will do just as Messrs. Vickers, Maxim and Company do in England. They will make arms and ammunition, and build ships, for any nation. But I sincerely hope that the time will soon arrive when we in Australia will refuse to allow any one to manufacture arms and ammunition for private profit. We have made a commencement with the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. I see that we are committed to an expenditure of £88,000,000 if we carry out Admiral Henderson’s naval scheme.
– How does the honorable member arrive at those figures? We were told last night that the amount was £113,000,000.
– I am indebted to the Melbourne Herald for the statement.
– That is a great authority, is it not?
– I do not know whether that remark is intended as a gibe at me, because of my attitude towards some newspapers. But let me say that many newspapers nowadays take the place of books, and that articles appear in newspapers that are quite as good as material that used at one time to ‘be published in book form.
– That is rubbish. The articles which appeared twenty years ago were infinitely superior to those of to-day.
– Many of the articles which appear in the standard works of today were originally published in the form of newspaper articles.
– What about Delane George Augustus Sala, and such journalists as those?
– I know that the honorable member is of opinion that “ distance lends enchantment to the view.” When he looks at the speeches of politicians delivered thirty or forty years ago, he comes to the conclusion that they were better than the speeches that are made to-day.
– There was no time limit then.
– No; nor was there a standing order which prevented the reading of speeches. Consequently speeches were carefully prepared beforehand and read.
– The honorable member was talking about leader writers, not speech-makers.
– I do not hold the view that things which are old are necessarily better than things which are new, and I am of the opinion that, generally speaking, the journalists of to-day are far superior men to ihe journalists of fifty years ago.
– They are only showmen to-day ; they run picture shows.
– I do not intend to indulge in a dialogue with the honorable member. I was speaking about £88,000,000 being the estimated ultimate cost of Admiral Henderson’s naval scheme. The Melbourne Herald published the following statement -
It was recently stated that the naval scheme of Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson contemplated an expenditure on the Commonwealth Navy pf not less than £88,500,000 in twenty-two years, of which ^40,000,000 would be required for the construction of docks.
The statement was contradicted by Senator Pearce, who, on being referred to the Commonwealth Year-Book, declared that the statement in the Year-Book was also incorrect.
A reference to Admiral Henderson’s report Shows that he has divided the twenty-two years between 191 1 and 1932 into four periods, the first of seven years, and the remaining three periods of five years each. He contemplates a vote of ,£3,000,000 a year in the first period, ^,4,000,000 a year in the second period, ^£4,500,000 a year in the third, and ,£5,000,000 in the fourth period - or a total of ^88,500,000.
– I reckoned up the details last night, and made the total £70,000,000. I think that the honorable member’s figures must include naval bases.
– Does the honorable member say that Admiral Henderson’s report contemplates an expenditure of £4,000,000 a year in the first seven years?
– No; £3,000,000 a year in the first period, £4,000,000 in the second period, £4,500,000 in the third, and £5,000,000 in the fourth.
– There must be a misunderstanding.
– I think it is time that the Government analyzed the figures, and gave us an authoritative estimate.
– The Commonwealth Year-Book states -
In twenty-two years the expenditure on the fleet alone would be ^73,275,000. This, with an expenditure on fleet and harbor works, would make a grand projected expenditure of £88,500,000
Whether those figures be right or not, we do know that if we carry out the schemes of Lord Kitchener and Admiral Henderson in their entirety, many millions of money will have to be spent. I am sure that the naval scheme will break down unless it is modified. Australia will not be able to foot the bill. I think that the Ministerial party will have to have on its programme next year a plank which will enable us to modify the scheme in a useful direction. We are committed next year to a line of steam-ships, lt would be wise for us, instead of spending so many millions on warships alone, to spend several millions of the money on convertible merchantmen, which might be used as war vessels in time of need, whilst in peace time they might be used for carrying passengers and mails to and from Europe. We can make our new plank - a Commonwealth-owned line of steamers - fit in with that idea. We shall be able to construct fast convertible merchantmen, and in that way do something of a useful character for Australia, instead of putting our money into vessels which, as every expert tells us, are only fit for the scrap-heap in the course of a decade.
I wish to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that our Area Officers and military officers generally expect from the cadets undergoing training courtesy and respect. I believe in that. We ought to make our Australian youth well mannered. I visited England last year, and found that the boys in the country districts through which I passed were very well mannered indeed. Generally speaking, they were better mannered than are our boys. On the Continent I found the same thing. Nothing is lost from courtesy, and a great deal is gained. I desire that all Australian youths shall be trained in good manners. There is no loss of dignity in showing respect to all with whom one comes in contact; but I wish the Minister of Defence to require all military officers to show respect to the cadets.
– The respect must be mutual.
– It ought to be mutual. We do not wish to create in the cadets a condition of mind making them servile to those above them. Their officers, therefore, should show them respect. The other day a cadet received the notice which I have in my hand. The size and texture of the paper would indicate that the Commonwealth was in financial straits. This notice is worded as follows -
Melbourne, 31st July, 1912.
Memo, for Cadets.
You are hereby notified that you are liable to prosecution for failure to render the personal service required. Please call and see me re parades attended in area from which you were transferred.
It is signed by the Area Officer. The boy went to him, and discovered that he was not liable to be prosecuted, as he had done the full number of drills. So many prosecutions were taking place, that the father was not satisfied, and instructed his son to write to the Area Officer to this effect -
Dear Sir, -
My father wishes to know whether it is necessary for me to have a written statement to the effect that I have fulfilled the personal service required. I received a letter at the Junior Technical School, in which it said that I had failed to render the personal service required, but I have since found that I have done enough drills to make me efficient.
This is the reply he got -
Melbourne, 8th August, 1912.
Re information asked for by you. The entry showing the amount of service rendered by you will be entered in your Record Book. That is sufficient for your information.
The captain evidently thought that the words “ that is sufficient for your information “ were rather abrupt, and, marking them out, wrote, “ You are efficient for 1911-1912.” The tone of that reply seems to me to indicate that there is in the mind of this officer, who, according to all accounts, is a very decent fellow, the idea that a cadet is some one whom, in the interests of discipline, it is necessary to keep down. That is an attitude of mind which we should not encourage.
– What other form would the honorable member have the officer use?
– I do not think that the honorable member’s criticism is fair. I am as desirous as is any man that the military officers shall carry out their duties properly, but I do not think that there is any justification for the honorable member’s criticism.
– The honorable member will find throughout the Public Service that off-hand way of writing. I do not think that there was any disrespect shown.
– It is quite true that an off-hand way is employed by some officers in the Public Service when dealing with the public. It is only when these officers find that they are dealing with a member of Parliament that they give ordinary courtesy.
– I would not say that there is any want of courtesy.
– Let me give an illustration in support of my contention. Not long ago I went to a railway station on a Wednesday, intending to travel on the following Monday, and put in an order for a ticket. The officer in charge said, “ What do you want to come round now for ? Why don’t you come later?” He was serving a lady at the time. I. said, “ If you like, I will wait until you have attended to the lady.” His reply was, “ Oh, you should have said that before; it is no use now.” The lady got her ticket; and, when I had the opportunity, I went back to the office, and asked the man, “ Why did you speak to me like that?” I said, “ You had no right to address me in that way.” Having discovered that I was a member of Parliament, he denied that he had spoken to me as he had. I might have made a complaint ; but I let the thing pass.
– The military officer of whose conduct the honorable member is complaining appears to have thought- his phrase rather abrupt, and corrected it. We are all liable to mistakes of that kind, and are’ not all experts at letter-writing.
– Possibly the man who signed the letter did not type it.
– That German wa* right.
– The honorable member will pull his forelock to any one in authority ; but I am not built in that way.
– The honorable member could not say that of me.
– Whenever I see evidence of an attempt by the military authorities to produce servility instead of civility in tb-e minds of our cadets, I shall make my protest against it. I am in accord with any endeavour the Defence Department may make, or any rules which it may frame, to encourage or compel our youths to be respectful; but I do not desire that they shall be made servile. I fancy I can see, in the military system which we are setting up, an intention of that kind. The InspectorGeneral of the Commonwealth Forces is given a double-berth cabin on board a steamer, and a two-berth compartment on a train.
– Only when travelling alone.. In most cases, he is accompanied by a stall officer, and they arrange their reports together.
– I have yet to learn that the duties of the Inspector-General of the Commonwealth Forces are so pressing that, when travelling by train, he has to perform work of so intensely important and private character. Honorable members do a great deal of travelling in trains, and know how little work can be done when jolted about in a railway carriage. To my mind, it is absurd to suppose that an officer can do important work on a tram. I do not believe that this officer does such work when travelling.
– I should like to place on record the fact that I have personally looked into this matter, with the result that I am able to say that much of the valuable time of this officer is in this way saved. But for this arrangement, he would have to devote to the writing of reports in Melbourne time that he is now able to give to inspectional work.
– I wish to contrast our attitude towards the head of the military system of Australia with that which we adopt in regard to the poorly-paid members of the Public Service. When one of these men is being transferred from one part of Australia to another, and has to travel by sea, he is given a steerage ticket. Surely honorable members can recognise in these circumstances that some criticism of this character is necessary.
– :The honorable member might contrast his own travelling in a sleepingcar with the travelling of the poorerpaid public servants in the steerage.
– I could do so, and I am quite willing-
– What? To travel in tlie steerage?
– This flippancy on the; part of the Honorary Minister does not become him. There was a time when the honorable member would have been heard attacking the Ministry regarding a system of this kind. He was one of the strongest critics of the Ministry before he became a. member of it. I am advancing the view that, as representatives of the Democracy of Australia, we, who are endeavouring to uplift the people and to abolish caste, should seek to do something practical in this direction. There would be no complaint on the part of the public if we gave every public servant, no matter what his salary might be, a first class ticket when travelling on public business. To the credit of Mr. Kidston - a former Premier of Queensland, with whom I have had occasion to differ because he left the Queensland Labour party - be it said that, when he was in office, the new railway carriages for use between Brisbane and the New South Wales border were so constructed that the only difference between the first and second class carriages was that the one had painted on them the word “ First,” and the other the word “ Second.”
– The position is much the same in regard to the-New South Wales carriages.
– Yes; in Queensland, under this system, a man has to pay for his exellusiveness
– There is not much difference in the Victorian railway service.
– Some of the second class carriages on the Victorian Railways are out
Of date, and very dirty. In Australia, a man who wishes to be exclusive ought to pay for his exclusiveness. If he is not satisfied to travel with another man in working clothes, he should pay to be separated from him. On the tramways of our private companies, a lady in a silk dress has to sit, perhaps, next to a man who is returning from his work on the wharf ; and there is no occasion for us as a Commonwealth to continue the system whereby some public servants, when travelling on public business, are given only a steerage berth, while others who are receiving a few pounds a year more, are granted a first class ticket. 1 am glad to leave this subject, because I have no desire that there should be any ill-feeling between my honorable friends and myself ; and I come now to a matter which may not appeal to some honorable members.
The honorable member for Wentworth takes strong exception to my leaving these domains, in imagination, for a country like Persia; but I am, nevertheless going now, in imagination, to take a trip to China. A few days ago, I asked in this House a question regarding the recognition of the Republic of China. I put that question, not as the honorable member for Wentworth suggested, with a view of embarrassing the British Government, but because it is part of my plan to bring about the peace of the world that this Great Britain of ours should do everything possible to make friends of nations that were formerly our enemies. There has recently occurred in China the most remarkable revolution of modern times. We have had there a peaceful revolution of some 400,000,000 of people, and the Manchu dynasty have abdicated and given their allegiance to the new Republican Government. Although that took place nearly a year ago, however, there has not yet been any recognition by Great Britain of the Republic of China. Germany - possibly out of courtesy to the Old Country - is also holding back.
– I understand that the British Government did not recognise the Republic of Portugal for twelve months after its establishment.
– It is true that it was not recognised by Great Britain, or the other Powers, for twelve months ; but, going back to T793i “ve find that the Republic of France was recognised within a week by the Government of the United States. I know of no reason for delay in this instance. It is possible that the delay that took place in recognising the Republic of Portugal was ‘due to the fact that the exKing Manoel was resident in the British Isles, and . had a considerable following there, as well as in his own country. We have all heard of the expeditions that took place in the endeavour to restore the throne to the Monarchists.
– Was there not a special reason for the early recognition of the Republic of France by the United States of America?
– Undoubtedly, the Government of the United States of America were in very great sympathy with the new Republic; but I do not know that there is any strong reason why Great Britain should any longer delay its recognition of the Republic of China. The Republican Government is firmly established there.
– But is it? That is where the question of delay comes in.
– That huge country had a civilization of its own when our forefathers were painting and tattooing themselves - when they were clothed in skins and had no vegetables ; but during the intervening centuries it has remained nearly stationary. The Manchu dynasty, and the Government of China, were, without doubt, very corrupt, and it would be almost impossible in a great country like China to get the law and order which prevails in the British Dominions.
– I understand that the British Government have recognised the Republican Government de facto.
– I do not think there has been any recognition, if I may judge from my reading of the Chinese journals which are written in English, and conducted by educated Chinese. For instance, there is the Republican Advocate, published at Shanghai, which holds that, up to the present, there has been no recognition by the British Government.
– Did not the British Government approve of the selection of Dr. Morrison as adviser?
– But there has been no recognition of the Republican Government; and it is said that, in the meantime, there is much disturbance of trade and commerce, and a certain amount of encouragement is given to the supporters of the Monarchical party to intrigue with a view to upsetting the present Government. There is no doubt that, if the British Government were to take the lead, the other Powers would- follow very speedily. The attitude of the United States of America towards China has been of a very friendly character, as is shown by the fact that half of the indemnity claimed on account of the Boxer rebellion, was returned to China, and is now being spent by the Chinese Government in sending eighty Chinese students every year to be educated in America.
In the newspapers the other day we were informed that the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Knox, has been appointed Special Ambasssador to represent his country at the funeral of the Emperor of Japan, and that this is the first time in the history of the Republic that such an attitude towards an Eastern Court has been adopted. I have no doubt that the other Powers of the world are holding back only because they think’ it an act of courtesy to wait until the “ big fella Government “ recognises the Republican Government of China.
This question has an important bearing on the peace of the world. If Great Britain and the other Powers are going to treat Eastern peoples as in the past, we cannot expect Eastern nations, if ever the time comes that they can do us an injury, to refrain from doing so. Japan, during the last forty years, has abandoned feudalism and adopted modern methods of government, and China is making great strides in the same direction ; but we are doing nothing to wipe out some of the injustices for which we have been responsible. The other day, I put a question to the Minister of External Affairs in regard to the opium traffic, and I was referred to the agreement which has been entered into between Great Britain and China in regard to the importation of opium into the latter country from the British Empire generally. In 1840, Great Britain forced the opium trade on China.
– That is a blot on our fair fame.
– Quite so. Bishop Gore, in the International Review of Missions for 1 2th April, of this year, gives a little catalogue of some of our sins in this respect. He mentions the enslavement of Africans, the opium traffic with China, the trade in spirits with barbarous people, the treatment of the inhabitants of the Congo, and the slaughter of Australian aborigines, as only chapters in a terrible indictment of Christian nations. My object in bringing this matter forward is to show that we ought to endeavour to make some amends for the past by granting the request of China in regard to the opium traffic. China herself has been trying to stop the traffic for seventy years, and appeals have been made at various times to the British Government ; but those interested in the Indo-China opium trade have had so much influence that the British Government have never, until recently, made any concession. The concession now made takes the form of, I think, a ten-years’ agreement, under which the importation of opium into China is to be reduced by 10 per cent, each year.
– A mighty reform is going on in China itself, and the consumptionof opium is being vastly reduced.
– I am glad the honorable member has mentioned that fact, because it serves to show the sincerity of the Chinese Government and the intelligent portion of the Chinese people, who recognise the disastrous effects of the drug. In this connexion I should like to read an extract from an article headed “ Freeing a nation from poison,” by E. W. Thwing, Secretary of the International Reform Bureau, as follows: -
In Tung-an and Mahang, where the poppy yielded in former years an annual income of over 2,000,000 dollars, every plant has now been rooted up.
According to the Republican Advocate of 11th May, this year, Chinese authorities at Hang Chow have issued strong rules both with regard to the cultivation of opium and the smoking thereof, and have closed up all the retail shops.
Sitting suspended from 6 30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was referring to the opium question, and the endeavours which had been made by China to secure a cessation of the traffic. It is about twelve months since 150,000 Chinese sent a petition to King George V., of Great Britain, asking that the importation of opium into China from India might be stopped, but, so far, I understand there has been no reply. Honorable members may have noticed from the cablegrams of a few weeks ago that the Indian merchants were complaining that the cultivation of the poppy was being re-established in some provinces of China, and that in reply to their objections the British Government said that a failure on the part of the Chinese Government to prevent the production of opium in China would delay the recognition of the Re public. I think it is a pity that the British Government should take that stand. I agree with those British missionaries in China and Chinese reformers who say that if the opium traffic is to be stopped it must be done with the help of the British nation, and the stoppage of the importation of opium into China. I shall conclude my remarks on this question by reading an appeal to the British nation by the first President of the Republic of China, Sun Yat Sen. He says -
Opium has been a great curse to China. It has destroyed more of our people than war, pestilence, or famine. Under a Republican form of government it is our earnest desire to thoroughly stamp out this evil, and to complete the work that has already been done inthe opium reform. Since retiring from the office of Provisional President of the Republic, I have given much thought to this question. While I realize that the most important thing is to stamp out the cultivation of opium in China, yet this is a very difficult task to do without at the same time prohibiting the sale and trade in the drug. With an opportunity to sell at high prices, the temptation to plant is very strong, and, in such a large country, and under present conditions, it is almost impossible to stop it while permitting the sale of opium. We must make ils sale and traffic illegal, and we can then stop its cultivation. At present we are. hindered in this because of a treaty with your country. Remembering with grateful appreciation what you have done for me, and for my country, in the past, I appeal to you for further help to stop this sinful traffic now at the beginning of our new national life. We ask you, in the name of humanity and in the name of righteousness, to grant us the right to prohibit, within our own land, the sale of this fearful poison, both the foreign and the native drug. We believe, wilh the sale made illegal, we can soon put an end to the cultivation. I make this appeal to you, the British people, on behalf of my fellow countrymen.
Sent out, by the authority of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, at Shanghai, China, 4th May, 1912.
That is an extract from the World’s
C/iinese Students’ Journal, an illustrated bi-monthly printed in English, and published at 42 Bubbling Well-road, Shanghai, China.
– It was an appeal to the British nation.
– Through that newspaper ?
– lt was sent to the authorities. When I was reading the extract the honorable member for Kooyong referred by interjection to some act on the part of Lord Salisbury.
– Yes, I said that he saved the life of Sun Yat Sen on one occasion.
– No doubt that is part of what Sun Yat Sen refers to in his statement, “ Remembering with grateful appreciation what you have done for me and my country in the past.” My hope in bringing this matter forward is that, possibly, the thoughts of some of our statesmen may be turned in a direction to which I think it would pay us in very many ways to give attention. First -of all, we ought, I think, if we are desirous of advancing the world’s civilization, to cultivate friendly relations with countries like China. But because I say that, do not let it be assumed for a single moment that I am in favour of abandoning our White Australia policy. I believe that it is the right of every nation to govern itself, and to carry on its Government in its own way within its borders. That is why I suggest that the great British Empire should acknowledge the new Republican Government of China, and assist it to establish peace within its borders, and to advance its civilization as far as may be. Our objection to the Chinese is not a question of race. It is not because a man is a Chinaman that we object to him coming into Australia, and establishing himself here as an artisan or a labourer. It is an economic question ; it is that the Chinaman has so few wants that he is able to work for such a miserable low rate of wages, that if he were permitted to come here he would lower the standard of our civilization and comfort.
– They turn out good unionists when, they stop here.
– No doubt there are elements of a very superior civilization in the great Chinese race, but we cannot afford to allow the capitalists of Australia, who have no regard for their country or for the British Empire either when it comes to a question of making money, to bring Chinese into Australia as they have been brought into the Transvaal in South Africa. We are compelled for our own preservation to keep them out, and I hope that the Chinese who possibly will read my remarks will understand the attitude of the Labour party in Australia towards the introduction of their countrymen. They will understand that we wish to exclude their countrymen from the Commonwealth, not because we object to them as a race, but because their wants are so few, and because they are prepared to work for such a low rate of wages. Look at what they did in the furniture trade here. The Chinese cabinetmakers were willing to work nearly all the hours of the twentyfour. They seemed to be under an agreement by which their employers were able to compel them to do this; and such was the docility of the employes and the cunning of the employers, that an Act had to be passed constituting any place in which one man was employed a factory. Of course, we have to allow the Chinese who are here to remain ; but what we see in the streets of Melbourne, and in the Chinese market gardens around the suburbs of this and other cities in the Commonwealth, is sufficient to prove that the Chinaman must raise himself in the scale of civilization very much before he will approach within measurable distance of our standard, and before we can afford to alter the relationship which exists between the two countries.
– Does the honorable member think that the Chinese whom we get in this country are a fair sample of the race?
– I am very glad that the honorable member has made that interjection. I do not believe that the Chinese who find their way to this country as stowaways are a fair sample of the educated Chinese. If we look at the Students Journal, or the Republican Advocate, we shall find, written in English by Chinese, articles which are a credit to them, and which are equal from a literary stand-point to those published in quite a number of magazines “printed in Australia, Great Britain, and the United States. But we cannot afford to subject Australian workers to the competition of the hordes of underpaid coolie labourers in China. Consequently, we cannot allow them to enter the Commonwealth until they have raised the standard of civilization in their own country. Only the other day, I read in one of these very journals that, in some of the villages of China, so poor is the idea of the people in regard to sanitation, and so little respect have they for their dead, however much they may respect some of their ancestors-
– They have great respect for their dead. °
– I read in one of these magazines the statement that, in some of the villages of China, coffins are to be seen lying about. When Li Hung Chang was in Great Britain some years ago, in ref erring to the prisons of western nations, he remarked, “ If we had your prison system in China, seeing that you take such good care of the prisoners, we should not be able to keep the Chinese out of gaol.” It is evident, therefore, that the Chinese have a very long way to go before they reach our standard of civilization. But a very great reform is taking place. Many Chinese are as well educated as are our professors. Some of the Chinese who took part in the Conference which was held at The Hague on the opium question disclosed the possession of as much scientific knowledge as some of the best German professors. There is no doubt that there is a very great latent power in that nation, and we ought to cultivate its friendship by doing our best to put an end to the opium traffic, and by endeavouring to induce the Imperial Government to recognise its Republican Government.
Before the suspension of the sitting, I remarked that, under Admiral Henderson’s scheme of Naval defence, we shall be committed to an expenditure of £88,000,000 within the next twenty-one years. In this connexion, the honorable member for Maribyrnong has very courteously drawn my attention to the Commonwealth Y ear-Book, No. 5, which contains statistics for the period 1901-11. That publication contains three paragraphs relating to this matter.
– Have not they been corrected ?
– I am not aware that they have. I have not seen any statement to the effect that the Commonwealth Statistician has altered his opinion. If the Minister representing the Minister of Defence is aware of any correction, I would be glad if he would indicate it. Upon page 1092 of that publication, I find the following -
Visit and Report by Sir Reginald Henderson. -At the invitation of the Government, Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson visited Australia to advise upon the best position for a central naval base, and the works necessary to make it effective ; the positions for secondary bases for the service of a fleet, and their equipment for service in naval operations; also upon the location and character of the training schools for preparing personnel for the Australian naval service. The Admiral was also requested to report and advise on any other naval matters upon which he might care to express an opinion, and, generally, in regard to all the measures to be taken in the formation of a fleet. After an inspection of various harbors, the Admiral propounded a scheme which he embodied in a report to the Government in March,1911. It provides fifty-two vessels and 15,000 men; expenditure on ships, , £23,290,000, with an ultimate annual naval vote of £4,794,000; construction of docks,£40,000,000. In twenty-two years the expenditure will be , £88,500,000. Six naval bases, and eleven sub-bases, are recommended.
The 52 vessels of the completed fleet would be divided into Eastern and Western divisions, and consist of 8 armoured cruisers, 10 protected cruisers, 18 destroyers, 12 submarines, 3 depot ships, and 1 fleet repair-ship, the building of which would extend over twenty-two years, The personnel for this fleet, fully manned, would be about 15,000 Of the £23,290,000 initial cost of construction, the Commonwealth is already committed to , £3,500,000. The annual cost of personnel would be , £516,000 in 1912-3, and would increase to , £2,226,000 in 1932-3- Annual cost of maintenance of ships in commission would be , £262,000 in 1913-4, rising to , £1,226,000 in 1933-4. Annual expenditure on construction and maintenance of ships would increase from , £1,491,000 in 1912-3; to£4,824,000 in 1932-3. In twenty-two years, the expenditure on the fleet alone would be- £73,275,000; this, with an expenditure on fleet, and harbor works of , £15,225,000, would make a. grand total of projected expenditure of £88,500,000. The strength of the fleet would; be 23 ships in 1918, 42 ships in 1923, 48 ships in 1928, and 52 ships in 1933. In the earlier years, most of the crews would be obtained from Great Britain; but this would cease in the period 1923-8. A system of “ wireless “ stations is recommended; also the establishment of naval reserves, the erection of barracks, and the institution of a Naval College.
Proposals for Expansion. - The Australian Government has generally adopted Admiral Henderson’s report, and naval expansion is proceeding on the lines therein laid down. At present,’ however”, Australia stands committed only to the’ fleet unit. In the matter of bases, the report is concurred in, and action is being taken for the establishment of the various naval bases and sub-bases required for the fleet unit.
I think that explains away the difference between the grand total of £88,500,000 and the £73,275,000 which has occupied a place in the minds of honorable mem-‘ bers. So far, the Commonwealth Statistician says, we are committed to the Fleet Unit, and that is to cost the . £73,275,000; the balance of the £88,500,000 is to be ex-, pended on naval bases. I believe the com-, pulsory training scheme, so far as the Australian Citizen Force is concerned, will eventually turn out to the very great ad-, vantage of Australia, and to the improvement of the Australian nation, provided that we keep down the tendency to a military caste with a lot of highly-paid officers at the top, who have extraordinary notions of their own importance in the world, and a very poor idea of what is due to the taxpayers and the general public of Australia. I also hope that we shall modify the programme outlined by Admiral Henderson by the construction, as soon as possible, of convertible merchantmen. I do not for a moment understand that the present Government are committed to Admiral Henderson’s proposed expenditure of £88,500,000.
– To what extent have the Government adopted it? We have never had any statement on that point yet.
– No. That is explained by the fact that this party is different from all other parties. Hitherto, in the political history of Australia, we have had leaders who outlined a policy, and sometimes they have had a continuous policy. I do not know that the representatives of that outofdate and ancient order of political economy have any policy now ; but the Labour party are certainly committed to an Australian defence policy. At the same time, I do not think it fs possible for any Government representing the Labour party to say that we are going to spend next year £5,000,000, and the year after £4,000,000, and the year after that £8,000,000 on a naval defence scheme. We must, first of all, be sure that we are on the Treasury bench.
– I am glad you are beginning to be doubtful about that.
– My logical friend will admit that to say that we must first take that question into consideration does not express doubt. Something more would be required to give that impression. Generally speaking, we are committed to a policy for the defence of Australia; but we cannot say that we are committed to anything in the nature of a contract that will be binding upon future Parliaments if the Labour party have a majority on the Treasury bench. I hope, in conclusion, that the peoples of the civilized world will recognise that, at the present time, they are the sport and plaything of Army and Navy contractors. The Army and Navy contractors in Germany are urging the German nation to undertake expenditure on extra Dreadnoughts, because the Army and Navy contractors in Great Britain have persuaded Britain that it is necessary to lay down two keels to every one. I hope and believe that the time will soon come . when the people of the civilized nations of the world will declare that the defence of the country is not to be exploited by the capitalist for the purpose of making the huge dividends that are disclosed by the balancesheets of Messrs. Vickers, Son, and Maxim, and Armstrong, Whitworth, and Company.
– We have heard references to the baldness of the speech delivered by the Treasurer on the Budget; but I want to point out that the Budget-speech has not yet been delivered. We are still waiting for it. It is true that we have had read to the Committee an enormous mass of figures, doubtless compiled by the responsible officers of the Treasury Department, and we have had just a few comments thereon which cannot be dignified,” by even the wildest stretch of imagination, with the title of a Budget-speech. The result is that members of the Opposition are left in an unfortunate position. I cannot speak for members on the Government side, because they may have received information about the finances at their own party meetings. The only thing that the members of the Opposition can do is to search through the Budget, and delve into this inextricable mass of figures, in the vain effort to find out details for themselves, and, if possible, what policy underlies the enormous expenditure therein proposed. Unfortunately, a great deal of time may be spent in that research without getting any tangible results, and we have been afforded no enlightenment by the speeches delivered from the Ministerial side. I cannot help contrasting the baldness of the Budget-statement delivered by the Prime Minister with Budget-speeches that have been delivered in this House in by-gone times. I recall, for instance, speeches by the ex-Treasurer, Sir George Turner, and later on by the right honorable member for Swan, in which those gentlemen went to infinite pains to enlighten the whole House as to the policy underlying expenditure in all Departments of the Commonwealth. In many instances memoranda were prepared for the information of honorable members concerning many matters of interest, which, although, perhaps, referred to in the Budget-speech, were in that way more fully dealt with. Honorable members were thus placed in the position of being able to peruse at leisure full information which enabled them to digest the Budget-speech; and when the debate was entered upon they were prepared to deal intelligently with the whole financial situation. Unfortunately, we are not in that position. This is, on the face of it, purely an electioneering Budget. As far as I can see, it is not intended to fulfil any other purpose than to catch the eye and ear of the thoughtless, to appeal to the cupidity of a great many, and certainly not to appeal to those qualities of patriotism which it should be the aim of true statesmanship always to foster. With regard to the boast of lavish expenditure, which has been so often repeated by honorable members opposite, I can only say that it is not a very hopeful sign when they indulge in such boasts. It is very easy to spend money when it is plentiful, especially when you are spending other people’s money. But the true test of statesmanship is not how much money can be spent in a given year, how much we can wring out of the pockets of the taxpayers, but how we can spend the money wisely, how far we can economize so as to conserve the public interest in the best possible way. But honorable members opposite do not appear to let any such consideration weigh with them. They say, “ We have the money, and we are going to spend it ; we are not going to trouble about to-morrow; let to-morrow look after itself.” That is a very haphazard way of dealing with money, the major part of which is drawn from the pockets of the wageearners of this country. Because, let it be remembered, the great bulk of the taxation is supplied by some 80 per cent, of the people, who constitute the wage-earning class. Consequently, the more we take in taxation, the more unnecessary expenditure we indulge in, the greater the amount that must be drawn from that class of the community which honorable members opposite profess especially to represent. The test of the matter should be : Is the expenditure necessary ? Is the money wisely spent ? I venture to say that neither of those considerations has ever weighed at all either with the Ministry or their supporters. Yet we are on the eve of a reaction when money will be scarcer. Various speakers in the Ministerial party have asked the question, “ What particular items of expenditure would you knock out?” Well, I can point to several that I would have no hesitation in omitting. For instance, there are numbers of works, on which money is being spent, and which are centred in various places, which, in my opinion, are utterly unnecessary. Money is practically being frittered away upon enterprises which should have been established in the Federal Capital, in buildings which should form part of the whole town planning and building scheme. These buildings will have to be duplicated afterwards when the Federal
Capital is built. The hundreds of thousands of pounds which are being wasted in various parts of the Commonwealth in the erection of unnecessary buildings could be saved to the taxpayer. The expenditure will have to be incurred over again. A number of factories, such as the Harness and Saddlery Factory, the Woollen Factory, the Clothing Factory, and others which the Government have established in various portions of the Commonwealth, should have been established in the Federal Capital. The present method of expenditure is wholly unjustified. There is no reason on earth why we should embark upon it. Hundreds of thousands of pounds could have been saved to the taxpayers, and hundreds of thousands will have to be spent later on in duplicating these very buildings in the place which we should be looking forward to occupying at no distant date. And there is no escaping the conclusion that political party reasons rather than public necessity has been the governing factor in much of this lavish, expenditure that this Government has embarked upon. There has been a good deal of controversy over the money which has been spent on the erection of the Treasury buildings, Melbourne. Some very adverse comment has appeared in the newspapers. With a view of clearing up the subject, I asked the Minister of Home Affairs, a few days ago, whether he would lay upon the table of the House all the papers connected with the offer of the Victorian Public Works Department to erect these buildings for the Commonwealth.
– The papers are on the Library table now.
– That is not so. The Minister said that he would not promise to lay them upon the table of the House, but would place them in the Library. I asked the Librarian to-day whether he had received the papers. At first he said that he had not, but later he sent me a message to say that the papers were there. I went to look at them. I found that all that had been supplied was a tracing of the plans of the buildings. There was not a single paper apart from the plans.
– The prices were put down upon the plans.
– I asked for all the papers.
– Those are all the papers that there are.
– That is obviously incorrect. There must have been correspondence extending over a period as far back as August, 1910. Does the Minister mean to tell me that his Department has no other papers than those bare plans with a few notes upon them? Did the plans appear . spontaneously without any previous negotiations or any specifications or tenders ?
– I ordered the whole of the papers to be sent in this morning.
– They are not there.
– There is nothing to keep back.
– The Minister misunderstands my purpose. We cannot get this information from the speeches of Ministers. We have not had an opportunity of looking into the details of expenditure or of the policy underlying it. The only thing we can do is to try to find out for ourselves. The proper means of communicating with Departments is through Ministers. It is for that reason that I asked the Minister of Home Affairs, as I had a right to do, to lay the papers in this case on the table of the House. In the exercise of his discretion, he promised to lay the papers on the table of the Library, that is, to leave them in the custody of the Librarian, who would be responsible for their safe return. To that course, I offered no objection ; but I found that the papers which I sought were not in the Library. There was only a tracing of a plan.
– There were no papers.
– The Minister just now said the papers were on the Library table. There must have been communications between the Commonwealth and the State.
– The honorable member is thinking of the system which prevailed in the old red-tape days.
– There must have been specifications, tenders, estimates of cost, and other papers; but they are not in the Library. The honorable member for Batman asked a question, to which I understood the Minister to reply that no provision had been made by the Victorian Public Works Department for staircases or lifts; but, on looking at the plan, I found that it is for a four-story building; and I therefore asked the Min ister whether we were really to understand) that lifts or staircases had not been estimated for by the State Department. That question he did not answer.
– He said “ in the extension.”
– I referred to the four-story building, the plans of which show that stairs and lifts were provided for by the State officers. I did not understand the Minister to refer to the extension, and he did not make that clear. The honorable member for Corangamite, who was put up to answer the Leader of the Opposition, took great credit, as for a fine piece of statesmanship, for the Defence scheme which this Government is carrying out. As this is his first Parliament, his error may be pardoned. In point of fact, this Government is carrying out the policy of the Liberal Government which preceded it. The Prime Minister, addressing a public meeting at Maryborough or Gympie, outlined the Naval policy of the Labour party, according to which 19 torpedo-boats, and 3 destroyers of the River class, and one other vessel - 23 ships in all - were to be built for the defence of our harbors, rivers, and coasts, the protection of our commerce on the high seas not being thought of. That scheme was condemned by Naval experts as practically valueless for effective defence. The Liberal Government, with the honorable member for Parramatta as Minister of Defence, secured the services of Admiral Henderson to devise a scheme for the Naval defence of Australia; and got Lord Kitchener to visit Australia to advise regarding Military defence. Having thus obtained the advice of the highest Naval and Military authorities available, the Liberal Government prepared a defence -policy, which the elections prevented it from carrying into effect. The Labour party thereupon took office; and, abandoning its own defence policy, took up that of the Liberal party, finding it to be so much better. Now the Labour party has. the unblushing audacity to claim the Liberal defence policy as its own. One honorable member after another on the Ministerial side says, “ Look at the Navy that we have built out of revenue !” ; but what have we got in a way of a Navy at the present time ? All we have are three destroyers, the building of which was only part of the Naval policy of the Liberal party. If we were involved in war as a part of the British Empire to-morrow, what would be our Naval position? Personally, I should have preferred to continue the old arrangement, under which we paid £200,000 a year instead of the £85,000,000 to which we are committed, and our commerce was more effectively protected by the ships of the British Fleet than it will be by our own within the next twenty years. We have not a single Australian fighting ship to show in our waters for three years of Labour Government. It would have paid ms better to stick to the old arrangement; but the impression was conveyed to the Admiralty that Australia did not want the British war vessels here, that she desired a Fleet of her own. The Australian people have never been given an opportunity to say whether they do or do not want anything of the kind. We had then for that small expenditure a more efficient naval defence than we have now, and if we had paid the British Government £500,000, or even more, a year, we should have had a far better naval defence than we are likely to have for some years to come, and the ships would have been prepared at any moment of emergency for active service. As a matter of fact, while our contribution for the protection afforded by the British Navy was only £200,000 per annum, the British Admiralty spent with us between £600,000 and £700,000 per annum in connexion with the ships on the Australian station. Thus, as the result of the British Fleet being in Australian waters, we were something like half-a-million to the good. Another great achievement of the present Labour Administration to which reference has been made is penny postage. I presume that honorable members opposite regard penny postage as a great reform. The honorable member for Corangamite, at all events, made a feature of it in his speech, and pointed out that it was a splendid reform in the interests of the general masses of the community. Time changes the opinions held by many of us, and 1 cannot help thinking what a wonderful change has in the course of a very few years come over the opinion of the Ministerial party on this subject. The first man to propose penny postage in this House was the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who was then Postmaster-General in a Liberal Administration. He twice attempted to pass through this House a Bill providing for penny postage throughout Australia.
– But he was never on the honorable member’s side.
– He is on my side at the present moment, but that point is immaterial. The fact remains that the proposal was then described by Labour men who now extol it to the skies as simply another sop to the rich man at the expense of the workers. They asked “ What, does the worker care for penny postage? Some working men do not post two letters in a year.” Some honorable members opposite went so far as to say then that if the working men in the back-blocks could secure a better postal service they would not mind paying a shilling postage in respect of every letter. Such a statement was made by the present Prime Minister, amongst others. The head of the present Government, who carried penny postage, turned down a Bill to provide for that reform which was introduced by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. He denounced it as a sop to the capitalists and the commercial men of the community, and as being of no value to the working men of Australia. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, when Postmaster-General in a Liberal Administration, moved on 23rd July, 1907, for leave to bring in a Bill to provide for penny postage, the debate on which had been adjourned during the previous session. The present Labour Prime Minister then said -
I must remind the Postmaster-General that there are people living in parts of Australia who would willingly pay a shilling on a letter if they could get mails regularly. But they are denied such facilities, and, while that is so, it appears to me to be idle to talk of penny postage.
He went on to say -
This matter was decided last session distinctly against the Government.
The present Prime Minister then denounced penny postage as a matter about which it was idle to talk, and he reminded the then Postmaster-General that the proposal had been turned down during the previous session. Let us see what one or two other honorable members opposite had to say at that time about the proposal.
– The honorable member voted against it all the time.
– But I was not responsible for the introduction of the Bill. The position is that the party which at that time described penny postage as a capitalistic dodge, and as being of no value to the working classes, now extol it as a wonderful reform in the interests of Democracy. This is a remarkable change of front. Surely if penny postage is good now it was good then. It had then the same virtues that it now possesses. At that time, however, members of the Labour party described it as a sop to the capitalistic classes, whereas to-day they sing an entirely different tune, and speak of it as a great Labour reform. Mr. Watson, then Leader of the Labour party, declared in an interjection whilst the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was speaking, as reported in Hansard, vol. 35, page 5438, “We shall have halfpenny postage by-and-by.” To that sneering interjection the honorable member replied, that the honorable member, at any rate, had been an advocate of penny postage. Mr. Watson’s rejoinder was, “ That is not correct.” The Leader of the Labour party at the time stated that he had not advocated penny postage, and was not an advocate of it. Other honorable members spoke in a similar strain. I was going to quote some remarks made by you, Mr. Chairman, but since you are in the Chair I shall not do so. Another member of the Labour party, the honorable member for Herbert, however, speaking on the same occasion, said, as reported in Hansard, VOl. 35, page 5448, “ I wish to place on record my objection to the Government proposal.” On a motion to adjourn the debate, which the present Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, declared would mean “ killing the Bill,” the following members of the present Ministry and the Ministerial party voted, as the division list shows, with the Ayes : - Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister; Mr. Frazer, the Postmaster-General ; Mr. Hughes, the Attorney-General ; Mr. King O’Malley, the Minister of Home Affairs; Mr. Tudor, the Minister of Trade and Customs; and Mr. Watkins, the Government Whip. That is just taking the official members of the party, and without referring - which is unnecessary - to private members who also joined in the vote for the purpose of killing the Bill, as they did. If penny postage was a good thing then - and I am not saying whether it is a good or a bad thing, though the Labour party to-day say that it is a good thing - the Labour party then said it was a bad thing.
– The times were bad then.
– If the times are good now, and the Labour Government bring in penny postage when we have good times, how much more necessary was it to bring it in when we had bad times, and men could not so well afford it? If it is a good thing for the workingmen when wages are high and times are prosperous, to bring in postage reform, surely it would have been a much better thing to bring it in when they could not afford to pay it so well. When that condition of affairs did prevail, they declared it was only a sop to the capitalists; it was only something which was going to benefit the commercial classes, and not the workers in any shape or form. But those same members who voted in that way, talked in that way, and described the Bill in uncomplimentary terms, now hail, it as a Heaven-born reform. Let us admit that it is a reform. To whom belongs the credit of the reform? Not to the Labour party, because the reform was brought in by a member of another Government, and nearly every one of the present Labour Ministry, including the Prime Minister, voted against it. The only two outstanding features that they can try to get any credit for-
– You voted against it; you know you did.
– Really, sir, I must ask you to request the honorable member not to continue to interrupt me. He is overdoing it.
– You know you voted against it.
– I must ask the honorable member for Maranoa to desist.
– I voted against it.
– I have not mentioned the private members of the Labour party who voted against the first Bill. I have mentioned the members of the Ministry who were responsible for bringing in the last Bill. I do not look upon Labour members outside the Ministry as being responsible - I am paying the compliment to the Ministry of supposing that they are responsible - and, consequently, that is my reason for pointing out that the very men who brought in the Bill are those whose names appeared in a division list as voting against the same proposal when it was submitted by another Government. I want now to draw attention to a very peculiar proceeding which is going on in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department. I have received a communication from a patent agent, who has asked the Department to have letters which are addressed to him delivered to an agent whom he has representing him in another place, and he complains that they have refused to do so. On the 6th August this gentleman addressed the following let-, ter to the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney : -
Sir “Return Receipt” Registered Articles.
I understand that it is the practice of your Department to deliver registered articles which are accompanied by a “return receipt” form to addressees in person only, and, if this be so, 1 have to comment that such a practice -is intolerably inconvenient, and will prove injurious, especially where matters have to be attended to by given dates, as in my business.
I now definitely and positively authorize and request you to deliver to my office all mail matter, including registered mail matter and return receipt registered mail matter, and when a receipt or direction is required, to accept same from my Mr Percy Newell, whose signature is appended.
Mr. Walsh is a well known patent and trade mark attorney, who does a very extensive business, and it is of the greatest importance to him, as it is, of course, to all other business men who are similarly situated, to have his correspondence promptly dealt with. On the 14th August the Department sent the following reply to his communication: -
With reference to your communication of the 16th instant, I have the honour to intimate that registered articles to which A.R. forms are attached are deliverable to the addressee only. The right created by section 38 (2) of the Post and Telegraph Act is a right in the sender of a letter to obtain a receipt showing that delivery has been made to the addressee, and, consequently, the letter should be’ delivered to the addressee only. The Department has no power to recognise any person but the addressee, and the addressee cannot authorize the letter to be delivered to any person but himself. In the circumstances, it is regretted your request for articles with A.R. forms attached, addressed to you, be delivered to Mr. Percy Newell, caunot be acceded to.
That strikes me as being an extreme use of red-tapeism for the purpose of making it most difficult, indeed, for persons to have any dealings with the Department; and I am not surprised at Mr. Walsh writing the following reply, under date the 15th August : -
Re ‘‘Return Receipt” Registered Articles.
The determination expressed in yours of the 14th current, I respectfully submit, is perverse and ridiculous.
Every addressee has the common law right of appointing an attorney for himself, and section 38 (2) of the Post and Telegraph Act cannot deprive him of this.
It is of the utmost importance that my business letters should be delivered promptly, and the missing of a day may cause loss and damage to the addressor to the extent of tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling, by the missing of a date of filing an application for patent.
If you withhold correspondence with A.R. forms attached to the extent even of one delivery from me, or my duly appointed attorney, I now notify you that I will hold you responsible to me and to my principals’ for all and every the damage thereby caused.
I am not surprised that a man in his position has written a letter of that kind to the Department. If this practice prevails all over Australia in connexion with the letters of business men, who have their principal office in one place and authorized agencies in other places, I can conceive that it must lead to a tremendous dislocation of business all over the country. It seems to me that something ought to be done in the way of improving such an obsolete method as that which prevails. I think that the intention of the Post and Telegraph Act has been in this, case, and in similar cases, very considerably strained. I hope that the Postmaster-General will do something to overcome the trouble, in order that the annoyance may not be continued, as well as the loss which such an annoyance necessarily entails upon business men.
– I propose to take the correspondence to the Postmaster-General, because my experience of forwarding a letter is that I get an acknowledgment, and that is the last I hear of it for many a long day. Promptitude in attending to correspondence is not one of the official virtues, so far as the Post Office is concerned.
– Or any of the other Departments.
– Many of the other Departments, I think, are just as dilatory in such matters. With regard to the question of the Federal Capital, 1 wish to say a few words. So far as the Home Affairs Department is concerned - indeed, so far as the whole Government are concerned, in my opinion the question is simply being played with. I do not think that there is any seriousintention on their part to take any really practical step towards locating the Parliament and the various Departments in the Capital, at any rate, if we are to judge by the snaillike pace that has marked every step which has been taken. It seems to me that we are not likely to see the Capital established for the next 100 years. By this time the plans ought to have been accepted, contracts let, and the work of building the Capital fairly in progress, not with the idea, of course, of at once completing any design, but with the idea of bearing the design in view, and only getting along as far as we can on the lines of the plans towards what will be the ultimate building scheme.
– One of the honorable member’s leaders objects to the expenditure.
Mr.W. ELLIOT JOHNSON.- I was not aware of it, though I know that objection is not confined to honorable members on one side. I do not think, however, that we could find more than six or seven honorable members in the whole House who seriously raise any objection; and I very much doubt their sincerity in some cases. Even if it were true that some prominent, member on this side did object,I am sure that would, not weigh one iota with the Government, or any honorable members opposite. If it had been determined to proceed with the building of the Capital, the work would be carried on, even if every honorable member on this side opposed it. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any sincerity in the matter ; and I think that the representatives of New South Wales, irrespective of their differences of opinion on other matters of policy, will have to consider the advisability of forming a sort of third party so far as this particular question is concerned. Our only chance of having a real Federal atmosphere, and a national sentiment, is to remove the Seat of Government from the influence of any powerful public press.
– We have done more in ten months than any other Government did in ten years.
– Other Governments, unfortunately, have not had an opportunity to carry out the work, for the Territory had not been acquired until a few months prior to the Labour Government’s regime. We are now getting towards the close of the third year of the present Government, and we are practically no further forward With the building of the Federal Capital than We were at the beginning.
– We have had the plans prepared.
– All the contour surveys, and so forth, were prepared by the previous Government, who put the work in train ; but nothing has been done since, except to invite competitive plans. This latter work has occupied a good many months, and time is still being frittered away. Indeed, there is no adequate provision made in the Estimates for doing any considerable work of a practical character, and the expenditure proposed this year is the severest condemnation that could be found of the inaction of the Government. As I say, the time has arrived when it is necessary for the representatives of New South Wales to consider whether some definite steps ought not to be taken to force closer attention to this question. 1 should now like to refer to the expenditure in connexion with the Northern Territory. This seems to me to be going up by leaps and bounds, and the “ white elephant “ which we took over - and the South Australians drove a very hard bargain so far as the Commonwealth was concerned - is growing larger and larger. We have proposals in the Estimates for large expenditure, without, it seems to me, any tangible idea of what it is going to lead to. There are railway proposals, and a small army of officials has been appointed, and others are in view ; but there does not seem to be any underlying policy in the administration of this or any other Department. There is no constructive development policy. The whole of the Budget and Estimates seems to be calculated in an absolutely haphazard way - a sort of “ go as you please “ - and this, as a matter of Statecraft, is a surprising and appalling condition of things. I tremble to think where this “wild-cat” expenditure is going to land us. It is mounting up by millions year by year ; and I cannot help reflecting that a population of about 4,600,000 people have to bear the whole burden of the consequent taxation. I have no desire to traverse the financial part of the Budget, since that has been dealt with, not fully, but as fully as possible in the time allotted, by honorable members. There are, however, a few figures that strike me as remarkable. Amongst our losses on the Northern Territory is £13,077 in 1910-11 ; a further sum of £159,662 in 1911-12;. while the estimated loss for this year is £131,500; or a total, on this item alone, of £305,139. That is a very large loss for the Commonwealth to sustain, if there were no others; but we have to add £4,600 as a contribution to the sinking fund under the South Australian Act, in 1910-11 ; a further sum, under the same head, of £8,869 for 1911-12; while the estimated contribution for this year is £8,600; or a total of £22,069. This, together with the Northern Territory losses already mentioned, brings us to the figures of £327,208. But we have to add still more. For 1910-11, we have to add, for the redemption of Treasury Bills under the South Australian Act of 1904, a sum of £273,700, with £17,500 as interest on account current with South Australia, or the enormous total, in three years, of £618,408. For this, we have absolutely nothing to show ; so far as any tangible result is concerned, the money might just as well have been pitched into the ocean. To this total, however, we have to add expenditure, for 1910-11, of £325,730 for 1911-12, a sum of £248,316; while this year the expenditure is estimated at £274,385. This makes a grand total for the three years of £848,431. Then, if we deduct from this the £618,408 to which I have referred, we still have £230,023 frittered away in other directions, with nothing to show for the expenditure. I suppose that included in this estimate are some of those Socialistic experiments, one of which’ is the magnificent project that the Minister has euphemistically termed a “ national steam laundry.” I do not know why this laundry is to be established, seeing that we have a white population of only 700 or 800 in the whole of that enormous Territory, of whom 117 are high-salaried officials. I suppose that the national steam laundry is -intended to provide these officials with a cheap wash”house ?
– I can understand honor- able members opposite desiring the establishment of a Chinese laundry.
– What is to prevent the Honorary Minister from establishing a private white steam laundry there? I know of no honorable member, except his colleague, “the Minister of Home Affairs, who is keener after the almighty dollar than he is. Turning to the Budget, I find that the losses on the Northern Territory during the past three years are as follow: - Deficiency on transactions, 1910-11, £166,833 ; deficiency on transactions, 1911-1912, -£363,501 ; and estimated deficiency for 1912-1913, £430,857. The estimated receipts for the current financial year amount to only £48,000. If we continue in the same path we shall be taking a short road to national bankruptcy. We should require to have the financial resources of a few Rockefellers and Carnegies in Australia to enable us to withstand the financial strain. I have no hesitation in saying that there is not the slightest justification for the taxation which the people have to bear in order to enable us to foot the bill. I quite agree with the honorable member for Richmond, who delivered a very able speech this afternoon on the financial aspect of the Budget, that reproductive permanent national works should not be constructed out of revenue. If works are of a truly reproductive character posterity will reap more advantage from them than we shall do, and, consequently, it is only right that posterity should bear its fair share of the expenditure upon them. A great many of the undertakings, the cost of which is to be defrayed out of current revenue, should be carried out by means of a proper commercial and business-like loan policy. Only in that way can we expect to undertake works of a large national character, involving the expenditure of many millions sterling, without unduly taxing our own people, who, after all, will not be the only persons who will reap advantage from that expenditure. It is well recognised, both by State and municipal Governments, that the taxpayers and the ratepayers should not be called upon to bear the whole cost of constructing permanent works. Loans should be floated, out of the proceeds of which these works should be carried out. The undertakings themselves would be a security for the money which had been borrowed, and only that portion of the capital and interest which properly belongs to the people of to-day should be charged against them’, whilst future generations should also contribute their share of the expenditure for the advantages which they will derive. I find that, whilst in Commonwealth and State taxation combined, the people of Australia are annually paying something like £25 per family of five, the residents of New South Wales are contributing even a higher sum. The revenue from State taxation in New South Wales, up to the 30th June of the present year, was £1,968,000, or an average of £5 17s. 8d. per family of five. I endeavoured to obtain -from the Government Statistician some figures relating to the revenue derived in that State from Commonwealth; taxation - from the Customs and
Excise duties - for the same period, in order that I might make a fair calculation of the average taxation per family of five throughout Australia as contrasted with the average taxation in New South Wales. But I was informed that, owing to the abolition of the bookkeeping system, the results for individual States since the year 1909-10 could not be shown. Only yesterday I asked the Minister of Trade and Customs a question in regard to this matter, and I received from him a most astonishing reply. Any ordinary commercial firm, with different branches in different places, would naturally keep a tally of their incomings and outgoings in respect of those branches. But, apparently, that is not considered necessary by the Customs Department. Yesterday I asked the Minister -
Whether any system has been in operation since the abolition of the bookkeeping system to check the imports and Customs revenue for each State separately, as well as for the Commonwealth as a whole? If not, will he give instructions to have such a record kept for statistical purposes, so that the information can readily be ascertained by reference to the Commonwealth YearBook >
The astonishing reply which I received was as follows -
Upon the cessation of the bookkeeping system the State barriers were abolished, and from that time, trade, commerce, and intercourse between the States became absolutely free.
I did not ask for that information. Every honorable member was in possession of it. It was because I was in possession of it that I asked the question which I did. The answer continued -
I presume that the honorable member desires some alternative system which would afford a similar record.
Of course, I desired that. Did I not ask for it? The Minister continued -
If that is the case, it may only be attained by a renewal of the restrictions and interference to Inter-State trade. That, I think, would prove to be a retrograde step, and foreign to the best interests of our national policy and sentiment.
I can only characterize an answer of that description as too ridiculous for words. It is absurd to say that the mere keeping of a tally, which must be done in any case, would have that effect. Every collection of Customs duties has to be entered in a book. There are officers on the wharfs receiving and checking goods all the time, and clerks in the Customs offices receiving money for the Customs. I cannot conceive how the Department can possibly avoid keeping a tally of all the Customs receipts for every State in the Customs House of that State. It would then be an easy matter to hand the information over to the Statistician, lt does not involve the employment of a single additional person, or the expenditure of a single additional penny. How are we to get correct statistical information in the compilation of our Y ear-Books unless we obtain information of that kind? If it is going to wreck the whole fabric of our Constitution, and if it is necessary, in order to do it, to rebuild the barriers between the States, or reimpose restrictions which previously existed, a similar argument must be applied to the collection of statistics regarding every other Department for compilation in the Commonwealth Year-Book. I am amazed at the .answer, but I do not suppose that the Minister saw it before he read it.
– Yes, I did. I dictated it.
– Then I cannot compliment the Minister upon the result. I do not ask that the Department shall also check the goods to their ultimate destination. I had to fall back upon some information contained in the financial columns of one of the Sydney newspapers, to the effect that an official statement had been obtained, showing that the proportion of Customs and Excise duties collected in New South Wales was 42.5 per cent. I do not take any responsibility for that statement, but it was published, I presume,, by the financial editor of the newspaper,, under the heading of “ Trade and’ Finance,” and, so far, has been uncontradicted. The writer, on the assumption that 42.5 per cent, of the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue for the Commonwealth is collected in New South Wales, arrives at the conclusion that the amount collected in New South Wales during the financialyear 1911-12 was £6,250,000, or an average of- £18 10s., from Customs and Excise duties per family. Added to that, there is the land tax, of which the same authority estimates that £713,240 is collected in New South Wales. This amountsto a further sum of £2 2s. 6d. per family, making, so far as New South Wales is concerned, a total of Commonwealth taxationof ,£20 12s. 6d. per family. When we add to this the amount of New South Wales State taxation, ,£1,968,000, working out, according to Mr. Knibbs, at £5 17s. 8d. per family of five, we get atotal of Commonwealth and State taxation for New South Wales of ,£26 10s. 2d. per family of five persons. We have to allow for the re-exportation of certaingoods upon which duty is collected. The Daily Telegraph financial authority.- allows for that loss of revenue, and works out the average taxation for New South Wales at about £25 per annum per family of five. That is, I think, a very heavy load of taxation for four millions of people to bear. It is fair to take that average as applying all through Australia, five being recognised as a fair average family. When we calculate the taxation on a per family basis, we find that out of the pocket of the breadwinner of the family no less a sum than £25 is taken annually in the shape of taxation which finds its way direct into the Treasury. That, however, does not represent all the taxation. With the present system of high duties levied upon the necessaries of life, upon commodities of all kinds that go into consumption mainly among the large percentage of the population, represented by the wage-earners of the community, we have to remember that it is not only this £25 per annum that goes out of the breadwinner’s pocket. There is also the profit of the importer and retailer upon the duties which have already been paid into the Customs. It is not to be expected that merchants and others will lie out of interest on that money. As commercial men, they will naturally say, “ We have to pay this money out, and we are not going to be the losers. We are not getting interest on it, and, therefore, we must add it on to the price of the commodities, plus interest on it.”
– What duties would you take off?
– I would take off all the duties on the necessaries of life, the things that go into household consumption, food, clothing, and household requisites of the people, implements of husbandry, and all those things which are aids to production. The duties upon these fall upon the poorer classes of the people most heavily, in inverse ratio to their earnings, because those who have the largest families, and consequently have the smallest margin .of savings to draw upon, have to bear the heaviest portion of the burden. I should, therefore, have no hesitation in reducing that sort of taxation. We are overtaxed, and if we were to do away with the suicidal policy of attempting to construct all our national works out of current revenue, and adopt the business plan of constructing permanent works out of loan money, we should be proceeding on very much less oppressive lines, so far as the great bulk of the community is concerned.
– Then you would ask your children to pay your debts?
– No; the honorable member is absolutely wrong.. I do not ask my children to pay my debts, but I do not admit that they have the right to ask me to pay wholly for benefits to generations yet unborn. All I ask is that future generations shall pay for the benefits which present expenditure out of my pocket is going to confer upon them in the way of national works. When we are making public improvements of any kind for the benefit, not only of ourselves in this generation, but of the people of future generations, it is fair and equitable to ask them to bear a fair proportion of the burden of the cost. We have to-day to pay our share of the financial obligations entered into by our forefathers for our benefit as well as for their own. We bear that burden cheerfully. We do not say that it is wrong, or complain about it. We admit that our forefathers exercised prudence and foresight in not taxing themselves unnecessarily in order to bring about these benefits, and passing some of the burden on to us, who would share in the beneficial results of the expenditure. I warn the party opposite that even now they are finding it expedient to depart from the hard-and-fast rule which they laid down some time ago against public borrowing. They have been the first Government in the Commonwealth to pass a Bill to authorize them to go into the market as borrowers. It has been left for the Labour party, which has always denounced borrowing, to initiate the practice. They are doing nothing less than borrowing by means of their banking and Commonwealth note schemes. It is idle for them to say that they do not believe in a borrowing policy, though theirs is not a sound commercial policy. Their note issue is simply a means of obtaining forced loans. I recognise that it would be a misfortune for this country to have the occupants of the Ministerial benches still in office in a future Parliament, and I hope that such a possibility is not likely to be realized. But should the country have to suffer that misfortune, the Labour party would be forced willy-nilly to become borrowers in the London market. In no other way can they carry out the commitments for which they are themselves responsible. I can see that we are being fast driven at a breakneck rate of speed towards a precipice, and unless the course is checked in time I can see nothing ahead for this country under the present régime but disaster of the worst possible kind.
– If the Opposition propose to divide the Committee - and that seems to be the logical result of their argument - I should like to have a few words to say on some phases of the matter presented to us in the Treasurer’s Budget. First, I desire to congratulate the head of the Government on the presentation of a financial statement such as has not fallen to the lot of many Treasurers, either State or Federal. As a rule, a Treasurer has to meet Parliament, and admit that his Estimates have not been realized. He has to take Parliament into his confidence to the extent of disclosing a deficiency in the revenue. But on the present occasion, despite the criticism levelled at the Treasurer and his party, that position does not fall to his lot. Last year the revenue was estimated to be £19,505,000. The Treasurer has informed us that he has received a revenue of £20,546,361. The general prosperity of the country has been such that his Estimates have been exceeded by £1,031,361. I do not desire to dive into ancient history, but I may remind honorable members that from the time when the Labour party was ceasing to be a negligible quantity, and became the direct Opposition in Parliament, a fighting factor in the politics of the country, there were pessimistic presentments as to what would eventuate if the electors were unwise enough to place them in positions of power. But those pessimistic presentments, instead of being realized in actual fact, have been discredited all along the line. They were discredited in the first year when the Federal Labour Government took control of the functions of Government. But it was alleged that our party were living on the assets and good management of previous Administrations. Another year has passed by, and the test of experience has again been applied. Instead of the Labour Government realizing the gloomy predictions of the Opposition, they have shown by their administration even better results than they did in the first year of testing. Such facts speak more strongly than the criticism of the Opposition to the average elector outside. Whilst the average elector may be to some extent disconcerted by the disaster which it is alleged is likely to overtake the country as the result of Labour administration, when he comes to the application of that adminis tration, he finds that, instead of the prognostications of the Opposition being realized, conditions are very much better than they were before, that the management of the country is improved, and that the finances ‘ are in a more healthy state. These facts go far to discredit the criticism which this party has had to meet in the past, and is still meeting at the . hands of the Opposition. This Government has been described as a Government of action rather than of promises and of words. It is simply because it is a Government of action, and does things, and because it has been guided by that amount of common sense which has resulted in’ the things done being to the advantage of the country, that these substantial results have been obtained.
Lest we forget what has been done, I should like to present a brief statement of the present position as contrasted with the position under the previous Government. We are not far distant from a general election, when the people will be asked to place themselves in the position of a jury. They will test the Government, not by promises concerning the future, but by the accomplishments of the past, and of the two years that it has controlled the destinies of the country. The figures which I shall give were compiled by the Attorney-General, and embodied in an article which he recently contributed to a Sydney journal. If checked with the official statistics of the Commonwealth, they will be found in every respect correct. The Attorney-General showed, first, that there has been a substantially greater increase in the production of wealth, in trade, in the assets and deposits of the ordinary banks, and in the deposits in the Savings Banks, as well as in the number of the Savings Banks depositors, and of immigrants, since the Labour party has been in office than occurred when the country was under the guidance of the Heaven-sent legislators of the Fusion party. The comparisons are as follow : -
This table, too, enables an interesting comparison to ‘be made -
The total value of the crops rose from £9,301,786 in 1903-4 to £10,972,000 in 1909-10, while in 1911-12 it stood at £12,105,125. There was also a great increase during the same period in our export of dairy produce. In 1909, we exported 51,206,359 lbs. of butter ; and in 191 1, we exported 101,722,136 lbs. We have a similar increase all along the line, showing that the revenues produced have been the outcome, not of wealth brought here in the shape of borrowed money, but of increased production within the Commonwealth. As will be seen from the table I have quoted, the only decrease that is shown during these periods is in respect of mineral production, which fell from a value of £16,000,000 in 1903, to £10,500,000 in 1911. Therehas -also been a marked and decided improvement in connexion with our manufactories. The figures show that all theseindustries, instead of suffering, as the electors were led to believe they would, have advanced by leaps and bounds. In no period in the history of the Commonwealth, or of the individual States, can such progress be shown as that to which we can point in respect of the last two years during which the affairs of the Commonwealth have been administered by a Labour Government.
There has also been a substantial increase in the revenue. For the three years’ period 1907-8 to 1909-10, during which the Fusion Government- was in power, the total revenue was £45,364,471, or an average of £15,121,490 per annum. For the three years 1910-11, 1911-12, and 1912-13, the Labour Government will have received, taking the estimate for the present year, a total revenue of £59,323. 31 4. or an average of£19,774,435 per annum. In other words, the Federal Labour Ministry will have had an income for the three years’ period amounting to no less than £13,958,843 in excess of the income of their predecessors during a like period. The increased revenue has been derived, with the exception of the returns from the land tax, from the same sources as were at the command of honorable members opposite when in office. Then, again, let us turn to the Customs and Excise revenue. From 1907-8 to 1909-10 the Fusion Government had control of some £34,082,584 derived from that source; whilst the I.labour Government, for the three years, including the estimate for 191 2- 13, will have had £42,201,643, or £8,119,059 more than their opponents secured from this source. This increase has been achieved without any increase of Customs and Excise taxation. It has been the outcome of our development, of increased wealth, production, and increased prosperity. The present Government are expending this increased revenue on an expansion of public works and undertakings. They are undertaking works on behalf of the people which, with the exception of those represented by the Naval and Defence expenditure, will be revenue-producing, and will prove a good investment. The Fusion Government, during the three years to which 1 have referred, spent £17,631,718 on public works, or an average of £5,877,237 per annum. The Labour Government, at the end of the present financial year, will have spent £32,219,338 for the three years’ period, oran avenge of £10,739,779 per annum. In other words, they will have increased their expenditure over and above that of the Fusion Government by something like £14,500,000. The Fusion Government, during the three years in which they had control of the affairs of the country, spent £3,040,842 on defence, of which they talk so much, or an average of £1,013,614 per annum.
– The honorable member forgets that, in one of those years, the Estimates were presented by a Labour Government. He must not refer to them as Fusion Estimates.
– The honorable member and his colleagues must have thought that they were ample, or they would not have adopted them.
– I submitted an Estimate over £500,000 in excess of that submitted by the Labour Government. The honorable member should be fair.
– Then they were not Estimates submitted by a Labour Government.
– Why can you not be fair?
– There is nothing unfair in what I said. There is the expenditure which has been set out by the different Treasurers, and of which the House has been duly informed. According to the appropriations during the three years the Fusion Government were in power, they expended over ,£3,000,000 on defence, or an average of £1,000,000 per annum. Turning to the Labour Government, for the period from 1910-11 to 1912-13, with the estimated expenditure for next year, they will have spent £6,392,547, or an average of about £2,130,849 per annum; that is, an increase of £3,561,000 on the last two years, and the next year, as compared with the preceding three years.
I did not agree with those honorable members, and with the Government, who practically annihilated the old State naval system and relied upon the system of subsidizing the British Navy. I have stood all along the line for an Australian Navy, and had to run the gauntlet of criticism from the other side, which questioned my loyalty to the Throne and Empire. I have not lived very long, but I have lived long enough to see that the stand I took then has been justified since, and that my critics, instead df being the strong opponents they were, ar now supporters of this principle.
– How many Australianborn are in your Navy now ?
– I am not prepared to say ; and I do not see the pertinency of the remark to the position 1 am putting. I considered then, and consider still, that our main line of defence should be on the naval, rather than on the territorial, side. I hold that on the territorial side ample defence would be secured by giving a general training to our soldiers, and establishing a citizen soldiery, rather than a permanent military system. 1 have supported that view consistently all through. I want to make it clear that I do not support the compulsory training that we have, simply for the purpose of making out of our young citizens food for powder. I believe that this system of training has its moral and physical effects, and can be made of great advantage to the Commonwealth, and I hope that the Ministry and their successors will not lose sight of that aspect of the question, and will use the system, not only to give a knowledge of the use of arms, but also to secure better physical and mental development, and in every way to make Australians better citizens. On the other hand, I hold that it is up to us to develop our naval line of defence. I accept Admiral Henderson as a competent authority on this matter, but I am not prepared to commit the Commonwealth to an undue expenditure in this regard. All forms of defence I look upon as in the nature of an insurance, and an expenditure that would be burdensome to the people of Australia would be in the nature of an insurance which was carried to the extreme limit of being an unprofitable insurance. I want to guard against that extreme, as well as to do fair justice to our naval defence. I think that we should regard it in the light of an efficient defence of our coast-line and of our great and growing commerce. On the other hand, it should not be the object or the purpose of the Commonwealth to place unduly heavy burdens upon the people in creating a naval defence such as would represent something more than that insurance, which would, in fact, bring us into competition with the nations of the Old World in the establishment of an enormous naval instrument of warfare. That is what I wish to guard against. I must confess that if is with a considerable amount of concern that I see increases in the expenditure on this side of defence.
– The fundamental basis of Admiral Henderson’s scheme was that we should pay in proportion to the Old Country.
– If I am not misinformed, we are paying a little more than that proportion.
– No; not so much.
– I do not know that I would be prepared to commit the Commonwealth to a scheme which is going to be as burdensome as the scheme of defence in the Old Country.
– You are very nearly up to it.
– I am afraid that we are.
– This Government say that they accept Admiral Henderson’s scheme, and that is what is involved.
– I am prepared to give the scheme a fair trial ; but I am not prepared, at the present stage, to go beyond the expenditure that is indicated therein as safe and reasonable.
– Then you turn it down, that is all.
– I do not. I simply give effect to it.
– What I am asking is that the Commonwealth shall not be burdened with a greater expenditure than that which Admiral Henderson considered necessary for its efficient naval defence, and that is what I fear.
– Yes; but he said that last year and this year we should spend £3,000,000 a year. You have not spent that amount by £2,500,000.
– Order ! The honorable member has made his speech.
– It does not follow that it was absolutely necessary, in order to carry out Admiral Henderson’s scheme ultimately, that’ that amount should have been spent in these years. Theexpenditure is . spread over a number of years, and so long as it is completed within that period, I maintain that the spirit of his recommendation is being carried out.
– You would be in a sorry plight if you began to put these payments over. They will be big enough later.
– WhatI wish to raise my voice against is the danger I see of the Commonwealth being committed to a Jingoistic policy that will supersede Admiral Henderson’s scheme, and that the taxpayers ultimately will have to shoulder an expenditure which even he did not consider necessary for our proper naval defence. This is a non-revenue producing expenditure. It is in the nature of an insurance against possible disasters, and it should be dealt with and handled in that direction. I maintain that, whilst it is necessary to provide for a reasonable scheme of defence, there is no need to launch forth on a scheme of such wide dimensions as that which is engaging the attention of the Mother Country.
During my recent visit to the Old Land, when I had an opportunity of looking through some of the very large docks, and the very large works, such as those of Wolff, Harland and Company, and those of Armstrong, Whitworth, and Company, I was greatly surprised to find that the docks and works were not wholly occupied in the manufacture of defence implements for the Empire. It is true there were being built warships, and guns of all descriptions were being turned out, but, along with those made at the order of the Home Government or for Australia, there were war implements for foreign nations that, in a very short time, may be in active hostility to the Empire. There is such pressure in the direction of increasing war equipment that it looks as if the expenditure in this direction would reach breaking point, not only in the Mother Country, but, even more so, on the Continent. The taxation is heavy, and there is no doubt that social reforms are being neglected in consequence ; but, at the same time, it does not seem to me that the outlook for war in the near future is quite as black as those preparations would lead one to suppose. In the past it was generally recognised that war was determined largely by capitalists for their personal gain, without much consideration for the. needs or sufferings imposed on the general community ; but the extension of communication between the peoples of the world, and the growing cosmopolitanism, are such that, instead of capital being on the side of war, it is, in the present day, more and more on the side of peace. This was very strongly evidenced at a very crucial period last year in the relationship of Germany and Great Britain. It was thought that Germany contemplated some hostile action; but, as soon as feeling grew and began to find expression, it was found that the operations of the capitalists, so far from being in the direction of fomenting an international war, were in the direction of maintaining peace. In the Old Country Labour is becoming more associated with Labour on the Continent; the insularity which kept them apart in hostile camps is breaking down. As a matter of fact, Labour in the Home Land and Labour on the Continent are closer together than ever before in history ; and this is bringing about a better understanding, and is wholly in favour of peace. It will be seen, therefore, that, despite the large expenditure on war materiel - despite the mad race between Germany and England in the matter of building Dreadnoughts - there are other influences at work, influences which, though unseen, are operating mightily in the preservation of peace and the extension of civilization. No greater calamity could possibly happen - there is nothing that could more completely set back the hands of progress - than a great war between the two highly-civilized nations of Germany and England.
I fear, however, that I have been drawn somewhat off the trend of my remarks on the finances of Australia. The works which the Commonwealth is mainly called upon to carry out are in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department, old-age pensions, the development of the Northern Territory, and the extension of railways across the Continent. From 1907-8 to 1909-10, the Post and Telegraph expenditure was £9,234,901, or an average of .£3,078,300 per annum. In the three years of the Labour Government the expenditure has been £11,914,284, or an average of £3,971,428, showing an increase in the three years of £2,679,383. It is true that the Fusion Government introduced old-age pensions, and for the one year that that Government had the pensions under its control there was spent £1, 497, 330 ; but during the last three years the Labour Government have expended £6,821,682, or an average of £2,273,894 per annum. The coming year will show an increase, if the Treasurer carries out the proposals of his Budget. We are told that there is to be an amendment of the present Old-age Pensions Act in the direction of recognising thrift on the part of those old people who have been able to provide a dwelling for themselves. Then it is proposed to grant a maternity allowance, which will absorb a further sum of about £400,000 per annum. To summarize the figures, it appears that, under the Labour Government, the increase in the revenue is £13,958,843 as compared with the previous three years, and that the increased expenditure is £12,192,804. The increase is accounted for by Defence, .£3,351,000; Old-age Pensions, £4,953,000 ; Post and Telegraph Department, £2,679,000; and other expenditure, £1,208,000. Then there is the expenditure proposed on the Northern Territory, which amounts to about £1,000,000, and that upon the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway, which totals a similar sum. To my mind, these figures disclose a very healthy state of affairs. They evidence that the administration of the Labour Government has been of such a character that the development of the country has not been retarded. The predictions of their opponents have been utterly falsified. The position presented by the Treasurer in his Budget discloses progress all along the line. That progress has been simply marvellous. If honorable members opposite could point to such a record, a paean of praise would be sounded by every big newspaper, and re-echoed by nearly every small country journal, throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. But, because this progress has been achieved by a Labour Government, every effort is made to discredit it. The whole policy of honorable members opposite has been to detract from the performances of the Ministry.
When this Parliament imposed a land tax, they described it as a class tax. They urged that it would have an injurious effect on the general progress of the community, that it would drive wealth out of the country and retard development. It has now been in operation for some time, and, not only has a large revenue been derived from it, but it has had the very, opposite effect to that predicted. It has opened lands for settlement, and afforded an opportunity to become producers of wealth to a number of persons who were previously denied that opportunity. The progress of the past two years, however, will be eclipsed by that of the next two or three years, if people are afforded a chance of filling up our empty spaces. I know it is the fashion of opponents of the land tax to urge that it is passed on by the land-holder. But, in the annual report of the Land Tax Commissioner, issued on the 5th July last, will be found a table in which he shows the purchases and sales of taxable land from the 1st October, 1910, to 30th June, 1911. The table sets out that there were, during that period, a total of 18,288 such transactions, embracing an area of 18,188,293 acres. To that table he has the following explanation -
This return throws additional light upon the effect of the tax on land ownership. It shows that taxpayers sold more than £18,000,000 worth of land in 18,288 separate transactions, and other taxpayers, or, in some instances, the same taxpayers, bought over £9,000,000 worth of land in 2,874 transactions. This indicates a substantial subdivisional movement as the result of the tax, and the purchases by taxpayers show that th-: fact that the tax has to be paid has not deterred many from increasing their holdings. It is probable that there will be a reduction in the amount of tax in the ensuing year, as a consequence of the change of ownership. As a rule, those who have relieved themselves of tax are the taxpayers who are subject to the higher scales ; but the buyers of land, as a rule, are those who are subject to the lower rates, or are wholly exempt from the Commonwealth tax.
That is the position put by so impartial an authority as the Land Tax Commissioner. It shows that the tax has brought about a healthy condition of subdivision, practically of the large landed estates, which have been held to the serious detriment of the country generally.
– There is nothing in his report to show that the small man is getting a look in.
– Somebody is getting a look in who did not get a look in formerly. 1 know of one estate in my own electorate, the proprietors of which, for the past thirty years, have been endeavouring to add to it. It was practically impossible to get them to consider the question of disposing of any portion of it. They had a very large and valuable estate, through which the State Government ultimately ran a railway ; but, despite the fact .that most of it was within easy distance of the line, it was still used for the old purpose of grazing. Since this tax was imposed, a considerable portion of the estate has been subdivided and sold to other landholders, and 1 understand that a further division is contemplated so as to bring the maximum area under the lower rates of the progressive tax, and escape the burden of the maximum tax heretofore imposed upon it. That is only one instance of many. Every opportunity is being taken to remove good agricultural lands from purely primitive pastoral occupancy and put them to more profitable use in the production of wheat, or in mixed farming; thus adding to the wealth of the community, and helping to bring about that development whose results are expressed in the all-round progress that has been made during the past two years. There are indications that, whilst the Treasurer is getting a substantial sum from this form of taxation, he is not getting as much as the Act intended that he should get. In one case, at least, it is clearly shown that a very substantial undervaluation of the unimproved value has taken place, and the same may be true in other cases. The following statement has been published regarding a case at Wagga Wagga-
The land of J. J. McNickle was valued at £8 per acre by the Shire Valuer.
An appeal was made to the Court; and at the hearing the owner stated that -
The unimproved value of his land was £4 per acre for State taxation purposes. He voluntarily raised it to £6 per acre for Federal taxation, for the reason that under that Act the Government could take the land at the value placed on it by the owner, plus 10 per cent. ; and he did not care to give the Labour Government the chance of getting hold of his land. … In this case the valuation of £8 per acre (unimproved) was confirmed by the Court. . . What the Court practically declares is that he is undervalued 50 per cent, for the State and 25 per cent, for the Federal tax.
If that sort of undervaluation has been at all general among private land-holders, the full amount of taxation has not been obtained from this source. No doubt the checking of the valuations will be undertaken later, and the fact that land transactions are taking place will be, in itself, a kind of check in determining unimproved values. At any rate, the effect of the land tax has been to give the Treasurer an increased amount of revenue that is being very properly used for the defence of the Commonwealth, and also to release lands that were locked up, and used purely for grazing purposes. These are being now made available for the higher forms of production, and thereby the volume of the general wealth production of the Commonwealth is ‘being added to.
The taking over of the control of the note issue was another piece of legislative work undertaken by the Government which met with the opposition of the gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. The note issue has been placed under Commonwealth control, and made practically an asset of the Commonwealth, which derives from it the revenues that previously went into private hands. Not only have the people the advantage of the greater security that the Commonwealth offers, but they are relieved of a considerable number of pinpricks which operated under the old system. Exchange was then charged upon notes; and sometimes the banks refused to cash notes not issued by their own branches, requiring the public to go to other banks to get them changed, perhaps at considerable inconvenience. In conjunction with that matter, we also have the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, which has not yet got into working order. I venture to think that when it does its benefits will be most marked. That is another proposal which met with a considerable amount of hostility from the gentlemen on the other side of the Chamber, and all kinds of disaster were predicted as its outcome. However, we have the support of no less an authority than a leading bank manager in the Old World, who is not influenced by political issues here. The position he occupies, and his knowledge, render him competent to express an opinion on the matter. I find that, in the Sydney Morning Herald of 30th March last, the following appeared among the cablegrams from London -
Mr. C. G. Hamilton, presiding at the meeting of shareholders of the Bank of Australasia, said that if the Commonwealth Bank was managed on sound financial lines with the intention of it not becoming a burden on the taxpayer, there was no reason to fear. If it were ably managed it might become a source of great strength to the community and afford valuable assistance in times of trouble. He hoped that some day the new bank would hold a position similar to that of the Bank of England.
If that gentleman had been here, he would have been told by honorable members opposite that he was a fool, and that the very last thing the people of England would think about would be to establish a bank on the very same lines as the Commonwealth Bank. I understand that the Labour Government have been successful in securing the services of an extremely able man as manager - one who has had a considerable amount of experience in banking, and whose services the institutions with which he was connected were very regretful to lose. He has a unique opportunity such as will fall to no other man within the Commonwealth. If he makes this institution substantially successful on the lines indicated by this great authority in the Old World, he will make it a bank that will be a source of stability and general advantage to the whole community. He will thus not only be doing good work for his country, but will be writing his name large on the pages of the history of Australian banking.
One great source of land monopoly in Australia, one of the great reasons that has led to the concentration of landed estates in the hands of the few, has been that in times of financial stress, drought, trial, and trouble, when the banks began to limit their advances, it was always the small man who suffered, the man with the small holding who was first called upon to make good his overdraft. The result of that policy was that large numbers of small’ holdings, the homes of struggling settlers, passed into the hands of the big land monopolists at very much below their real value; and these men who spent their lives in cutting homes out of the wilderness, and looked upon their land as a stand-by for their old age, found themselves turned out on the world with little or nothing to spare, and compelled to carve out a fresh career under adverse circumstances. Many of them would have been in a very bad way indeed were it not for the humanitarian piece of legislation known as old-age pensions. Yet these peoplerepresent the most substantial asset of theCommonwealth. It should be considered the interest of a bank claiming to be national to assist such people over a period of stress and trial, to help them, not only to maintain their holdings, but their position as a substantial asset of the nation. The National Bank of New Zealand has been a very important factor in developing, the wealth of that Dominion, and in bringing it out of that slough of despond into which it had drifted under the old regimebefore the days of Ballance and Seddon, who were responsible for the creation of the national banking institution. I find from reports published in the pressrecently that the New Zealand Bank has advanced £5,500,000 since its institution, and that its whole past operations by way of loans to settlers have resulted in the loss of less than £200. It is a most important fact, and one that stands out prominently to the credit of the institution, that it has conducted its business with so little financial loss. If our Commonwealth Bank is to realize the hope of its promoters, and serve the best interests of the people, it will operate largely on the lines followed by the New Zealand Bank in the past. It will help to develop the country by bringing it out of a primitive state of production into a more efficient state; and instead of following the policy of the private banks by calling in overdrafts, and squeezing out the smaller men to the advantage of the bigger ones, it will follow the opposite policy of endeavouring to help the smaller men over a period of difficulty, and securing them in their holdings, knowing that by so doing it is conserving the best asset the Commonwealth of Australia could have.
The honorable member for Flinders made reference to the question of the taking over of the State debts of the Commonwealth as provided for in the Constitution. The principle has been laid down that the debts should be shouldered by the Commonwealth practically without any consultation with the States, certainly without any arrangement with them as to future borrowing operations in the money markets of the world. I do not claim to be as able a financial authority as the honorable member for Flinders, but looking at the figures presented to us by Mr. Knibbs, the Statistician, concerning the commitments of the States, the maturing of loans, and so forth, it does seem to me that the States are in for. a very bad time in the near future unless they come to an agreement amongst themselves as to how they shall place their renewal loans on tlie London market, to say nothing of the new loans which may be required. It only needs a little of the combination that is not uncommon among the money lenders of the Old World, to place the States in a very unenviable position, and compel them to come to the Commonwealth for assistance. The sooner they realize this fact the better it will be for the people of Australia whom the States and the Commonwealth equally represent in this matter. It seems to me on these figures to be most unwise for the Commonwealth to shoulder these commitments, and undertake to provide for these maturing loans without having some undertaking from the States as to how they are to approach the money market According to Mr. Knibbs, between the years 191 2 and 1915, loans amounting to £38»577>502 will mature; between 1916 and 1920, the maturing loans will total £39,635»o46; between 1920 and 1925, £45,33I,956 > and, between 1926 and I93°» £I9,934,900. Between now and’ 1930, the loans that will mature will total £146,579,404. That is the amount that will have to be provided for by redemptions or renewals. Almost every year, loans mature in one or other of the States, and the State that has to compete in the money market of the Old World to secure a large sum for a renewal with States requiring only small sums for that purpose, or making new borrowings, is in an unenviable position. During this year, in New South Wales, loans amounting to £9,884,508 mature, and the State will have to compete in the money market with the other States, whose maturing loans total £11,388,980. In 1918, the loans maturing in New South Wales will total £12,826,200, and those of the other States, £14,398.624. In 1924, the New South Wales loans maturing will total £16,698,065, and the total of the indebtedness maturing for the whole Commonwealth will be £32,430,919. There must be an arrangement between the States and the Commonwealth as to the handling of maturing loans. If the Commonwealth were to follow the policy to which I have referred, the States would feel that they had no further obligations in regard to their transferred commitments, and were free to borrow in the London market for their internal development, notwithstanding that the Commonwealth might’ be compelled to go to the market at the same time for the flotation of renewals. I hope, therefore, that the Treasurer will not adopt that policy. In the near future, the condition of the money market in the Old World is likely to compel the States to seek the assistance of the Commonwealth, but, in any agreement on the subject, it should be understood that the Commonwealth must go into the money market under the most reasonable conditions possible, seeing that its borrowing will be, not for new expenditure, but to honour the commitments of the States.
It was understood that a number of honorable members would follow me, but the intimation that there would be an all-night sitting, if necessary, to close the debate has had its effect, and I do not wish to stand in the way of its conclusion. I have supported the Labour movement for twenty years, and have been a member of the Labour party in the various vicissitudes of fortune which it has known in this Parliament. In view of the record of this Government, and the general progress that the country has made under it, I feel that it has studied the interests of the masses better than any of its predecessors, and that the statistics which I have “ given, showing how our wealth and prosperity have increased, is proof of that. No doubt, the experience of the past two years will continue, and prosperity will still further increase. The facilities for making use of the lands of the country will be readily taken advantage of by the people who are here now, and those who will come in the near future, and capital, instead of leaving the country, as was predicted, will find that under Labour rule Australia is the best place for investment.
Mr. RICHARD FOSTER (Wakefield) £10.53]. - As I do not wish to be the cause of honorable members losing their last trams and trains, I shall condense my remarks as much as I can, but there is one question on which I feel it to be my duty to speak with no uncertain sound. I am afraid that this Parliament is losing, if it has not already lost, its control of the public expenditure. We are living in prosperous times, due to bountiful seasons, and consequently there is an abounding revenue, so that, this year, the Government has no less than £4,000,000 to spend on public works alone. It is, therefore, of the highest importance that its expenditure shall be properly criticised. The Labour party is determined that the day-labour system shall be made almost universal, and we are therefore entitled to the information necessary to enable us, by criticism of proposed ex”penditure, to safeguard the interests of the taxpayers. Early in the history of Federation, Parliament wisely provided for the appointment of a Public Service Commissioner to prevent political patronage in appointments to, and the administration of, the Public Service, and that officer has succeeded admirably in resisting undue political influence. But, according to statements made during the debate, the persons employed by the Government who are entirely beyond the control of the Public Service Commissioner are as numerous as those under his control. The question of day labour is not a new one. As far back as 1904 it was discussed in the Senate, when the present Minister of Defence moved that public works should be undertaken by day labour whenever practicable. An amendment was moved by Senator Playford to the effect that they should be undertaken by day labour whenever that could be done effectively and economically. After a very lengthy debate, the amendment was agreed to, and, I believe, without division. We have to look at this question of day labour on Federal works in the light of the changed conditions. Every one must admit that the attempt at political interference from without is infinitely greater to-day than it was when this discussion took place in the Senate. Then, again, we have to remember that the present Government are determined that the principle of preference to unionists shall apply rigidly to the Federal Service. I am afraid that not only has it been determined that it shall apply so far as casual employment is concerned, but that in connexion with public appointments patronage by this Government is very largely political, and very largely on the lines of an extension of the principle of preference to unionists. The revenues of the Commonwealth, contributed by every one in the country, are to be appropriated for the benefit of political unions. That is the position in a nutshell. If that principle is to prevail, the House is entitled to have supplied by the Government information giving the fullest details as to the conduct of the public works that are carried on in different parts of the Commonwealth. This question has recently been brought prominently before the public by the Argus-
– Which has miserably failed.
– Under the heading of “ The Man on the Job,” and it has not miserably failed. At all events, it has by no means been proved that it has failed. We had presented to us by the Prime Minister what, in my opinion, was a shameful report - a report of a character that has never been presented under similar conditions to any Parliament in Australia. It concealed the real issues as to whether proper discipline was maintained in connexion with that service, and whether, as the result of proper discipline, we had efficiency, which means all the difference between conserving the interests of the taxpayers and recklessly disregarding them. More recently reference has been made to another work close by this House - I refer to the erection of the new Commonwealth buildings. Statements regarding this matter have appeared in the public press, not from an irresponsible source, but from the Government of Victoria. We have in this case the Federal Government on the one hand, and the responsible State Government of Victoria on the other, and as the reputation of both Governments is at stake, I do not intend to do more than make a passing reference to the matter. Since the reputation of the Government of Victoria and of its public officers is at stake, I am quite satisfied that we shall have a more exhaustive statement of the real facts than that which was read to-day by the Minister of Home Affairs. I read it hurriedly, and had no opportunity to grasp the real position or to determine how far the officer of the Department of Home Affairs who made it succeeded in justifying his position. It did not, at least so far as it appeared to me, show that the Minister of Home Affairs had made a good deal by rejecting the offer of the State Government to carry out the work under contract, and determining to carry it out by day labour. One of the principal features of the controversy was in regard to the cost of the work per cubic yard. The cost per cubic yard of the work offered to be performed by the State Government was 6.7 5d., whereas the cost, according to the Federal officer, of the work carried out by this Government was o.8d. per cubic yard.
– That is practically 50 per cent. more.
– Considerably over 40 per cent. more. The report read to-day by the Minister did not touch that which was really the one point on which comparisons could be instituted. In other respects, there were alterations in the size of the building, and also so far as ornamentation was concerned. I do not intend to deal further with these particular points, which have been so much under discussion.
– But the honorable member casts a reflection on Colonel Owen.
– I cast a reflection on no officer. The House, however, is entitled to have more direct reports from public officers, and not such a report as we had the other day from the Prime Minister. Reports existing in the public offices to-day - reports by inspectors and other responsible officers taking part in the construction of public works by day labour - were concealed from the Parliament, and are concealed from it to-day. I have no hope of getting at the real detailed facts, which this House has a right to have before it whenever it demands them, until another Government comes into power. We shall then have the truth, and the whole truth.
– The honorable member has a big job on.
– I recognise that we have to take on beforehand a big job. I know that the Government and their supporters are bound to the principle of day labour. It is a part of their policy; it is a part of the policy of the people who put them here, and to whom they are responsible.
– And a part of their order.
– Yes. The Government and the Labour party ought to see that, if this system is to be maintained in connexion with public expenditure, it is in their interests to secure discipline and efficiency. In New South Wales, some time ago, this question was uppermost in the public mind, and became almost a public scandal. It led to an investigation, I believe, at the instance of the Minister controlling public works, who was responsible for a lot of reckless expenditure in the State. A deputation waited upon the late Mr. O’sullivan, and desired that, in addition to the works controlled by him, the construction of school buildings should be carried out by day labour. He told the deputation that they would have to go to Mr. Perry, the Minister of Education, who had the control of the construction of school buildings -
When Mr. Perry was seen he told the representatives that he tried the plan at Broken Hill, and at a building recently erected at the University, the result being that he did not favour the system. -The work at Broken Hill had cost fully 50 per cent, more than the estimate, which was very discouraging. He felt that the men in those cases at least had not displayed the energy expected of them.
There is a strong direct statement that there was a reckless waste of public money by the adoption of the day-labour principle.
– Do you know how much McSharry claimed more than the contract?
– I know that I have very little time at my disposal. I do not wish the honorable member to have to walk home, and, therefore, I do not propose to answer his interjection. I can cite another case where Mr. O’sullivan said that there was a direct gain. It was referred to by him at a banquet after turning the first sod of a new tramway. He claimed that £10,000 had been saved” by departmental work.
Mr. A. Edden, M.L.A. for Kahibah, later on made reference to this remark, and said he agreed entirely with the principle of day labour, but, although it might be regarded as a singular statement to be made by a member of the Labour party, he was satisfied that something would have to be done to remedy the present system, otherwise it would “ go to the dogs,” for it would never do to continue to pay “ loafers” who were not capable or would not earn their money. He knew of a case in his own district where the road superintendent had asked for £1,200 to carry out a road, but it was now found that he would have to ask for another £500.
He said that he had had experience of that kind of work as an overseer, and if ever he found that men were not capable of doing the work for which they were paid he “ sacked “ them, and he was convinced that unless something was done in this connexion the day-labour system, which was really a blessing, might become a curse, not only to the workers, but to the community generally.
Mr. Edden is Minister of Lands in New South Wales to-day, and I have no doubt that he had in his mind then a list of public buildings which had been carried out by day labour. I propose to quote a few of them -
The Newcastle post-office was tendered for at £19,385, but cost £33,000 to build by day labour.
– What was the date of this?
– The honorable member knows the date very well, and so does every other member who comes from New South Wales.
A pneumatic tube connecting the Sydney G.P.O. with the Exchange was built so badly by day labour under the State Government, and the cost was so excessive, that the Socialistic Commonwealth Government do not want to take it over.
– That was twenty years ago.
Much of the Sydney telephone tunnelling tarried out under day labour, and supervised by political gangers, who surely should have known something about underground work, was so badly constructed that it had to be done over again
The Royal Commission’s report on the Fitzroy Dock showed that the superintendent had no control over his men, who did what they pleased, and when dismissed were reinstated by the Minister at the request of their parliamentary representatives.
On the Coolgardie water scheme, the pipe trench and manhole excavations cost about 2s. per cubic yard by day labour, when they could have been done for is. 6d by contract. A sum of about £100,000 was thus wasted.
The Fremantle wharf, constructed by day labour, left its alignment, and subsided.
In New South Wales work was found foi the unemployed at clearing the Bogan scrub. The men were paid by the day. At first the cost was £3 an acre, but owing to the demands of the men the cost was raised to £12 10s. an acre. The land when cleared is worth £2 10s. an acre.
The stonework for the Prince Alfred Hospital cost £9,821, though on a fair estimate it should not have cost more than £6,640.
The Iron Cove bridge cost £2,940, against an estimate of £1,200.
The Fort Macquarie tram sheds, estimated by contract at £17,000, actually cost £37,000.
The Labulam bridge, estimated by tender at £9,879, cost £15,667.
The Pyrmont post-office, estimated by tender at £2,660, cost £4,500.
Lyne Park, estimated at £7,000, cost £11,427.
Camden bridge, estimated at £8,238, cost £10,284.
The Berry waterworks, estimated at £2,000, cost £4,172-
In the case of the Woolloomooloo sewer, the cost by day labour was equal to 3s. per cubic yard. A contractor offered to do the work at is. 4d. per yard, but the Socialistic State Government would not give him the contract because it would have thrown out of work a lot of the prole gis of its parliamentary supporters.
The cost of the Technical College, at Broken Hill- exceeded the estimate by tender by 50 per cent.
The engineer for the erection of a storage dam in the catchment area of the Sydney water supply informed the Royal Commission that he could have saved £25,000 on that work if allowed to engage the workmen. Mr. Kidd, a member of the Government, in whose electorate the work was carried on, nominated, together with a Labour member, over 2,000 men for employment within fifteen months.
At the Fitzroy Dock the secretary of one union was given the privilege of appointing 85 per cent, of the men employed. These were taken on in rotation irrespective of their qualifications, or want of qualifications. The Minister of Works, Mr. O’sullivan, also appointed men between seventy and eighty years of age. The report of the Royal Commission on the subject shows that the dock works were simply used as a means of making the State support a lot of useless political hangers on.
That is a statement which, although it is nine years old, ought to remind honorable members that, if there was then danger in connexion with political interference-
– There was not a Labour Government in Australia nine years ago.
– But the Labour party held the balance of power. If there was a necessity for vigilance then, there is ten times more necessity now, when there is ten times more interference by outside irresponsible political unions. It is claimed by the Minister that good work is being done by the adoption of day labour, and he maintains that the estimates of the Department are reliable because the work is constructed well within those estimates. I doubt that very much.I do not say there is not a case where the work is done under the estimates, but, of course, this depends entirely on the estimates, and on the contingencies to be provided for. If an officer of the Home Affairs Department knows what the outside pressure is, particularly in the case of the Labour Government, and that there are constant strikes, he has to make his estimate so liberal as to cover all risks. Honorable members opposite quoted, with a good deal of pride, the fact that, in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, railway construction is done by day labour ; but they forgot to mention that this work is done under the control of Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament, like Judges, and who can resist undue political interference. Of late, there have been very strenuous efforts made by unions outside to interfere with the independence of Railways Commissioners in more than one State. I have here extracts from a voluminous, but most interesting, report of the Commission appointed in New South Wales to inquire into most of the works to which I have referred; but I shall content myself with giving a summary of the evidence of Mr. Vernon, the Government Architect of that State. He gave the following as being, in his opinion, the causes which contributed to the excessive cost -
The stonemasons union in connexion with public buildings was allowed to nominate 85 per cent. of the men, and the foreman only 15 per cent., and the secretary of the union admits in his evidence that he desired to nominate the whole. Mr. Vernon, the Government. Architect of New South Wales, is a man who is held in the highest possible repute. It may be said that this report is some years old, but we have to take the nearest reliable information, seeing that we cannot get any in this House, regarding the work done by the Federal Government. We desire to say to the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Home Affairs, that if this sort of thing operates in the Federal Public Service in connexion with the expenditure set down for this year, it may mean the squandering of hundreds of thousands of pounds during the next twelve months.
– Why does the honorable member not read the adjustments ?
– I do; and I tell the honorable gentleman that he must give the House and the country more information, or otherwise his doom, and the doom of his Government, is very near.
.- For impudent misrepresentations, the honorable member who has just resumed his seat-
– The honorable member is not in order in using the words “ impudent misrepresentations.”
– I regret that I am. not in order in describing the honorable member’s remarks in the language appropriate to them. There has recently been a discussion here in regard to day labour, and the honorable member has, not unblushingly - for he worked himself into such a state of frenzy that he blushed the whole time - quoted returns as to day labour carried out under Liberal administration. The party with which the honorable member is now associated made the conduct of those day-labour works absolutely rotten with political influence. They insisted upon such persons as non-unionists, and inefficients, like those of the Free Workers Association, being employed. They stuffed the day-labour jobs with this class of political patronage. What the honorable member forWakefield quoted took place under Liberal Governments. When he was asked to give dates, he very cunningly and deliberately refused to do so, for the purpose of emphasizing the misrepresentations of which he knew he was guilty. These are the kind of lies that his party will hurl throughout this country during the next few months. He quoted from pamphlets, which have been printed with the money of the capitalists, for the purpose of prejudicing the public mind. It seems very appropriate that scandalous misrepresentations of this description should come from a gentleman who, until a little time ago, wore the coat of a clergyman, and took his place in the pulpit for the purpose of instructing the people in public and private morals.
– Dirty, as usual.
– I should think so, when persons with professions like the honorable member for Wakefield and the honorable member for Parramatta utter these slanderous misrepresentations time after time for the purpose ot misleading the people.
– Every word that I uttered is true.
– The honorable member for Cook is a clog.
– The honorable member for Parramatta must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw.
– I have no objection to any remark which the honorable member for Parramatta may make. I quite understand him.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has withdrawn the objectionable remark, and, consequently, the honorable member has no right to refer to it.
– Why does not the honorable member fight fairly, and be a man ?
– I should be sorry if I did not fight as fairly as does the honorable member. He has the reputation of being one of the most unfair fighters in the public life of this country. He sat silent whilst he heard the honorable member for Wakefield making statements which, in his heart, he knew were deliberate lies.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it. I desire for a few minutes to refer to a couple of other matters.Iam very glad that penny postage has been consummated. In the manifesto which I issued to the electors prior to the last election, I stated that I would use my best endeavours to secure the adoption of penny postage and a uniform stamp throughout the Commonwealth.
I am pleased to know that the Government intend to submit a proposal to assist the mothers of Australia. In an address which I delivered in my electorate, on the 2nd March, 1910, and reported in the Sun next day, I referred to this question, as follows : -
We must encourage the Australian Baby, but the problems surrounding the question, as shown in our Birth-rate Commission’s reports, are deepseated and complex. We cannot invent a scheme to increase our birth-rate in any given proportion. This aspect of humanity will not respond to mathematical calculation. We could, however, relieve the burdens of maternity and motherhood by first making a happy and comfortable home life possible for every woman in the community, and it should be the duty of the State to see that the full benefits of science and the most skilful care are guaranteed to the mothers of Australia in their hour of trial and danger.
I regret that, under the Constitution, we have not power to go to the full extent that I desire to go. But, in the proposal to grant a maternity bonus we have the commencement of a policy which I believe will be extended, not only by this Government, but by the State Governments throughout Australia. I hope that we shall secure an amendment of the Constitution which will enable us to carry this beneficial and humane reform much further than we are able to do at the present time.
– I want only a few minutes. I wished to say a good deal in this debate, but I have restricted myself-
– There were days and days when the honorable member had a chance of speaking.
– The honorable member took his time to speak.
– I spoke early in the debate.
– Because other honorable members, like myself, remained silent, and allowed the honorable member to do so.
– You “allowed.” The honorable member does not care for any man in the House.
– I do not care for the honorable member. Let him understand that. I am not going to be dictated to by him as to when I shall address the Chamber. I shall not detain the Committee more than about ten minutes, so that honorable members will have ample time to catch their trains.
– There are other honorable members to follow.
– Is not an arrangement an arrangement, after all ?
– I know nothing about any arrangement.
– I made an arrangement.
– Then the Prime Minister should have said something about it.
– I had no opportunity.
– We were all well enough aware of the arrangement.
– The honorable member can speak for himself. I regret very much the necessity that exists for such a large expenditure upon defence. I also regret that, the money -we are expending in that connexion is not being raised by direct taxation. When I gave my assent to the defence proposition, it was on the understanding that the money would be so raised. I have done my best to carry out the promise I made to my constituents, and shall continue to do my best in that direction, but, of course, I belong to a large party, and I am only one of a House of seventy- five. None of us can give effect to everything that he desires, but I hope that, in the future, we shall have an opportunity to recast the Tariff, and, whilst making it Protective in every sense of the word, reduce the revenue duties, which are pressing upon the masses of the people by taxing the necessaries of life. We should so frame the Tariff that, while it protects our manufactures, it will not raise large amounts of revenue, and so that we shall be compelled to go to direct sources for our revenue, particularly that which is required for defence purposes.
Motion agreed to.
House adjourned at 11.37p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120828_reps_4_65/>.