4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr .Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement regarding the intentions of the Government with regard to the Exciseand bounty on sugar?
– Ministers have come to the conclusion that they ought to await the report of the Sugar Commission, which it is hoped will be received within a week or two, before coming to a final determination.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister when a day will be set apart for the discussion of private members’ business.
– With five or six weeks’ work ahead of us it is too early to make a definite arrangement, but time will be given.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether the rule applying to temporary employment in the Public Departments, that other things being equal, preference shall be given to unionists, applies to those temporarily engaged in the clerical service of the Statistician’s office.
– Certainly ; but the information which has been asked for, and to which the press has drawn attention, is required for statistical purposes ; it does not concern any question of employment.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether the purchase of property on behalf of the Commonwealth Bank is left entirely to the Governor of the Bank, or whether he utilizes the machinery of the Department of Home Affairs, by means of which property has hitherto been acquired for the Commonwealth.
– The Governor negotiates privately, and communicates with me. In cases in which he fails to come to an agreement, the Department of Home Affairs is asked to put into motion the machinery necessary for the acquisition of the property under our Act. When a satisfactory mutual agreement is come to, nothing more is necessary.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Commonwealth Public Service in Victoria who, during the last six financial years, including 1912-13, have received increments?
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Commonwealth P ublications - N orthern Territory Lands Ordinance - Loss of “ Merrie England” - Pearl Shelling Industry - Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. Railway: Flying Survey.
– It is stated in the last Commonwealth Gazette that £187 10s. is to be spent on the purchase of 10,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled, “Australia for Farmers,”£270 on the purchase of 10,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled, “ Australian Scenes,” and £105 on the purchase of 5,000, copies of a special issue of the Farmer and Grazier. Will the Minister of Home Affairs make copies of those publications available to honorable members?
– They are now available. Any honorable member who cares to ask for them can have them.
– Does the Minister of External Affairs propose to introduce this week the new Crown Lands Ordinance for the Northern Territory? If not, when may we expect to see it?
– Either on Friday or Tuesday; Tuesday at the latest, but probably on Friday.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs seen this statement in the press relating to the loss of the Merrie England -
This disaster points to the necessity of lights at the entrance. It transpired that, while some provision exists for lights, especially when steamers are expected at night-time, the work of attending them has been left to a Papuan native. This arrangement is considered unsatisfactory, and ship masters are of opinion that proper lights should be installed to assist navigation.
I ask the honorable gentleman whether steps are being taken to provide the lights necessary on this part of the coast?
– I saw the statement referred to. We are communicating with the Government of Papua to ascertain the facts.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Whether the Government will consider the desirability of ordering a flying survey of a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, and make a statement on the question before the session closes ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Mr. H. V. Francis, Superintendent of Railways of the Northern Territory, who came to Melbourne in connexion with the survey of the proposed railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, visited Adelaide towards the end of September last, with a view of obtaining all available information in the possession of the South Australian Government regarding the trial survey which was made from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges, a distance of about 300 miles. Mr. Francis consulted Mr. Graham Stewart, Engineer-in-Chief for South Australia, with the result that arrangements have been made for all the available plans and data in connexion with the trial survey referred to to be forwarded to this Government. So far, this material has not come to hand. However, I expect before the session closes to be able to submit for the consideration of the House a proposal in connexion with a railway survey of the country from Oodnadatta to the Katherine River.
Prosecution of Cadets - Care of Wounded : Training of Women - Rifle Range at Dopewarra.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if he has seen the following telegram from Hobart which appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Saturday last -
During the hearing of cadet cases, the Police Magistrate said he had received a letter from one of ‘the cadets, who was engaged in a postoffice, to the effect that he had been refused lime off to appear before the Court. This showed that the postal authorities’ had not only refused to allow him time to go to drill, but would not even allow him to obey the summons, and this was by a Federal Government Department.
A Cadet : It is the same in my case. I am employed at the Glenorchy post-office, and can’t get away on account of the hours that I work.
Will the Minister have inquiry made to ascertain the correctness of those statements ?
– Yes ; and if it is found that officials are not being allowed to obey the summons of Courts the practice will be altered.
– Will the HonoraryMinister ask the Minister of Defence to have inquiries made into the circumstances under which a number of cadets at Port Pirie were fined last week, the penalty inflicted in many cases being as much as
– The particulars will be made available to the honorable member if he desires them, but I would point out that the fixing of penalties is a matter entirely for the magistrates in dealing with each case. The military authorities do not press for heavy penalties.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The following provision has been made : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The honorable member will, therefore, see that within nine weeks of the time that the enrolment was approved a range was available for shooting practice.
Hides, Skins, and Leather Imports and Exports - Patent’ Medicines, Analyst’s Reports, and Prohibited Advertisements
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorablemember’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Tuberculozyne, which comprises two mixtures, is sold at ?2 10s. for a month’s treatment. The estimated cost of ingredients of both bottles is 21/2d.
The mixtures are reported to consist of-
An analysis of Stevens’ Consumption Cure is also given as the outcome of the same investigation, but the accuracy of this is now being considered by the British Courts, and it is not deemed advisable to publish it at present. The cost of the ingredients of a bottle of the medicine sold at 5s. is estimated at11/2d.
Steedman’s Soothing Powders are sold at 2s.9d. per packet. The estimated cost of the ingredients is1/2d. According to the report of the analyst, the powders consisted of - Calomel, 27 per cent. ; sugar, 22 per cent. ; maize starch, 55.5 per cent.; ash, . 5 per cent.
In all the above cases the figures are taken from the report of the British Medical Association.
Maker’s Name and Date of Prohibition. “ Oxygenator.”. - Oxygenator Co., Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.A., from 1st March,1911. “ Tuberculozyne.” - Derk, P., Yonkerman Co. Ltd., London, from 1st March, 1911. “ Oxydonor.” - Dr. H. Sanche & Co., Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., from 1st December, 1911. “ Sequarine.” - C. Ritcher & Co., London, from 25th October, 1912.
Radams Microbe Killer. - Claims objected to : - “ It is a positive and certain cure for all diseases. ‘Can be taken in any quantity without danger.”
Liqufruta. - “ It is the plain unvarnished truth that Liqufruta has cured tens of thousands of sufferers, and is to-day snatching from the brink of the grave multitudes of consumptives when medical skill, hospitals, and sanatoria have failed.”
Byrrh Wine. - “The very best stimulant and pick-me-up ever produced, health giving, beneficial to all, irrespective of age and sex.”
Nagels Schnapps. - “ Prominent physicians have acknowledged and attested the extraordinary medicinal properties of this beverage.”
Capstan Condensed Milk. - Being made from separated milk, the following claim was objected to : - “ Is admirably adapted to infants, invalids, &c.”
Found to contain less than1/2 per cent, of milk fat.
The statements I am reading are those contained in the advertisements of those articles to which objection is taken, and the articles in question will not be admitted into the Commonwealth while those statements are attached to them -
Anodyne Necklaces. - Stated to have been invented about 1715, at which time the advertisement states a Dr. Chamberlen testified, “ I approve and recommend anodyne necklaces for children’s teeth and fits.” “All others I disown as spurious. … I have never recommended any other necklace for children’s teeth fevers, fits, &c.” The advertisement adds that they were used by His Majesty King George the Second, &c. They are sold at 9s. each, and the Acting Federal Analyst reports they consist of four silk threads on which about one dozen beads made of bone are threaded. They are accompanied by a powder containing a small quantity of resinous matter and a larger quantity of mineral matter, consisting chiefly of magnesium compounds and a small quantity of calcium and iron compounds.
Dr. Kiesow’s Celebrated Essence of Life. ; “ Prepared from the original receipt of the immortal inventor 1766.” “ This unparalleled remedy.” “ For the cure of consumption.” “ Removes sterility, if not organic disease.” “ For jaundice, in almost every case, a never failing remedy.” “ Many persons supposed to be past medical help have been cured by the constant use of this wonderful remedy.”
Oxion Electric Porous Plaster and Tablets. - “Pain and disease driven from the world.” “Ailments pronounced incurable.” “These magical prize specifics.” “ Make new men and women of weak faded despondent men and women.”
Wioletta Hair Tonic. - “Will absolutely cure baldness.”
Dr. Campbell’s Capsuloids.” Cures falling out and prematurely grey hair.” The advertisement asserts, “ In the great pyramid of Gizeh a prescription for an external hair preparation was found, &c.” This was ineffective, buf : - “ Dr. Campbell discovered in capsuloids . . . a cure . . . and, indeed, the only cure.” “ It is now within the power of every one to secure a good head of hair.”
I may add that the information which I have supplied relates to the more recent advertisements of the different articles in question. It has been found necessary to compel the amendment of upwards of 2,000 of these advertisements. But, though the statements to which objection has. been taken cannot be attached to these articles before they are admitted into the Commonwealth, the trouble is that the newspapers publish the same extravagant stuff after they have secured admission to Australia.
Electoral Rolls : Payment of Collectors - Federal Capital : Solar Observatory : Erection of Power Plant
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if it is a fact that the New South Wales police have not yet been paid for the work of compiling the Commonwealth electoral rolls? Will the Minister look into the matter, and, if the paymenthas not been made, will he see that it is expedited ?
– The honorable member for Illawarra has asked a question on notice about this matter, and the reply to that question will answer the question just put.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether new electoral rolls are being prepared for the Queensland divisions. If so, when will they be ready for distribution?
– I shall let the honorable member know to-morrow.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
South Wales have claims, amounting in some cases to ?6, still unpaid?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. The claims of the police in New
South Wales for the field work in connexion with the recent canvass have all been paid. In some of the metropolitan and suburban divisions, in which the work of writing up the rolls was done by the police, the basis of payment is still the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth and the State Governments. 3 and 4. In connexion with the recent canvass, the registrars had some additional duties - previously performed by the police - placed upon them. A special allowance, additional to the annual remuneration, was made to them for this work. The rate of remuneration to registrars is at present under consideration.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. Mr. P. Baracchi, F.R.A.S., Govern ment Astronomer of Victoria, is conducting a series of observations at Mount Strom Observatory in the Federal Capital Territory with a view to determining whether the local and atmospheric conditions are such as will warrant the establishment of Commonwealth Observatories. These investigations must extend over a considerable period, and subsequently it is proposed to take advantage of the Congress of Science in Australia to obtain further advice on the subject.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Skipton Post-office - Postal Assistants.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs state when the construction of the Skipton Post-office will be commenced ?
– I hope to be able to inform my honorable friend tomorrow.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the total number of officers in the Postal Department designated as follows : - (a) Senior postal and senior assistants; (b) postal assistants and assistants; (c) what are the totals for each State?
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information : -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Census and Statistics Act - Regulation -
Return of Trade Union Statistics - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 216.
Defence Act - Military Forces- Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 209.
Naval Defence Act- Provisional Regulations for Universal Training - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 210.
Public Service Act- Department of Home Affairs - Promotion of C. S. Daley to new position of Clerk, 4th Class, Public Works Branch, Central Staff.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I am afraid it is too late to do anything in the matter, but when clause 40 was under consideration, the suggestion was made that two copies of every book published in Australia should be sent to the Commonwealth Library. In this connexion Mr. Petherick has made a very useful suggestion which I understand has been communicated to the Attorney-General. The suggestion is that we might make it a condition of protection in Australia of any book published in the United Kingdom, that copies shall be furnished to the Commonwealth Library. Mr. Petherick’s idea is that we should arrange with the Imperial Government for a provision to be inserted in the English Act, or for us to make a provision under the power of modification, so long as we do not touch the substance, that one of the six copies which have to be sent to the British Museum for distribution amongst the bodies specified in the English Act, shall be sent to Australia. Mr. Petherick points out that some of the institutions which get these copies, such as the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, can very well afford to buy them. They are in close touch with the publishing world, and can, from moment to moment, obtain works they require, whereas, in our case, not more than one-sixth, on an average, of the IO,000 works published in England, and a similar average of the works published in the United States, reach this country. It does not pay the booksellers to have copies sent out on the chance of their being sold, and the result is that the Commonwealth Library Committee are rather limited in their selection. Mr. Petherick further suggests that there should be kept in the Commonwealth a register of the books sent to the Commonwealth Library. At present the British Museum does the registration, since the abolition of the Stationers’ Hall. The registration of patents rights is a distinct matter altogether; and the idea is that a copyright registration, similar to that at the British Museum, might be connected with the Commonwealth Library. Again, Mr. Petherick suggests that there should also be a Commonwealth Library circular in which should be recorded all the books sent to Australia. As to the proposal that two copies of every book published in Australia should be sent to the Commonwealth Library, Mr. Petherick thinks it would be better if the collection of these books were left to the State public libraries who are more in touch with the publishers. I believe there are more than 1,000 printing presses working in the Commonwealth at the present time; and it would be difficult for the Commonwealth Library Committee to find out what really is being published in the shape of books within the meaning of the Act, which covers more publications than are books in the ordinary sense. The idea is that the State libraries should make a collection and forward one copy of each book to the Commonwealth Library Committee. The circular would be sent periodically to the great public libraries of the Empire, and even of the Continent. At present there is no official record of the books published in Australia and circulated beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. Mr. Petherick was for many years literary agent for colonial publishers and author’s in London, and has a great knowledge of the feeling of the trade at Home in these matters. He sent a letter to the Athenaeum which indorsed his suggestion, and he informed the Library Committee in a circular that the publishers at Home, from his knowledge, would jump at the proposal. The Athenaeum described the idea as a splendid one, which could easily be put into practice. The result would be that the Commonwealth Library would get a copy of every book published, instead of only for selection one-sixth of the publications as at present. The collection of the books at Home could be done through the agents, who at present collect the books which are sent here for criticism, and so forth. As to the cost, Mr. Petherick does not think it would exceed ^250, while the actual annual saving in outlay would be about .£2,000, and we should get a perfectly up-to-date collection. The local collection through the State libraries was discussed in some measure on clause 40, but the Imperial collection of books seems to have been largely overlooked. Mr. Petherick communicated with the Australian publishers as to the suggestion that two copies of every book published in Australia should be supplied, and they expressed themselves as willing to supply them, merely asking in return some acknowledgement, which he thinks could be furnished by a record in the proposed circular. This circular, I believe, would be subscribed for by every public reading institution, including, of course, our great public libraries. Since last week I havemade inquiries in Adelaide as to the difficulty im obtaining books from publishers,, and I am told that it is exceedingly difficult in the States to make a collection, for, in some cases, it is only under threat of’ prosecution that they are supplied. These difficulties would be intensified if the responsibility were thrown on the Commonwealth Library. However, as I havesaid, I am afrai’d it is too late to do anything now, and I regret that the suggestion of Mr. Petherick, which 1 understand was, in substance at all events, communicated to the Government, was not considered early enough to be made use of. According to Mr. Petherick, it would have been indorsed at Home. It received the approval of some of the leading literary papers published in England, and fell into line with the desires expressed here. All’ that was wanted was sufficient acknowledgment of the publication they were having carried out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message resumed from 1st November, vide page 5037).
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) again proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to authorize the raising and expending of the sum of £529,526 for the acquisition for Commonwealth purposes of property in Perth, Western Australia, and expenses incidental thereto, and to redeem loans raised by the Government of South Australia on account of the Northern Territory and the Port Augusta railway.
.- On Friday last a good deal of time was occupied by the Opposition in trying to show that the Labour party has at last launched upon a policy of borrowing. Let me say, at the beginning, that the Labour party has always said that it would borrow for works that would be self-supporting. The members of the Opposition have endeavoured to make the public of Australia believe that we now propose to borrow in the same way that they would have borrowed, and that the Governments of the States have borrowed. They have asked us to admit openly that our policy is similar to theirs. I wish to point out how strongly- the two policies contrast. The honorable member for Parkes referred to the proposal of the Opposition to borrow ^3,500,000 for the construction of a navy, the loan to be repaid within sixteen years by means of a sinking fund. He claimed that our policy is similar to the policy under which that proposal was made. That is not so. In the first place, we have determined not to borrow for naval purposes, realizing that men-of-war have a definite and limited life. According to the authorities, a warship becomes obsolete within about ten years. The purposes for which we now wish to borrow are the acquisition of a site for a post office in Western Australia, which will be a reproductive work returning interest, and therefore a good investment, and the meeting of the indebtedness incurred by South Australia in connexion with the Northern Territory, a liability which we took over on the transference of the Territory to our control. Had ^3,500,000 been borrowed for the construction of a navy according to the proposal of the Opposition, the vessels would have become obsolete at the end of ten years, so that for six years the people of Australia would have been paying interest on the whole amount, together with the pro vision for the sinking fund, at the same time finding money for new vessels. For six years the people would have been paying 3J per cent, interest and 1 per cent, for a sinking fund contribution on ^3,500,000 borrowed to construct vessels which had become obsolete, and at the same time would have had to incur further liabilities in respect of new vessels. The Labour party has not borrowed a shilling for naval construction, having paid for everything out of revenue. We are paying for all defence preparations out of current revenue. Furthermore, we are now proposing to borrow, not from private lenders abroad or in Australia, but from the Trust Funds. How has the Trust Fund been created? It has been created by the payment into it of the money received from the note issue and of the surplus revenue. The money belongs to the people. It can only be used for specific purposes, with the approval of Parliament, and when used for any purpose, the interest paid on it must return to the Trust Funds. We propose to use the money of the people, paying 3J per cent, interest on the amount used, and returning the interest to the Trust Funds, which, of course, will continue to grow. To-day no less than ^270,000 is earned by the money in the Trust Funds. We have lent money to the Governments of the States> for which they pay interest at rates varying from 3 per cent, to 3
– You have taken the money out of the pockets of the taxpayers by new taxation.
– Whom have we taxed ?
– The honorable mem ber for Parramatta has contended here and outside that we have increased taxation, but the only new tax imposed by the Labour party is the land value tax on estates worth more than . £5,000. The Customs duties are the same to-day as they were when the Opposition was in power, so that we have not increased the Customs taxation. In imposing land taxation we put into force the policy that we submitted to the people and on which we were returned, and were therefore true to our principles in regard to it. Persons possessing over £5,000 worth of property in unimproved land ought to contribute more largely to the revenue than others. The newspapers have stated that the Labour party has caused taxation to increase, but, as a matter of fact, although over £1,300,000 is obtained from our land tax, there is no other tax for which we are responsible, and the land tax is being paid by the wealthy, the owners of large estates.
– What about the city land?
– Persons possessing more than £5,000 worth of city land ought to pay additional taxation.
– The Opposition would not repeal the Land Tax Act.
– It would not dare to do so. The land tax is paid by those who possess land of an unimproved value of £5,000 or more. In borrowing from the Trust Funds, although interest is taken from the Consolidated Revenue, it goes back to the Trust Funds. If we continue this policy, as I have no doubt we shall, the amount to the credit of the Trust Funds in ten years time will be astonishingly large. The Opposition would borrow for defence, and would constantly increase the interest bill due to the private money lender. According to Admiral Henderson, we shall need £23,290,000 for our Navy.. If, following the policy of the Opposition, we borrowed that money, and had to pay 31/2 per cent, interest on it, our interest bill would eventually come to £815,150 per annum, and in addition there would be a contribution to a sinking fund. I ask which is the better policy, that of this Government, which provides out of revalue for all expenditure on naval and military defence, and uses its surplus revenue, which is being paid into the Trust Fund, for the carrying out of large national works, or the borrowing from private individuals of the money needed for defence? We propose to borrow from a fund which belongs to the people who own the transcontinental railway, the post offices, and the Northern Territory. We intend to use their money for the carrying out of national works to improve their property, and the interest on the amount used, instead of going to private money lenders, will go to swell the Trust Fund.
– How much trust money is there?
– As I have stated, the Trust Fund now earns £270,000, and at the expiration of ten years will have some millions to its credit. Is not our policy one that will meet with the approval of Australia? The Opposition would borrow for purposes of defence, and pay interest on the money borrowed to the private money lender, here or abroad. We, on the other hand, are constructing public works out of revenue, and the people will reap the benefit of the whole of the accumulated interest on the Trust money which we are using. I rose principally to put that aspect of the matter before the Committee, and feel assured that when the people of Australia learn the true position, as they will do within the next few months, they will be quite satisfied with the financial policyof this Government. They will realize to the full the difference between the financial policy of the previous Government and that inaugurated by the present Ministry, and there need be no fear as to what their decision will be when all the facts are placed before them.
– The honorable member for Hunter does not seem to be at all diffident, but speaks with the utmost confidence as to the correctness of the policy adopted by the Government. He expressed some anxiety regarding the pockets of the taxpayers; but as long as our taxation does not come out of the pockets of a certain section he is quite satisfied. He forgets that only 14,000 persons primarily pay the land tax to which he referred ; probably the actual number, in the ultimate result, is much larger, but since primarily the tax is paid by only 14,000 persons, I do not think it was right for him to speak as he did concerning this form of taxation. The honorable member seemed to think that the Government had an illimitable amount to the credit of the Trust Funds.
– We have enough, at all events, to provide for this loan.
– When we analyze the Trust Funds we find that, with the exception of that relating to the noteissue, after providing the portion to be kept in hand, there is a balance of probably ,£4,000,000 - a large proportion of which has been loaned to the States- there is not a very large sum of money to the credit of the Trust Funds over and above that actually required for the purposes for which it was placed there.
– Why should there be?
– I am simply pointing out that there is not a very large sum to the credit of the Trust Funds. The Government should tell us where they are going to obtain this money. It is not quite right for them to say that they are going to borrow money from thirty or forty Trust Funds; they should tell us what particular funds they are going to use. To what item or items of this fund are they going to charge this money?
– I suppose that a sensible man would charge it to those which are drawn upon.
– I am not sure that that can be done, seeing that no money can be drawn from the Trust Funds, under a general authority, if it has been placed there for a specific purpose.
– We could invest it by parliamentary authority..
– This is not investing the money; this is simply taking it. Does the right honorable member say that this will be an investment?
– What ! In land?
– In land, but really in other property as well.
– We pay money into a Trust Fund, not to invest it, but in order that it may be used for a specific purpose.
– Could I not place a Trust Fund on fixed deposit?
– There is legal power to do this until the money is wanted for the purpose for which it is voted. The financial policy of the Government is an extraordinary one. They raise from the people far more money than is required, and place the surplus into various Trust Funds. When the Old-age Pensions Bill was passed, the Parliament intended that the money necessary for the purpose should be voted annually, just as was done in connexion with other projects undertaken by us. We find, however, that the Government have raised considerably more money than is required. In respect of oldage pensions, they had at the end of last year an unexpended balance of £1,153,411,. whilst in respect of the building of the Fleet they bad put by £1,196,828, which had not been spent. It is a well-known axiom that the people should not be taxed to a greater extent than is necessary to meet current expenditure. It is not in accordance with the ordinary financial business arrangements of a country for nest-eggs to be put away, but here we have in respect of these two items nearly £2,500,000 taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers and placed to the credit of Trust Funds, to be manipulated as required by the dominant majority. Such a system of finance is neither safe, proper, nor justifiable. There is no attempt made by the Government even to pay their liabilities. The debt on the transferred properties amounts to £9,000,000, and the Government are paying interest on it after haggling with the States as to whether the interest rates should be 3 or 3J per cent. Then, again, there is no attempt on the part of the Ministry to consolidate the State debts, although they had last year a surplus of over two millions. We should not raise in any one year a large sum to be put away as a sort of a nest-egg for future use. The revenue of each year should Be sufficient to meet the expenditure of that year. It seems to me that the policy that is being adopted by the Government is to tax their political opponents. It may be justifiable in time of war to demand toll from any one and every one, but in a reasonable, sensible community political warfare in regard to taxation should not be waged in that way. The Government and their supporters, however, actually rejoice in what they are doing; they say, in effect, that there is no limit to the taxation which should be imposed upon a man who has been fortunate. As a matter of fact, we do not know what are the obligations. of the reputedly wealthy; if we did, we should probably find that many who appear to be rich are really not so. We ought not to make one law for one class and a different one for another, and, generally speaking, we should not spend more money in a year than we can reasonably hope to receive. I hope the time will come when it will not be considered a virtue to set up by taxation and spoiliation one class against another.
– We never do that.
– I believe that the right honorable member would like to do right, and that “he loves the virtues he cannot claim.” It seems to me that to tax one section of the community because they are supposed to own broad acres, and to let all the others go free, is unjustifiable, and is spoiliation. A good deal has been said by the honorable member for Hunter as to the Government of which I had the honour to be a member and their alleged desire to enter upon a borrowing policy. I can assure the honorable member that there was no such desire on our part if it could be avoided. But the principle I have observed in the administration of public affairs is that the present generation should not be unduly taxed. An undertaking for which the necessary money cannot at once be found out of revenue can easily be carried out when the payments are spread over a number of years. That is, indeed, an everyday business principle. When a man buys a. house he generally pays a deposit, and the balance by instalments. If he assures his life he also pays the premiums by instalments in the hope of obtaining byandby a large amount. And so with the Government of a country. Great public works can be carried out by a Government under a loan system accompanied by provision for a sinking fund, which could not possibly be carried out if the whole amount had to be found at once out of current revenue. I need not go further than my own experience to support this point of view. For instance, a great water scheme involving an expenditure of nearly £3,000,000 was urgently required in Western Australia at a time when the population of that State was only 130,000, and when we could not have raised the amount by means of taxation. We decided, however, to obtain authority to borrow the necessary money, by raising a loan, and by that means “we were able to carry out that great work.- It was thought that the pipes would last- at least twenty-one years - our engineering authorities advised us that they would last very much longer - and in order to be on the safe side we provided for a sinking fund of 3 per cent., which meant that in twenty-one years the whole of our indebtedness, in respect of this loan would be paid off. We could not possibly have carried out that work if we had had to find the money out of revenue by additional taxation.
– If the right honorable member had the Commonwealth at his back, he could have done so.
– There is a limit even to the Commonwealth’s power of taxation. That was done in 1903, and twelve years hence the sinking fund will have amounted to a sum sufficient to pay off the whole of the principal. When we were in office in 1909, as the Prime Minister knows, it was impossible for us, unless we imposed additional taxation - which we saw no necessity for doing - to order a Dreadnought without temporarily borrowing. What was wrong about a borrowing policy which provided for repayment of principal within sixteen years? I do not see that there would have been as much difficulty in dealing with the matter in that way than was experienced in dealing with it in the way that was adopted by my honorable friends. The same pro cess was followed in each instance. But the plan we adopted would have been easier on the community. When we limit taxation to a few individuals, they cannot cry out very loudly, even if they all cry out together. They are not sufficiently numerous, and that is why my honorable friends have escaped the odium which would have attached to them had the tax been spread over the whole of the landed proprietors of Australia. We saw no reason for increased taxation. The termination of the operation of the Braddon section was close at hand. We knew that within a year or two we would have a good deal more money at our disposal. Not only did my honorable friends receive that additional money, which represented some £2,000,000 odd per annum, but the revenue from Customs and Excise also increased very considerably. I am sure the Prime Minister will admit that no more fortunate party than that which he leads ever occupied the Treasury bench. No sooner did they come into office than the Braddon section ceased to operate, and the Customs receipts increased by leaps and bounds. As a result, the Treasurer has had a very pleasant experience. My experience, both as a State and Federal Treasurer, has been exactly the reverse;. I always had to face difficult times from a financial stand-point. Very much more money was required than was at my command. On the other hand, the Treasurer has had the benefit of good seasons and an overflowing Treasury, in addition to which he has received £1,500,000 from land taxation, for which there was no necessity whatever. The right honorable gentleman also forgets that he has derived a sum of £9,000,000 from the note issue, half of which has been lent to the States on short-dated loans, so that it will scon be returned to the Commonwealth, and will thus be available in connexion with the carrying out of our public works. But I would remind the Treasurer that that money does not belong to- the Government.
– We are prepared to pay the note-holders any day.
– But, under the law, the Government must retain a gold reserve of so much.
– In addition, there must be £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 worth of notes held at call. That money does not belong to the Government, but to individuals. The Prime Minister seems to forget that when he talks of Trust Funds. Out of the £15,000,000 which are held in trust, £9,000,000 represent notes at call, and we have a liability of another ,£9,000,000 in connexion with the transferred properties. That, too, will have to be paid. Altogether, the lines of the Government have fallen in exceedingly pleasant places. Nobody grudges them their good fortune. We all congratulate them upon it. But the question which we have to put to ourselves is, “ Are the people more satisfied now than they used to be?” -I shall be very glad to learn from the honorable member for Hunter, who has a large experience in New South Wales, that the people of Australia are better satisfied than they used to be. I understand that a considerable amount of the money which will be raised under this Bill is required to purchase land in Perth upon which to erect a post-office. I hope that the Government will push on with that work now that they have put their hands to it. Nothing is so unsatisfactory as delay in these matters, and, unfortunately, there is a good deal of that sort of thing.
– What does the right honorable member think of the position?
– I think the site is a good one, though it has not a commanding situation. It is. flat, being located near the railway station. The general opinion is that the site chosen is a fairly good one.
– And that we have made a good bargain.
– Considering that the buildings upon the site carry a rental of £10,000 a year, it does not look as if the Government made a bad bargain. I have no objection to the Bill on its merits. I do not know why it was not possible to do without this proposed loan. Before resuming my seat I should like te* ask where this money is to come from? I hardly think it is right to take it from the Trust Funds. That seems to me a slipshod method of doing business, and, moreover, I do not think it is within the law.
– It is returning 5J per cent, net.
– The money in the Trust Funds, is held for certain purposes, and cannot be taken out o£ those funds except by a specific Act. This Bill does not propose to take it from’ any particular Trust Fund. Perhaps the Treasurer will take a note of my point.
.- I desire to make a few observations on this Bill. In regard to great public improvements, honorable members opposite are constantly saying that we should load posterity with a certain amount of the burden. But we have to recollect that we are the posterity of preceding generations - we ourselves have to carry a heavy financial burden.
– Is the honorable member speaking of Victoria ?
– I am speaking of Australia. In this Parliament we usually speak of Australia, though sometimes, for the purpose of particularizing, we refer to a State.
– We had the same burden to carry when the Labour party adhered to a non-borrowing policy.
– The honorable member must have been having a little doze on Friday afternoon if he has not had those cobwebs brushed from his brain yet. I have never known the Labour party to include in its platform the plank of a nonborrowing policy.
– They put it over the backyard fence.
– The honorable member is making an assertion which is on a par with many others that he makes, and which is not founded on fact.
– A non-borrowing policy was in the platform of the New South Wales party.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong has not been in the party very long.
– Have I not? I may tell the honorable . member that I have had something to do with formulating its programme. It has been affirmed, and reaffirmed, as part of the programme of the Federal Labour party, that we believe in the restriction of public borrowing. It was absolutely necessary to use the word “ restriction “ on account of the extravagance which characterized those who preceded us.
– Extravagance by the present Labour Government in New South Wales?
– I agree with’ the honorable member. I am not here to excuse any party. If any political party indulges in excessive borrowing, I am prepared to condemn it, irrespective of whether or not that party is associated with the Labour movement. But it does not lie in the mouth of any member of the Opposition to condemn a Government which has been in office in New South Wales for a period of only two years on the ground of extravagance, in view of the records of their predecessors.
– They have succeeded in adding £16,000,000 to the debt of that State in two years.
– I would remind the honorable member that, at the present time, Australia is indebted to the money-lender, local and foreign, to the tune of about £270,000,000. On our borrowing during the last seventy years - and the Mother State was the first to initiate a borrowing policy in 1842 - we have paid in round figures ^£270,000,000 in interest on £370,000,000 borrowed, and we still owe the principal.
– Does the honorable member wish to get money for nothing?
– No; but in reply to the honorable member, who likes to glide over such facts, I should like to say that we have the burden to bear for the borrowings of those who preceded us.
– See what they have left us !
– To those who have preceded us we owe a great deal, but that does not preclude us from discussing the financial position of to-day. ‘ I suppose that before we have paid off our indebtedness of £270,000,000 we shall have paid another interest bill to a similar amount, meaning that we will pay about £800,000,000 or £900,000,000 for the £270,000,000 borrowed; yet honorable members opposite constantly condemn a Birt of this kind, and suggest that we should borrow further on the open money market.
– Why, just now the honorable member for Parramatta complimented the Government !
– The Government is becoming so popular in the country that it is fashionable now for honorable members opposite to compliment us. From Bul letin No. 8, issued by Mr. Knibbs, we find that during the- past twelve years we have paid no less than £103,000,000 in interest.
– Is the honorable member supporting this Bill in order that we shall have to pay a little more interest?
– I am supporting a Bill by which we obtain money under a new and better system of finance. The public have a right to know the amount we have borrowed, the interest we have paid, and what we are responsible for.
– And they ought also to know the public works which represent that borrowing.
– I do not deny that; but, at the same time, honorable members opposite are continually urging a policy of not doing to-day what can be done tomorrow - the policy of an effete political party. Another difficulty was presented in the old system of borrowing, as compared with this new system. We are now borrowing from one fund to supply another - taking money out of the right-hand pocket of the taxpayer to put it into his left - whereas, under the old system, although we nominally borrowed £270,000,000, there was, at least, ,£15,000,000 of that which we never received, owing to the flotation and other expenses, although we are paying interest on the full amount.
– Will the honorable member say what the New South Wales Labour Government have to pay for their French loan?
– I have already expressed my opinion in that regard. I give credit to the present State Treasurers, and some of their predecessors, for the fact that, whenever they have seen an opportunity to release themselves from the bondage of the outside money lender, they have taken advantage of it.
– Does that apply to Victoria?
– It is generally said that there is a fairly astute Treasurer and Premier in Victoria ; and no sooner did the Commonwealth Treasurer hang out the three balls and open his loan office, than he found Mr. Watt leaning up against the nearest lamp post. When Mr. Watt was asked what he required, he said, “ I want a million.” Thereupon the Commonwealth Treasurer said, “ Right you are,” and the State Treasurer was given a million at a certain percentage.
– At what rate?
– At 3 per cent, or 3$ per cent.
– Why, the Government are a regular Ikey Mo!
– Wha’t I have said shows that the State Governments, Labour or otherwise, are keen to take advantage of the splendid opportunity afforded by the Federal Treasurer, and they have borrowed altogether about £5,000,000.
– Why “bleed” the people of Victoria?
– The people of Victoria never had a loan under more favorable conditions.
– And they have had to pay no brokerage fees.
– It is an unpalatable fact to advocates of borrowing across the water that of the money Australia has borrowed we have not received fully £15,000,000, and’ yet have to pay interest on it. It has cost fully, if not more than, that sum to raise the loans of the past. The money lent by the .Commonwealth to the States is being circulated, and, if the State Governments are wise, spent on reproductive works, thus affording employment to the people. It is suggested by honorable members opposite that the financial policy of the Government has helped to create a certain stringency by removing gold from circulation. I remember that when the Notes Bill was under discussion the bold boast was made that behind the note issue of the private banks there was a big gold backing.
– We were told that there were seven sovereigns for every note.
– That meant something like £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 in sovereigns tied up, and not at the disposal of the public ; and, under the circumstances, with only £4,000,000 of gold reserve to our notes, I do not see how the Federal Government can be accused of creating any financial stringency.
– It was only said that there was that gold backing.
– That was the argument used in connexion wilh’ State banks and the note issue.
– How does the honorable member account for £15,000,000 or £16,000,000 in gold having gone to the Old Country?
– In some preceding years the gold export has been much larger than in the past twelve months. According to the world’s supply and demand, se* we find the export of gold decrease or increase as it is required by other countries.
– This year the export has exceeded our gold production, which it has never done before.
– I do not know that it has; but in the past twelve months we have had an experience similar to that of 1908 in regard to the export of gold.
– Is it not due tothe increased imports?
– I admit that the imports are larger than is desirable, and their excess over exports is largely attributable to the reduction in the wheat yield and the lesser export of butter and of lamb. In Victoria alone last season we were 11,000,000 bushels short in the wheat yield, and there was a reduction in New South Wales, and practically every other State. As to the Bill, if these Trust Funds were not created, there is no doubt that they would very likely be desired by the State Treasurers; but, in my opinion, the States have enough with the 25s. per head and the interest on the transferred properties.
– Where are the Trust Funds?
– The Trust Funds are earning money at such a rate that we should have to spend pretty considerably in the near future to exhaust even trie interest earned.
– There 5s £15,000,000. . Where is the balance - in the banks?
– The honorable member knows a lot about that. I am glad to find the Opposition so agitated over our methods of finance, because this shows that we are on the right lines. It would be disastrous for the Commonwealth to go into the open money market, and compete with the States; and we are merely, by Act of Parliament, taking money out of our own Trust Funds. Before 1915 closes, the States will have to make arrangements for the repayment of about £40,000,000 ; and yet honorable members opposite suggest that we should go into the outside market, and embarrass the States even more. I shall support the Bill, and thus provide money to meet some of the bills created by South Australia in regard to the Northern Territory, and to purchase the valuable property in Perth, which, at the present time, is returning51/2 per cent.
.- We are all pretty well agreed that borrowing should be confined as much as possible to reproductive works. This Bill can scarcely be termed a straight-out borrowing Bill. It is one for loaning Trust Fund money to the Government. This is a temporary expedient, because I suppose that when the time for the investment of Trust money arrives, it will have to be returned to the Trust Fund.
– Yes. Two-thirds of this money is needed for the taking up of the Treasury-bills issued in connexion with the Northern Territory indebtedness, which are now falling due.
– We are practically taking money from one pocket and putting it into another. The stringency of the money market is the most notable thing at the present time. According to to-day’s newspapers, the Sydney Water and Sewerage Board, because of the reduction of its Estimates, will dismiss 500 men at the end of the week, and unless advances are increased, another 500 later, and we are told that the secretary to the Employes’ Union says that if 1,000 men are dismissed it will mean a revolution.
– Hundreds of men are also to be turned off at Yanko, and the Sydney Harbor Trust has just sent away 360 men.
– You wanted immigration, and are getting it.
– This has nothingto do with immigration, it is due to the recklessness of the Labour Government of New South Wales.
– The question with which we are concerned is whether this Government has done anything tending to increase the financial stringency. I think that the repeal of the Loan Act, authorizing the borrowing of £3,060,000, has had something to do with the present stringency, and so has the locking up of so much money under the Australian Notes Act.
– Only yesterday the honorable member was accusing me of keeping too little.
– I was entirely opposed to the Australian Notes Act, but my remarks, as applied to a note issue already in existence, were perfectly justifiable.
– There have been tight money markets before.
– Not in prosperous times.
– Under the Loan Act we could have borrowed in London at 3 per cent., but now I do not think that we could borrow at 41/2 per cent.
– Has our note issue made money dearer in London?
– And in the United States, Berlin, and Paris?
– I do not say so; but had we borrowed £3,000,000 under the Loan Act, it would not have been necessary to send money from Australia to the Old Country to pay for the vessels that we were having built there. As a rule, money should be borrowed only for reproductive works. In this case we were commencing the construction of a navy, and needed £3,000,000. The question was whether we should borrow, providing for the repayment of the loan within sixteen years, or take the money from the pockets of the people. This Government followed the latter course, with the result that we have now £3,000,000 less with which to carry on the development of the country and to find employment. I understand that our note issue now amounts, to about £10,000,000, of which £6,000,000 is used for the currency, and £4,000,000 is kept as till money. Under the old system the coin would have had to be kept by the banks to protect the £6,000,000 worth of notes in circulation, but it would not have been necessary to keep money as a backing for the £4,000,000 worth of notes used as till money. A bank note is anI.O.U. issued by a bank, and a sovereign must be kept in reserve to meet it until it has been returned to the bank, when it at once becomes dead. No reserve is necessary in respect to notes that have not been issued. The position is that the banks have £4,000,000 less to lend than they would have had if the note issue had not been taken over by the Commonwealth. As the result of the Commonwealth note issue and the repeal of the Loan Act, the money available for expenditure in Australia has been reduced by £7,000,000, and that has had a great deal to do with causing the present stringency of the money market. Many of our friends opposite think that when a Government gets short of revenue, everything could be put right by the imposition of direct taxation. But supplies are not inexhaustible. Our land tax, which is one of the heaviest in the world, returns only £1,400,000, and additional direct taxation would give only a small return, which would be insufficient for the enormous amount of work that we have to do. We shall be forced to borrow, and have lost our chance of borrowing £3,000,000 cheaply. The repeal of the Loan Act was one of the first, and one of the worst acts of this Government. I doubt whether we shall have an opportunity of getting cheap money again for many a day. The honorable member for Hunter told us that the people are better off now than they were some years ago, but I do not see evidence of it. What is occurring in Sydney contradicts his statement. The Bulletin used to refer to the late Mr. O’sullivan as Mr. Owe Sullivan, because he was such a splendid loan floater. That journal has always opposed public borrowing, but it says now that the Labour party in New South Wales has outheroded Herod in the matter of borrowing, and apologizes to Mr. Carruthers and former politicians whom it used to abuse for the manner in which they borrowed, because the Labour Government has borrowed much more recklessly. The Labour party, at its advent, told us that it would never borrow, a statement at which I could not help smiling, because there are economic laws that cannot be evaded. You cannot have your cake, and eat it. The Labour party has been nibbling very freely at Australia’s cake of late years, but it is rapidly finishing it, so that before long the conditions of the money market will be the most stringent we have ever witnessed, and great care will be necessary to avoid serious results.
– Does the honorable member think that things will be worse than they were in 1893 ?
– I hope that they will not be so bad as they were at that appalling time. There is no excuse for the present state of affairs, because we have had good seasons. But the Governments in power have spent money right and left beyond what we could afford, and the climax surely was reached the other day when this Government sent an inspector of schools to the Northern Territory, where there are only two schools and only 117 scholars.
– He is to be the teacher of a secondary school as well as inspector.
– I did not hear that stated. Expenditure has increased all along the line. By the creation of the Commonwealth Savings Bank, we are duplicating the 1,700 Savings Bank agencies of Australia, and doubling the staffs employed in the collection and investment of the people’s savings. That greatly increases the expense of government. If this sort of thing is going to continue, and the Commonwealth is going to duplicate all State machinery, we must cut down expenditure somewhere, and I ask the Prime Minister if he does not think that we could do away with the Senate. I make the suggestion in all seriousness. Will any honorable member opposite say that the Senate serves a useful purpose?
– Would the honorable member advocate the abolition of the Legislative Councils of the States?
– Certainly not ; they have their uses.
– And their misuses.
– Yes ; if the honorable member likes to say so. But will any one say that the Senate is of any use except as a machine to provide for the payment of salaries amounting to about £23,000 per annum, and expenses amounting, I dare say, to a like sum?
– This is very interesting; but I do not think it has much to do with the Loan Bill.
– If the Senate were abolished, it would not be necessary for us to raise as much money as we now have to obtain. Either the Senate must discharge the duty for which it was originally created - the duty of preserving the interests of the States - or it should be abolished.
– What does the honorable member for Laanecoorie think of the idea.
– I think that the Senate might be improved.
– If the honorable member and I were in the Senate, we should look after the interests of the States, and see that the business of the country was transacted as the people desire.
– Let the honorable members take the places of Senator McColl and Senator Fraser.
– I think the suggestion is worthy of consideration. We often hear honorable members opposite opposing the bi-cameral system ; and, whilst I do not entirely agree with them, I think that the Senate has completely lost its usefulness.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the question before the Chair.
– There is one other point to which I would like to refer. We are now setting out upon a policy of borrowing, and, while I admit that this Bill provides only for what is, technically, borrowing, I think that every loan proposal should be accompanied by provision for a sinking fund.
– In a Bill passed since we came into office, it is provided that every Commonwealth loan shall be accompanied by a provision for a J per cent, sinking fund.
– I am glad to be reminded of that fact. The honorable member for Maribyrnong pointed out that the public indebtedness of the States amounted to “something like £270,000,000, and that more than that amount had been paid by way of interest. That fact alone shows the importance of making provision for a sinking fund in connexion with every loan we raise. Since we are to provide for a sinking fund in every case, the honorable member for Maribyrnong will recognise that, under a loan policy, we would not saddle posterity with the whole of the debts incurred by us to-day, but that we should be gradually paying them off. In that way, our load of taxation, which no one deplores more than I do, would be reduced to a minimum. I do not see that we can further attack this measure. It is not a straight-out Loan Bill ; but I should be glad if we had a proposal to borrow money from abroad. A good deal of the money that we are about to pay off will go to the foreign bond-holder at a time when our local market is urgently in need of it. This is an exceptional time, and, in meeting it, we should apply exceptional measures. I should be glad, even now, to learn that the Prime Minister proposed to raise this money abroad.
– The States are borrowing abroad, so that we dare not attempt to do so. If the States came together, I think that we could borrow generally.
– Quite so. This money will be taken from the Trust Funds, and the Prime Minister has pointed out that most of the money in the several Trust Funds has been loaned to the State Governments. The withdrawal of this money, therefore, will, I think, mean a curtailment of the funds in the hands of the State Treasurers.
– No. We have a surplus of unused trust moneys at current account, and earning no interest. We have a. very large balance. The honorable member would not ask me to keep at current account a larger balance than is necessary.
– No ; but this money must come from somewhere.
– There are no less than eighty-eight different small accounts in connexion with the Northern Territory indebtedness, and we wish to get rid of them.
– As the Prime Minister has said, the trouble is that the States will not join us under a consolidated borrowing system. I hope that he will bring that matter once more before the State authorities. As one who has a good deal to do with business matters,’ I feel that I ought to say that we are on the eve of stringent money conditions, and that we should set our sails accordingly.
– Every other country is in the same position at the present moment.
– The right honorable member is probably right; but 1 do not think we should launch out any further than we dan possibly help.
– I shall do nothing to make the money market tighter.
– I hope that the Prime Minister’s Scotch caution will lead him to take precautions to see that we are not’ exposed to any undue experience of the sort.
– The honorable member for Fawkner has taken the .Government to task, claiming that the note issue and our general financial policy have had the effect of tightening the money market, to the detriment of the general community. That charge has been made again and again, and is likely to be repeated, not because there is any truth in it, but because there are not many people who possess a thorough grasp of financial matters, and it is, therefore, easy to mislead the public. It is an easy matter for the press, or for speakers at meetings of banking institutions, to point out that the money market is tight, and to make charges against the Government. We know that groups of interested persons of that character have no love for the Government, and those who sit behind them ; and I suppose that, after all, it is only human nature for our political opponents to try to thrust upon us the responsibility for the present situation. If the matter be faced fairly and squarely, however, it must be admitted that there is no justification for this charge. The money market is tight to-day, not only in Australia, but all over the world, and this is not the first occasion when we have had such an experience. In 1893 we had a financial stringency greater than that which prevails to-day. We had a similar experience in 1848, 1859, and 1866 ; whilst there was a financial panic in England in connexion with the failure of Baring Bros., in 1901 or 1902. On all of these occasions we had financial stringency, although at the time there was not a Government note issue in operation, and, consequently, no store of gold against a Government note circulation. That being so, there can be nothing in the argument that the Commonwealth note issue is responsible for the present situation. It may have affected the situation to an infinitesimal degree; but, even had there been no note issue, the money market would have been as tight as it is to-day. Honorable members opposite, who know anything about banking, must admit that this is true, and that if they say anything to the contrary they are deliberately humbugging the people.
– The honorable member does not think that there is a conspiracy on the part of bankers to put up rates ?
– I am not so stupid as to think anything of the kind. Any man who knows anything of banking knows that a banker is a dealer in credits, and that if there is a big demand for credit, and a lot of gold is going out of the country, he will guard against possible risks. Bankers are shrewd business men. It is only their directors who are fools, and who worry them. That is what is going on at the present time. As the same thing occurred prior to the Commonwealth assuming control of the note issue, it is monstrous to blame the Government for it. Only the other day the honorable member for Balaclava told the people of Australia that they should curtail their expenditure all round, because there were bad times ahead. But what is the position to-day?
Such general prosperity was never before experienced by Australia. Business - is good all over the continent of Europe. We cannot say that general prosperity does not obtain in France, in Germany, and even in America. I cannot recall a period of such uniform prosperity. This result is generally attributed by those who have made a closer study of this question than I have to the tremendous amount of enterprise which is being exhibited in opening up new countries and generally in increasing production. What do we find in regard to British Consols? In periods of remarkable prosperity they are usually quoted at a very low price, and the reason is not difficult to, discover. Some few years ago the British Parliament passed an Act empowering the trustees of estates in England to invest in Colonial securities, so that whenever British Consols are low in price their holders naturally sell out, with a view to securing a better return for their money elsewhere. It is doubtless true that money will be dearer than it is. We know that the cause of many financial panics which have been experienced has been overproduction. But over-production is unthinkable by those who share my views, and who support the Government, although it is a relative term, conveying only a certain amount of truth. When times are prosperous men will naturally obtain advances from their banks in order to push forward their businesses. Thus production proceeds at a remarkable speed, until the banks realize the necessity for curtailing their advances. Then they give their customers notice that these, must be reduced. That is what is happening in Australia today. I quite admit that a need exists for caution, but I contend that there is no necessity to scare the public by promulgating the idea that we are on the eve of a financial crisis. I do not believe that we are. It has been urged by some of the new school of social thinkers that when the standard of living in a country is raised, and the purchasing power of its people is increased, its general prosperity must also be increased. If we lived in times of low wages and limited production, I venture to say that we should have experienced a financial panic long ago. It is only the high standard of living, and the increased purchasing power of the people, which have kept things going. I do not intend to argue that there is no limit to our increase of production. But I do say that there is no “necessity for alarm. We do not know what may be the result of our next harvest. Each year the area under wheat is being considerably increased, and, consequently, it is reasonable to expect that our export trade in this cereal will largely increase. Of course, there are always croakers in the community, who are prepared to tell us that the forthcoming harvest will not be as good as we anticipated. For my part, I think it is premature to hazard an opinion. But I make bold to say that within a comparatively few years the export trade in wheat from Western Australia will equal that from Victoria. Some honorable members have pointed with alarm to our increase of imports. I am inclined to think that there has been a big importation of locomotives and other rolling-stock into Victoria, and, probably, into the other States, notwithstanding that that rolling-stock could have been manufactured in Australia. My own view is that a certain quantity of rolling-stock should be turned out by our private engineering establishments ‘ each year. I am also under the impression that, for some time past, most of our manufacturing plants have been working up to their full capacity. If that be so, the circumstance would tend to increase the volume of our imports. All these circumstances indicate the extent of the prosperity which has been enjoyed by the Commonwealth for some years, and the necessity which exists for increasing our manufacturing plants and of generally bringing them up to date. In view of the criticism to which the Government and their supporters are sometimes subjected, it is difficult to know exactly where we stand. Almost every day we are condemned because we have not embarked upon a big loan policy. Now, the Labour party are not opposed to borrowing, although they have not a mania for borrowing both in season and out of season. I think that, owing to the prosperous conditions which have obtained in Australia, the States, during recent years, have been tempted to go in for too much borrowing, and especially has this been the case when the money has been- required for the construction of railways. A good deal of excuse may be urged on behalf of a Government which borrows for that purpose. But I question whether much of the borrowing indulged in by the States has been for railway purposes. Men who call themselves financiers and business men go to the extent of saying that the note issue has caused a tightness in the money market, although they know that that tightness is world-wide; and this only shows that they are prepared to risk their reputations for the purposes of a paltry party attack. Matters of finance should be kept, as far as possible, free from party politics. It ,is easy to cause a scare in Australia amongst people who do not know the causes of the present tightness or the effects of borrowing, or do not realize the infinitesimal influence that the note issue can have in this connexion. If public men have one duty and responsibility, it is to see that the public are not led to create anything in the nature of a panic; and similar responsibility rests on bankers and commercial men, who ought not, merely for the sake of a party attack, to ignore the facts of history. I hope we shall continue careful and economic administration ; and, at any rate, I contend that no charge can be made against the Government in respect of their borrowing from the Trust Funds. Such a transaction is about equal to a temporary borrowing out of a reserve fund, and is certainly in no way analogous to raising a loan in the open market. Any schoolboy in the street could see the difference; and yet, day after day, we have it dinned into our ears that the Labour party and Government have departed from their policy. We were never insane enough to say that under no circumstances would we borrow; but, unlike honorable members opposite, we do not declare that we shall never be happy until we have piled up a debt of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000. Had honorable members opposite, instead of the Labour party, been in power, the Commonwealth would by this time have been liable for £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 - honorable members opposite seem likely to die of a broken heart if there is not a big indebtedness.
– How does the honorable member make that out ?
– It is the policy on which honorable members opposite have been bred, and in which they believe. We have been told that it is not enough to have a financial policy for one year, but that there ought to be a policy for ten or twenty years ahead; but, in my opinion, there is no necessity for such a course, and I hope it will be a long time before we have a” borrowing policy, and that then it will only be resorted to when all other means are exhausted. I hope that a just view will be taken by the people, and that they will realize that the Government are not responsible for any tightness in the money market, which has really been brought about by the prosperity, the increased production, and the energy and enterprise of the people who have obtained credit from the banks in order to push their various businesses. The same tale has been told generation after generation, and will be told in the days to come; for, under such circumstances, there is always a. reaction under tightness. Bankers, if shrewd, sensible men, and not gamblers, when they see such a state of affairs, call in their advances, and this causes a tightness and affects the labour market.
– They put the screw on too much.
– Bankers know their own business best. A man who gets an advance from a bank knows that he is liable to be called on to pay up, and the people themselves are largely to blame for running to the banks. No doubt, they think that by means of this credit they can expand their business ; but we ought not to blame the banker, who has to look after the interests of his institution, and the more he safeguards those interests, the more he safeguards the welfare of the community.
.- The Government are to be congratulated on initiating a borrowing policy. The Opposition, generally speaking, are pleased to observe that the Government realize that the enterprises of Australia require more money than can be derived from ordinary forms of taxation, especially in view of the large public works that are contemplated. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has defended the policy introduced by the present Government, and supported what is an integral part of the policy of the Opposition, namely, the appointment of a Tariff Board. These are long strides in the direction in the policy pursued by the Opposition ; first, there is the policy of borrowing for important public works, and then the Tariff policy advocated by the Opposition at the last election. If the honorable member continues to advance so rapidly, we shall be able to claim him as a member of this party.
– Do not worry.
– The present Government, who condemned the borowing policy of the previous Government to the extent of repealing the legislation for a naval loan, are introducing a loan on their own account. It is this Government who have authorized public works running into millions of money, which will necessitate applying to the money-lender, not only of
Australia, but of other lands. It is remarkable to find that, after three years of office, the Government admit that in the money market there are influences outside the power of government, and that we are, at the present time, on the eve of a financial stringency caused by operations in other parts of the world. This shows that Australia cannot have a financial policy of its own, and so control the internal money market as to enable the Government to carry out the necessary public works out of the ordinary revenue. The Government rightly claim that they have met a great deal of expenditure out of revenue ; but they have been blessed with an overflowing treasury, which no previous Government enjoyed. Through the Customs they have had £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a year extra, and they have been paying the States £2,500,000 less than previously, while they have imposed direct taxation amounting to nearly £1,500,000. This means that during the last three years the Government have had £18,000.000 or £20,000,000 more than was received by any previous Government; and it is not at all extraordinary that it has been possible to find money for defence and other purposes out of revenue. Indeed, if this had not been done, the Government would have been open to the charge of not properly applying the public funds. The honorable member for Hunter informed us that the new taxation falls on the wealthier sections of the community, who are best able to bear the burden. As a matter of fact, the taxation is borne by the poor as well as the wealthy - by the taxpayers as a whole, whatever their income. It has been pointed out by the honorable member for Parramatta that no less than 18s. or 19s. per head has been added to taxation during the regime of the present Government - that we are paying 12s. or 13s. per head more in Customs duties, and 7s. per head through the land tax. The most cursory analysis of the land tax will show that a great proportion of it is paid, not by the wealthy squatters, but by the working classes. Practically the whole of the taxation paid by wealthy property owners within the cities is passed on to the wage-earners by means of an increase in the price of goods or a considerable increase in rentals. Probably one-half, or nearly one-half, of the land tax has already been passed on in the cities in the way I have indicated. 1 admit that a considerable portion of the tax is paid by squatters and other large property owners ; but we know that, during the last three years, the increase in land settlement has been less than in any previous three years since the beginning of Federation. It is evident, therefore, that what was supposed to be the chief object of this taxation, namely, the bursting up of large estates, has not been achieved. I do not wish to say more on that point at present further than to emphasize the fact that the great bulk of the new taxation is being drawn from the pockets of the wage-earners. Although taxation would have been lessened by the adoption of a wise and discriminate policy of borrowing for reproductive public works, this Government have made no attempt to lessen it. The last Government passed a Loan Act authorizing the borrowing of money for the building of the first Naval Unit. Although I was a supporter of that Government, I thought that it would be better to borrow for public works, paying for the Naval Unit out of revenue. But I believe that the Treasurer of the day thought that the Bill provided the most convenient method of borrowing, and one which would enable his Government’s progressive policy in connexion with the Post Office to be best carried out out of revenue. The Postmaster-General of the day proposed to expend about £2,000,000 on necessary works connected with his Department, most of which would have been interest-earning. The expenditure was to be spread over three years; and since this Government have been in office, it has probably been increased by £1,000,000. Nearly £3,000,000 has thus been spent on necessary works in connexion with the post, telephone, and telegraph services, and I am sorry that more has not been spent. But, after three years of office, this Government have to admit that there is a stringency in the money market which they cannot control, and that the people are not much more prosperous than when they were returned to power. The people were told that if they were returned to power there would be no more unemployment, and that every housewife- would have a few pounds to spare; that borrowing would be restricted; and that the public services would be paid for out of revenue, borrowing being permitted only to meet maturing loans or for purely reproductive works. But, during their term of office, Ministers have made the Commonwealth responsible for a debt °f £3,500,000 in connexion with the
Northern Territory ; for the expenditure of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 on the railway to Western Australia ; foi the spending of a large sum of money on a site for Commonwealth offices in London ; and for the spending of £600,000 or £700,000 on land resumption in the Federal Capital Territory. Within a few years, if they remain in office - which I hope they will not - the Commonwealth will have to borrow £15,000,000 or £16,000,000 from the local or foreign money-lenders. Therefore, the statement that they are opposed to borrowing comes with a bad grace from them. They are prepared to borrow for the erection of buildings in London. I ask whether that expenditure will be immediately reproductive, returning at once interest and the amount of the annual contribution to the sinking fund? Will the Western Australian railway be reproductive within many years? Will the Northern Territory railway expenditure, which will amount to a couple of millions, return more than the expenditure on the Navy Unit, which, under our proposal, would have been provided for by a loan which would have been extinguished within sixteen years? This Government have had more money to spend from Customs revenue than any of their predecessors, and with a proper system of borrowing for reproductive works, could have paid their way and provided for defence out of revenue, and at the same time could have lessened the taxation. But they have made no attempt to do that. There has been no proper scientific proposal for a revision of the Tariff. Had we on this side remained in power, a Tariff Board would have been appointed to scientifically revise the Tariff, and some of the duties which press heavily on the taxpayers would have been removed.
– There are only six P*o- tectionists in the Opposition.
– The members of this party would have honoured their election pledges. A vital plank of our platform is the appointment of a Tariff Board to make a thorough and scientific investigation into all Tariff matters, and to inform the House fully and accurately regarding the conditions of trade, and the operation of the Tariff.. Parliament, having been placed in possession of exact information, could have revised the Tariff on a scientific basis, making it truly protective, without unduly burdening the people.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss that question now.
– Every £1 withdrawn from the taxpayers of Australia weakens their productive and developmental power.
– What political economist says that ?
– I say it. Honorable members opposite seem to think that money can be taken from the people and put into the Treasury without any one being any the worse off. But the more the people are taxed the more production is retarded. I congratulate the Government on having determined to borrow for reproductive works. But I regret that their proposals have been introduced in a piece-meal fashion, and that they have not been sufficiently courageous to put forward a statesmanlike policy which would have had the effect of lightening the burdens of the taxpayers, which,.., during their term of office, have been increased by nearly £r per head of population - men, women, and children - or by nearly £5 per family.
.- Like the other electors of Perth I should perhaps be thankful, in accordance with the maxim, “Better late than never,” that at last money is to be provided for the erection of the new general post-office there, for which we have been waiting so long; but I am at a loss to understand why Ministers have waited until the closing hours of the session to make this proposal. They have expended considerable sums out of revenue on postal improvements for the other States, and it is unfortunate that Western Australia has had to wait until all available revenue has been expended, and is to be the first State on which loan money is to be spent. When the Works Estimates were under discussion, I commented on the fact that only £5,000 was set down for the new general post-office at Perth, and was unable to obtain definite information as to how the rest of the money that would be needed was to be provided. We are now told that the land is going to be bought by this means, but still there is no information as to how we are to have placed upon it the building for which the people of Perth have been waiting so anxiously, and which is so necessary for the postal business of Western Australia. Does this mean that its erection is to be postponed for, perhaps, another year? How long will it be before the appropriation which we are now discussing will be available for the purchase of the land? When will the land actually become the property of the Commonwealth, and when shall we have available the money to erect the building on this site? All these are questions which I, as the representative of Perth, have a right to put to the Government, and which the people of Perth, and Western Australia generally, are entitled to have answered. So far, there has been very little information on the subject, and we shall probably have to wait for the advent of another Government before very much is done in connexion with supplying a new General Post Office at Perth.
I have listened with a good deal of interest, and some little amusement, to the speeches of honorable members opposite, and must congratulate the Government on the magnificent crop of financiers growing behind them. It has been quite illustrative of the new-born tendency of Labour financiers, to listen to the more or less edifying speeches from these developing financial experts on the other side. Some of them have distinctly novel ideas as to the credit attaching to the Government for their finance, and there are equally novel ideas as to the methods by which this Government have placed themselves in possession of the funds upon which they are now operating. One honorable member, apparently, entertains the belief that this Labour Government can actually manufacture money out of nothing - they have simply to wave a fairy wand in some beautifully mysterious way, and, hey presto, they have at their disposal a credit fund, on which they have not to pay interest, and which is secured, without any detriment whatever, to the public of Australia. I agree-, however, with the previous speaker that, in whatever way money is drawn by taxation from the pockets of the people, there must be a corresponding loss in the producing power of the community as a whole. I join with other honorable members of the Opposition in deprecating the policy of the Government in continuing a system of taxation which brings them in a revenue in excess of normal requirements. The note issue, for which so much credit is being taken by honorable members opposite, was, to my mind, a normal and natural development of Federation. It was inevitable that, when the people of Australia federated, the state of affairs in regard1 to the note issues should be altered at the earliest possible opportunity. We had a number of private banks issuing notes which were negotiable in more than one State only at a very heavy discount, and it was, therefore, inevitable, having regard to the power which was conferred upon the Federal Parliament by the Constitution, that this matter of issuing Commonwealth bank notes should be taken up sooner or later by a Commonwealth Government. I congratulate the present Government on having had an opportunity to carry this policy into effect ; but, at the same time, I believe we had reached a position at which almost any Government would have carried into effect this policy of a Commonwealth note issue.
– The Opposition objected to the Government bringing it into effect.
– I do not think many members of the Opposition objected to the principle, although one or two may have expressed the fear that there was a possible danger in the Government proposal.
– The only member of the Opposition who supported it was the late Mr. G. B. Edwards.
– I think that many honorable members of the Opposition spoke favorably of a Commonwealth note issue ; they took exception only to certain features of the system adopted by the present Government. Believing, as I do very ardently, in the advantage to the community of a Commonwealth note issue, I still hesitate to indorse all that has been done by the present Government in this connexion. I do not think that the low gold reserve which they are holding against their note issue is altogether wise, in view of the very unsettled condition-of finance throughout the world, and in view also of the possibility of international complications, which may create panic conditions even in remote Australia. The banks have, undoubtedly, of late years exported a considerable quantity of gold. That is due to the fact that they can now hold, instead of gold reserves, Commonwealth notes, knowing that if at any time anything in the nature of a panic should ensue, and result in a demand being made on the banks for gold, they can, if their gold is exhausted, turn to the Treasury and demand gold for the notes which they hold. In view of the possibility of complications occuring almost at any moment in the older countries of the world - complications which would result in panic conditions everywhere - I think that the Government would be well advised in increasing its gold reserve to meet such an emergency. There is no doubt that, in the past, State Governments have been very much to blame for a lack of financial ability in floating their loans. The Commonwealth has taken a wise and prudent stand in making it a statutory provision that every loan shall have a sinking fund. I wish, however, to point out that this policy of creating a statutory sinking fund for loans was adopted by at least one State - Western Australia - several years before the Federal . Government took it up.
– I think nearly all the States have tried it at one time or another.
– I do not think the others went as far as this Government and the Government of Western Australia have done.
– In other words, they created a sinking fund and paid no money into it.
– Quite so. It was more or less of a sham, and it remained for the Western Australian Parliament, and for the Federal Parliament subsequently, to create legislation which would make a sinking fund in connexion with every loan an actual reality. But when honorable members opposite claim credit for the Labour Government for their policy in borrowing only in respect of reproductive works, I am unable to follow them. There is on the platform of the party a statement to that effect, but at no time could I see much in it, for the simple reason that, after all, borrowing for almost any work required by the people of a country might be regarded as reproductive. Even borrowing for such an apparently nonproductive work as the beginnings of a navy for Australia might fairly be claimed to underlie reproduction, because, without a navy, and the security given to us. by the peace that only organized strength does give, no reproduction of any kind would occur in Australia without our having to pay, at all events, a heavy penalty for it. But, if we assume that this Government require to borrow, whether from Trust Funds or otherwise, £1,000,000 for certain interests that have to be met during the current year, it is a matter of indifference whether that sum is debited to a reproductive or nonreproductive work, so long as a sinking fund is provided in both cases. There is, in such circumstances, only the difference of tweedledum and tweedledee. If we have a sinking fund to provide in regard to all loans, and we wipe out our loans automatically at a given time, then a loan may he debited either to one account or to another without affecting in the least the general interests of the community,, or making the one loan for a supposedly non-reproductive work more expensive than another for reproductive purposes. And so I am very glad to find the Government adopting an eminently safe policy in connexion with the schemes they have in hand. . I heartily support them in this respect, and, in conclusion, can only express the hope that, having now obtained the money to pay for the land upon which the Perth Post-office is to be erected, they will proceed without any further delay to erect the building ^necessary to give the people of that remote part of the Commonwealth the postal conveniences for which they have waited in vain during all these years.
.- I have no desire to delay the Committee, as I understand that an arrangement has been entered into- ‘
– Yes, to pass this Bill, and to adjourn before dinner, if convenient.
– That being so, I shall make my remarks as brief as possible. I understand that the Democrats of this House, instead of conducting the business of the country, wish to take their wives to the Government House Ball this evening. I object to any arrangement of the kind, and shall have some remarks concerning it to make later on. During this debate the only answer which the Prime Minister has deigned to give to any criticism of the Bill has been, “ Don’t worry.”
– I have not used that expression.
– I think I have heard the Prime Minister use it. I have here some figures which must convince honorable members that there is a good deal to worry about concerning the expenditure for which Commonwealth Governments have been responsible during the last six years. In 1906-7 the Commonwealth expenditure was £4,987,317. In 1907-8, it increased to £6,162,129; in 1908-9, to £6,420,398; and, in 1909-10, to £7 (499,516. Honorable members will notice that during those years the expenditure steadily increased. But, in the year 1910-11, when the Labour Government came into office, it jumped from >£7»499>5l6 to £13,158,529.
– We cannot get anything without money.
– We cannot obtain all this money without borrowing. In 1911-12, the expenditure increased to £13,738.750.
– £4,000,000 of that increase was expended upon defence.
– The expenditure has jumped from about £5,000,000 in 1906-7, to nearly £14,000,000 in 1911-12.
– Does the honorable member say that that money should not have been spent?
– I say that there has been gross extravagance in connexion with our Commonwealth expenditure.
– Why does not the honorable member point to one item upon which there has been extravagant expenditure?
– A great deal of extravagance has occurred in carrying out public works’ by means of day labour. The work carried out under that system has cost twice’ as much as it ought to have cost. I would like to Say a word or two in regard to the tightness of the money market. It has been said that that tightness is being experienced all the world over. I do not think that it is. I attribute the tightness of the local money market to the fact that, owing to the Labour regime, capital has been withdrawn from Australia. People are afraid to invest their money here. I know that the local money market is exceptionally tight. The banks do not want to open new accounts. They will not make advances even on gilt-edged securities. They may advance a little money to oblige old customers, but they do not want new accounts. They will not ordinarily lend money on any security whatever. I attribute this to the fact that capital has been driven out of the country. I know that we have to expend a very considerable sum each year upon things which are absolutely necessary. There is, for example, the expenditure upon our Fleet Unit and upon the Federal Capital. But if we wish to borrow, let us do it in a straightforward manner. The system of taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another is a bad one. It is like a man borrowing from Peter in order to pay Paul. The honorable member for Maribyrnong said that he approved of borrowing, because the money was used for the employment of our people. I say that it is not. It may be used for the employment of a small section in the shape of the unionists. It is the festive unionist who gets it. The honorable member spoke of Australia having borrowed £270,000,000, but where should we have been to-day if we had not borrowed that money ? The essence of sound finance is to borrow well. It would be a good thing for me to borrow ,£10,000 at 4 per cent, if I could invest it in good security at 8 per cent. If Australia had not borrowed, the honorable member for Maribyrnong would probably have had to be conveyed to the Melbourne Cup yesterday in a bullock dray. It is ridiculous to talk about the money we have borrowed. In the absence of a borrowing policy, Australia would have made no progress. The platform of the Federal Labour party is said to be the restriction of public borrowing. The Labour party of New South Wales have a plank in their platform which affirms that they will not borrow except for works which, from the commencement, will pay interest upon their capital cost, and provide i per pent, for a sinking fund. It is absolutely ridiculous to say that, from their very initiation, new railways should pay interest on their capital cost, and provide for a sinking fund of i per cent.
– The people of New South Wales have been robbed in the past.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say that the party in power there are robbing the people. I agree with him.
– Is the honorable member for East Sydney in order in saying that the Government of New South Wales are robbing the people?
– I said nothing of the kind. What I did say was that in the past the Liberals have robbed the people.
– I wish now to say a few words in regard to the note issue. What do the Government propose to do next year when no more money will be available to them from that source?
– The honorable member does not know anything about it.
– I know as much as does the honorable member. This year the Government have had £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 from the note issue with which to play. That money did not cost them anything more than the paper and ink which were required to print the notes. The Government “ issued something like £10,000,000 worth of notes, for which they hold a gold reserve of £4,000,000. In that way they obtained the free use of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000.
– But we have lent the money to the States.
– I do not care what has been done with it. What will the Government do next year when they have not this money to play with > The honorable member for Hindmarsh stated that it was not the bank managers of whom he complained, but the fools of directors. It struck me that at some time or other he may have approached a bank manager with a request for a loan, and that the manager may have replied that the directors would not authorize it. Possibly, that may be the reason why the Government did not require directors for the Commonwealth Bank. But I do not think that it is. The reason why they did not wish directors to be appointed to that institution is that they knew the Governor of the bank would be under the thumb of the Caucus.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question.
– The matter of the Commonwealth Bank, I submit, is relevant to this Bill, in which is bound up the whole financial policy of the Government. I. agree with every word which was uttered by the honorable member for Wimmera! upon the question of land taxation. He pointed out that a large amount of the revenue which is collected from that tax comes out of the pockets of the small men. The metropolitan land-owners pass the tax on to their tenants. This is the direct taxation upon which the Government pride themselves. Yet, they now have to resort to a loan policy. I congratulate them upon the circumstance,, because that policy is an absolutely sound one. But I object to them gulling the electors with the cry that they will not borrow. From hundreds of platforms in this country, they affirmed at the last election that they would not borrow, whereas, the Liberal party, they declared, would ruin the Commonwealth by borrowing. I predict that the time will come when this Government will have to adopt the course which has been adopted by the New South Wales Labour Government, of dismissing men from public works as the result of their reckless extravagance. It is owing to the adoption of the day labour system that the New South Wales Government have come to the very end of their tether. They are at their wits’ ends te* know where to turn for money. At the last election, from hundreds of platforms, the members of the Federal Labour party proclaimed to the people that they would not resort to borrowing. The Government now find themselves forced to borrow, and they are doing it in a way which they think will gull thepublic. But when the time comes tt>carry out the works- for which the Trust Funds are allocated, what will have to be> done ? They will have to borrow to -make *rp the Money.
– The interest we get now, and the interest available, amounts to more than we are seeking to borrow under this Bill.
– I do not think that enough will be found in that way. The Government have broken all the pledges they made, and the people will remember this at the next election, and refuse to place any further confidence in them.
– I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney in regard to the general electoral attitude of honorable members opposite when they faced the country nearly three years ago, and when, by their platform, they ‘Committed themselves to the “ restriction of public borrowing.” Now “ restriction “ is a broad term, and, in the case of the Commonwealth, it means no borrowing at all, ‘because no previous Government had ‘borrowed. Yet we find that a Government returned on a policy of the restriction of public borrowing, is the first to actually borrow for Commonwealth purposes ! Against this it will be urged that ‘ the previous Administration sought to borrow £3,500,000 for a special, urgent, national necessity, namely, the building of ships for the Australian Naval Unit. Those ships have to be provided within a -certain period, and we undertook on behalf of the public, in 1909, to see that they were not only provided in time, but that they should take the seas as an organized Australian Unit, instead of taking the water separately and independently, and thus rendered of no value for timely joint naval effort. The policy of borrowing for this particular purpose was guarded by a sinking fund - the first effective sinking fund in Australia - that would wipe out the debt in a very few years, and there was, further, the promise of the Minister of the day to provide a war chest, out of which automatically, from accumulated revenue, ‘we were from, time to time to provide money to pay for the replacement of the Fleet. Under such a policy the ships would have been in existence and in commission long before this. We now know that under the procrastinating, slack, and inefficient methods of the existing Administration, those ships, instead of being, as was arranged in the first place, ali ‘completed about the end of this year, will practically not be completed until October,, 1914. The battle cruiser will not be completed ‘until next April, and the other cruisers until May of next year, and October of the yea* following, while the four other vessels will -not be completed, a’s I -say-, before October^ 19 14. Our policy of borrowing was to meet ari urgent and external danger that will not wait the “convenience of honorable members elected to ‘this place ;at £600 a year. Our policy, which “would have brought the Fleet into being this yean, ha’s been so messed up by honorable members opposite, that we are not to have the Unit as a whole -until 1914. I have shown conclusively, I think, that t/he purpose for which the previous Government sought to borrow was an external purpose. The reason we had to seek to borrow was that our revenues, then governed by the Braddon section, amounted, when1 all was said and done, to only about one-half of the revenues of the present Government. We had to return our surplus revenues to the States, and the money we had for Commonwealth purposes amounted to only £,7,000,000 or £8,000,000 per annum. The present Government are receiving between £15,000,000 and £16,000,000 to play with, and now they are asking for more. Not only have the present Government twice the previous revenue of their predecessors; but as pointed out by the honorable member for North Sydney, they have borrowed from the Australian public some £10,000,000 sterling, without interest, by means of the note issue. Does the confident member for Corangamite pretend that intrinsic value has been given for every £1 the Treasurer has paid over the counter in bank notes ?
– There are only £’5,000,000 in notes issued.
– There are £9,000,000 of notes in issue, though not in circulation, as the honorable member will see if he looks at the Treasurer’s statement. What is that issue? Is it intrinsic value? It is paper, and the whole would be worth only a few sous if sold in the markets of the world.
– It is better than the banks’ paper.
– Then there is some obligation in connexion with the paper ? The banks undertook to pay the money back as it was wanted, and the notes were made fey law a first ‘charge on the resources of .the bank, so that the holders could get ‘gold at a moment’s notice. I presume that the honorable .member for ‘Corangamite now recognises the note issue as an obligation; and, if that be so, how can he pretend that the issue is not equivalent to a loan? Thus the honorable member answers himself when he comes down to hard facts from the airy places of his own self-importance ! We have seen that those honorable gentlemen, who started out with the “ restriction of public borrowing” in an area where no public borrowing had taken place, have arrived at the stage, when, in addition to double the revenue of their predecessors, they have received some £10,000,000 on the issue of Australian I.O, U.s, a trifle of £2,500,000 borrowed last year, and a further instalment now asked for !
I should like to say a word on the general aspect of borrowing. I am not an advocate of borrowing when we can get along without it. I regard borrowing as good business for the individual who can use the credit with advantage to himself ; but there is a tendency on the part of all Governments to extravagantly waste loan funds. That tendency is exemplified in the State of New South Wales at the present time. In that State we used to regard £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 a year as an orgy of loan extravagance. When the Labour party of New South Wales kept Mr. O’sullivan in power, his main purpose seemed to be to provide high wages for Government employes on day labour, and in this way some £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 a year was spent. The public imagination became inflamed, and honorable members opposite came in on a policy of “ restriction of public borrowing “ - borrowing that they themselves had connived at when supporting Mr. O’sullivan ! In New South Wales, another Government, composed of official members of the same organization as my honorable friends opposite, came into power also . on a policy of the “ restriction of public borrowing,” but that restriction has consisted in raising the State’s yearly loan account to- double the proportion that it had ever reached in the State’s history. The State Government of New South Wales are now spending £6,000,000 a year of borrowed money ; and that very fact has tended to tighten the money market there, and retard the development and progress of the State. Those budding financiers opposite desire to borrow, and decide to gull the public ; and. they have, therefore, entered upon a policy of borrowing, not from oversea, but locally. Other persons, however, desired to borrow in the Australian market. Every man with an undeveloped tract of country must have money to make it profitable ; all landholders, small or large, must borrow to make their lands productive. These private persons, however, find that their main competitor is the Government, and that the money is being taken from the people of New South Wales and expended, not in developing the State, but in concentrating Socialistic enterprises in the city of Sydney. After two or three years of this sort of thing we find that the price of money is as high - I speak subject to correction - in times of seasonable prosperity as it ever was in the worst times of drought. The extravagance, stupidity, and folly of the colleagues of honorable members opposite in the State Parliament have come home to roost, and the development of New South Wales has been retarded, and every enterprise there is stagnating, because, instead of financier s in high places, we have men whose main object is to evade the pledges they gave at the general election. Can the honorable member for Gwydir indorse everything that the New South Wales Government have done in the way of borrowing during the last three years?
– Can he deny the fact that the Government have borrowed in the local market, and have thus materially raised the price of money?
– Will the honorable member deal with the proposal before the Chair ?
– If I cannot deal with the tightness of money, how can I reasonably deal with the measure?
– The honorable member may deal with the question of the tightness of money, but that has nothing to do with the New South Wales borrowing.
– I submit, with all deference, that the question of the Commonwealth entering the field as a borrower is vitally affected by the tightness of the money market ; and we are entitled to consider how that tightness has been created. New South Wales is part of the Commonwealth ; it represents about one-third of the electors, and about one-third of Australia’s material prosperity. If I can show that the tightness of money is due to excessive borrowing in the local market, I submit that the fact is a vital one in considering a proposal to still further borrow on the part of the Commonwealth Government
In regard to borrowing in the abstract, public finance is one of the greatest elements in unemployment in any civilized community. If a country borrowed £5,000,000 a year, this would employ so many persons; who are taken from private employers to work for the State. When the borrowed money comes to an end, and Mr. Cann, of New South Wales, say, cannot raise any more, these men will have to leave the employment of the Government, and try to get work from private persons.
– Three hundred more have been dismissed to-day.
– Exactly. Within the last few days 1,300 men in all have been dismissed from Government employment in New South Wales. They had been drawn towards Government employment by the wildly extravagant expenditure of loan money, which has now come to an end, and the public credit has been so demoralized that the Government cannot borrow further to carry on its works. These men have consequently again to seek private employment, and many will find that the places which they had left have been filled up. The practice of Governments being large employers one day and retrenching in all directions the next is one of the chief causes of unemployment in this country.
– How does the honorable member account for the fact that conditions are the same in Queensland under a Liberal Government?
– They are not the same.
– I have not accepted the honorable member for Brisbane as an authority on Queensland affairs since I heard him speak on the tramway strike. In the initiation of Commonwealth borrowing we should recognise the connexion between Government expenditure and employment, and. borrow continuously and moderately instead of extravagantly and spasmodically. A Government ought not to borrow up to its credit’s limit, and then be forced to dismiss men for want of funds. Retrenchment not only injures the public servants who are retrenched, but every person directly or indirectly connected with Government expenditure. Borrowing should proceed continuously, so that there may be no cessation of employment. A Government should not seek, by lavish expenditure during three years of office, to buy its way to a further lease of power, bankrupting the public by its methods.
I understand, however, that it is desired to close the proceedings at half-past six.
– That is so. A promise was given that the Bill would be advanced to its third-reading stage by then.
– In that case, I reserve any further remarks for the third reading.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher), by leave, proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I understand that the Treasurer proposes to borrow from the Trust Funds, but I do not see how he can do that unless he takes only money obtained in connexion with the note issue, because the £15,000,000 in the Trust Funds, is all in different accounts, allocated for various specific purposes, such as the purchase of small arms and ammunition, naval defence, and old-age pensions, &c. I ask the right honorable gentleman how he proposes to charge these items in the schedule against the moneys of the Trust Funds? Money so taken from the Funds cannot be charged against them as a whole ; but must be charged against some item.
– Interest is becoming due, and there are some Trust Fund investments falling in, and other money will also be available. I have not with me now the particulars asked for by the right honorable member for Swan, but I understand from the Secretary to the Treasury that there is sufficient money available to meet our requirements. I shall obtain the information asked for.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
ClauseI agreed to.
Clause 2 (Treasurer may borrow £529,526).
– I should like the Prime Minister to inform the Committee how far he thinks he should go, as a matter of general policy, in borrowing from the Trust Funds? It is a matter of some moment to put trust money into investments that are not liquid, to tieit tap so that it cannot be readily got: at if needed.
– We have a very large credit balance at present, part of which is a credit to the Trust Funds ? If circumstances, were other than they are, it; might not be wise to invest this trust money so, fully, but as there is a large current; balance’ which will not; be unduly drawn on by this expenditure, it, is, good policy to invest part of it. About £2,000,000. of trust money will be available in about twelve months.
– In connexion with the note issue?
– Yes, and other accounts. The sum of £1, 000,000 lent to Queensland fall’s due shortly.
– Does alt the money, come from the note issue?
– General trust accounts, and other trust accounts are involved. The Trust Fund moneys are far in excess of the investments, and I think it my duty as Treasurer to use part of them in the manner proposed. I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that all the trust money ought not to, be tied up for a long, period. Most of it, however - at least, half - has been advanced on short-dated loans. Regarding the note issue, if demand were made for £3,000,000 worth of notes, I think we could meet it without encroaching on the 40 per cent margin that I promised to keep.
-i do not, think that, the, right, honorable gentleman, has, told, us, the purpose for which money is to be spent at Perth.
– In a rather lengthy statement, I pointed out that £153,000 is to be used to purchase freehold land, improved, and unimproved. On the purchase of the improved land 51/2 per cent, is being earned.
– The money is not to be spent on buildings ?
– No. The buildings, which we intend to erect will be paid for outis revenue-.
– Can the Prime Minister tell us the Trust Account from which money will be taken? The Trust Account balances are not pooled; every Trust Account is kept alive for a specific object. The Prime Minister will have to take money from some one of the Trust Accounts.
-From one or more.
– Does the right: honorable gentleman propose to. utilize money obtained in connexionwith the issue of Australian notes?
– We shall use some of that money.
– Does the right honorable gentleman think of tieing up indefinitely, by the purchase of land at Perth, or any similar expenditure, money that has been specifically allocated to Fleet, construction, or some other purposes ? Does he propose to take the money out of other. Trust Accounts ? We wish to know exactly where this money will be obtained. To buy land with it is to invest it permanently. We should be told distinctly the accounts out of which money is to be taken-.
– I shall make a full statement on the third reading.
.Will the effect of the Bill be to take away part of the gold reserve kept to protect the note issue the money being spenton the purchaseof land in Western Australia ? If so, the Prime Minister will be substituting unliquid securities for liquid securities, and thereby bringing the gold reserve possibly below the statutory limit.
– The answer to that is “ No.”
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3. agreed to:
.- I wish the Prime Minister to tell us exactly what he means when he says that this property in Perth is earning 51/2 per cent. Does he mean that it is returning 51/2 per cent, on the cost of the land and the buildings at present thereon? If so, I wouldlike to ask him whether those buildings are not to be pulled down?
., - The Department of Home Affairs reports to me that; the gross return is about 10 per cent. The purchase price is a little below£170,000, and we are providing here for the cost of the freehold land, which amounts to about £153,00,0. It. is proposed to run. a street through this land, andon one side of that street the new post-office will be erected. That building will be erected out of revenue, and the property will be further improved, but noneof the structures are to be paid for out of this appropriation.
-. -Some time ago the Minister- of Home
Affairs promulgated a very ambitious scheme for erecting in Sydney a commercial building of twenty stories, but he ultimately abandoned it. Subsequently, we heard that he had a similar scheme in view at Perth, where he was going to build, in addition to a General Post Office, an arcade and shops. I wish to know whether the £153,000 referred to in this Bill is for the purchase of land on which the Minister of Home Affairs will be able, in the name of the Government, to erect an arcade and shops.
– This transaction, although carried out through the Department of Home Affairs, is primarily for the Postmaster-General’s Department; and I have no doubt that it will be carried out on business-like principles. The land will be put to the greatest utility consistent with the public purposes for which it is acquired.
– Will the Prime Minister assure the Committee that there is no scheme already in existence - already before the Cabinet - for building an arcade and shops on the land?
– There is not.
.- I understand that there are a good many buildings on the land to be acquired at Perth, and that it is estimated that the property is likely to return us 5J per cent.
– When - now, or later on?
– At the present time.
– And more later on?
– I should say so. It should be a still better investment as time passes. Does the item of £153,000 include the cost of building the new General Post Office, or does it simply cover the cost of the property as it stands? I take it that we shall have to spend a considerable sum in building an up-to-date postoffice.
– It will probably cost about £50,000 to erect a suitable postoffice.
– It seems to me that in erecting the General Post Office, regard should be had to the future, as well as to the present requirements of Perth. Mistakes have been made in the past by State Governments in failing to make adequate provision for future requirements in the erection of public buildings.
– That points to the necessity for a Works Committee to investigate such a work as this.
– I join issue with the honorable member. So far as the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is concerned, I think that the responsible Minister is quite capable of dealing with these matters.
– Would the honorable member let individual Ministers determine very big items of expenditure?
– The honorable member knows that a tight hand is always kept over the expenditure of every Department, and that all proposals involving considerable expenditure must be approved by the Cabinet. The complaint I make does not relate to this Parliament.
– We are only just beginning.
– Beginning what?
– National works that should have been carried out some years ago. I would draw your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that we have passed the hour at which we usually adjourn for dinner.
– I generally suspend the sitting to meet the convenience of the Committee. There is no reason why I should leave the chair now, although it is the usual custom to adjourn for dinner at 6.30 p.m.
– The honorable member is deliberately breaking an agreement.
– What agreement? I came here to-day from New South Wales to transact public business.
– Is the honorable member “running the show”?
– No; but, as a representative of the people in this House, I have equal rights and an equal voice with the honorable member. It has always been the practice, since I have been here, to adjourn at 6.30 p.m.
– May I explain?
– I shall be glad to give the right honorable gentleman an opportunity to do so.
– I was approached by honorable members representing the Opposition, and by members of my own party, and I agreed, as far as I could do so, as the Leader of the House, that, if this Bill were dealt with before halfpast 6 - which I consider would be a reasonable day’s work - we should not meet after dinner. I made that agreement with 1he representatives of the Leader of the Opposition.
– It is a pity’ the Cup adjournment was not for a week.
– If there is any blame for making such an agreement, I must take it.
.- In view of the Prime Minister’s explanation, which is the first official intimation of the arrangement that I have had, I have no desire to prolong the discussion. If an agreement has been made between the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition, I am not going to detain the Committee, but I object, as a private member, to the House adjourning at such an hour when there is much important business to be done.
.- I am at liberty, under the new standing order, to speak for half-an-hour, and I intend to occupy that time in supporting this Bill, which makes provision, among other things, for the purchase of land suitable for a new General Post Office in Perth. If there is one city in Australia where it is necessary to obtain a site for Commonwealth buildings,’ it is Sydney.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the schedule.
– As you, sir, seem anxious to curtail my liberty of speech-
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in saying that I desire to curtail his liberty of speech.
– The schedule of this Bill provides for the purchase of a piece of land in Perth as a site on which to erect a post-office. I agree with that proposal ; but I wish to impress upon the Government that they are making a mistake in failing to provide an enlarged site for the General Post Office, Sydney. However, as the Prime Minister has entered into some arrangement for an early adjournment, I shall, out of respect for him, resume my seat.
– In his explanation, the Prime Minister sought to make it appear that the Leader of the Opposition originated the request for an adjournment of the House.
– That is so.
– I assure my right honorable friend that the Leader of the Opposition did not originate that request.
An Honorable Member. - It was thehonorable member for Franklin.
– Then, let ussit on.
.- It seems to me that we are getting into a very peculiar position. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has denied that his Leader had any connexion with the arrangement made with the Prime Minister. Apparently, it was the honorable member for Franklin who originated the idea.
– 1 did not deny it.
– The honorable member wishes to throw the onus of the arrangement upon the Prime Minister.
– I made the promise which I did bond fide, believing that I was doing; the best thing under the circumstances.
– The Prime Minister might first have consulted some of the members of his party who are not in favour of the House adjourning for a social function. We are here to transact the business of the country, and we want to transact it with a view to getting away at as early adate as possible. We have already had an adjournment this week because of the Melbourne Cup, and we are now asked to consent to another adjournment to enable honorable members to attend a social function.
– But honorablemembers opposite are putting up recordsall the time.
– If a garden party or a ball were to be held every day, or every night, apparently, there would be no discussion of measures by members of theOpposition. The people outside know nothing about the arrangement which wasmade by the Prime Minister. But they will know that this House adjourned, and* they will want to know the reason why.
– I take full responsibility for my action.
– I object to the Houseadjourning to enable honorable membersto take part in a ball at Government House. A request of that character has never been’ made to this Chamber before.
– Is there not assmuch justification for attending a ball at Government House as there is for attending the races ?
– There is no need forthe House to adjourn to enable honorablemembers to attend a ball at GovernmentHouse; but a good many honorable members like to attend the races, not for thepurpose of betting, but for the purpose ofT sight-seeing. The business of this country is more important than is a Government House ball ; and if we adjourn at 10 o’clock this evening, honorable members will then be able to attend that function. If the Opposition are prepared to abandon their responsibilities to enable their members to attend a Government House ball, it is only right that the public should know of the fact. I protest against the proposal to adjourn.
– In connexion with this matter, I do not wish to shelter myself in the slightest degree. I thought that in getting the Bill under consideration passed through all its stages but one in one day, I was doing good business; if I made a mistake, I made it honestly, and, of course, I must suffer the consequences.
– I do riot know at what position we have now arrived. A short time ago the Prime Minister said that he had been approached by honorable’ members upon both sides of the House. I wish to place on record the fact that I am not one of the members who approached him with a request that we should get away early to-night. I should like to know the names of those honorable members who did. We have been told that he entered info an arrangement with the Opposition that the House should adjourn at - the dinner-hour, and that it was “good business.” What doesthat mean? That the Opposition would have talked all night on this measure, but that they desired to get- away this evening.
– The Opposition, did not ask for this arrangement. Let that fact be distinctly understood.
– The Prime Minister has been released from any agreement which he made by the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– Nothing can relieve me of my promise.
– The honorable member for Parramatta, speaking for the Opposition, has repudiated its share in the arrangement.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the schedule of the Bill.
– I alone am involved in this matter.
– We are all involved in it. We are establishing a precedent.
– I am the man who will be sacrificed, riot the honorable member.
– One man cannot get sacrificed in a matter of this sort. I am as glad as is any honorable member to get a night off occasionally.
– Undoubtedly, and without an adjournment, too.
– That is a most ungenerous interjection. I challenge the honorable member to produce the record of my attendances here. There is riot a man in the party who stands behind it more than- 1 do. I am as glad as is any honorable member to get a night off occasionally, but I wish to see the business of thecountry transacted. That is why I am standing up to-night-
– Why does not the honorable member stand behind the Prime Minister ?
– Why does not the honorable member mind his own business, and stand behind his deputy leader, who makes one statement denying that there was an arrangement, and then says that we ought to adhere to the agreement. The honorable member for Wentworth would be the first to use the proposed adjournment outside as a whip with which to scourge the Labour party.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the schedule.
– I notice that the schedule provides for an appropriation of £53i°°°* for the purchase of a site for a post-office at Perth.
– I would call attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present. - (Quorum formed.)
– When the honorable member for Parramatta called for a quorum, and thus evidenced his determination to secure an adjournment, I was dealing with the schedule to this Bill, and’ making efforts to keep in order. Throughout the whole of the discussion on Friday and to-day we have been told that the Labour Government are establishing a record.
– I wish to explain to the Committee that, in sitting on, I thought I was consulting -the views of the majority, but if it is the intention of the honorable member to continue his remarks, I shall vacate the chair.
– It certainly is my intention to discuss this schedule - the business of the country.
Sitting suspended from 6. 55 until 8 p.m.-
– Nobody has yet pointed out that only the £153,000 for the purchase of a. site in Perth is responsible for anything in the way of additional indebtedness, if even this can be described as indebtedness. 1 emphasize the point that, out of a total of £520,000, there is £370,000 odd for the redemption of existing loans..
– Is the honorable member aware that his leader made a definite arrangement to-night, and that the honorable member is repudiating it?
– Is there a quorum in the Committee ?
No quorum reported.
There being no quorum present -
Mr. Deputy Speaker adjourned the House at 8.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 November 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121106_reps_4_67/>.